Now that I’ve got the coastlines penciled in as I think I want them, I’m going to go back and see what kind of advice I probably should have looked at first.
Jonathan Roberts, in The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding suggests starting with descriptions of the nations you want and let their national characteristics determine what the geography looks like. I think there’s great wisdom in that if one already has a pretty good idea of how their world is peopled and organized. The way I’ve been approaching this, I have it backwards. It was after I came up with the original map that I settled on the names of the nations and empires. He gives some excellent prompts for fleshing out those nations. I’ll definitely be returning to his prompts when the time comes.
For coastlines, he prefers “jagged lines and wiggles, inner seas and channels.” And the more, the merrier. I think I’ve got that pretty well covered. He suggests caution when it comes to huge land masses, but doesn’t spell out exactly why. I’m sure there’s logistical reasons that I’ll have to account for, but Iaon is peppered with huge land masses. One of those masses is probably about 3/5 of the map because I’ve got them connected with a northern land bridge, itself a huge land mass. We’ll see how that goes.
I’ve definitely got plenty of coastline to be defended, and straits, and harbors, and islands. He makes a good point about adding groups of islands off the coast, and seems to prefer barrier islands. I’ve got about 40 major islands already, but there was something else I read recently (maybe I’ll find it again), that mountain chains tend to form island chains along that same path off the coast. When I drop in the mountains from the original map I’ll be certain to see where more islands would be an improvement.
As far as putting together a world bible is concerned, Scott Hungerford mentions maps as part of the appendices. Major features like coastlines and mountains and landmarks should be included. I think I’ve got the coastlines covered and then some, at least until I draw more detailed regional maps.
I’m also taking a look at The Castle Oldskull Game World Generator by Kent David Kelly. So far I love the scope of it, and the way that it is organized. I’m only just getting started with it, but already I seem to have gone way off the rails here. He recommends one or two continents to avoid a variety of difficulties later. Depending on how I look at Iaon, I’ve got one super-continent, a single large continent, and two small continents, each probably about as big as Western Europe. I tend to see it as more like ten sub-continent-sized masses, though.
I’m still okay with my grandiose ambition. He does world building for RPG’s and wants to get a world up and running in short order. I’m creating mine for storytelling, and will be using game mechanics to advance the plot. That and time is no object. I’ve got thousands of years of story time and the rest of my life to figure this out.
All in all, now that I’ve skimmed through the entirety of The Castle Oldskull Game World Generator, I have to say I love it. It is a goldmine of well-organized steps to world building, with tons of great ideas and considerations. I certainly won’t take it as dogmatic, but I know I’ll be returning to this resource again and again.
While I was at it, I browsed my AD&D Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide for anything about coastlines. Along the way I stumbled across the random wilderness generation table, which might prove useful eventually.
Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the AD&D Wilderness Survival Guide to see if there’s anything in there that might give me some more points to consider regarding coastlines, but I have my doubts. I also still have Jaime Buckley’s Advanced World Building to look through, as well as the Rosalin Sisters’ World Building, and Jared Blando’s How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps. Plus a handful of websites I’ve bookmarked.
I’m already considering cutting up the continents a bit more, but as far as scope goes, I’m still content with the vast scope of it. When I’m done beating this dead horse, I’ll move on to the mountain ranges.