Happy Halloween! In my “State of the Frontier” post last week, I mentioned that I was working on updating an old map that I had created many years (i.e. decades) ago for use as my main campaign map of the Frontier region. Today, I’m posting the (near) final version of that map. Along with a bit of history and explanation.
The original map was hand drawn in the late 80’s on six 8.5″x11″ pieces of quad-ruled graph paper and then taped together. I’ve kept it in a cardboard poster tube all these years when I haven’t actually been using it. Right now it’s rolled up inside out to try to get some of the decades of bend rolled out the other direction.
The map was drawn back before I acquired a personal copy of Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space, Vol 1. I didn’t get my first copy of that until 1992, many years after Star Frontiers went out of print. My copy was actually a gift from some fellow role-players.
I had, however, looked at a Zeb’s Guide and its beautiful map at some point before I drew mine. There are too many similarities between the area just around the Frontier in my map and the Zeb’s map to chalk up to mere coincidence. The two most noticeable are the star cluster to the upper left of the Frontier and the neutron star just below it. I would have had zero reason to put a cluster like that (I had four stars and the Zeb’s Guide map had 3) anywhere, let alone there, if I had not seen the published map at some point. And I had exactly the same use for the neutron star system at the location of Lynchpin as the published timeline had. I had a different route to it but the idea was there from a perusal of Zeb’s Guide in a bookstore.
I have now updated my map to better match the map in Zebulon’s Guide as well as included some additional fan created maps of the areas of space the Saurians and S’sessu come from. These changes mainly affect the area below the Frontier and to the right of Liberty system (from the Beyond the Frontier modules).
There are a few differences. Most importantly is the location of the new systems described in the published modules. I place the Rhianna (Mission to Alcazzar) and Starmist (Sundown on Starmist) systems in the locations specified in the modules, not where the Zeb’s Guide map places them. I always thought it was strange that they would move them from the published locations. In truth, only Rhianna was given a general location (inside the loop formed by Cassidine, Timeon, and White Light) but given the way Starmist was discovered (by emergency landing which I took to mean from a mis-jump), I don’t think the Zeb’s Guide location (outside the main Frontier) makes sense for that system and I like mine better (and the system I chose was left off the Zeb’s map completely!). My location for the Belnafaer system (Bugs in the System) only differs by one star from the Zeb’s map and both correspond to the module description. For now I’ve left it where I originally placed it but might move it for consistency. Finally, the location of the Tristkar system (Dark Side of the Moon) is exactly where Zeb’s Guide places it. From the description in the module, the location of the Solar Major system would make a little more sense but since I didn’t actually have this system on my map originally, using the Zeb’s Guide location works just fine.
Second, I don’t have the plague worlds from Zeb’s Guide (the system I choose for Rhianna is actually Zeb’s Delta plague world). On my map they are just unexplored systems.
Finally, while I don’t normally use the MegaCorp systems in my campaign I’ve included them for completeness. I’ve also redrawn the nebulae in the Frontier region to more match the ones drawn in the Zeb’s Guide map and added in the Rim planets.
On the side of fan produced materials, I’ve added in the locations of the Saurian and S’sessu worlds from maps published in issues 4 and 16 of the Frontier Explorer and adjusted my map accordingly.
The New Map
So with that introduction, here’s the updated map.
The smaller blue box is the area covered by the original Frontier map and the large blue box is the area covered by the Zeb’s Guide map.
This is very much a “player-facing” map. It doesn’t contain secret jump routes (with the exception of the one between Truane’s Star to Cassidine that I forgot to remove 🙂 ) that are known to the UPF, MegaCorps, pirates, or the sathar. If I was using it for my game, there are even parts of this map that I would not use (i.e. the MegaCorp planets, and S’sessu and Saurian space) at least not to begin with as those are discovered in game. I’ve set the map up with all these bits and pieces on separate layers so that I can turn them on and off as needed.
The map extends more upward from the Frontier than down because the Vast Expanse, an area that I consider to be fairly devoid of stars, is “down” and exploration is easier (due to shorter jump distances) in the “up” direction. You can see the much lower density of stars in that direction. It gets even worse going further off the map.
While I still have some small tweaking to do on this map, mainly with labeling, it is completely usable.
While this is a completely functional map, it’s not super pretty. One of the things I’d like to do is give it a color makeover so it looks more like the maps that my star sector generator program produces. Those maps look like this:
However, that might have to wait for a while. Although when I get to it, it will make a pretty awesome poster.
The actual next step is to work out the logistics of the Second Sathar War and the sathar assault on the Frontier. The sathar are out there on that Extended Frontier map although I didn’t show their systems and jump routes. Given that I know know all the jump routes, I can start figuring out how long it would take for them to maneuver and launch offensives and resupply their ships from their starship construction centers. Some exploration by the UPF and well placed raids could significantly influence the outcome of the conflict.
If you have any thoughts or comments on the map, let me know.
Update: Just saw today that the RPG Blog Carnival topic for November (hosted by Nuketown) is “All These Worlds …”. My post was a day early (and I didn’t know the topic or I might have waited) but it’s close enough that I think it applies. So this post is part of this month’s blog carnival and I might have some more related posts in the coming weeks.