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Glorantha map scales??


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I started a Colymar based RQG campaign about year ago. As always, I created my own campaign map, this time based on the excellent Colymar Tribes map from the GM's Screen pack. Now I started a project for a bit wider map, and noticed an odd thing when determining the scale of the map. It seems all the official maps are at different scale and have wildly different distances between landmarks.

I compared following maps:

  • Argan Argar Atlas' Sartar and Tarsh map, map 29 (Argar Argar from now on)
  • Colymar Lands map from HQ Sartar Companion pg. 6 (HQ from now on)
  • Dragon Pass map from RQG GM's Screen pack (Dragon Pass from now on)
  • Dragon Pass map by Darya from RQG GM's Screen pack (Darya from now on)
  • Guide to Glorantha vol 1, sartar map on pg. 173 (Guide from now on)

I took screenshots from those maps and measured the maps scale bars' widths in pixels, and calculated a pixels per km value (converting miles to km where necessary). Then I used rectangular selection tool to draw a rectangle between the centers of two cities' symbols' and used the width or height of the selection to calculate either the horizontal or the vertical distance between the cities. Argar Argar's Atlas don't have a proper scale bar, but there's a blurry text describing one hex being 8 km. I assumed that it means side-to-side distance as that makes more sense than distance between opposite corners of a hex.

Couple of results:

Clearwine - Boldhome Horizontal distance
- Argan Argar: 45 km
- HQ: 88.0 km
- Dragon Pass: 63.2 km
- Darya: 64.7 km
- Guide: 51.7 km

Wilmskirk - Jonstown Vertical distance
- Argan Argar: 53,4 km
- HQ: 92.8 km
- Dragon Pass: 65.7 km
- Darya: 63.5 km
- Guide: 61.4 km

There's obviously some margin of error, but it seems the two maps of Dragon Pass in GM's Screen Pack have pretty similar distances. But what took me by surprise is that Argar Argar's Atlas and HQ's Sartar Companion have wildly different distances, with Argan Argar's distances being half of those presented in HQ Sartar Companion.

It was a bit of a disappointment for me to find so great variations of distances between different maps. I guess I just need to decide a scale for my Glorantha, and I'll probably lean towards the RQG and Guide scales as they seem to aligned quite well and so are maybe closer to "truth."

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Scales of Gloranthan maps have always been an issue. It took me a lot of work to convert the maps of various places for my map of Central Genertela. I assume that everyone who has done this exercise has encountered the same issues.

At one point, someone converted miles to kilometers but did not do it for everything, resulting in distance inflation.

I would guess that the maps in Sartar Companion took the km distances and used them as miles, which explains why they are nearly twice as big.

The Argan Argar Atlas is a good place to start, I'd base scales from that. But you have to be careful when going from one page to another as the pages don't always line up and sometimes have a lot of overlap.

 

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1 hour ago, MMan said:

...

Argar Argar's Atlas don't have a proper scale bar, but there's a blurry text describing one hex being 8 km. I assumed that it means side-to-side distance as that makes more sense than distance between opposite corners of a hex.

...

By the way: the nearly unreadable legend under the blurry text is available in a much more usable form in the Well of Deliath.

As you can see the height measurements are in feet, which is a hint in the direction, that @soltakssmentioned already: sometimes maps do use the metric system and sometimes the imperial system. And sometimes there happens a conversion without really adapting the scale ...

Edited by Oracle
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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

I think the PDF version of the AAA (available for free as part of the Jonstown Compendium) also has this key as an extra page.

You're absolutely right. And this is also true, if you download the PDF again from your order archive on the Chaosium web site. So thanks for the hint.

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5 hours ago, MMan said:

Clearwine - Boldhome Horizontal distance
- Argan Argar: 45 km
- HQ: 88.0 km
- Dragon Pass: 63.2 km
- Darya: 64.7 km
- Guide: 51.7 km

Wilmskirk - Jonstown Vertical distance
- Argan Argar: 53,4 km
- HQ: 92.8 km
- Dragon Pass: 65.7 km
- Darya: 63.5 km
- Guide: 61.4 km

If exact distance is ever important, I would go for the maps from the RQG GM Packs. They are more recent and are close enough from one another. I suppose the definitive map of Dragon Pass which Jeff has been showing part of will settle the issue.

