[RPG] Why can’t WotC make up their minds and publish an Official map of Faerun?


The few maps they have vary greatly. For example, sometimes the Anauroch is like an ellipse, sometimes it's almost u-shaped, extending past some of the northern mountain ranges. The Dales, Moonsea and Cormyr all seem to wander about from map to map. Evereska seems huge and close sometimes, tiny and far other times. The Moonsea changes in more than one way, sometimes appearing tiny, other times larger.

What's WotC's problem in providing us with a proper map? Do they think it would spoil the fun? Is it lack of interest? Incompetence?

I really doubt I'm the only one frustrated by this lack of precision… I could bet a real fortune that a great lot of players are mathematically inclined like me, and feel almost anguish at those inconsistencies.

The question is: why can't WotC release a canon map of Toril? We'd still be able to add stuff to it! Islands, kingdoms cities and empires of our own, no problem! But the stuff that's canon shouldn't move around from one supplement to the next. What's their reasoning for doing that?

Best Answer

Long story short, the maps are different across editions because of mainly two different events: the world changed and editorial decisions (basically, the old map was unfit to the new game phylosophy, so it got redrawn).

2e to 3e

When the designers of D&D 3e decided to have a poster map of Faerun sold with the campaign setting book, they had to work with a different paper format.

They decided to fill the map as much as possible, tilting the whole continent in order to remove a huge triangle of sea from the south-western corner.

Some nations or general areas were also moved around after the tilt, in order to minimize unused spaces.

I'm sure I saw an article about it but I'm having some problems finding it, I will add the link and references once I find it.

3e to 4e

D&D 4e's design philosophy, exemplified by the standard setting switching from Greyhawk to the much more generic Points of Light, was to let as much space as possible for the DMs to insert their own content in the game world.

Since 3e maps were filled to the brim with official geography, a huge catastrophe that swapped parts of the planet with a twin planet brought new areas of wilderness in place of existing features. Also, a huge area of the Underdark collpased, changing the scenery even more.

4e maps are very different because 3e geography stopped existing in the 100 or so years that separate the two settings.

3e to 5e

No, that's not a typo. Offended at the creators of 4e that changed the cosmology and geography of the world, Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore (the setting creator and the writer of the most famous books in that setting) planned for some world-changing event that restored most of the world to a pre-4e status. Only some of the more popular new additions, such as Tymanther, remained from the 4e Realms.

I'm not an expert at D&D 5e, but I suppose that most variations from the 3e map are just caused by a different cartographer (both in-game and out-of-game) drawing the map. I have seen the maps and at a first glance they look pretty similar.