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Final Fantasy I's map helpfully reminds you which game you're playing.

"I wisely started with a map and made the story fit ... the other way about lands one in confusions and impossibilities."

Have a High Fantasy story of a group of heroes traveling the world in order to fulfill their quest? Then you must include a map!

Maps of fantasy worlds have been a feature of Fantasy books ever since L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz. A visual reference can be very handy. Often drawn in elaborate script, pointing out the Doomed Hometown, The Kingdom, The Empire, various Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, each of the Five Races' lands. Also marking out many of the Wacky Wayside Tribes, the dangerous Forbidden Zone (Mordor) and other Lost Woods. Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has a few things to say on the subject of maps, including the fact that if you're on a quest you may expect to visit every single place marked on them.

Fantasy world maps will often have roughly the proportions of a standard book page so that all the places in the fantasy world can fit conveniently on the Map. Really deluxe worlds are proportioned like two pages side by side, thereby indicating they rate a hardcover edition with endpapers. Fantasy world maps sometimes also have a tendency to make it seem as if the world is literally flat.

If the ocean is on the left side of the map, then it's a Left Justified Fantasy Map.

When the map is particularly badly done and makes no sense, it's a Patchwork Map. A variation occurs when maps of real places are included in a novel where it helps follow the intrigue.

Sometimes complicated by opaque library book covers that cannot be removed from the book. In that case, there will forever be one side of the map that you cannot see without breaking the book cover, though if you're lucky the map will be on the inside of both the front and back covers, covering up the left and right sides respectively. This may help explain why (with a little monster-powered-by-evil-source-you-are-getting-closer-to-in-order-to-remove Hand Wave explanation) you can't just aquire a boat and kill the sea monster (not really: just why the chains of islands have to be like LINE ORDER) now that the sea storm that it entered by is over.

Also frequent in Tabletop Games for gameplay reasons, and, occasionally, in Anime series. For the Video Game equivalents, see World Map, Point and Click Map, and Risk Style Map.

Examples of Fantasy World Map include:

Anime and Manga

  • Perhaps because of its novel origin, The Twelve Kingdoms very frequently show the map of the world in order to the situate the action.
    • Also to remind you of what the names of all the countries and cities are, since there are so many to keep track of.
  • The Slayers occasionally shows a map of the world, especially during the opening.
  • The original manga version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind has a pull-out map section in each volume. They're surprisingly unhelpful in determining where everything in the After the End setting is in relation to the current world.
  • Vagrant Soldier Ares has a map of the Kingdom of Chronos and its neighboring kingdoms.
  • In the Little Nemo movie, Flip is the only one who has a map of both Slumberland and Nightmareland. Not only that but he's also the only one who can understand it.
  • The manga series Dragon Knights begins to feature a map of the world with each volume starting around the beginning of the arc when the titular Knights split up on different quests.
  • The finale of RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio briefly shows a shot of Earth with an approx. Africa-sized extra continent in the middle of the Pacific. Kinda justified since the world has just been destroyed and recreated.
  • Rave Master features an impressively vague map, showing little more than the outlines of continents and locations the characters previously visited, on a single page in one volume halfway through the series. Topography is clearly not Mashima Hiro's strong point.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, during the Magic World arc various maps of the Magic World (global, regional and local) get shown, sometimes with the map of Japan superimposed for size comparison purposes. It later turns out to be an upside-down map of Mars.

Comic Books

  • Bone has had two different maps of the Valley included into the graphic novel editions: the standard map and the one that appears in story that was drawn by a young Thorn (though this one was limited to the earlier volumes).
  • Elf Quest published full-color insert maps of the World of Two Moons (Abode) and its solar system in the 1980s. (They can probably still be found on the Elf Quest website.)
  • The Mouse Guard TP Bs provide the reader with a map of Mouse Territories


  • In the Lone Wolf series of solo game books, each book includes a map of the region where it takes place, justified as the protagonist having been given just such a map as part of his starting equipment. How useful such the map is varies tremendously from book to book.


