Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Geography of Titan!

Titan - the Fighting Fantasy world!

Steve Luxton, original cartographer for the sourcebook Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World (Gascoigne, 1986), recently got in touch with the gang at Titan_Rebuilding. He's looking at redrawing the original maps of Titan and its various continents for Arion Games upcoming release of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules system. Steve wants to know what improvements can be made to the Fighting Fantasy maps to make them more accurate and remove or reduce the errors that crept into the original designs. This blog post has two functions then:
  • To highlight the errors and inconsistencies in the original maps from Titan.
  • To serve as a forum, via the comments section, where YOU state your opinion as to what should change and what should stay the same, and also to add any spotted errors that may have been missed.
For this post, we're just looking at the big map of Titan (see Figure 1), and from what I can see, most potential changes can be grouped under three main categories.

Figure 1: The World of Titan, by Steve Luxton (from Gascoigne, 1986).

1. The Shape of the Continents.

In the bad old days before Photoshop, the nearest equivalent you had to resizing images and placing them in a new image was the office photocopier. This may explain why the shapes and sizes of the various continents on the big map of Titan differ radically from their appearance in their individuals maps. Figure 2 shows the map of Titan with the individual shapes of the continents superimposed over the top.

Figure 2. The continents of Titan. Actual shape of continents as coloured overlay.
Two further points follow on from this.

a) Priorities. If we want to make an accurate map of Titan, we need an accurate map of each of the three continents developed first, so we can then downsize them and insert them into the main map. Unfortunately this goes against Steve's idea of sorting the main map out first, and then letting the rest follow on from there.

b) Scale. Accurate map scales are rubbish in the world of Titan. This is easily established, thanks to Warren M., by looking at the map of Khul the Dark Continent in Figure 3. The distance between the towns of Willowbend and Fenmarge takes one day to travel through in Scorpion Swamp (Jackson, 1984), and yet a similar distance in the Inland Sea make take a week or more of sailing in Seas of Blood (Chapman, 1986). Ironically, the scale looks a bit better on the otherwise incorrect Titan map, where the Inland Sea is larger, than the individual map of Khul.

Figure 3. Khul, the Dark Continent, by Steve Luxton (from Gascoigne, 1986).

2. The Climate of Titan.

Another problem area! Figure 4 shows an expected climate map of Titan, with a central tropical equatorial orange band, bordered by two green bands of more temperate climates, and surmounted by icy polar regions in blue, at the north and south poles.

Figure 4. The expected climate of Titan (blue: polar, green: temperate, orange: tropical).
Unfortunately, this isn't what we find when we look at both the original map of Titan and what we read about in the various gamebooks themselves. Figure 5 shows a simplified look at Titan's unusual climate where we have a narrow northern temperate band followed by a broad tropical climate area, followed by more temperate regions (in Khul), then more tropics in southern Khul, then the southern polar area! Just what is going on and what solution can we come up with?

Figure 5. The actual climate of Titan (blue: polar, green: temperate, orange: tropical).
Given that the climate weirdness of Titan is due in part to the tropical areas of southern Khul, perhaps one approach would be to invert Khul so that its tropical region lies within the main equatorial band. Figure 6 shows this, with Khul effectively becoming an upside down continent in the southern hemisphere. The problem here of course is that it disregards 25 years of established Fighting Fantasy canon.

Figure 6. Climate solution #1: Flip Khul upside down! [a.k.a "Australian Solution"]
A better approach may be simply accept the fact that Titan's climate is highly irregular and heavily messed-up. This could be due to any of the following:
  • The War of the Wizards, and the creation of the Wastes of Chaos in central Khul.
  • A lingering tectonic/magnetic anomaly caused by the Splitting of the Lands following the sinking of Atlantis.
  • Problems stemming from the original First Battle of the Gods, and the release of Chronada the God of Time into the atmosphere of the planet Titan.
  • A combination of all of the above three theories!

Figure 7. Climate solution #2: The unexplained Khulian anomaly!
What it gives us is Figure 7. This map looks almost normal, were it not for the strange temperate region of most of Khul, otherwise surrounded by equatorial tropics. Perhaps the Wastes of Chaos are somehow responsible after all...

