Sagard, Izmer, and Mapping Western Greyhawk

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

 Funnily enough, this process started with Izmer, the setting of the first and second D&D movies, as discussed in previous posts.  You might think that placing Izmer off the western edge of the Greyhawk map would be a fairly simple matter.  The trouble begins, however, with the fact that no map of the lands of Izmer was ever published. 

Luckily (?) it is pretty well established that "Izmer" was drawn from the filmmaker's home brew campaign, loosely based on Alphatia, an Island empire in the Mystara setting.  Again fortunately, Bruce Heard, one of the principal creators of Mystara, has been posting useful maps of the island. So I just snagged one of Heard's maps of Alphatia, played around with resizing to get a good fit, and tacked it on to the missing end of the Oerth map.  Okay, that's good, I thought.  I'm done.

That's not quite the end of the story, as I read deeper into what others had to say about western Greyhawk, more "canon" material came to light.  First there is a fair amount of information to be found in Gygax's Gord the Rogue books, a useful summary of which is On Drangonsfoot.

So, of course I had to add all those in.  I also found a useable Telchuria map that fit and scanned in some screen shots of area maps from the movies, including a map of the islands where the Orb of  Falazure was hidden: 

and This map of the area around Antius and the Tomb of Savrill.

Other location details had to be drawn out of the movie dialog, such as when Berek explains that to find the Vault of Malek the quickest root will be to pass through the Heartshorn Forest, sail down the Mudwash River to the goblin village of Kurtl where they can learn it's location.  

The final sources were written adventures posted free on WotC and even the novelization of the D&D movie written by Neal Barrett Jr. 

Still not done.  There is still a blank area to the south unaccounted for.  Typically fan made maps of Western Oerik utilize the Dragon Annual "Bearskin" continent, - namely this turd-like peninsula dangling from the south end.

So at first I reluctantly added it too.  Part of the reason for doing so was to provide a logical location for "Jahindi" (Zindia) from the Gord books, while also keeping the theme of Western Oerik being largely isolated and not as prosperous as the Flanaess - you would have to sail around the turd to get to Izmer or cross a vast desert.

Okay, now I'm done right?  Nope.  Enter Sagard the Barbarian.  Let me quote Wikipedia. "Sagard the Barbarian is a series of four Hero's Challenge Gamebooks written by Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and Flint Dille, screenwriter,... Flint Dille met Gary Gygax while Gygax was in Hollywood and they began collaborating on a number of projects, including the Sagard the Barbarian gamebook series (1985-1986)...".  

These are teen "choose your own adventure" type books, set in yet another version of Greyhawk.  I don't have these books, but the maps are readily available online.  Here they are in order from the books:

The leftmost maps, from books 1 and 2, are straight-up Greyhawk.  They show Ratik in Northeastern Greyhawk, with some new towns added, along with the Hydranian islands.  These books span the time Gygax got ousted from TSR, so it is not surprising that the first two maps (1985) conform to Greyhawk while the last two maps from books 3 and 4 (1986) introduce a whole new geography set in a far southern land.  

If you look closely, you will note that it is only the Hydranian Islands that connect all these maps.  We can easily assume their placement on the book 3 map is simply wrong, and therefore Ratik can remain as Ratik is in the first map and as it is in all other Greyhawk maps.  

So then we are left with placing the peninsula shown in maps 3 and 4, and where better to put this than in the place of the "turd" peninsula from the Dragon Annual, non-Gygaxian map.   

It turns out I wasn't the first one to think along these lines.  Oerth Journal #26 (Here) has an excellent article by Erik Mona wherein he distills all the important setting information from the Sagard books and places them on the map in this very location.  Unfortunately, he choose to scrap the Sagard maps and tries relocate these countries onto the turd, along with the place names TSR had already put there ("Nippon") and some fan created material ("Sunela").  Nevertheless, most of the country descriptions in the article are terrific and useful if you just ignore his map.  Heck, if I had seen this article first I might not have done all the research into the Sagard maps, but I'm glad I did.

Now, yes, I'm done.  Below is a map - crudely but accurately done - that incorporates all the research from Izmer, the Gord novels, and the Sagard books into one functional, fascinating, gameworld. Whew! 



Joe said...

That is an insane amount of work right there! Any chance of getting a zoomed in version of Izmer (ie. the parts relevant to the first movie)? The text is a little hard to read.

DHBoggs said...

Maybe - I can but let me check on what progress a friend of mine is making toward a nicer version. It would be better for zoom in sections.

Raymond said...

I've been thinking that the Sagard maps do belong next to Ratik on Yarth. The cities on the Oerth map and these Sagard maps line up if you rotate the Oerth map about 17.5 degrees. Then there is space for both the Sea of Eternity (in what would be the Oerth Great Kingdom area) and a continent across the Gavvardian Channel (based on a backwards Aesheba which matches a backwards Aerth/Afrik continent). I do like your smaller Oerik because it makes room for the Gygax-described continents east and west of Oerik. At one point, Gygax said he wanted to add the Black Moon Chronicles continent and Mentzer said Gygax could place Aquaria to the east of Oerik. The confusing part is that Gygax also said at one point, "Francois had a map of a continent and some islands to the east, and they were going to be added. The "Orient" was actually to be past them, closer to the West Coast of Oerik... Len Lakofka had an eastern continental addition as well as the Lendore Isles, so what I planned to so [clarification needed] was incorporate Francois' and Len's maps with Oerik, complete the lower continent below it, and have a real globe." Does this mean Aquaria is a hidden fifth continent or did he change his mind about Aquaria? What do you think?

DHBoggs said...

Eh, I don't take Gary's comments about his plans for Francois maps very seriously. Francois was a very good friend of his, and I think Gary's plans for his material was more of a complement to a friend than any real intent. Given the comic book nature of Blackmoon Chronicles, the silly names, and so on, I just don't see that happening without very serious revision. Also, they did publish a Francois Greyhawk in the “Sundered Empire” map that added that awful awful gigantic bearskin landmass onto Oerik. That was his map.

As to what Len intended, I've neve seen it, but that would be interesting for sure.

I think Aquaria was another favor to a friend kind of thing and could have happened, but never materialized. I think its really a matter preference if you want it to be on Oerth or not.

James said...

Alright, so I've read this entire post and while I respect the work you've done put into this, I have to ask myself, why on earth would ANYONE want to add this to Greyhawk? The movies were horrid and cringy. I mean, how does it even fit the theme to start with?

DHBoggs said...

Personally I don't find the movies horrid or cringy, and I've watched a lot of movies (heh - film school grad). I do think Wayans performance was absolutely awful and ruined the first movie. So what? There is a book too, but ultimately I don't care about the movies as entertainment or the story of the movie characters. I'm interested in the text details as pseudo Greyhawk cannon. Whether the movies were good cinema or not is totally irrelevant. I'd say the same thing, for example, about the Gord novels.

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