Rememberences of Map Contests Past

MoTF 168: She's So Fine

The Challenge

Make a map of a country (or region) seen as the best in anything. Whatever they're the best is up to interpretation.


The Best Tourist Destination in all Europe, ten years in a row! Come to Rome, one and all!

The map features a Byzantine Empire that conquered and consolidated southern Italy and Sicily (and even Rome!) early on and then managed to lose Anatolia to the Turks and the Balkans to a nationalist rebellion in the 1700's. The First Empire is OTL Rome, the Second Empire is the Eastern Roman Empire until the loss of Anatolia in 1632, when it is known as the Third Empire until its exile to Italy. It has been the Fourth Empire ever since, even though it's not much of an "empire" anymore. It also features an alternate development of the English language. It should still be readable, but let me know if you have any questions about the map! Their territory is, while still mostly considered ethnically "Italian," which covers a broad umbrella, mostly speaking TTL's alternate Byzantine Greek's descendant language. Also, their territory is mostly "Roman Rite Christian," what we would know as Orthodox Christianity.


How do we quantify food?

It’s a question I’ve always wanted to have answered, but we’ve found somewhat difficult. Afterall, food is fundamentally not a numbers game. What it comes down to, at the end of the day, is subjective taste, the chef that’s in that day, and a million other factors that cannot reliably be predicted.

At least, that’s what I thought before travelling to New Orleans.

As I crossed the bridge from Lower Orleans into the so-called “Old Quarter”, I was dazzled. I’d been to London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, and even the metropolis of Peking, but all of them paled in comparison to the bustling metropolis of the Big Easy.

The city is built upon a swampy foundation. Keeping the city from going underwater is a daily and titanic struggle, a complex system of retaining walls, reservoirs, pumps, sewers and hydraulic beams keeping water out, and preventing the super-towers from sinking into the mud. It is this engineering marvel that has led to some terming New Orleans “The 8th Wonder of the World”.

19th century brownstone and 21st century steel-and-glass skyscrapers tower on every side, taking up every available inch of land. People of every color and creed sit outside, laughing over coffee outside the bistros that line the street. Providentials, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Shiaa, Sunni, Jewish, Hindu churches and temples sit happily across from each other - and I could’ve sworn I saw a Priest, a Rabbi and an Imam walking into a bar.

Nouveau Orleans is seemingly at the forefront of modernity, a melting pot of humanity in the shadow of technological wonder. Except, that is, till you come across one small building at the edge of Canal Street. On either side and behind it is a single monolithic building, the Banc de Deux, one of the largest financial firms in the world, all sleek glass and steel. But this building is all wood and brick, with a balcony overhanging the sidewalk. It doesn’t go higher than three stories. This “L’Esprit du Sel”, and it has a line stretching around the block.

A young First Nations woman is waiting for me outside, and happily escorts me in when I show her my press credentials, past the slightly disgruntled looking people in queue.

I’m sat down in a dingy booth across from one of the fattest men I’ve ever seen. Pierre le Rocher is bald, but you wouldn’t know it - he seldom takes off his Chef’s cap, even when outside the restaurant. His magnificent handlebar mustache gives the distinct impression of a walrus, and his stained apron gives the distinct impression of a slob.

Even as I sit down, he’s not looking at me. He’s got his eyes trained on someone way across the restaurant who’s photographing their cellphone.

“Never did like those things” he chimes up in his thick Acajun “Tried to get them banned from the restaurant, but the staff outvoted me.” He chuckled. I asked him what his problem with phones was.

“World’s moving too fast. Technology’s fine, but when folks are spending more time looking at their food than enjoyin’ it…” He shrugs.

Pierre le Rocher seems an unlikely candidate to run the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, but here he was. Under his guidance, L’Esprit du Sel (already the oldest restaurant in New Orleans) flew up the reviews, finally getting rewarded the most coveted prize in the gastronomic world: four Giacometti stars.