3. The Lost Lands of Titan.

There has been a considerable amount of geological and tectonic upheaval on the planet of Titan. It would be nice to see a few references this on the main map of the world, especially since their locations will not be covered by any of the individual maps of the continents. Figure 8 shows us the location of two of Titan's major lost land-masses: Atlantis and Vangoria.

Figure 8. The lost lands of Titan (Atlantis: orange, Vangoria: green).

a) Atlantis. The sinking of Atlantis caused the cataclysm that split the great continent of Irritaria into the three lands of Allansia, Khul, and the Old World. Although its final resting place has never been shown, we know from Demons of the Deep (Jackson, 1986) that the sunken capital of Atlantis lies near Fish Island and Skull Island in the Western Ocean. Figure 8 therefore demonstrates a potential location to mark it on the map of Titan. Of course, the whole island of Atlantis does not need to be marked. Perhaps instead we could just have a cross that says "Sunken City of Atlantis" or something similar.

Figure 9. The land of Vangoria,
(artist unknown, from Jackson, 1993).

b) Vangoria. The continent of Vangoria, and its connection to the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan, is a little more obscure. Vangoria was the world of Steve Jackson's collectible card game BattleCards, and Figure 9 depicts it in all its glory. An immediate link to Titan can be seen here - the Eelsea of Vangoria's eastern coast matches the Eelsea of the Old World's western coast (other links can be found here). Hence the decision in Figure 8 to place the sunken continent of Vangoria in the northern waters between the Old World and Allansia.

Obviously Vangoria was another product of the Splitting of Irritaria and existed for several centuries in the obscure period immediately following that cataclysm. However, a secondary tectonic disaster (perhaps caused by the magical wars of succession described in and by the BattleCards game itself), caused Vangoria, like Atlantis before it, to sink beneath the waves, leaving us just a few scattered islands (Dolphin Island, Compass Island, and the Cragspider archipelago) to mark its passing. One could also make the argument that survivors from Vangoria made it to both the Island of Scars and its neighbouring Isle of Despair to account for the diverse populations supported by these otherwise highly isolated places.

Given that it is much more obscure than Atlantis, if we want to record its presence on the main map of Titan, we probably would look for a dotted outline of the continent and labelled "Lost Land of Vangoria".

c) Islands of Titans. Offhand, I can't think of any other issues with the island and other lands of Titan (apart from Allansia, Khul, and the Old World, which will merit separate posts). A few small things would be to finally label the Isle of Despair (alongside the Island of Scars), and perhaps also Stayng Island (the eastern-most islet in the Arrowhead Archipelago), but that's about it. There are other islands mentioned in Demons of the Deep (Jackson, 1986), but given their size and location it's probable they make up the Blood Islands group.

Phew! That's it from me. What do YOU thing needs changing (or not)?


Chapman, A. (1985). Seas of Blood. London: Puffin Books.

Gascoigne, M. (1986). Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World. London: Puffin Books.

Jackson, S. (1984). Scorpion Swamp. London: Puffin Books.

Jackson, S. (1986). Demons of the Deep. London: Puffin Books.

Jackson, S. (1993). BattleCards. San Diego, California: Merlin Publishing International.


  1. Great post!

    In regards to climate, I wouldn't worry about getting it accurate. The world is crafted from magic clay and built upon by gods. Hot spots, cold spots and everything in between can be wherever they want because Titan is a world of magic and fantasy and doesn't need to conform to the same rules as our Earth.

    I would also like to point out that Vangoria is NOT definitively set in the same world as Titan. The only connection between the two is the Eelsea and its creator Steve Jackson. Its possible he was fond of the name Eelsea and decided to use it in both projects. There is nothing else linking the two and in my personal opinion it should not be included as part of the Fighting Fantasy canon. The same goes for the land of Gundobad from the Clash of the Princes books. Not everything has to be crammed into Titan.

    Apart from that, awesome job and I hope some more FF fans jump in with their thoughts.

    Brett S.

  2. Excellent work, Andy!

    I haven't read all this yet but I do need to point out that this has nothing to do with Arion (to date, we have only discussed a limited edition print of Blacksand and the possibility of new work). Nobody has asked me to do this.

    In my first post on Titan Rebuilding I stated that this is YOUR game, and I would like to remind you all that I did these maps as a fan who got lucky.

