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Check out the very first of our new weekly development development diaries for LotR: Realms in Exile. In this first diary, we explore some of the changes to our map of Middle-earth that we've made in preparation for v2.2's push into the Southern lands of Harad!

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Dev Diary #1: Exploring Unknown Spaces

“Frodo began to feel restless, and the old paths seemed too well-trodden. He looked at maps, and wondered what lay beyond their edges: maps made in the Shire showed mostly white spaces beyond its borders.” - The Fellowship of the Ring

Dev Diaries

Hi all – Jamie-san here! We’ve decided to try something new and plan to release a dev diary every weekend to keep you up to date with the latest work in development for LotR: Realms in Exile. This will give you a sneak peek into what lies in store and should act as a great way to see what the dev team have been up to!

In this first diary, we will be looking at what’s changing with the map in the upcoming v2.2 release focussing both on the vast and varied lands of the South, as well as some changes closer to home.

Mapping the Lands of Harad

Unlike in the Northwest of Middle-earth, where we already had a decent map inherited from the Imperator Realms in Exile mod, the vast lands South of Umbar had only the most basic features plotted out. So when we first started work on developing v2.2, we had pretty much a blank canvas to work on.

Our interpretation of the lands of the South drawn on multiple different sources, using the basic maps in the Appendix of Other Hands issues 29 and 30 for Bellakar and the core MERP materials for the Ray and lands South of the Bay of Tulwang, Lindëfirion as inspiration for North Eastern Harad near Khand and our sister mod, Age of the Ring, for the lifeless lands of Abrakhân and neighbouring Nâfarat.

This large push South took us right to the very borders of our existing map, so we took the decision to increase the physical dimension of the map vertically to be greater than that of Vanilla CK3 by nearly 40%, from a height of 4096 pixels to 5632 pixels. This should give us all the room we need in the distant future when we delve into the dense jungles of the Utmost South.

Naturally, this has been a huge undertaking, covering a vast amount of new land. In all, we have more than doubled the number of baronies on the map, painting in the mostly white spaces beyond the borders of the map, giving you more of Middle-earth to explore (or bring to heel). Furthermore, the extra distance from Gondor and Mordor should give players that want a little breathing space from the two great powers duking it out for the fate of Middle-Earth.

Our Loremaster VectorMaximus will be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of these new lands and their peoples in an upcoming dev diary, but for now, I though it’d be fun to show a side-by-side comparison of the Bay of Tulwang before we started work and in its current (WIP) state.

Anórien – A Seat for a King

Anórien in many ways had been the weakest of all the kingdom rank titles of Gondor; with relatively few holding slots that were largely undeveloped and underutilized. The Royal Demense, while powerful as a duchy, was not sufficient to counteract this lack of infrastructure. This has now been changed. Anórien now has almost double the number of baronies, new counties, and an additional duchy.

The Royal Demense has been substantially improved, further strengthening the authority of the royal government. Harlond, formerly of Lossarnach, has been made a part of Minas Tirith’s county, on account of its status as the city’s primary port on the Anduin. In addition, after much debate and request, Osgiliath at last has been unified into a single county, east and west baronies, part of the Royal Demense as well!

Finally, there was the matter of Lossarnach. Lossarnach was in many ways a strange oddity in the current public build: a titular kingdom tier title of one duchy that would often be quickly annexed by the Sealord. The traditional border of Lebennin and Anorien was the river Erui, and the internal borders have moved to reflect this. Lossarnach is now part of dejure Anorien, with the lords of Lossarnach paying homage directly to Minas Tirith. Because of this, the titular kingom title of Lossarnach has largely been made redundant - not being technically part of dejure Gondor, it resulted in less taxes for Gondor, and the power of the lords of Lossarnach was always their proximity to Minas Tirith, rather than their title rank. Thus, the titular Princedom of Lossarnach will be removed in the next patch, but at least Forlong will no longer be brutally attacked by the Sealord every other game.

Ithilien – Land under the Shadow

Ithilien has seen some changes, with additional counties and baronies but overall, not much will feel different for the region. However, while not starting off with any substantial buff to its strength, Ithilien now possesses the potential to be a stronger kingdom long-term, as befits the future princely realm of beloved Faramir. Once fully restored from the devastation Sauron inflicted on the region, Ithilien will be able to raise a new princely capital in Emyn Arnen (and once Elves are added, an opportunity to invite Silvan elves to settle there, offering strong buffs).

Lebennin – Land of the Sea

Lebennin’s situation is similar to that of Ithilien. Provinces have been shifted, baronies and counties added and names have been changed (e.g. Arnach to Celosien, the former Celosien to Gilrain).

Effect on Game Balance

We will be monitoring how the additional province density affects the relative strength of Gondor during play testing and will be making tweaks as necessary to try and ensure that the Dúnedain do not simply steamroll their neighbours.

Changes to the Dev Team

As a final announcement to end the Dev Diary, our team lead and Game Director, MattTheLegoman will be stepping down from modding for a little while and I will be picking up his role in his stead. I’m sure you all know how integral Matt has been to the development and vision that has helped to get us to where we are today, so his presence will certainly be missed during his time away. But I’m sure Matt will be keeping an eye on our progress in his absence, and I can’t wait for you all to see and enjoy the work he’s put into a lot of the new areas, particularly around crafting the lands and lore of Abrakhân!

Fellow Inklings: Join the Discussion

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Expanded area! That's great idead. Please check out the map of middle earth from minecraft mod which brings lotr alive. SmileBC is the creator. Check the link, if some of you got minecraft and could check it! ;)

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MattTheLegoman Author

No, thank you.

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MattTheLegoman Author

I did check your recommendation and Smile has nothing Realms could use. They would have to come to the Realms team if they wanted to collaborate. We've given early access to content creators before, they asked us first.

I requested and received permission to use place names from the ArdaCraft project (recreation of Middle-earth in Minecraft) for the Rohan and Dunland release, that was very helpful and I love working with other teams. I knew of ArdaCraft before the Realms team started, and how brilliant their project was and how dedicated and faithful their team was to Middle-earth.

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Great Dev Diary!

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