Using maps to structure conflicts in your world
Maps don't only allow you to structure your world's locations they also allow to strcuture conflicts.
"Worldbuiding Conflict Map"

Using maps to structure conflicts

Back to basics

Worldbuilding consists of three mayor parts; Locations, NPCs and Conflicts". Or, in short a place where a bunch of people fight out their differences. Using maps to structure your world mights seem obvious. After all, maps tell you which location goes where. Here I'm going to talk on how maps allow you to do the same for your world's conflicts.

City of Ardbeg map marking POI's with numbers

As an example I (again) proudly present Ardbeg. A small mining settlement in The Great Dwarven Empire of my home-brew world.

The stage is set

This is where you tell your story. Not (only) what is located there but what happens there. For the location part I explained Bea's Deep Dug Inn is simple, sturdy bar partially built in the town's cliff. Now for the conflict part I tell you this is where currently a bunch of overworked, drunk miners settle a difference with their fists.

A bar brawl at Bea's Deep Dug Inn

On the Ardbeg map number 37 is "Bea's Deep Dug Inn", where currently a bunch of overworked, drunk miners settle a difference with their fists.

Conflict is subject to change

In fantasy worlds anything can happen but normally number 37 will always be "Bea's Deep Dug Inn". Whereas the conflict that resolves there, what happens there is subject to change. If your players visit in the morning they'll likely find the bar closed. And while the stage is set, you might be telling a whole other story tonight. Bea's might be hosting Ardbeg's elections, she might be closed due to a robbery or last night's brawling might have taken an ugly turn.

The Space between the numbers

Running down the numbers

Running down the numbers might be a problem when using maps to structure your world's locations but the fact conflicts are much more subject to change makes this much less of a problem. In fact it might just solve it. The secret is the space between the numbers.

The space in between the numbers

While your players.
Cost in resources.
Carefull with what they cannot see.
Todo: Add adapted map

Location & conflict, how it comes together

Ofcourse when you tell your story to your players location and conflict will come together seamlessly. So why make a point of keeping them separate? You're designing a world. When designing software it's refered to as the Single responsability principle. You might not need it to deliver but it makes for a much better design. For example; Understanding the difference between structuring locations & conflicts using a map allows for re-use of locations and for solving the running down the numbers problem.


Where they are going vs why they are going there