  • The Lord of the Rings is the Trope Codifier.
    • Viciously parodied in the 1969 paperback Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon, whose map of "Lower Middle Earth" (online copy here [image deleted], but it comes laden with popup ads) includes such features as "The Legendary Drillingrigs", "The Land of the Knee-walking Turkeys", "The Islets of the Langerhans", "The Tiny X-Shaped Forest", and a body of water shaped like the profile of Richard Nixon called "The Bay of Milhous". It also includes a compass rose with the directions Up, Down, Right (pointing left) and Left (pointing right). (This last may be an intentional Shout-Out to the original maps of Oz — see below.) Fortunately for the competency-challenged cast, they didn't have to visit every labeled spot on it.
  • The former page quote from The First Law trilogy is spoken by a character reading a fantasy novel (in a bleedin' fantasy novel) as a not so subtle Take That to the entire trope. (Or, possibly, to Lord of the Rings).
  • The Wheel of Time has one for the Westlands, and the Westlands only, as about 99% of the story takes place there.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has several for the different continents.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen likewise has several, although it's not always clear how the different continents relate to each other.
    • This troper created a map showing the continents in several different configurations and Steven Erikson eventually confirmed which one was mostly accurate, and now appears on several fansites and forums.
  • The Belgariad is especially symptomatic of the "must visit every places on it" syndrome. David Eddings, in The Rivan Codex, argued that an aspiring quest author needed to draw a map or they'd get lost.
    • He also mentions that he started with the map before he wrote a word of the story. Indeed, the map was the inspiration for the story, because he started out doodling a random fantasy map during breakfast with gibberish names for the countries. After cleaning it up a bit, he decided to write a story set in it.
      • He also references the first part of the Tolkien quote above regarding this decision, so the comments on this page about Eddings being responsible for the map-first idea are a little off-target.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy has a map showing various parts of the archipelago. Certain editions will include close-ups on the map when the characters are spending time in that particular reach (very very useful!) Her more recent YA series, of which the first is entitled Gifts, also has such a map, but notably the characters in Gifts only ever occupy a small upper-right hand corner of the map. Presumably they'll venture forth in the sequels.
    • They do, but in Voices the action is confined to the bottom left-hand corner, so there's a city map as well. In Powers there's much more travelling, but no map at all in the British edition (not even a reprint of the large map from the first two books).
  • The Books of Pellinor contain a map of Edil-Amarandh.
  • The Magic Kingdom of Landover series has a map of Landover.
  • Second Apocalypse
  • Kushiel's series has them, despite it being basically Europe & North Africa with names making the Fantasy Counterpart Culture even more obvious.
  • Watership Down has a map, and is fantasy, but it takes place in England and the map is of a real area.
  • The Discworld eventually had several maps made of it, as did the city of Ankh-Morpork within, even though Pterry said that he never envisioned a map of any kind when writing. (Some of the earlier publications even have quotes from him explicitly stating that "There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humor.")
    • Pratchett has stated that he purposely avoided making a map of Ankh-Morpork until the publication of the Discworld Mappe, ostensibly because the city's layout changes so often that it would be impossible to keep an accurate map. However, he now plots Ankh-Morpork stories with the help of both the map and the limited-edition 3D model of Unseen University. In Night Watch, during the rooftop standoff at the beginning of the book, all the sight-lines are purportedly consistent with the model.
    • He's since said that the problem with most fantasy maps is they seem to have come first (*coughEddingscough*). Ankh-Morpork and Lancre were made up as he went along, just like real places are (well, more or less like real places are made), and then Stephen Briggs came along and measured everything up, once it all "existed" sufficiently to be mapped.
      • He's also said that he didn't think about how Anhk-Morpork would map out, but that apparently his subconscious was helping him out, because it does, in fact, map out neatly and logically (for a given value of logically, admittedly).
  • The Redwall books always have a map of the journey that the heroes will be taking. The map generally includes every place they'll be visiting along the way.
    • It's interesting to compare the variations of the maps' depictions of Mossflower Wood (the location of Redwall Abbey) over time. Some general ideas remain consistent, but others (such as how big/powerful the River Moss is) vary, and the further away from the Abbey things get more impermanent (such as the mountain range between Mossflower and Salamandastron, or the giant lake located far in the south).
