The Five towns province as a populated region is 300 years old and occupies a 4,050 square mile area with an ample population density of 60 people per square mile. The area is roughly 33% arable land and has a population of 240,000.

Details:

  • 1,333 arable/settled sq. mi. (853,120 acres)
  • 2667 wilderness sq. mi. (1,706,880 acres)
  • Total Population: 240,000
    • Isolated Population: 4,800
    • Population living in villages (475): 213,600
    • Population living in towns (5): 21,600
  • Towns: (5) distance between each 28 miles
    • Northup (pop. 7,350)
    • Easton (pop. 5,880)
    • Middlemost (pop. 3,675)
    • Ottercove (pop. 3,175)
    • South Downs (pop.1,520)
  • Villages: (475) average distance between each is 3 miles, average population of 450
    • Bettle (pop. 800)
    • Brige (pop. 750)
    • Cela (pop. 600)
    • Del (pop. 525)
    • Glorian (pop. 575)
    • Lara (pop. 725)
    • Mildre (pop. 550)
    • Shirl (pop. 650)
    • Thelmat (pop. 575)
    • Tiller Fane (pop. 500)
    • And 465 others (average pop. 450)
Five Towns Province map

Natural Features:

North Cairn Wood

This large dense forest is the primary source of lumber for the Five Towns region. The wood is home to woodcutters, foresters, huntsmen, and a wide variety of wildlife, both dangerous and mundane. Several villages of faern exist within the wood and there are said to be both fairy circles and ancient monoliths located within its depths. The forest stretches north from the Bristol Rock River for 40-miles and extends west beyond the valley and into the Bristol Foothills.

South Cairn Wood

While part of the same great forest as the North Cairn Wood, the area south of the Bristol Rock River has become a far more sinister and dangerous place since the coming of the darkness. The curse is said to have originated in the forest but has since spread far out into the surrounding lands and created a blight the likes of which have not been seen in the province for hundreds of years. The creatures of the southern Cairn are less timid and more dangerous than in any other area of the Five Towns. Travelers have been avoiding the roads and trails of the wood for a dozen years and have avoided the forest itself for twice that long.

Reed Marsh

The eastern shore of Lake Reedmace was always a swamp, but with the building of the great dam to the east fifty years back all the southern lands have become an enormous marsh. The rising water table swallowed villages, castles, and roads. Undercut small dams, drowned crops, and changed the landscape entirely. With the changes have come beasts and monsters which make the everchanging land their home and hunting grounds. Some of these have come in from the river, others have simply expanded from the lake, and still others have slunk in from the darkness that has infested the neighboring South Cairn Wood.

Inland Breakers

The stretch of rolling hills that flow from the cliffs along the Emeralt Bay west to Middlemost, north beyond Ottercove and south to the borderlands are home to many vineyards, farms, and mines. The region is well populated with thorps and villages and the town of Ottercove is located in the northern area of these hills.

Lake Reedmace

Lake Reedmace is the largest lake in the province, being 7-miles wide north to south and just over 10 miles wide at its widest point. There are several basins in the lake, reaching 25 feet, 30 feet, 45 feet, 85 feet, and the deepest being 125 feet, with all five basins having relatively steep side slopes. There are several shallow bays on the lake that are less than five-feet deep and two large islands.

Active Fortifications & Ruins:

There are six fortifications scattered about the province of Five Towns. The three active fortifications consist of two keeps and a tower. All of which are used to house the king’s troops or garrisons for the empire. The remaining three structures, a castle, a keep, and a tower, are all abandoned to the wilderness and to what use is unknown. Below you will find a closer look at each of these structures.

Fort Theel

Or as it is better known to the locals, Theel Keep. Built 100 years ago, this is an active military outpost of the Kingdom. The fortress is located just north-east of the town of Middlemost. It represents the power of the Empire and casts a protective shadow across the town below it.

Theel keep is a large stone fortress that forms the fortified center of the second largest defensive compound in the Five Towns province. The keep itself is 7-stories high and sits on 7-levels of subterranean storerooms and dungeons. In addition to the viscount, the viscount’s family, and their retainers, Theel keep has a regiment of 90 men-at-arms.

The fortress is built on top of a hill and surrounded by both a water-filled moat and stone walls. Integral towers fortify the keeps corners and are accessible from within; these provide enfilading fire and strengthen the keep’s structural integrity. The keep and towers are round to better deflect attacks by battering rams or catapult missiles. The rooftops include crenellations to protect defenders as they fire ranged weapons at attackers.

Green Lake Tower

This free-standing 6-story square, stone tower sits on the eastern shore of Green Lake, some 6-miles northwest of the town of South Downs. The tower is both a garrison of 12 men-at-arms for the Kingdom and home to the local Magus (5th level Mage), her family, and their retainers. While there is no wall, there are a half dozen buildings (stables, workshops, and storage buildings) surrounding the tower and making up the campus.