The first course is the chef’s personal favorite, sea-food gumbo. He lifts the spoon up, and wafts the steam to his nose. “You smell that? You smell that spice? Used to be that was incredibly expensive, but with the recent Ceylon referendum, they’re dead cheap now.” He takes a sip from the spoon, and closes his eyes, as if to savor it. I asked him what he thought of the referendum.

“It’s wonderful. More flavors out on the street” he laughed. “But when they come here, they gotta remember when they come here: they can’t just take the Old Country with them. Ils sont Louisiane maintenant.” I asked him what he meant by that.

He shrugged his shoulders, and said “Idn’t that the whole idea behind this place? We said “Sucks to the King, we’re not French: we’re Louisianian. We’re French too, but we’re also American, Spanish, German…”

His view of history, while not the most rigorous, is more or less correct. The Louisianians broke with the French crown in the wake of the 7 Years War over taxation and Indian raids, launching a revolution and establishing a republic.After the French Revolution brought many immigrants from the France, Louisiana began a campaign of expansion and settlement. As it grew, incorporating more and more people, and more and more immigrants arrived from Europe and east of the Mississippi, it adopted an identity as a multilingual, ethnically boisterous republic.

Our second course is a rump steak that, I’m told, was cooked by a recipe brought over by first-generation French immigrants 20 years ago.

“It is what makes Louisianian cuisine so magnificent” Pierre explained. “We take in the best from every people of the world, with open arms.”

Something like that may seem subjective and too poetic an explanation as to why the country’s food would be the best, nevermind the idea that it is objectively the best. And yet, the numbers seem to bear out: not only does Louisiane have more Giacometti stars than any other nation on earth, of those that do, the restaurants are disproportionately run by immigrants.

Our final dish, the Napoleon. Named for the third (and some would say best) Consul of Louisiane, this delectable treat was enough to convince me: the greatest food in the world was to be found right here in La Republique de la Louisiane.

-Matt Gold
MoTF 169: The Years Start Coming

The Challenge

Make a map depicting a country or singular polity that has existed for a long time.

The Restrictions
There are no restrictions on when the PoD of your map should be. Fantasy, sci-fi, and future maps are allowed.


This map is from my usual 'Greek Napoleon' scenario

As stated on previous maps, because Napoleon was crowned the King of Greeks in 1800 the OTL Directory never was overthrown during the coup of 18 Brumaire leading to a defeat against the Austrians who restored the Bourbon Dynasty. With many Revolutionary leading political and military leaders leaving the restored French Kingdom for Napoleonic Greece, the populace who were too poor to travel and were stuck under oppressive Royalist rule again rose up for a second time.

Although returning Paris to Royalist Rule was relatively simple, they had problems regaining control of the edges of the Kingdom; especially in the North, Brittany and Normandy who had become accustom to the equality instead of being run as food production areas of the Aristocrats. The French Kingdom reached out to his neighboring states to help 'deal with the problem' by promising small but reasonable land concessions.

Civil unrest died in Brittany and Normandy not long after the first sight of the mighty British Navy because the local populace knew they were no match for a combined French and British attack. Britain saw this as a change to get back some former Medieval possessions and was granted the Calais and the Cherbourg areas. Cherbourg, unlike Calais, was made a 4th Crown Dependency in recognition of the shared heritage with Guernsey and Jersey.

With a failed harvest in the Autumn of 1805 the hungry and disgruntled populace rebelled again, only with this time the equally starving army joining the rebellion. By the Winter of 1805, with Royalist Control limited to the Loire Valley with it's castles, the King of France once again cried out for help to his neighbors; who being rather reluctant to go keep the peace in France once again only did so after the promise of yet more land concessions. In the Congres of Orléans, which took place before foreign intervention as to assure favorable conditions, the Dukedom of Normandy was restore as a British royal fief and the said Dukedom was extended with the shown Bailiwicks.
Isaac Beach:

(If my accompanying notes aren't acceptable I'll happily remove them, but I thought they were helpful in dissecting the scenario.)