    It is also a point of principle that Simon Osborne and others get to see their work on the atlas recognised because that is what started me off, even if it needs to be edited and presented differently.

    Hopefully, we can get all this organised and persuade Arion to publish...

    Steve aka Mr Nibbs

  3. I think Warren proved in his article in issue #1 ("Can't Find Gundobad...") that Gundobad does fit onto the continent of Khul fairly easily, so I don't see why it can't be included. What I'd like to know is should the 'Unknown Land' at the bottom of the original map be dispensed with?

  4. Andy, I think this is a wonderful post, and I love your adaptions of Steve's excellent maps!

    I may come back with other points, but here's a few thoughts for now:

    1) The original world map has a slight feel of an Eckert IV projection (I just got the term from Wikipedia, seems to fit what I'm thinking of), so that there is some distortion, maybe accounting for the slightly different shapes of the continents.

    2) Love the climate maps! They are pretty spot on except that they ignore the fact that much of the centre of Khul is hot (see 'Master of Chaos'). Arion may be warm temperate, and I think the same could be said for Kazan and Zamarra (the southern edge of them is in your tropical area). I take Brett's point about the climate being screwy for good reason.

    3) Had to laugh at the upsidedown Khul, but that would fly in the face of all sorts of things from canon. The problem of why Khul has a different night sky than Allansia, but has the same seasons at the same time still has to be resolved...

    4) Having considered the location of Gundobad at length and taking Andrew Chapman's endorsement of it being in Titan into account, I think it would be a pity not to place it somewhere, and I think that Kalagar=Kalamdar is the best bet. The whole 'Clash of the Princes' setting just seems more Khul than anywhere else.

    5) I like the idea of Vangoria being a lost land between Allansia and the Old World (and there are a few other connections other than the Eelsea between it and Titan, but Brett is right, they probably weren't originally intended to be in the same world). Have you thought of how Vangoria fits into the single Irritarian continent? Is there enough room for it between what would later become Allansia and the Old World?

    6) What do the rest of you think about the idea of integrating elements from 'Ashkar the Magnificent' into Khul where possible, considering that the two 'worlds' are the same 'world'?

    Anyway, great stuff, I'm sure I'll think of something else as soon as I press send.

  5. Oh, aye, I think it would be wrong to ditch the 'Unknown Land'. No harm leaving it there peeking over the edge of the map like some kind of geographical Chad/Kilroy. 'No-one was here', 'Wot, no inhabitants'...

  6. Thought provoking stuff, gentlemen. Obviously there are lots of awkward thingies to deal with. Never mind, it will all start making sense when you see the COMPLETE map of Titan.

  7. Good try with the Ekhart idea, Warren, but the map isn't any kind of projection. To project a plan onto a sphere you need a sphere to project onto. Since the map goes off the page you can tell it's incomplete. In fact, you can't even tell how much of the planet is shown on the map... think quasi-medieval and forget all about modern maps that require laser rangefinders, satellites, and accurate time-pieces to make... look up portolan and periplus instead... as for the "unknown land" someone might like to start designing it now and think about calling it Gundobad... Kalagar/Kalamdar? Maybe the Kal- prefix means "port". They don't need to be the same place, or even on the same continent...
    Yours Heretically...

  8. Re Andy's notes at the start.
    Priorities. There is no reason not to start with the continental maps and their placement on the main map, but you need to be aware that I am working on a global map of Titan, and placing the main map on that needs to be taken into account.

    My first draft global map currently has Arion situated about 20 miles north of the equator, and gives the planet a circumference of 4000 miles at the equator. On the global map, the main map measures 3000 miles east to west.

    Having a global map makes sorting out some of the inconsistencies a lot easier. It also allows the mapping of the Unknown Land (Gundobad?) which runs off the bottom of the map, and makes room for polar regions.

    Kalagar/Kalamdar... the prefix Kal- could translate as "port", which means they could be different locations.

    The way I see it, Arion is developing the game, someone has to write canon, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be you.

  9. Re Andy's notes at the start.
    Priorities. There is no reason not to start with the continental maps and their placement on the main map, but you need to be aware that I am working on a global map of Titan, and placing the main map on that needs to be taken into account.