    • The biggest offender for inconsistency are the maps from Mattimeo and Loamhedge, which depict the abbey ruins as being on a huge plateau to the southeast that is nowhere to be seen on other maps. Even those two maps have trouble deciding which side of the ravine has the bell and badger rocks.
  • The Sword of Truth had one... because the publisher insisted. Goodkind didn't see the need. He drew the map himself, updated it once for the second book, and never changed it again even when the story went way beyond its borders.
  • The Well World novels by Jack Chalker are a sci-fi example, but also something of a subversion as the Well World is composed almost entirely of tessellated hexagons, the edges of which define not only the borders of the various "nations" but also the larger bodies of water.
  • Most of Harry Turtledove's Alternate History novels include world maps showing the political layout of the book's timeline.
    • This is common in Alternate History, as it's a helpful way of letting the reader know exactly how the world is different in the novel's timeline. Fatherland, to quote one other example, has both a map of the Nazi-dominated Europe and a map of the central district of Berlin as it would have been had Albert Speer got his opportunity to rebuild the city in his and Hitler's image.
  • Parodied in Piers Anthony's Xanth books by using the state of Florida as the map of Xanth.
    • He went on to use Italy, Greece and Korea in later installments in the series, which was hand waved with the explanation that Xanth connects with the real world at multiple places and time periods, but most of the novels use modern Florida as the point where Earth connects to Xanth.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland notes that if you see a map at the start of a novel, you can expect to "go to every damn place on it." The book itself has a map which is very obviously Europe upside-down, with all the countries given anagrammatic names.
  • Brin's Uplift series is another science fiction example.
  • Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker books all include a map of the wildly alternate early-19th-Century North America in which the novels are set.
  • Eragon has a map. It's even drawn by the author.
  • Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series has its own map showing the location of Winding Circle Temple as relative to nearby cities, but not a perhaps more useful map of Winding Circle itself. (This troper cannot recall if Pierce's books in The Circle Opens, which take place far away from Winding Circle, also include their own maps, in which case Ms. Pierce is to be applauded.)
    • The Will of the Empress has a map, although not a very detailed one, of Sandry's home country of Namorn.
    • Her Tortall series also have maps, with the first one provided with the Song of the Lioness quartet never changing until the final book provided the (incomplete/unmarked landmarks) map of the eastern continent where the Roof of the World and the Dominion Jewel could be found.
  • The map of the Land of Oz is one of the earliest examples of this trope. Since each succeeding book visited a different part of Oz or its environs, the map got an annual update with the release of each new book. Unfortunately, Baum messed up the map's directions, putting West and East on the wrong sides of the map. (While this was corrected in later books, devout Oz fans still embrace the swap; for example, in Robert Heinlein's The Number Of The Beast the world-jumping main characters use this feature to confirm that Oz really is Oz when they visit it.) The unique colors of the map of Oz forms the basis for the flag of Oz.
    • The simplest solution seems to be reversing the compass needle itself: the Munchkins should be in the East, colored Blue, but the flag (which reflects the four quadrants of the land) has Blue on the left. Hence make East point left and West point right.
    • Related to, inspired by, and roughly resembling this map is the one included in Wicked and the books that follow it. As in the Oz example, the maps change focus and are updated with each volume.
  • Each of the five books in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain features a map at the beginning which is relevant to the plot of the story. Since they take place in different parts of Prydain, the map naturally changes; the map also notes what happens where. It should be noted that this map bears an obvious resemblance to that of Wales, though "Prydain is not Wales--not entirely, at least."
  • There's a map in Anne Bishop's Tir Alainn books which has a note underneath it reading, "This map was created by a geographically challenged author. All distances are whimsical and subject to change without notice." Inverted in her Emphera books: you couldn't draw a map even if you wanted because two different people can end up in two different places by going through the same gate depending on where the "heart resonates" with.
  • The Shannara series has maps, which show places destroyed in earlier books or, in one of the prequels, a place that didn't exist then.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger books have a map. At first it covers only the Bellwoods and immediate environs, with an added portion east of Zaryt's Teeth, because that's where the story is focused. (And true to form, while not every place on the Bellwoods map is visited, almost all the ones east of the Teeth are.) Book three introduces a whole new expanded map of the whole world which afterward never changes--although each subsequent book usually includes a secondary map showing what's 'just off the edge' or expanding on a small region.
