Dying Sun campaign, I wanted to create a map of the capital city which the PCs will be based in. In the past, when creating city maps, I've always gone for plain paper and free-hand drawing. This time, however, I got the urge to do it as a hex map. I feel like this is a good level of scale for a city. There's no way I'm ever going to get down to the level of mapping out every single street and building, but it's nice to be able to mark on different types of district or specific landmarks. This can be achieved nicely with different hex symbols -- some representing individual important/large buildings, and some representing the general type of building or function in an area.
Another nice thing about doing it as a hex map is that, potentially, the way is open to run some sessions using the standard hex-crawl rules as PCs explore the city, with random encounter tables for the different districts. I don't intend the campaign to be focussed on this type of play, but it's certainly nice to have the option, and it sounds like it'd be fun.
I also very much enjoy drawing hex maps and love the hex-crawl format. I especially find it fun coming up with the little symbols, which is a totally fresh challenge with a city hex map, as none of the standard "mountains / plains / swamp" symbols really apply.
Here are the hex descriptions for the places which are marked on the map so far. It's pretty sparse at the moment, but enough to give some flavour.
Places of note in the City of Tear, seat of the Empire.
Listed by district.
The Plateau of Radiance
The Great Hayyem Tree (1006) – The mighty tree which shades the imperial city and brings forth life from the barrenness of the desert. The holy waters of lake Jzan well around the base of the Hayyem.
The Floating Palace of Radiance (1007) – Built upon the pristine waters welling at the Hayyem's base. Here dwells Zyklor, God Emperor.
The Arch-Hierophant's Palace (0909) – On the west bank of the River of Tears, upon the imperial plateau.
The High Temple of Zyklor (1109) – Administrative centre of the Templars, on east bank of the river upon the imperial plateau.
Cliff Fortresses (0805, 1004, 1205) – An army of countless strength is maintained in these three fortresses dug into the cliffs at the north edge of the plateau of radiance.
The Imperial District
The River of Tears (1008 to 1117) – The holy river cascades from the Plateau of Radiance into the upper city, eventually flowing to meet the Water Ziggurat. Hundreds of streams and canals branch off from the river, and flow into the city's subterranean water system.
The Chapel of Pristine Mercy (0912) – Located at the base of the Plateau of Radiance. Primary temple and convent of the Sisters of Mercy.
Imperial Arena (1313) – Hosts gladiatorial battles – the city's most popular form of entertainment, frequented by poor and rich alike.
The Water Ziggurat (1117) – Holiest temple in the city, central barracks of the Templars. Great prison complexes lie beneath the pyramid.
The Watching Tower (1216) – A tall windowless monolith which stands close to the Water Ziggurat (1117). Psionicists sense a strange watching presence in its impenetrable interior.
The Bridge of Thieves (1113) – An ancient, elaborate and crumbling bridge crossing the River of Tears. Condemned prisoners are hung from high pylons here to die in the scorching sun.
The Prophets' Bridge (1015) – A wide bridge on which sermons are held by zealous templars. It is said that the mortar of the bridge was made from the bones of those who died in the service of Zyklor.
The Gardens District
The Sedant Glades (0812) – A large meditative garden and woodland maintained by the Sisters of Mercy.
The Pools of Pandarme (0813) – A meandering series of pools, canals, tea houses and inns, owned by a conglomerate of merchants.
The District of Wells
East of the River of Tears and the imperial district, an old quarter of the city filled with wells and fountains.
The Merchants' District
Headquarters of the Slavers' Guild (1511) – The slavers' fortress, formed of black basalt and carved with cathedralesque intricacy, bewildering spires and turrets.
The Slave Markets (1513) – East of the arena, and south of the slavers' guild headquarters. Slaves of all races and specialities can be bought here.
The Forge District
Where specialists in metalworking and glass-blowing live and work.
The Ash District
Where the filth of the oil refineries to the north and the forges to the east congeals. A highly undesirable residential area where crime is high and life is short.
The Worm Vats (0412) – A hive of tall towers and deep pits where various insects, worms and maggots are bred.
The Artisans' District
The Spice Markets (1619) – Spices, exotic plants, incense, perfumes and drugs are all found here.
The Canals District
The Walled Gardens of Phantalme (0518) – Luxurious retreat for the moneyed. The gardens are said to contain plants and animals of fabulous exoticness.
The Pagoda of Masks (0619) – Infamous and exclusive pleasure palace. Guests are required to remain masked at all times.
The Scholars' District
The Manse of Lazd the Abstruse (0419) – The streets around the great sage and sorcerer's abode have taken on something of his silent and mysterious character. Lazd's birds, arrayed with rainbow hued feathers fly freely here.
The Blood District
The Blood Ziggurat (0522) – Where sacrifices of animals and slaves are made to the great God Zyklor.
The Beast Markets (0524) – Located just south of the Ziggurat of Blood. In addition to sacrificial goats, a wide range of domesticated and wild lizards can be found for sale here.
The Sorcerers' District
The Black Plaza (1022) – The desert road passes through the gate of the sphinxes (1023) and leads directly into this wide flag-stoned square. An unnatural shade hangs over the plaza, making it a pleasant spot for relaxation, despite its slightly unnerving atmosphere. At night the plaza is shunned by all sensible folk. Rumours tell of abductions and dark cults.
The Catacombs (1122) – This eerily named residential district contains a jumble of decaying houses built atop one another. Some do indeed dwell here in a level of subterranean habitation.
The Imperial Academy of Sorcerers (0923 & 1123) – Twin towers of staggering height and forbidding aspect, standing aside the ancient Lunar Stair.
The Lunar Stair and the Gate of the Sphinxes (1023) – The gargantuan ancient southern gate of the city. Carved from dark red stone, and weathered by millennia of sand and wind.
The Commerce District
The Grain Markets (1121) – Just north of the Gate of the Sphinxes.
The Shrines District
A run-down quarter of the city, where a proliferation of shamanistic cults, religious sects, seers and prophets gather.
The Nectar Ziggurat (1521) – Place of worship and training complex for the legendary Concubines of God.
The Houses of Bone (1722) – Tall, twin buildings with an arched alley between them. Houses the remains of the city's wealthier dead in its crypts and vaults.
The Wall of Shadows (1423 to 1922) – Partly ringing the city's south-eastern edge, this ancient wall is made of the same stone as the Lunar Stair. Upon its surface can be seen blasted outlines of giant, spined monstrosities.