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Just now, DreadDomain said:

I suppose the definitive map of Dragon Pass which Jeff has been showing part of will settle the issue.

Yes, he's had the opportunity to show a number of pieces of this on Facebook.  I don't recall if they included a scale in any of the images, but do expect this will have the final definitive scale.  I'd probably favor the Guide/AAA until the other is available.

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I did a lot of work on this similar to you. My favorite was that some maps are in km, others in miles, and one scale just said 5! Wait, 5 what?!?! :)

I ended up doing a lot of measuring, taking a good average and then applying it to the map that I was using (colymar_clans_map_optimized) as my master. I ended up with 1 cm=2.67 km, but your mileage will quite literally vary!

And whatever you decide, you can expect that the next publication will wreck it all to the Underworld! :)

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5 hours ago, Scorus said:

I ended up doing a lot of measuring, taking a good average and then applying it to the map that I was using (colymar_clans_map_optimized) as my master. I ended up with 1 cm=2.67 km, but your mileage will quite literally vary!

Gosh, I find it slightly amusing if a lot of us have done something similar.

It's a while since I did it (and actually, I wasn't really worried too much, I just wanted a working answer, so that I'd be consistent), but I think I was happy that the recent maps, i.e. those from the RQG GM were consistent enough to get a master distance measurement.

I then applied that to, for example, the Colymar Map as @Scorus uses.  And got a surprisingly similar figure of 1cm = 2.2 km (surprising because I was after consistency not really accuracy - I'd be delighted if my Glorantha was only 20% off accurate, in more respects than map scale!)  

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3 hours ago, Stephen L said:
8 hours ago, Scorus said:

I ended up doing a lot of measuring, taking a good average and then applying it to the map that I was using (colymar_clans_map_optimized) as my master. I ended up with 1 cm=2.67 km, but your mileage will quite literally vary!

Gosh, I find it slightly amusing if a lot of us have done something similar.

Don't forget that until the Argan Argar Atlas came out we just didn't have any maps that covered large areas of Glorantha. All we had were a number of maps that covered one particular area. So, for those of us who had a campaign that involved travel between areas it was quite frustrating. So, a number of people tried to stitch the available maps together and ran into problems with scales. 

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33 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Don't forget that until the Argan Argar Atlas came out we just didn't have any maps that covered large areas of Glorantha. All we had were a number of maps that covered one particular area. So, for those of us who had a campaign that involved travel between areas it was quite frustrating. So, a number of people tried to stitch the available maps together and ran into problems with scales. 

We did have an outline map for the continents, and some of the great rivers already in the RQ2 rules, and there was a somewhat detailed but flawed map of Genertela in the Genertela box. The detail maps in the Genertela Book could be used to create a mosaic, but the scales of the various maps varied by a factor of 2. Prior to the Argan Argar Atlas, the published gold standards for maps were the Dragon Pass and Nomad Gods gameboards, the maps in Griffin Mountain, and the Holy Country map in RQ2 Companion, and the accepted scale was the Dragon Pass hex.

The Argan Argar atlas adopted that Dragon Pass hex, and that subjective scale is still available. The daily movement rates of troops in the Dragon Pass board game under full mobilization have been there for the entire publication history of Glorantha.

Population numbers assume a maximum of 500 people per hex in mixed cultivated and wild terrain like Sartar, and possibly quadruple that in extremely densely cultivated lands like riverine Esrolia. Try the population numbers in the Guide with these numbers, they ought to work out.

The RQ3 GM book had a systemless section on population distribution in an agricultural society (not specifying whether neolithic or more modern), giving typical agricultural settlement size, surrounding wildland, etc. in a 2.5 km radius for a population of 50-100. Sum these up for a hex population of 500, and you get say 7 such circles inside a hex, which calculates to a hex side length of about 5 km. Maybe 5 miles if you allow for a bit more wilderness.

That's your scale. Now go counting hexes.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Prior to the Argan Argar Atlas, the published gold standards for maps were the Dragon Pass and Nomad Gods gameboards, the maps in Griffin Mountain, and the Holy Country map in RQ2 Companion

And the Dagori Inkarth map in Trollpak which had a fair bit of northern Sartar.

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29 minutes ago, jajagappa said:
2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Prior to the Argan Argar Atlas, the published gold standards for maps were the Dragon Pass and Nomad Gods gameboards, the maps in Griffin Mountain, and the Holy Country map in RQ2 Companion

And the Dagori Inkarth map in Trollpak which had a fair bit of northern Sartar.

