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Cartographers of the Known World

by Jesper Andersen

I wanted to make maps and charts something valuable and necessary in my game, so I started thinking about where PC's get their hands on such items. This is the first installment of what will hopefully become a mini-series

The Imperial Cartographers

The largest collection of maps outside Alphatia, the impressive Imperial Cartographers in Thyatis City is a shop, a map library and museum, a production facility and the guild hall of the Cartographers’ Guild in Thyatis all in one. Security is heavy at all times for many of the maps in the vaults are beyond priceless. A detachment of the emperor’s own Praetorian Guard is stationed here at all times as well as several wizards with permanent Detect Invisible spells and Wands of Fire Extinguishing. The vaults where the most precious maps and charts are kept are also trapped against intruders and probably guarded in other secret ways.

A large section of the building contains the map shop – probably the most impressive collection of purchasable maps anywhere in the Known World. When rolling for “Chart and map availability” (see Gaz 9, page 35) add 40 percent to the base chance of 98 percent (Thyatis City being a class A port) of finding the needed chart or map. The DM should feel free to adjust the prices of rare and highly accurate charts and maps as he or she sees fit. Beautifully coloured or decorated maps should also cost more than average.

The shop is divided into many sections covering different geographical parts of the world, and the staff on hand will gladly help any customers find what they need. No customer is allowed to simply peruse at their own leisure, however. You specify what you need, and the clerk will bring you a selection to look over.

The shop also contains a map and chart appraisal and purchase desk, where adventurers and others who find themselves in possession of a map can have it appraised for a fee and perhaps sell it to the Imperial Cartographers.

Finally, a small section of the shop also sells items for map-making such as paper, parchment, inks, quills and brushes as well as navigational equipment for seafaring.

On top of the shop is a library and museum, where visitors can study maps on display or request access to maps that are no longer reproduced and sold in the shop below. Typically these would be maps that for some reason have been updated in later editions or maps that display a previous age or dynasty. Such maps are rare and valuable from a historical and research perspective, and so any person wanting to study a map that is not on display has to pay a fee equal to consulting a sage. To enter the museum and just look at the maps on display also costs a minor fee.

In the back of the library are the non-public areas, which lead to storage rooms, the vaults, guard rooms and living quarters of the staff. Here, stairs also lead up to the next floor, which contains a large production hall where rows of cartographers labour tirelessly to reproduce the stock of maps. Only maps not of importance to national security are reproduced here. The emperor’s secret service ensures that any maps intended for imperial military use only stay off limits to civilians.

Adjacent to the main building is the guild hall of the Cartographers’ Guild – a magnificent marble structure with a huge map of the Known World laid into the floor of the central hall as a mosaic. Around the edges of the hall are the offices where the guild conducts its daily business, meetings and negotiations.

Sample characters:

Alexander Remigius
Map appraiser and vendor.
Alexander is a middle-aged man who works in the shop at the Imperial Cartographers, where he both appraises maps and charts before purchase by the guild and sells maps and charts to interested customers. Alexander is highly skilled and can spot a forgery better than most of his peers. In such situations, he will often use his good sense of character before determining whether to call the guards or not. Alexander drives a hard bargain but is also fair and honest in trade –something not that common among Thyatians.

Titus Petronius
Guild Master of the Cartographers’ Guild.
Titus is a stately man in his early fifties. In his younger days, he was an engineer and officer in the Imperial Legions and participated in many military campaigns around the world. Eventually, he settled down in Thyatis City and his career secured him a prominent position in the Cartographers’ Guild. Three years ago he became master of the guild and he now strives to maintain the Imperial Cartographers as the world’s finest. Titus often hires adventurers to explore what uncharted wilderness remains or to bring back updated maps of lands far away.

Popidus Fimus
Sage and librarian.
Popidus is an old man with a beard that almost touches the ground. He frequently has to quell a dry cough with cups of watered-down wine, but his mind is still sharp most of the time. As head librarian and caretaker of the Imperial Cartographers’ Museum, he knows the most intimate secrets of the guild, including how to get into the vaults below and what treasures lie within. Some years ago, agents of a foreign power – many suspect Alphatia – tried to kidnap Popidus to force his secrets from him. Fortunately, the old sage was rescued and the kidnappers killed before any harm came to him. The incident has done nothing to make Popidus weary of strangers, so the Cartographers’ Guild decided to approach the Emperor, whose court mage summoned a permanent Invisible Stalker to watch over Popidus.