In the short tutorial for the online tool uMap – an application for creating interactive maps – Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator was pointed out in the comments. Azgaar is an open-source application that automatically creates random fantasy maps in a few moments. If the proposed card is not to your liking, it can be adjusted afterwards via many different editing options.
Azgaar lets you create your own maps and worlds (Iconic image by Florian Hagen, CC0/Public Domain)
If you navigate to Azgaar’s website, you’ll immediately be presented with a first fantasy map. This already has numerous country borders, city as well as country names. The map can be moved with the mouse or the arrow keys, zoomed in and out with the mouse wheel or alternatively with the "+" and "-" keys on the keyboard. The zoom level of the map can also be adjusted using the number keys on the keyboard (1-9). By clicking on any text you can edit values like the name, add additional information about the selected region or change format options like the font size.
When the website of Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator is called up, an initial random map is generated directly (image by Florian Hagen, CC0/Public Domain)
On each card is positioned in the upper left corner a small arrow. Clicking on this opens a toolbox with numerous options for designing and extending the map. About "Layers" can be in the current Azgaar version 1.7 for example, choose from currently 11 layer templates such as "Cultural", "Provinces" and "Hightmap" or switch the map view between 2D and 3D. Additional editing options via the "Style", "Options" and "Tools" tabs include the style of the map (for example "Watercolor", "Monochrome" or "Ancient"), vegetation influence and other individual and global element options.
Important: A map can be saved in map format locally, via Dropbox or in the browser memory. This also makes it possible to continue working on it at a later date. The "Save" option is offered in all toolbox menus centered at the bottom of the window. At the almost identical place you can use the function "Export" to save the map in the formats svg, png and jpeg.
For further exchanges on Azgaar, a Discord community or forums are a good place to start. Additional information on operation and features is also available via the GitHub Quick Start Tutorial.
And what do you do with these cards?
At first glance, Azgaar probably makes you think mainly of possibilities around your own stories or (role-playing) games, which can be enriched with descriptive map material. In the context of teaching and learning, an application in areas such as geography or regional studies is obvious. In the comment section of the uMap contribution Axel shared a nice practical experience from the use in (university) teaching. For own events like our bachelor seminar Scientific Work or workshops I find the following two (rough) ideas for a use of Azgaar interesting:
1. Orientation/Theme timetable
In the context of a seminar or workshop, participants could receive a rough overview of the contents of the event in the form of a seminar or workshop map. If implemented appropriately, this map could be a good visual aid for orientation and provide an overview of the essential topics. For each point on this map, a brief introduction can be given to explain what the topic is more specifically about. In the course of the event, the map can be used again to discuss what has been worked on so far and what the next topic is. Conversely, participants of an event could of course also depict their own expectations and hopes for an event in card form.
2. Learning map/bag map
Often learning is more fun, if there are possibilities to visualize the own learning process. Personally, this also makes it easier for me to talk about things that have worked well for me or things that are still not quite clear to me. In my notes this happens mostly through more or less appealing smaller drawings and color highlighting. Students and faculty could use Azgaar to create a "booty" map. This is a way to reflect on what is taken away from a course (or semester) and to what extent individual topics are more or less useful to one’s learning process. Ambiguities and challenges can be represented by different options (colors, country size, height differences). All in all, this can be a good impulse for a common exchange in the plenum. What I find most exciting here is how differently a semester or event is mapped by participants in the end.
Initial maps can be created quickly even without prior knowledge (image by Florian Hagen, CC0/Public Domain)
Have you already tried Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator or similar applications for teaching or learning or have further ideas for an application? Feel free to share your experiences and ideas via the comment function.