The Kingdom of the Angels
The origins of Angelcynn are shrouded in legend and folklore, with tales of guiding maritime fairies, alizarin wyverns and the causeways of the gods. In actuality it is thought that the great Germanic tribe of Anglii were evinced of it's existence and subsequently migrated there in the wake of Khristian[1] missionaries as the Celtic petty kingdoms rallied and Slavs invaded Preten[2]'s east coast. Regardless of the kingdom's beginnings as either a utilitarian exodus or a clairvoyant gallivant across the sea, it is abundantly clear that the little kingdom has existed since at least the Post Imperial Period.
Isolated and sparse, the Kingdom has changed rather little since their initial settlement and Khristianization. There have been periods of intermittent, internecine warfare, royal coups and even a brief republic; but the culture, language and disposition of the Angels has remained constant and so alien to much of the outside world. Though they regularly traded with such neighbours as Skotland and Telemarke[3] in woollen cloaks, dried cod and birch sap, this droll commerce rarely imbibed foreigners with a sense of wonder for the icy northern isle and the Angel traders themselves were historically infamous for their inscrutable jejunity[4].
It was only within the past four centuries that they became relevant to the outside world, primarily in the discovery and colonization of the Hesperides[5], and herein they became especially well known for their boat building. Angelcynn's birch wood forests were and are meticulously kept, concomitant with their historically strong central government and bookkeeping tradition adopted from the Abbots of Saint Wigmund[6]. Having bred and experimented with these woods for over a thousand years, they had developed a remarkably durable and light material[7] that could be applied to the boat building practice en masse. And so they became key to the exploitation of the Hesperides.
Later, their shipbuilding practice would see their merchants flood abroad to warmer ports as far afield as Cina and Hindoostan[8], where the one most lasting and exceptional cultural evolution would occur; the adoption of tea. It proved incredibly popular with the Angels, so much so that it would entice an adventurous consortium of Hindoostani shreni[9] to arrive in the state and plant the roots of the country's first and largest expatriate community; Wúscbearn Zæstræn (Little Zastrayana).
When the colonial period waned and the world's great powers gradually fell, Angelcynn remained and subsequently remains to this day. They are the only country in the world to have an uninterrupted 2000 years of existence.


[1] - Christians with a K.
[2] - The term for this world's Britain.
[3] - Roughly OTL Norway, but bigger.
[4] - Y'know, just like real British people pre-Empire.
[5] - The Americas.
[6] - Historically, Iceland's birch forests were cleared away due to unbridled clearing and consumption as fuel during the Medieval period, that has not occurred here.
[7] - An early form of plywood.
[8] - China and India.
[9] - A form of ancient Indian guild, the term is more widespread ITTL.

Now, every single one of the names of the towns and cities on this map were developed by flicking through an Old English dictionary and smashing words together, and I imagine you'd all be quite interested in as to what they exactly mean. They are (roughly) as follows, in no particular order:

Angelcynn - England
Atlantshaef - Atlantic
Niðerecg - The lower edge of the brink
Cúéage - Eye of the cow
Ísgeblædell - Ice blister hollow
Abbodríburh - Abbey town
Brycgweard - Defender of the bridge
Benorþanfeor - North of Feorbuend
Scýn - Shy
Sanct Ethel - Saint Ethel
Stángefeall - Pile of fallen stones
Wealhmærburh - Wealhmær's town
Weatendell - West end hollow
Angelcotlíf - Fishing hook village
Feorbuend – Far off dwelling
Wæterhelm - Covering of ice
Dismburh – Town of steam
Fierddæl - Campaign dale
Fengeládcotlíf - Village on the fen
Æfnoðcotlíf - Village of Æfnoð
Súþdældell - Southern hollow
Bælegsacroft - Fire croft
Acsanmúða - River mouth
Langeástæp – Long southern shore
Brecanóra - Broken shore
Sanct Wigmund Abbodríce - Saint Wigmund's Abbey
Æblæc – Bleak
Gicel – Ice
Æg – Water
Scrínburh - Box town
Gáraburh - Cape town
Áglæcwífcotlíf - Crone village
Ásweartianbeorg - The hill that turns black (at night)
Wúscbearn Zæstræn - Little/Childlike Zastrayana (founded by Indian merchants)
Cynrio – A Germanic king
Fægre Cniht - Beautiful boy
Hereburh – Harbour
Efesmere - Lakeside
Healhsæburh - The maritime town in the nook
Mægenwundor - Striking wonder
Smiþþan - Smith's workshop