  • And Narnia also inverts the "map came first" notion of David Eddings, since none of the books included a map until they were first bound together in one Doorstopper. As a result, as with Pratchett the land and its environs 'grew with the telling' and were all worked out in the text, so that the map could be drawn with great accuracy and even beauty. The gorgeous artwork of Aslan's face must be seen to be believed.
  • Robert E. Howard included a map with the Conan stories, though given Howard's rather slam-bang style of world-building, it wasn't so much a physical map as a series of political borders. It's mentioned at one point in "The Phoenix on the Sword," where King Conan adds the northern lands where he came from to the maps of the Aquilonian court.
  • Inverted in Hal Clement's science fiction novel Mission of Gravity. Clement created a globe of the planet Mesklin and wrote the story around it, but the book didn't include a map.
  • P.C. Hodgell includes many maps in her Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, drawn in a consciously Tolkien-influenced style, as well as plans of many of the cities and fortresses encountered. The most recent book, To Ride a Rathorn, has four pages of maps in the front and eight pages of more detailed maps in the back.
  • Wilbert Awdry, creator of Thomas The Tank Engine, was forced to map out Thomas's 14-mile railway line to prove to his children that a story involving a race between a train and a bus had an equal number of obstacles to both parties. Realising it could be useful as a means of enforcing continuity he kept it, and decided to expand on it, resulting in him dropping approximately 3000 square miles of fictional island (the Island Of Sodor) into the Irish Sea off the coast of the UK. He then spent decades creating a complete political, social, geological, industrial and linguistic 'Tolkien-lite' history of the Island in collaboration with his historian brother (just for fun!)... and then they got said history published as a book over which collectors now fight to the death. Awesome.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series of books contain maps of The Wide Green World.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Star Wars got the Fantasy World Map treatment in form of "The Essential Atlas", which is just what it is. The authors had to not only go through the six movies, but also the TV shows, comic books, novels, e-stories and video games. All in all this encompasses to a Fantasy Galaxy Map.
    • * By the end of 90s, the Star Wars Galaxy had received a map that established the key regions and locations for a couple dozens of major planets. By the end of the 2000s, Star Wars Galaxy had received a full Atlas, with over 60 astro-maps and precise locations of over 4,500 planets.
    • The New Jedi Order series included a galaxy map marked with key star systems and regions in its hardcover editions. The black swathe showing the Yuuzhan Vong conquests was updated as the series progressed.
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. While a science fiction novel, it has a map of the galaxy done in fantasy style. It includes a delineation of the "Zones of Thought", which regulate FTL travel, as well as the path the protagonists' ship takes.
  • The Name of the Wind has a map, but does not follow the "if it's on the map, the characters will go there" rule of most fantasy; many places that are mentioned or visited are not detailed on the map even if they're in the geographic area.
  • One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing has a map of the BookWorld as it stands after the version update that gave it some actual geography.
  • The Steerswoman books have a world map, as befits their fantasy trappings. Since those trappings cover a chewy science-fictional center with lots of exploration, the map gets more filled in as the series goes on.
  • Andre Norton's early Witch World novels had a small world map drawn by Jack Gaughan, showing the three main kingdoms with the ocean to the west. In some of the later novels there are two maps covering a much wider area, one of which depicts the lands on either side of the western ocean, and the other depicting the rest of the eastern continent.
  • Though not a fantasy series, each book of the Red Mars Trilogy comes with a map of Mars with the locations of various towns mapped out. The map also updates from book to book, showing the changes wrought by terraformation.
  • The original releases of the Samurai Cat books featured a map of the areas visited in the book, showing them in relation to each other; they also all including an area labeled 'Vermont,' with a spot marked 'Author's House.'
  • Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats and Seeker Bears series both have two two-page maps per book: One is the "animal view" map, which is more decorative, having houses and trees and everything drawn out, and labeling it with the animals' names for landmarks. The second is a "human view" map, which labels the landmarks with human names. It also looks more like a proper map: rather than drawing the forest, there is a map key, and it just uses the symbol for "tree" lots of times.
  • Notably averted in The Witcher series: no canon map of the Continent has ever been released by the author, so the large number of maps found on the net are all fan-made approximations based on the geographical detail given in the books. Not even the maps featured in the video games are canon, though Word of God is that they are "reasonably accurate".

