Above is the first hexmap I've ever drawn, and I have to say I enjoyed the exercise. There is a freedom in finding the terrain hidden in the graph paper. It was very different from the maps I've drawn before, and a lot easier. Good thing too, because once the map is done the work begins.
As I drew in the shoreline, smaller islands, rivers, mountains, and towns, the Dominion of Langrim began to take shape in my imagination. And so did the process necessary to build a sandbox. Whereas my normal settings develop around the PC's, this one needs to be ready for them to move around in from roll one. Now I do not intend to micro-plan every hex, but I want to have the important locations, monsters, and NPC's committed to text and table. One thing I can say for sure is that the pre-campaign prep work is a lot heavier using this model.
The map template I found on The Welsh Piper proved to be just what I needed. I'm not quite sure whether I'll keep the 1 hex/25 miles or not, but the combination of square and hex grid, and the notes/legend field on the right, makes for a user friendly map. I also find I have to keep my imagination in check while writing the background material for this setting, as I do have a tendency to spin intrigues around every NPC I come up with. This is, I believe, important in a game like this, but the nature of the game is not one of politics and scheming - unless the players make it so. Rather, what I hope to end up with is a sandbox where the NPC's do their thing, and the PC's are free to interfere as they please.
If you have any advice on sandbox construction to impart, I would greatly appreciate it.
I hope to have the map finalised, with description, background text, and some tables, in time for Saturday's play-date. You'll be the first to know.