    My first draft global map currently has Arion situated about 20 miles north of the equator, and gives the planet a circumference of 4000 miles at the equator. On the global map, the main map measures 3000 miles east to west.

    Having a global map makes sorting out some of the inconsistencies a lot easier. It also allows the mapping of the Unknown Land (Gundobad?) which runs off the bottom of the map, and makes room for polar regions.

    There is no reason to assume that canon is always correct, particlarly when it appears to be self-contradictory... Copernicus, Galileo, v The Inquisition... whose side are you on?

    The way I see it, Arion is developing the game, someone has to write new canon, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be you.

  10. Great work Andrew !

    My two cents :

    1. Imho the magical nature of the Wastes of Chaos is a sufficient explanation for the Khul climate anomaly :D

    2. The Inland Sea seems to be the main scale issue. And in some way that's an esthetical issue too. On the maps, the Inland Sea looks more like a great bay than a real interior sea.

    Suggestion : the size of the Inland Sea could be extremely increased (x2) to the west (reducing the Scytheria Desert width, and moving the Wastes of Chaos, the Montains of the Giants and Fenmarge to the west (and reducing the distance between Fenmarge and Willowbend by the way)) and to the north (but that could cause canonicity troubles with 'Master of Chaos', I don't remember how long lasts a journey between Ashkyos and Kabesh).

    3. A secondary issue seems to be the few amount of overwater lands. I calculated on the Titan map, using ImageJ tool : they are only 15% of overwater lands (not including Atlantis and Vangoria of course). Titan looks like a big ocean-planet with many islands, three of them bigger than the other ones.
    Anyway that's a nitpicking detail.

    4. For the unknown land beyond Marpesia, I liked the Kamada Varrentis idea from Morris and Thomson 'Curse of the God Kings' synopsis :

    5. Another secondary consideration : the map could show northem ice field.

    6. Another one : the map could show the western shore of Allansia to its right edge and the eastern shore of the Old Word to its left edge. This could help to evaluate the distance between Analand and Blacksand for example.

    Best regards

  11. The Inland Sea. The map should take priority. Commissioning editor/author of Titan, Marc Gascoigne supplied the sketches and approved the artwork.

  12. @Mister Nibbs: "To project a plan onto a sphere you need a sphere to project onto."

    Warren: Fair enough. I think Titan makes clear, of course, that the planet is a globe; maybe we need to start there?

    @Mister Nibbs: "Since the map goes off the page you can tell it's incomplete. In fact, you can't even tell how much of the planet is shown on the map"

    Warren: We can tell that most of the world is represented by considering a few details. Firstly, Allansia and the Old World are separated by the Western Ocean. The adventure in 'Demons of the Deep' starts (and hopefully ends) off the west coast of Allansia, and involves Fish Island, which is marked on the Titan map, so it looks like there can't be too much of the Western Ocean missing from the map. Secondly, Khul is definitely in the southern hemisphere, since it has a different set of constellations from Allansia and the Old World. This means that the southern edge of the world map can't be too far off the south pole (as the frozen northern reaches of Allansia can't be too far off the north pole), otherwise Khul is going to be pretty much at or just south of the 'equator'.

    @Mister Nibbs: "as for the 'unknown land' someone might like to start designing it now and think about calling it Gundobad"

    Warren: This idea has been mooted before, but I've never been a fan of it for several reasons. Firstly, it looks like the Unknown Land is so far south that it ought to be Titan's equivalent of Antarctica. Secondly, I like the idea of it being an 'Unknown Land', on the edge of knowledge and reason. Thirdly, Gundobad does actually fit quite nicely, geographically and culturally, into northern Khul. Fourthly, I'd prefer to see some of the blanks on the three known continents filled up rather than extending adventures to new lands.

  13. @Mister Nibbs: "The Inland Sea. The map should take priority. Commissioning editor/author of Titan, Marc Gascoigne supplied the sketches and approved the artwork."

    Interesting! I'd be keen to know more about the whole process. Maybe I'll get some answers in the forthcoming interview in Fantazine 6. Did Marc also supply the names on the maps (since quite a few of the names on the Titan maps had never appeared anywhere else before its publication)?

