Thursday, April 2, 2015

Artisan Toolkits: Cartographer

Weight:15 pounds (6.8 kilograms)
Cost: 28 gold

Weather tight, Leather Carrying Case
Pen (set of 24)
Nibs (set of 12)
Rectangular Protractor
Protractor (metal)
Measuring tape (50 ft.)
Scroll or Parchment Paper (player choice)

For some time now I have been struggling with the Cartographer's Toolkit. This difficulty has arisen as I researched what would be included in the kit because I don't particularly feel that it is a natural fit with a party of explorers. While the Cartographer would be a natural ally for anyone creating a map back in the comforts of city life it is the Surveyor who actually explores the wild places of the world. For that reason I have now added the Surveyor Toolkit to the Artisan Toolkits project. 

Still, there is a value in the Cartographer's Toolkit for players looking for a quick an easy aid in mapping their adventures. Most of the kit has been described in earlier sections so I will only mention the Marquois Scale and the Gunter Scale as those are unlikely to be common knowledge. The Marquois Scale is actually a pretty nifty construction consisting of two rulers and a triangle and using it correctly ". . . will often greatly facilitate work, producing various constructions with much neatness, accuracy, and rapidity . . . (Hulme, pg. 93) which allows for the Cartographer's work to be greatly improved. The Gunter Scale is actually kind of a short cut that allows a Cartographer to work out the math in a cleaner fashion and to prevent the sort of wild inaccuracies that plague any mapping endeavor.

It may be that some readers will balk at the inclusion of the the prismatic sighting compass, the Marquois Scale, and the Gunter's Scale in this toolkit or at the relative inexpensiveness of the overall kit. There is some validity to this as the Medieval compass was a massive thing that would be impractical to carry about and the two scales did not come about during that period. The decision to include a prismatic sighting compass in the list was because I genuinely have no enjoyment in having my players wander about in circles for countless sessions as the get lost thinking they're going northwest. It simply makes life easier for me both as a Game Master and as a player. The two scales were also included for this reason as it allows for the players to create a more accurate map if such is their aim. If your heart is set on clinging closely to what was available at the time then feel free to remove them.

As for the price I could have vastly inflated the price of a compass to an inaccessible value that prevented anyone from playing with it until later in the game when even dragons fear their approach, but by that time what need would they have for such a kit? In the end I elected to put it at a price that was expensive but not to such an extent that it would penalize anyone who wanted to pick it up as part of their character's equipment. If you feel that the price is too low than I suggest increasing it by a factor of ten as it will still see some use.

Artisan Toolkit Series

Works Cited
Hulme, Frederick Edward. Mathematical Drawings, Instruments, and How to Use Them. London. Trubner & Co., 1879. Digital Scan. pg. 93


  1. Need a PC with this whilst we search for Tanelorn.

    1. Wait till you see the Surveyor's Toolkit!