Live Action TV

  • The Tenth Kingdom also has a map thoughtfully provided for the viewers' enjoyment, on the wall of Snow White Memorial Prison, so that both the hapless heroes Trapped in Another World and the viewers can learn exactly what the Nine Kingdoms look like. Unlike most versions of the fantasy map, it displays places which are never visited in the miniseries, since the story remains confined to the Fourth Kingdom (with brief forays into the Third and Ninth). It also has the amusing location marker "You Are Imprisoned Here" — this becomes a slight Running Gag in the Novelization with a map in Kissing Town marked "You Are Romantically Here" — and has the interesting feature of being remarkably similar in outlines to Europe... a feature which has led to some interesting Epileptic Trees among the fandom, ranging from the Nine Kingdoms having diverged from our timeline centuries ago to our world being a nonmagical, cursed offshoot of the Kingdoms.
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom shows a map of Bottom World (conveniently 4:3 shape) over the opening credits, and also uses it during episodes form time to time- both in a mundane way to show where the protagonists are going, but also used for jokes, like Lampshade Hanging when they can't afford to film anyhting and doing a little animation on the map instead.
  • Game of Thrones shows a map of Westeros in the opening credits each episode. Although the map doesn't change, the particular places the camera focuses on do depending on where the characters are for each episode.


  • Obviously you can't actually include a map in a radio show, but Radio Times published a spoof map as part of a feature promoting The BBC's fantasy parody series Hordes of the Things. When the series was eventually issued on CD it included all of the Radio Times material including the map as a fold-out insert.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons' worlds Greyhawk, Dragonlance, the Forgotten Realms, Birthright...
    • The maps of the Mystara setting are notable for almost always being covered in a hexagonal grid to assist the Dungeon Master in determining travel times, or something like that.
  • Back in the '90s, Wizards of the Coast released several maps of the world of Dominaria, the main setting of Magic: The Gathering, focusing on the continents of Aerona, Terisiare, and Jamuraa. There is also a globe of the entire world hidden away somewhere in WotC HQ, though no one outside the company has ever seen it. Since then, however, the only map they've published is a very sketchy one of the continent of Otaria. Today they just throw out a new setting every year with no indication of what's where in relation to everything else.
    • Pete Venters (creator of the aforementioned globe) did release a map based on it. It only shows one hemisphere and there's a few clouds, but Aerona and other land masses are recognizable.
    • Plus, many of the more recent blocks (Kamigawa, Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, Alara, Ravnica) don't actually take place on Dominaria. (In fact, since they ended the Phyrexian-invasion arc in 2001, only the Odyssey, Onslaught, and Time Spiral blocks have taken place there.)
    • It's also worth noting that there is no complete map of Dominaria. Almost all the maps show a single continent, and the most comprehensive map we have shows only a part of the northern hemisphere. Then there are the continents with no map at all, which we have to rely on the background story to fathom where they're located. Damn you, Pete.

