In previous posts I mentioned that the map of Gransys is “truncated”. We’ll take a look at why that is today. We’ll use this map as a reference in this article. Be warned that it’s a fully annotated map, so it contains spoilers for the console game! We’ll also touch on certain story elements that can be equally spoilery.
As you can see, Gransys looks like somewhat like a capital J. It has coastlines to the south and east, and is surrounded by nigh-impassable mountains on the other sides. Its southern reaches are temperate and relatively flat, with the southeastern coast being warm enough that its inhabitants tend to wear light clothing. The region north of the capital is noticeably colder and hillier.
Looking at the location labels, we see that signs of civilization are few and far between. Aside from a few castles, there are only two proper settlements: the isolated fishing town of Cassardis, and the cosmopolitan capital of Gran Soren. These are the only two places where you can find normal civilians going about their daily lives.
The reason for this is simple: there are only so many resources to go around when developing a video game, both in terms of time and money and in terms of memory, storage and processing power of the target platform. Thus, every place in the game fulfills a very specific purpose. They’re either commercial hubs, dungeons, quest sites, or the bare minimum of “wilderness” necessary to give you the feeling that you’re traveling in a fantasy world. That last bit is why the map has no scale, by the way.
Fortunately, we are not quite as constrained here! Our imagination has more than enough space to let Gransys unfurl to its full size. But what size should that be? To find that out, I took the totally scientific approach of booting up the game and walking places while timing how long it took.
If you set out from Cassardis at sunrise, you will arrive at the Shadow Fort shortly before sunset, roughly 25 minutes later1. This means that an in-game hour passes in around 2 minutes of real time. Assuming my lightly encumbered Mystic Knight has Move 5, she walked for 12 hours at 2.5 miles an hour2. That’s a total of 30 miles, or 48km from east to west. The north-south dimension, from Cassardis to the Blighted Manse, is roughly 1.6 times as long: 48 miles, or 77km.
That’s smaller than I thought! If Gransys was a modern location with good roads3, you might be able to drive across it an hour or less. It’s still quite larger than its in-game layout would indicate, of course, and those distances are made all the longer by its medieval tech level. If we follow the advice spread out through the GURPS material on the topic, there should be a small village every 5km or so in the most hospitable stretches of land, with the occasional larger market town linking them into a trade network.
“Small” would mean 100-200 people, organized as either a group of houses working the fields around them, a group of isolated homesteads, or a single large manor belonging to a local lord (a landed knight or the equivalent). Most houses would be made of wood with thatch roofs, and most inhabitants would be peasants and farmers. They might have blacksmiths and other craftspeople, but are just as likely to have those needs served by wandering peddlers. Settlements of this size would dot the plains west and north of Gran Soren, and around the Eradication Site in Southern Gransys. There would also be a few around the Encampment, though that stretch of land is quite narrow in the game.
Trade towns would have houses made out of stone with shingled roofs. They would house their share of peasants and farmers (or fishers!) as well, but would also concentrate more specialized craftspeople that supply a wider area around the town and might be able to supply an adventuring party with gear. This would also be the minimum settlement size where one could find inns and merchants with a fixed address. Cassardis is one such town and there would be more in the South Gransys plains and north of Gran Soren. In fact, the spots where you can find those tiny camps with a peddler and a guard doubling as an innkeeper should probably be trade towns instead.
The next step up from that would be castle towns, whose farms and trades support a sizable fortification. Part of the town’s buildings would be built inside the castle’s walls, and the inhabitants would know to run inside in the case of attack. Finding armorers and such is much easier here than in the smaller locations. Castles are run by barons or counts, depending on how large the area they control is. These would obviously be around the castles we see on the map: the Shadow Fort, Greatwall, and Windbluff Tower.
The only real big city in Gransys is Gran Soren. It’s home to thousands, it’s well-fortified, and it contains the most well-stocked stores and the best craftspeople.
Even small villages are pretty much self-sufficient, and most common villagers would never travel further than about 10 miles (16km) from their home village. It makes sense that the fishermen of Cassardis wouldn’t know much about the Arisen! Some people are a fair bit more well-traveled or cosmopolitan than that, like the nobles who send you on quests all the way across the duchy or the NPCs who ask to be escorted to those same places. Most news from “outside” are likely to come from these bold souls, or from similarly bold wandering peddlers.
That gives us a pretty nice canvas to work with! In future posts, we’ll go a bit deeper into Gransys’ society and notable settlements, with attending GURPS stats.