Inspired by an old Paradox Grand Campaign game, a modern-day Byzantine Empire. The Empires of Britain and Byzantium signed an alliance in the mid-10th century at the beginning of the Crusades and together they conquered much of the Middle East, reducing Islam to an interesting historical footnote. Throughout the coming centuries, the British and Byzantines remained allies against all odds, following much the same path of expanding empires around the globe (the one overseas colony Byzantium had was in Indonesia), and creating democratic societies. And while the alliance used to be known as the Crusader Axis during the Middle Ages, the more popular name for them today is the Imperial Twins. Traditionally the first overseas trip of every new British emperor/empress is to Constantinople, and vice versa for every Byzantine emperor/empress.

With the millennial anniversary of the alliance coming up, the councils of London and Constantinople are both getting ready for festivities like none either city has ever seen. The centre of these celebrations will include a symbolic coronation of Ariadne, Empress of the Hellenes, in Westminster Abbey, symbolically making her a second monarch of Great Britain, and Malcolm V, Emperor of Great Britain and Egypt, will likewise be crowned Emperor of the Hellenes in the Hagia Sophia. The ceremonies are expected to draw a television audience in the multiple billions all around the world.


Following near collapse in the early VII Century, the Sassanid Empire was blessed with a series of decent rulers and great weakness from potential enemies. The Gökturks had proven unable to actually take down the Iranian fortresses to the east, and the rising Malikate, weakened after succession wars posterior to the death of the empire's founder, Muhammad (who did not manage to get the same amount of followers as iOTL). Succession wars deeply weakened the Malikate and resulted in the creation of an extremely weak confederal structure. The religion wars, of course, continued anyway, and Iran was deeply destroyed: the Zagros, a natural point of defense, was the end of the strength of Islamic advances. The Sinai and Cicilia were the limits of the expansion of Islam within the Byzantine Empire's borders. Weakened and torn apart from Egypt, Rome soon lost all but its heartland in Greece and Anatolia: Egypt became an independent state - the Coptic "XXXIII Dynasty" which ruled Egypt until the late 800s.

All states in the Middle East, even Byzantium, have, for differing periods of time, been occupied by other States or annexed into largest empires. Even the proud Roman Empire was annexed in the mid-900s by a short-lived Avar Empire, and then usurped by Slavonic-Viking warriors in the early 1000s. Only Iran has remained unoccupied, and under the rule of the same Sassanid dynasty (and after the extinction of its main line in 1237, by the Sassan-Mihranid cadet branch). The collapse of the Malikate made Iran a dominant power in the Middle East.

Today, Iran has evolved into a parliamentary monarchy and the world's wealthiest country. The Iranian government, originally Zoroastrian (until Shapur VIII's conversion to Mazdakism in 912 AD) managed to defeat the political interests of rival dynasties and the clergy by emphasising radical economic redistribution and democratic ownership of the economy. Its main regional rivals today are not the Roman and Arab enemies of old, but rather new powers: the multiethnic United States of Turan up north, and the Republic of India. Iran's old enemies, especially Rome, are now, ironically, strategic allies: economically allied with Asorestan, Makan and the Mubarakkiyah (also deeply communistic, although fully democratic), are by far the world's greatest producers of oil and deeply dominant within the international stage.