Friday Five Minute Maps

I like to make maps.  Whether they are buildings, complexes, starship deck plans, or what not, I enjoy making them.  I don’t know that I’m that great at it but it is fun.

To that end, I’ve been seeing a lot of mentions of “Five Minute Maps”.  The idea is that you sit down, set a timer for five minutes and draw to see what you came up with.  I decided to give it a go.  In fact, I even joined The Friday Five Minute Map group on Google+.  In any case, I did my first map today.


It was drawn in my mapping Moleskin with a 0.5mm pencil.  It’s nothing great but I did do it in five minutes.  It shows a large impact crater with central spire that has been  mostly filled in with a shallow lake.  Probably brackish as there is no outflow channel, just an inflow.  The crater walls have been cut down at two points and a road/bridge has been built across the lake to the central spire which holds (the ruins of) a keep. The entire region around and in the crater is forested (it’s an old crater).

Beyond that you can fill in the details as you wish.  The Friday Five Minute Map group has a theme/inspiration idea for each Friday’s map.  These weeks was this image: of an old foliage covered, ruined tomb keep.  Going with that image, the keep and bridge are overgrown with trees/vines and in a great state of disrepair and the area hasn’t been inhabited for centuries.

Of course that begs the back story of why build the keep there, a question that was asked on the Google+ group after I posted it.  Off the top of my head, this was the answer I came up with (taken from my answer to the question):

Why did they build the castle there in the first place?  Let’s see… It’s an impact crater with a central spire, several tens of miles across.  Maybe there was some mystical properties of the material that was the impactor and which is now buried deep below the center of the crater.  A wizard ferried slaves and overseers to the island via boat and began excavation trying to find the source of mystic energy emanating from the region.  Realizing that this would be a good, isolated place to set up shop, both for magical research and controlling the power source, and that it may take some time to find the meteorite, masons were brought in to work the rock being excavated into a keep that would later become the tomb castle.

As work progressed, moving people and supplies by boat tens of miles across the lake was somewhat tedious and the bridge/road was constructed to ease logistics, again being constructed from material being quarried on the central isle.  What later happened, whether the wizard found the meteor, and what happened to cause the keep to fall into disrepair is left as an exercise for the reader.  🙂

Someone else suggested that maybe it was built by a civilization that just didn’t want to go out of it’s way,  The shortest path between two points was through the crater so off they went.  That got me thinking of another, related reason for building the bridge, namely a short cut.

If the crater is large, and it probably is given that it has a central spire, going around could add tens to hundreds of miles to a journey.  And maybe that was the way things were for centuries.  But then someone decided that they had the engineering know-how to make a bridge across the lake and shorten the distance.  They built the bridge, built a keep on the island in the middle, and then set up a toll booth on the island.  The road across the crater cut out days or weeks of travel.  And since the toll booth was on the island half way through, most people paid to continue on.  You could refuse the pay the toll but then you had to backtrack all the way out and then around.  It made a lot of money for the original constructor.  And was probably the scene of many battles for control over the years.

Anyway, that was my first foray in the the 5 minute map.  I look forward to doing more in the future.

This post originally appeared on my old Programming Space blog.