Wednesday, November 11, 2015


I am not the best mapper in the world, but I find it very helpful when running a game to map out settlements. For a campaign, as long as the map tells you what you need to know at the table, it doesn't have to look pretty. If they end up in one of our books, we hire artists to turn them into something more presentable. Here is a map I've been working on today. 

This is the city of Fan, the capital of Li Fan and an potentially important place in upcoming sessions (depending on what unfolds). I based it on images of streets and houses in Shanxi province. 

I took inspiration from a few different places, and you can see the images here provided of them. These are images from wiki pages but I've been using a handful of books to help me layout cities and houses. The most useful one by far is Vernacular Architecture: Domestic Spaces of Ancient China by Wang Qijun. Another one that has been helpful is Chinese Architecture by Cai Yanxin. 

Lion City
Generally my interest in history is more with institutions, politics and religion; material culture (architecture, weapons, tools, textiles, etc) is something I am not as naturally as interested in, so I find I have to make up for it a bit when mapping. Books like the ones listed above are useful to me in that respect. Journal articles are also helpful. 

One aspect of the city I like is the submerged Old Fan City. This is loosely inspired by Lion City (a Han Dynasty city submerged in 1959). Lion City was submerged as part of a dam project, but I liked the idea and decided to have the original settlement sunk beneath the lake by an act of the Demon Emperor. The old houses and streets can be seen from the surface, but water ghosts (Shui Gui) haunt just below the surface, attacking anyone who isn't a member of the Hui family (the ghosts are still loyal to the royal line that ruled when they lived). The Kings of Fan take advantage of this and occupy a palace on an island in the center of the lake. 

This is the nearly complete sketch of Fan. I tried to capture the architecture in the above images, particularly the narrow courtyards, but it proved a bit tricky for my meager illustration skills. 

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