Sunrise Tower

Sitting high atop the cliffs of Elizabeth Island, the keep known as Sunrise Tower acts as a lighthouse, lookout, and lockup for Otter Cove; both the town and the body of water. The compound is built from and carved into the stone of the island. The keep itself is 4-stories tall and has 4 basement levels used for securing criminals and political prisoners alike. Sunrise tower is supported by a pair of round towers and a thick defensive wall which runs along the cliff face. There is a standing force of 64 men-at-arms but has the capacity for 3-5 times as many. In addition to the soldiers, the fortress is home to the baron, baron’s family, and their retainers.

The keeps location, sheer rock walls, and single road up from the dock make assaults against it near impossible. Perched high above and overhanging the cove, the crenelated towers of the keep are able to rain destruction down on any who seek to assault it. It is said that in its 250-year history, that none have been able to breach its walls through strength of arms.

Reed Marsh Ruins

The ruins of Castle Werthingham were once the ancestral home to Lord Crichton, Earl of the Vale. The fortress has been abandoned for the last 50-years and continues to sink ever deeper into the marsh. With the conquest of the Empire came the damning of the Bristol Rock River a hundred miles south of the Five Towns and with that damn came a rising of the water table around Lake Reedmace. That series of events flooded the fertile lake valley in which the castle was located, washing away the low hill the castle sat upon and dragging at its foundation. Eventually, pulling the fortress from its hilltop throne and dragging it into the cattails. Rumor speaks of strange reptilian creatures having taken up residence in the ruins.

The Norei

Located on the western shore of Lake Reedmace but spared the fate of the far bank is the abandoned tower known as The Norei. Over the last 300-years, the squat 3-story tower has been a monastery, bandit haven, garrison, and home to the Witch of Huldra. Today, few people are willing to approach it for fear of ghosts, ghouls, and other restless spirits thought to dwell within its shadow. The tower itself is surrounded by the remains of both wooden and stone walls, an assortment of smaller structures, and a series of winding trails that seemingly go nowhere of note.

The Watch House

Before the darkness engulfed the South Cairn Wood and all communication with Chadrian ceased, this imposing fortress kept watch over traffic on the Bristol Rock River. Today, it is a looming, dark shadow on the southern bank from which erie sounds and foul odors emanate. The keep is a gathering of four square towers connected to a larger fifth by high stone walls. Each of the smaller towers is 3-stories tall and the keep itself is 2-stories taller than these. It is known that there are at least two layers dug out of the stone beneath the fortress. The portcullis has been closed since the darkness came and no one has dared approach closer than the far bank of the river.

Roads & Bridges

The province of Five Towns has been in existence for 300 years and is crisscrossed with footrails, dirt paths, and roads both stone-paved and bricked. The highroads in particular are paved, cambered for drainage, and flanked by footpaths and drainage ditches. Both the Empire and the Kingdom take seriously the need for well maintained highways. Here you will find a brief description of the most important roads and bridges of the province.

Angels Bridge — Nine miles north-east of Ottercove can be found a truly marvelous carved stone span. This high arching bridge soars high above the Lime River and is renown for its beauty. Many travelers take this route simply to see its majesty and wonder. It has been rebuilt 4-times in the past 300-years and each time it has become grander and more elaborate. It is wide enough for three wagons to cross abreast, 400-yards long, and is constructed of the palest granite so that it seems to glow even in the light of the moon.

Breakers Road — Between Easton and Ottercove, rolling over the hills of the Inland Breakers is this well-travelled and highly patrolled stretch of road. Most of this road is through arable land and many friendly villages, roadside taverns, and farmsteads are along this route.

Bridgeway Highroad — This is the road that travels between the Fiends Bridge at the southern end of the province and the Angels Bridge at the northern edge of the Five Towns region. This road passes through the towns of Ottercove, Middlemost, and South Downs. To the north, 20-miles beyond the bridge, lies the town of Clayton and beyond that the city of Staedholm. The name and nature of the Highroad changes at the Fiends Bridge, beyond which it is known as the Dark Road and the lands under the sway of the darkness.

Dark Road — This is the name given to the forest road that follows the southbank of the Bristol Rock River and plunges through the Southern Cairn Wood. Some say it is dangerous and others say it is haunted, whatever the case, it is avoided by those who live north of the river.

Earls Road — More commonly called “Muckmire Trail” by travelers. On good days, this road goes south 28-miles to Herons Crossing. On bad days it turns into an uncrossable morass 15-miles south of Easton. Once a commonly used mercantile path that has become a seasonal shortcut with the building of the damn on the Bristol Rock River.

