As part of planning for Faith, our time travel campaign where the characters go through history adjusting events so their respective gods can become top-tier members of their pantheon, I realized I would need world maps. That’s maps, plural. Chrono Trigger, our thematic launch point, had one world map for each era and expected the players to traverse all of them fully. A simple “yeah, this island is tropical or whatever” wouldn’t suffice for our campaign. The players need the ability to make intelligent decisions based on the current timeline and what they think they can do to change it, and that means I shouldn’t arbitrarily limit their ability to move. I mean, I’m going to limit it. It just won’t be arbitrary.
I made several world maps, one for each era, and decided to hide them from the players so they couldn’t review them until the dramatic reveal. Upon further consideration, I realized that was dumb. I should expect characters to know something about their world, at least as much as most modern people know about other countries, and letting the players see only the world map from their corner of history doesn’t actually add anything to the campaign. This way there’s some chance I’ll get players interested in things like “why is this continent bigger than before?” or “why did this island rotate?”. Questions like that tell me what the players want to know, and thus what they want to see in the game, and thus what I should put into my adventures. So here they are:
Age of Republics, year 3747
Age of Navigation, year 5006
Age of Serpents, year 5812
Age of Marvels, year 7527
Age of Collapse, year 9281
In a past life I was an Int-based DM, so I actually looked up continental drift. On average continents move maybe two to three centimeters per year, so over a ten-thousand year campaign a landmass would not move as much as half a kilometer. Keeping my islands and continents mostly the same was not only simple, it was realistic. But then I remembered that our world doesn’t have plate tectonics because each landmass is actually build on the remains of a civilization that fell into ruin before the current timeline, so I just did whatever I wanted with where the islands were at any given time.
At the moment I have no idea what’s happening on most of these islands. I’ll figure that out as the plot touches them. I don’t care about the detailed backstory of a place the players haven’t visited yet.