Video Games

  • Unlike most roleplaying games, most Fire Emblem installments (With the exception of Sacred Stones) don't let you move around the world map yourself, so when it shows you the map it obeys this trope.
  • The Subspace Emissary adventure mode of Super Smash Bros Brawl includes a map that shows which stages you've cleared, with the option of going back to repeat those that weren't wiped out.
  • All three Warcraft games had World Maps in them. Azeroth's a constantly changing place, though, since none of the maps looked like the other.
    • The Diablo series, also from Blizzard, has the same problem — the map, which is supposed to be of the same continent over a span of about thirty years, changes rather drastically from one game to the next.
  • Besides having Medieval Stasis the Hyrule seen in The Legend of Zelda is stuck with this.
  • Myst features a profusion of maps and designs describing its miniature worlds, which are themselves literary descriptions made reality.
  • Guild Wars has three separate maps, one for each of its stand-alone campaigns, with the Eye of the North expansion nearly doubling the size of the original Tyrian Map. Each map has its own separate continent, and players switch from one to another when they travel from to different continents. Each full-sized map only shows an apparent section of the continent (and only half of that is actually explorable) suggesting that the world is actually very large (and leaving room for infinite expansions).
  • All Final Fantasy games have maps wherein, due to the linear plot, you are forced to visit almost every location on it simply to accomplish the story. The few places you don't visit can be found with simple exploring once the world becomes a Wide Open Sandbox.
  • Many of the games in the Ultima series included actual cloth maps of the world as Feelies. Useful for navigation in-game, but they were labeled in a pseudo-runic cypher.
  • The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, and their related expansion packs come with paper maps (a cloth map, for Redguard) packaged in the boxes. They are designed to look like someone who actually lives in The Elder Scrolls' world drew them — Oblivion's map even has a watermark and signature.
  • Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy has a poster map/game manual in one. The map is bordered with a long passage written in the in-game writing system; those who bother to translate it will find it's full of references to the first game and future storylines.
  • Dragon Age has a map that you use whenever you choose which location you want to go to next. It's not a real world map, since it only shows one country (Ferelden), which is part of a much larger world (Thedas). BioWare also released a true world map that shows all of Thedas (see it here), but this map does not appear in the game itself.
    • The limited edition also has a Feelie map printed on cloth.
  • Brutal Legend has an in-game map that you must uncover throughout the game. Here is a complete copy.
  • ZanZarah had a variation: the in-game map was presented as an actual paper map, of which you initially only had the bottom-left piece. As you progressed through the game, you recovered more pieces that were attached to the map in a jigsaw puzzle manner until it was complete by the endgame. A marker on the map would additionally track your current location, but only if you had the corresponding piece, otherwise you would be wandering through terra incognita (conveniently, though, the map piece depicting each region could be found very close to your most likely first entrance point to said region).
  • Golden Sun games had a world map you could access by hitting R while outside of cities and dungeons. The Lost Age was sold with a paper map of Weyard and a character relationship chart. Dark Dawn's map of Angara contradicts most of what was established in the first two games, due to the events of the first two games causing the world to change rather drastically. It's still changing 30 years after the fact, which is when Dark Dawn takes place. Judging by the shape of Angara and surrounds, Weyard is slowly becoming Earth.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • The Gamers Alliance has had many world maps due to the stories taking place during different eras. The map of the world during the most recent Third Age can be seen here.
  • The map of the Pokegirls world qualifies, despite technically being Earth 300 years in the future. Due to the horrendous Revenge War in the early 21st century, and later happenings: Australia has been fragmented; something did one hell of a number on Africa; Europe & Asia are barely recognizable as such; North America has been split in two, lost the southeast US and most of Canada, and has been separated from South America; and South America has had a huge chunk blown off. The map can be seen here.
  • The map of the world Vytal in RWBY is shown in its entirety once during the first season. Played with, in that Monty Oum allegedly squirted ketchup into a paper napkin, wadded it up, and then unfolded it to determine the basic landmasses of the world.

Western Animation

  • WITCH often shows a map of Meridian early in the series in a lot of key scenes, such as when Phobos is planning his next assault or the rebels are planning their next strike.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender shows it in the opening, and the website even shows where the group is in each episode.