Today we talk about The Royal Cartographer a project, a few days ago on Kickstarter, which will lead us to create one or more stories around the maps. This role-playing game, created by Alberto Furlan, found its dimension in Zine Month held annually in February on the well-known funding platform.

Formerly known as Zine Quest, from this year, the creators have decided, despite the resistance of the platform that was trying to move the event to August, to keep the usual date of the second month of the year. So also in 2022 the Zine Month will be celebrated in February and I would not be surprised that a second can be done even in the month set by the platform.

Returning to the project in question, and to the mind behind it, I would like to anticipate that the author, who had already participated in the event in 2021, this year aimed high and we were immediately interested in the project!
Let's see what it's about The Royal Cartographer.

Maps lie.
There are peoples hidden in their folds, legends lost in the margins and stories covered in ink.
What will the Royal Cartographer represent on the map of the kingdom?

The Royal Cartographer
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Some information on The Royal Cartographer project

The Royal Cartographer is a 1 to 4 player RPG that deals with cartography and community themes.

In the 2-4 player version, each character creates a fantasy community and a personal map depicting the places that are important to them. The places and their "history" are generated with dice rolls and a normal deck of cards, while in the second phase of the game the people at the table are confronted with The Royal Cartographer. Represented by a deck of cards, it will choose which places to represent on the official map of the kingdom; it will be up to the players to decide whether to agree with the cartographer's choices, or whether to negotiate with each other and oppose his simplistic view of the region. 

In the solo version, which can also be used as a worldbuilding tool, the player also plays the part of the Cartographer, but here it turns out that the choices are made by the Monarch (always a deck of cards), who can make both geopolitical and much more personal decisions. 

The basic rules in English can be downloaded for free from the page Itch by Alberto Furlan, while the funds raised from the Kickstarter campaign will go to finance a printed and illustrated version by Moreno Paissan together with 5 other cartographers. 

Now a few questions to the author, so as to get to know him a little better!

Alberto, tell us a little about yourself. How did your passion for maps and cartography come about?

When I was about ten, my mom bought me a complete series of writings by Tolkien for my birthday. When I opened the Lord of the RingsInside the cover was a giant map of Middle-earth and I was immediately hooked on it. To the point that I still remember the emotion. Do you think I still have the map hanging in my room!

You're participating in Zine Month, would you like to tell us what it's like to have your own product funded?

It's a constant adrenaline rush. First the pre-campaign tension (will I have done the math right? Will they like my game?) Then the thrill of seeing the number of backers go up, then even more when the goal is reached. It is a crescendo of tension and happiness. And clearly, a lot of gratitude to everyone who believes in the project enough to put their money into it!

What did you think when KS proposed moving the event to mid-year?

I was disappointed with the lack of notice, and I was sad to see many creators get absolutely blown away, but luckily for me personally not influenced. This is because my daughter will be born at the end of April and therefore in August I WILL DEFINITELY not be able to do a KS campaign! So shrug, head down and get on with the campaign in February!
(Greetings !!! ed)

You are a role player, we understand this, but what are the games you are most attached to?

The third edition of D&D is certainly “ancient”. Me and four other friends (Teo, Gabriele, Leo and Ale, hello!) Made a collection and bought the basic manuals practically without knowing anything about the game. We have NEVER finished a campaign, but we still try to play once a year. Most recent The Lighthouse at the Edge of the Universe it's one of my favorite games and the one that comes closest to a Zen experience. I played one night and never stopped for a month, writing for half an hour every evening; a kind of relaxing ritual that taught me a lot also from a design point of view.  

You said that the game had a strong inspiration from “The quiet year”. Can you tell us how there was the spark to create your product?

In The Quiet Year turn by turn a map of the village where the players live is drawn, and drawing it generates problems and discussions about it. It is a wonderful game with very well done dynamics. However, what you draw on the map is not the subject of debate: if I draw a pumpkin patch, that pumpkin patch just exists. The map represents problems. I thought "what if the map was the problem?".
In games, it is often assumed that the maps are perfect: everything is exactly where represented and is called as it is written. And if this were not the case, how often does it happen in reality? The Royal Cartographer it is an attempt to explore that concept.

Usually the Zine Month leads to the creation of products in pdf and digital, but, sometimes, these become paper. Is there a stretch goal that will make it finish?

The physical version is the main goal of the campaign, which has been achieved, so 100% there will be the printed version! (as well as the usual PDF and ePub). The stretch goals instead will serve to have even more maps to accompany the game!

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Conclusions on The Royal Cartographer

Since I saw this project I have literally fallen in love, so much so that I contacted the author and involved him in the interview above and I thank him very much for having found the time and the desire to lend himself, especially during the ongoing financing. Like him, I'm a map enthusiast. I have several programs and books that talk about how to draw fantasy maps, one above all we recommend this one book great for both beginners and seasoned cartographers.

We also recommend that you go to this address where you can find the funding campaign and to support Alberto and all the cartographers and designers who have lent their art to this project.

Long live cartography and let's celebrate Zine Month for the whole month!