  14. OK, even more curious than I first thought! This post claims there are 15 comments, but only 13 are listed when you click on them. Two of Steve's posts appear further up the list than expected (they weren't there when I posted earlier), and they are almost identical, but not quite. And I've just spent most of half an hour putting up a long comment which disappeared entirely. Bummer! So as to avoid that problem again, I'll reconstruct it in chunks, rather than as one big one.

  15. Right, on the point of placing the equator 20 miles south of Arion, this is problematic if we assume (as I think we should) that latitude influences climate on Titan.

    Latitude does seem to affect climate in Titan, especially in Allansia and the Old World. Northern Allansia is a frozen waste, and I think there is a mention of this being near to Titan's north pole in 'Allansia'. Southern Allansia is much warmer, sub-tropical and tropical, and the same can probably be said for the Old World, since Far Analand is an exotic land of spices.

    Placing Arion near the equator means that it should be tropical. This would also mean that Scorpion Swamp and the Neuburg area should also be tropical or subtropical. But they aren't. Arion and the surrounding area has temperate forests and icy hill-lands, and at most is in a warm temperate zone. Scorpion Swamp is a bit trickier, but the fringes of it at least seem to be temperate or warm temperate. Neuburg and the surrounding forests seem to be the same (but then things get warmer near Lake Mlubz, near the Wastes of Chaos and the Scythera Desert). On the other hand, Ashkyos and the lands to the south are tropical (perhaps as a result of chaos being unleashed on the continent). In fact, it's the areas which have been affected by chaos which seem to be out of kilter with the rest of Khul and Titan.

  16. Situating Arion near the equator obviously makes the circumference of the planet bigger. Regardless of the climate problems referred to in the previous comment, this doesn't seem to fit with what we know about the Western Ocean (which admittedly isn't a lot), as noted in a previous comment.

    It also doesn't fit with Khul having a different night sky than Allansia and the Old World.

    Rather than putting the equator near Arion, I suggest that the evidence points to it lying somewhere between Allansia and the Old World in the north, and Khul in the south, as Andy's climate maps suggest. This means that the circumference of the planet isn't as big as Steve suggests, and that the world map in Titan does show most of the planet. It also means that the Unknown Land is near Titan's south pole, and can't be very big, as there's not much room for it further south.

  17. The equation of Gundobad (more properly the lands around Gundobad) with the Unknown Land also fails on the climate count. Assuming Steve's placement of the equator works (which I don't think it does), the Unknown Land should be cold temperate or even boreal. If the equator lies further north, as I argue it must, then the Unknown Land must be polar.

    The climate of Gundobad and surrounding lands is temperate or warm temperate, and there's even a mini desert to the north of the city. I can't see how this would fit with Gundobad being in the Unknown Land.

  18. I am getting some problems with posting here and figured it was probably me. I know that some of my posts have not appeared.

    Anyway, it's good to see we are getting things sorted out. My instinct still wants to place the equator on the Isles of Refuge.

    Placing the equator nearer to the Wastes of Chaos was an experiment and I've reached the same conclusions as Warren. It obviously doesn't work and is a reject.

    Gundobad. I'm convinced. It should be on Khul. Could it be a remnant of Taralak?

    In the Titan book, the map of Atlantis before is destruction clearly shows the continental shelves of each continent before separation. Please note that the device in the lower left corner does NOT point north on purpose. On that map both the Isles of the Dawn and The Unknown Land appear as sub-continents of Khul.

    The same map also shows three small areas of higher ground between Khul and Allansia. I assume these are the Islands of Scars, Refuge, and Springhope.

    A line drawn through the middle of the drawing passes through the tip of what seems to be the Isles of Refuge.
    Does the equator work better there?

    The Unknown Land is fairly small and need not be polar, as it sits on a line with the Isles of the Dawn. Australia is a long way south and has a hot climate and deserts.

  19. Personally I always liked to think of the Unknown Land as Titan's Australia equivalent. Perhaps before it becomes settled by Gallantaria as a prison colony populated by giant kangaroos and prehistoric wombats.

    Anyway, here are some travelling distances that I have scoured from the FF series that may help in working out the scale of the map and the distances between settlements.