And these were actually all to the same scale. You could fit the Dragon pass and Nomad Gods maps together fairly easily, although I think one hex was misplaced. The Griffin Mountain map fits along the northern edge of the Dragon Pass map and the Dagori Inkarth map fits along the east of the Dragon pass map and to the north of the Nomad Gods map. I used photocopies of those maps to put together a huge map of the area covering Prax, Dragon Pass, Dagori Inkarth and Balazar/Elder Wilds. It looked glorious but was unusable due to its size.

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1 minute ago, soltakss said:

I used photocopies of those maps to put together a huge map of the area covering Prax, Dragon Pass, Dagori Inkarth and Balazar/Elder Wilds.

I actually trimmed the top edge of my Dragon Pass map so I could overlay it on the Balazar map. (probably heresy for some! 😲 )

The one oddity if I recall was that one of the maps had rivers along hex borders, and the other had rivers in the middle of hexes.

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10 hours ago, Stephen L said:

I then applied that to, for example, the Colymar Map as @Scorus uses.  And got a surprisingly similar figure of 1cm = 2.2 km (surprising because I was after consistency not really accuracy - I'd be delighted if my Glorantha was only 20% off accurate, in more respects than map scale!)  

Have you noticed that the Colymar map and the optimized colymar map have differences? I assumed that the latter just had the clan lines drawn on the former, but that is not the case. The location of the Dragonewt plinth just west of Swanton comes to mind as one example.

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On 1/10/2021 at 10:04 AM, Stephen L said:

And got a surprisingly similar figure of 1cm = 2.2 km (surprising because I was after consistency not really accuracy - I'd be delighted if my Glorantha was only 20% off accurate, in more respects than map scale!)  

I haven't measured my scale cm, but I realized that if I treat the hexes in AAA as 10km from side to side, my example measurements align quite well with the maps in the RQG. And as I'm used to SI system, 10 km hexes feel very very comfortable :)

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19 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:
21 hours ago, jajagappa said:

And the Dagori Inkarth map in Trollpak which had a fair bit of northern Sartar.

I am surprised Joerg did not mention that one, he is always telling me this is the gold standard. 

That map from the RQ2 Troll Pak box had a hex grid only on its backside (in the shape of a troll ball court), although yes, it had the accurate scale and could be used as northern extension of the Nomad Gods map towards the Rockwood Mountains.

Its RQ3 Troll Pak reprint map is an example of a map not quite to scale, even though that map is the stylistic ancestor of the new detail maps for Sartar (already found in Pegasus Plateau for the Locaem, and in the snippets shared on Facebook).

17 hours ago, Scorus said:

Have you noticed that the Colymar map and the optimized colymar map have differences? I assumed that the latter just had the clan lines drawn on the former, but that is not the case. The location of the Dragonewt plinth just west of Swanton comes to mind as one example.

I would let that slip as a generalization effect, although I wonder why the line of the dragonewt plnth is not straight in the clan maps that treats features of the underlying map badly (like hiding Apple Lane under the Hiording label).

There are a few more differences, like a less optimal position of the Swan River label, which suggest that the clan map background is an earlier, less advanced and less corrected version of the tribal map. But that map does fulfill its function - it offers context for the clan borders along water courses and ridge lines. The older version has the correct label for Alebard's Tower and not the spell-checked Abelard (which makes me look for Heloise on that map now). The thematic information in the clan map is clearer and has less cartographic distortion than the more graphic placement of the icons of the central settlements of the clans.

Taking a closer look at those two maps, I notice that the clan center of the Enhyli clan (the one outside of Runegate) is designated as Lunar Manor, and not in ruin. Is that a wrong label, or is there a story to that? Why would the Enhyli clan center be given to Lunar investors? (Blackmor's clan is the Taraling clan, the replacement clan for the Runegate Triaty with a new Chieftains' lineage from descendants from Old Man Colymar. What reason would he have had to antagonize one of his closest neighbors in his home district?

But getting the exact position of those settlements as a point coordinate in relation to the graphical representation gives a good indication how measurements from map icon to map icon may vary by such amounts. I would expect the underlying point coordinates for all those maps compared in the original post to show much less of an error than the measurements between the graphical representations.