Fiends Bridge — This is an impressive stone and wood structure which spans the Bristol Rock River at a point some 10-miles north and west of the Watch House and 6-miles south of the town of South Downs. Over the last few years it has begun to accumulate mold and rot, but it remains a sturdy bridge and is wide enough for two wagons to pass each other upon it. Due to its location, it has become a haunt for trolls, who like to nest beneath the bridge. These beasts have been driven out or slain many times, but they continue to recur.

Northton Road — Crossing the northern swath of the province between Ottercove and Northup, this stretch of road is well maintained, despite crossing a relatively unpopulated stretch of wildlands. Kings patrols are not uncommon, but the traveler should be aware that the further one goes from either end, the more dangerous it becomes.

Reedmace Road — The Reedmace splits off of the Bridgeway Highroad and crosses along the north shore of Lake Reedmace before connecting to the Tradesway Highroad northwest of Easton. This is a low traffic road that crosses through some wild territory, as a result it is not the best maintained or patrolled road for travelers. It is not unpopulated, but it is a very rural trek.

Skirtswood Road — This north-south stretch of road runs between the towns of Northup and South Downs. Along most of its length the road is populated with lumber villages due to the closeness of the North Cairn Wood just a few miles to the west.

Tradesway Highroad — Running from the heartlands through Northup, Middlemost, and Easton to the border of the Empire and into Hesepe. The border town of Frowen is 30 miles east of Easton at the Treaty Bridge and the city of Galestmore is beyond that. Much interstate commerce travels the Tradesway and it is well patrolled by the Kings soldiers.

I started a sketch of a map on Friday during the weekly conference call. Then I doodled on it a bit while I was having lunch. It’s just an idea for a D&D campaign. A small bit of a larger map to get everyone started. I’m calling it Five Towns for obvious reasons. It’s a somewhat rural bit of a larger kingdom or country, a bit of forest, some hills, and some points of interest. I tried to have a bit of everything in there, just for the utility of the thing. This is what I started with…

Five Towns sketch

Friday, however, is not the day in question that was lost. That would be today. It started off like most other Sunday mornings–coffee, laundry, internet browsing. But the browsing turned into research about population density during the medieval times, then demographics, and then I started formalizing the map.

First, let me say that I am not playing D&D right now. I don’t know anyone that I could play D&D with at this point. I haven’t played in lots and lots of years at this point. And I don’t know if I even have time to play. Probably, I could find the time. Maybe. I think I could make time in my schedule. I really feel like I’m missing out, what with the incredible resurgence in popularity of D&D 5e. Like I missed the bus.

Anyway, where was I? Mapping. Firstly, figure out how many square miles are on the mapping template I created. 2,025 sq. mi. per page (37.5 miles east to west by 54 miles north to south). I’m making it a two page spread. So, 4,050 square miles or 3240 1-mile hexes. That sounds like a lot, but it’s not really that large of an area.

I’ve decided that the area has been populated for the last 300 years and has an ample population density of 60 people per sq mile. About a third of the land is arable and the rest is wilderness. So then I was trying to figure out the population distribution/arable land as it relates to the cities. This is what I started with. The yellow is the arable land and, yes, the numbers in the margins were where I was keeping track of the hex count. (1069 hexes of arable land.)

Five Towns – arable land, 1st attempt

The red-filled hexes are the five towns. The large, red hexes made from dashed lines are boundaries. Ten to fifteen miles is about the distance a villager will travel to get to a town, so that is the area around each town from which villagers will come. I made it 10 miles distant, because you can walk 10-miles, do your business, and walk 10-miles back in a day without overmuch inconvenience. I mean, I wouldn’t do it, but then, I have a car.

I think the holes between the towns are too big and the arable land along the roads is to generous, so I’m reworking that in the next version of the map. The northern and southern most red hexes at the center of the map are not towns, they’re the likely location of towns if everything were ideal. But I only want 5 towns, so they’re just markers.

I ran some numbers and this is what I came up with for the make-up of the area.

Total Population: 240,000
Isolated Population: 4,800
Population living in villages (475): 213,600
Population living in towns (5): 21,600

Towns: (5) Average distance between each is 28 miles
Northup (pop. 7,350) – This is the biggest town, the gateway to Five Towns, and the closest to the kingdom center.
Easton (pop. 5,880) – Second largest town and the one that benefits most from trade with the southern neighbors of the kingdom. Also, the most diverse population of the Five Towns. Suffers from frequent bouts of plague and disease due to proximity to the Reed Marsh.
Middlemost (pop. 3,675) – Geographic center of the region and the starting point of the campaign. Middlemost is about as typical a medieval town as you’re like to find.
Otter Cove (pop. 3,175) – Fishing and shipping center of the Five Towns region. Fortified against invasion or attack from the sea.
South Downs (pop.1,520) – Really not much more than a very large village. Population has fled over the last 50-years due to the proximity of the troubles occuring south of the Bristol Rock River.

