17 May 2018

Charting The Flanaess: a Settlements Distance and Mileage Chart

So, over 24 months ago I began a discussion in The Flanaess Geographical Society trying to locate a Greyhawk-specific distance/mileage chart for cities.  After some lengthy sleuthing, ideas bouncing, and general rummaging around in our collective memories, we came to the conclusion that such a chart didn't exist after all, so I suggested deriving and calculating the distances between settlements across the Flanaess using Darlene's and Anna Meyer's hex maps.  And, as with many things in internet discourse, that was that. 

Fast-forward to the present.  Given the approach of summer and the imminence of more-active campaigning in the World of Greyhawk (today was our two sons' last day of school until August), I've begun mulling this mileage chart over in earnest once more, and over the past week or two I've begun to build it.

So, I began with the 1983 boxed set's An Index to the Cities & Features of the Flanaess, from the inside back cover of the Glassography booklet:

An Index to the Cities & Features
of the Flanaess

I mined it for its 130 city names and their associated hex-coordinate locations.  Those formed the backbone for the spreadsheet that I began to build in MS Excel:

grodog's Settlements Metadata Worksheet

Once I had that, I immediately began to expand the baseline settlements listing to include known and named settlements not present the original list, starting with the classic 576 CY Gygaxian era of Greyhawk.  I've already re-combed through the 1980 Gazetteer and 1983 Guide and Glassography booklets, and started in on the various Gygax and Kuntz articles from The Dragon.  Through this mining, I've added a bunch of new settlement names to the baseline list---Blackmoor (the ruin), the free town of Deskpoint, and the small town of Dingaverge (in hex A4-54), to name a few---and I'm sure many more will follow in time:

grodog at work,
constructing Greyhawk

For this project, I have several (too many) goals in mind, of which, the first is probably the least important, despite being the most immediately-useful and -visible tool that will result from these efforts:

  1. To create an atlas-style mileage chart that displays the distance between cities in Greyhawk;   something along the lines of this, from Call of Cthulhu's Sourcebook for the 1920s:
    Sample distances from Chaosium's classic
    Call of Cthulhu RPG
  2. To capture the settlement-specific metadata that's embedded within Darlene's Greyhawk maps:  name, size, hex location, type (capital, walled, free, etc.), port type (sea port, river port, both), population, etc., as well as working to document or to derive additional, relevant metadata like settlement population percentage relative to total national population, settlement elevation above/below sea level, trading partners, et al.
  3. To build a metadata model that describes the key attributes for Greyhawk's settlements so that they're clearly defined across publishing eras while also compiling the explicit information scattered across various canon and non-canon sources, in errata, etc.  This, right here, is the major scope-creep/feature bloat aspect of this project.
  4. To marry the settlement-related metadata within this model to the robust metadata and information already captured within Jason Zavoda's wonderful Encyclopedia Greyhawkania Index (easily the best research tool available to the Greyhawk fan community, and one that's unfortunately under-leveraged by most fans), and to use that to help build out the settlement metadata across Greyhawk's later publishing eras.
  5. Laying a metadata foundation that could be leveraged by Anna Meyer during her next big Greyhawk mapping project.  

When I'm done, all of that metadata will be used to populate the Settlements Distance and Mileage Chart, which I've built a template for in another tab in Excel:

grodog's Settlements Distance
and Mileage Matrix Chart

This project will take quite awhile to complete in full, but I should be able to build out a basic derived distances mileage chart fairly quickly, using just the baseline 130 cities---or at least I think so, since I just have to count the number of hexes between two points on the maps and multiple that figure by 30 miles per hex.  It'll be easy, right?



PS - 19 Jan 2019:  Update #1 is available.


  1. Attaboy Allan! I love this idea and I'm rather jealous I didn't think of it first. I used to love those mileage charts and now applied to GH it seems so obvious.

    1. Thanks Mike!---it'll be a fun project. I've spent some time this weekend layering in the dungeon module locations from the Glassography, too, so then I just need to go through and pull out the other module locations by hex, too.


  2. Just throwing my support behind this once more. (I thought I had commented here, but maybe it was on the FB side of things?) It's a terrific idea and one that would be most helpful to DMs. Who knows, maybe some day there will be a Red Dead Redemption II-style video game of Greyhawk wherein players can traverse the Flanaess and the distances you compile will be the catalyst for it. One can dream!

    Best of luck the rest of the way on this, Allan.


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