I am not so sure whether the clan borders really are that defined as shown in that map, although creating such discrete borders is what you have to do as a cartographer unless you want to go into details (like for instance the acceptance of Orleving border markers by Varmandi herders). And I doubt that the entirety of the clan territories are equally overseen by the clan wyter perception.

The ridge-line style of representation of elevations is quite suggestive in creating an idea what one might see from a certain position, but will distort the actual coordinates of peaks and valleys quite a bit. The use of hatching to indicate major elevations in the new topographical map offers a lot less such displacement. But then, how many player characters own hippogriff steeds and can fly between those peaks as the bird moves? (Answer: probably 40-50% of the players in campaigns using the official adventures... which is probably similar to the amount of Balazar's Axes carried by RQ2 players in or near Pavis.)

 

(If this sounds like I am in a forgiving mood - I am currently taking a remote university GIS course, and the current chapter is about cartography.)

 

Last not least a whacky theory about distances and reality in Glorantha:

The Glorantha we know now is just a patchwork of the shards of reality that could be salvaged or reconstructed in the Ritual of the Net. Some shards of reality were bigger and more compact than others, some shards were missing, and there may be entire fault lines where most of the original shards are missing now, replaced by "softer" reality spun from the silk Arachne Solara spun out of the digested parts of Kajabor. Distances in these softer parts may vary, and there may be shards of reality taking up more space and distance in the world than the surrounding topography may allow for. There may very well be parts of Glorantha which cannot be mapped to scale in a two-dimensional model.

One known case is Dorastor. The mapped information that seems to fill the entirety of that land is probably just a third of the total area of Dorastor, and either the map showing the distances in Cults of Terror or the Guide is distorted, or the effect of malleable dimensions is at work when it comes to the inner Dorastor between the rise to the mountains from the Pelorian side and the descent at Kartolin Castle on the Ralian side.

Another theory (not mine) says that earlier age maps of Fronela and modern maps differ by a wedge running from the northwest to the southeast, point towards the Nidan range. Something like that might have happened during the Ban, with nobody really knowing the difference after the Thaw.

 

Then there are Hidden Castles, hidden valleys, Hidden Greens. There may well be a chance that a map with true cartesian coordinates for much of its area may have a shortening or stretching of distances in areas of high mythical pressure - similar to the gravity wells around heavy objects in space.

 

Or you may blame this on sloppy cartography or measurements. I prefer the bent reality variant.

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(This was meant to be an edit but appeared as a quote... interface problems?)

I prefer the bent reality variant, Mythago Wood-style.

If only for the simple reason that you can always add another valley inside a ridgeline, or a ridge-line inside a valley bottom, and expand your campaign's area a bit while leaving the rest of the cartography basically untouched.

I have suggested hidden valleys e.g. for the disappeared Karandoli clan. They might still be up there on the northern flank of the Quvin massif, but only heroquesting paths connect their lands with the rest of Sartar.

Edited by Joerg
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On 1/9/2021 at 8:09 PM, soltakss said:

At one point, someone converted miles to kilometers but did not do it for everything, resulting in distance inflation.

I've a vague recollection of some such issue.

However, I’m not sure whether it’s been noted in the Pegasus Plateau corrections thread, but the scale for the Locaem map on p29 seems to be out to me.  I’d believe it if it were miles not km, and the top tick should be 16, not 20. 

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By the way I had to measure a distance recently so I figured I would join in this fun exercise. My conclusions are close to the OP but with the following remarks:

  • I don't see a difference between AAA and the Guide beyond simple measuring error.
  • The AAA/Guide maps can be made roughly consistent with the RQG maps by treating hexes as ~11km.
  • I noticed that S:KoH and S:C have a lot of different maps... so I measured a few of them, instead of picking just one. Of the four maps I measured in S:KoH, two are consistent with the RQG maps (p232 and p237), and two are somehow using a different scale (p283 and p285). I'll assume that the latter are wrong, and that the S:C map suffers from the same wrong scale.
Edited by lordabdul
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I went to look for something in King of Sartar and while I was there I figured I would once again measure the distance from Clearwine to Boldhome. It ended up being somewhere between AAA/GtG (~45km) and the RQ/HQ books (~62km) (as far as the "assumed correct" scale goes, see previous post). Fun stuff.

Edited by lordabdul
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