I determined that the area of Five Towns has 213,600 people living in 475 villages scattered throughout, with a typical distance between each of 3-miles. The average population of one of these villages is 450 people. But I haven’t done much beyond that in defining the villages. I have some placed on the new map, but no names or particulars for most of them. What I did realize is that my original map did not have anywhere near enough villages.

There is a smaller population of 4,800 people who do not live in the towns or villages, but instead are in more isolated locations. I imagine these are hermits, woodfolk, islanders, marsh dwellers, and the like. Small family groups and lone individuals scattered outside the rest of the population.

I’m still working on this, but here’s what I have so far.

Five Towns – in progress

I’ll keep posting more details about this as I do more, but this is just the mock-up. Once I get this bit done I’ll work on making it pretty in WonderDraft. I debated about using the highlighter for the areable/populated areas, but ultimately decided that it was the easiest way to differentiate from the wildness areas and it’s the medium that is easiest to draw on top of. Lots more villages to put in place and still need to determine the extent of the civilized land. That’s how I got lost in the Five Towns for most of the day.

Lady Ronn and I also redid the interview portion of her video project. We both determined, independently, that the initial interview did not have the right balance of brevity and content. It was 01:14:00 long and I wandered around with everyone of my answers. This time I kept it brief and stayed on point. Maybe I’ll edit the long form interview and see if I can salvage anything for you. Maybe not. We’ll see. Thanks for reading. Later.

Here’s an idea that maybe you haven’t thought of, or maybe you have. How about using those canvas print offers on Groupon to print your world map on a large canvas. Hmmm… that might be cool.

I have a few different maps that I’ve made over the years, for writing and roleplaying projects. I’m pretty fond of a few of these and I’d like to display them in my office. But they don’t all look great. And then there was Wonderdraft. Suddenly, my maps are looking pretty sweet. Nice enough to display. Which brings us to the canvas print idea.

If you’re like me, you get these $29.99 canvas print offers from Groupon weekly. For $30 I was willing to take a chance and see what this might look like. My results were mixed, mostly due to my idiocy.

this is the map i decided to print

So, I used a Groupon offer from CanvasOnSale.com and chose my size, I went with the 36″x24″ canvas print for $30. I see a lot of 16″x20″ print offers for $20, but I wanted something a bit bigger. Groupon sent me a voucher for the discounted price along with directions on how to use it. At this point I know I need to pay for the shipping, but there has been no mention of how much that might cost. I won’t make you wait. Turns out, it’s fifteen bucks. $15 for shipping. Is that reasonable? I guess so, but I don’t know. I’m still under $50 for this experiment, so that’s okay by me.

First problem, I chose wrong. I either needed to pick a different canvas size or a different map. Aspect ratio matters. Pay attention to aspect ratio. This map ratio is 16:9 or HD, which is not the same as 36×24. And I may have panicked here a bit, or just gotten into a rush, but I didn’t see anyway to change the picture I’d chosen or the canvas size. That might be a result of the deal, or I could have just missed it. Whatever the case, know what you want to print and the size you’re going to need going into this project to avoid this happening to you.

So, the aspect ratio caused some cropping on my image, but mostly this was okay. Nothing important was lost. But once you’re in there choosing your image and finalizing your purchase, you’re offered other options–color grading, framing, canvas thickness. I didn’t do any of those. I arranged my map on the template by sliding it around a bit to get it looking right, and I did choose a black border, but that was free. And I finalized my order.

Canvas: 36″x24″ Border: Standard .75” wood frame, Black

Total including tax $219.00

Voucher $-219.00

Shipping costs $14.90

Payment method: Pay Pal Express $14.90


That’s a pretty hefty discount, $189.01. Not sure that I would pay $219 for this, but $30… that I’ll do. Additionally, I received a 91% off coupon for my next order from CanvasOnSale. Which is very nice. That would be $199.29 off this order, just as a comparison. With that done, I sat back to wait for my print to arrive. Six days later, this showed up on my doorstep.

canvas has arrived, that’s the same map on the left done in a different media

Sure, it’s cropped and I’ll never not see that, but the color is good and the print is sharp. It’s a very nice looking piece. If I had it to do over, I think I would have paid extra for the 1.5″ canvas depth. It just looks nicer. Having it framed would have been nice too, but that might be more than I can justify. I’m very happy with how this turned out and I think it was well worth the cost. Next time around, I’ll pay more attention to aspect ratio.

I’m definitely going to take advantage of the coupon they sent me to have something else printed. I’m also going to try a couple other groupon offers and see how they compare. I have three or five other prints I’d like to get made for the office walls. Later.