    Fang - Oyster Bay = 2 days by horse
    Fang - Darkwood Forest = 3 days walk
    Fang - Zengis = 20 days upstream
    Flatlands = 4 months walk / 2 months ride
    Icefinger Mtns - River Kok = 2 days travel south
    Icefinger Mtns - Fang = 50 miles from River Kok
    Icefinger Mtns - Kaad = 4-5 days walk
    Salamonis - Chalice = 4 days ride, 6 days walk
    Salamonis - Port Blacksand = 7 days ride, 10 days walk
    Port Blacksand - Meerham = 2 days ride south
    Port Blacksand - Fang = 4 days upriver
    Port Blacksand - Silverton = 50 miles east
    Port Blacksand - Oyster Bay = 60 miles
    River Kok - Zengis = 20 days
    River Kok - Windward Plain = many days
    Stonebridge - Fang = 3 days hard ride
    Marzail - Sharndale = 13km east
    Royal Lendle - Magyaar Pass - 1 days walk south

    Hope that helps.


  20. I think the equator at the Isles of Refuge is perfect. Khul is always going to be a bit of problem climatically, but it is generally warm temperate outside of the chaos afflicted zones, so that works well.

    I suspect that Taralak fed into the citystates of northwest Khul. Of course since it is a federation from before the splitting, we're never going to know much about its geographical extent; it may well have extended inland as far as central north Khul.

    Just a point on the Unknown Land. I think it isn't shown on the Atlantis map - I think the large island just of the SW coast is what later bacame Marpesia and Kalim. I love the idea of giant Wombats!

    The Isles of the Dawn are a funny one, and should probably be further north (especially if the description of your journey from them to Arion in 'Deathmoor' is anything to go by). That said, most of the action in the adventures set there occurs in the northern half of the island group; the southern half could be a lot cooler (kind of like Hokkaido).

  21. Good work Brett. The time taken to cross the Flatlands is going to be problematic, I suspect. I sounds more like one of those 'It takes for ever to get there' statements than a realistic measure.

  22. Don't forget in distances, Firetop Mountain is a 2 day trek from the nearest village (which is identified as Anvil in "Return to Firetop Mountain").

  23. Aah, Australia. Home to giant wombats, large bouncing mice, and fierce tribesmen with big knives who worship the crocodile god Mikdundi.
    It's also the probable location of the original artwork for the Titan maps.

    Thanks for the distances Brett. From some of those, I figure Allansia is about 1500 miles north to south. Is that about right?

    I have some sketches. How do I post them here?

  24. WOW! Thanks guys - some awesome comments there and much to ponder and think about! Great stuff! A few notes:

    Steve: You can't post sketches up here unfortunately. Given we've had such a good discussion here though, you could email them to me, and then I'll post them up in a new post like this one, for people to discuss again (Round 2!). If you want to email the sketches to me, my email address is greyarea13 at hotmail dot com or andrewwright73 at gmail dot com

    Apologies for any posting issues - best way I find is to type it up in Word first and then cut and past, so at least you have a backup copy. Also, 2 of Steve's comments got flagged as spam - not really sure what happened there?

    It's been interesting reading all the different points of view and I tend to find myself agreeing with all of them, for various reasons. If I had to be nailed down to specifics however, then here they are:

    - Vastariner mentioned on the unofficial forum that there could be an axial tilt to the Titan plant which would certainly explain the skewed nature of Figure 7 (though not the Khulian anomaly).

    - I like including Gundobad and Vangoria, though perhaps with a ? next to their name so you can take it or leave it.

    - the map can't be too much bigger because we know from Demons of the Deep that it doesn't take too long to sail from Port Blacksand (westernmost map edge) to Fish Island (easternmost map edge). Basically, this map should be all we use.

    Just a few ideas..



  25. I think my post problem was to do with me creating a new id elsewhere and not logging on properly.

    Andy: I'll post you the sketch map. It's still not right but progress is happening. I'm also thinking about putting together a page with sketches and notes which might be useful as a reference later.

    About the new map. This isn't just a matter of correcting the old map. The new map will show all of Titan, and working out the size of the globe is what this first part is about. There is more than one solution, but the new map will look different and should add something new. If it does work out, I would like to get it approved and published, so I'm keeping Arion's AFF2 in mind.

  26. Steve's emailed me the revised map, which I've now posted and commented on here: