Cartographic Armageddon

Guess what? I’m back on that 40k Mapping thing again!

Behold Armageddon, one of the most fought over planets in the Imperium, with a Chaos invasion led by a Daemon Primarch, two Ork invasions led by Margaret Thatcher and the current general insanity caused by GW’s decision to move the plot forward under its belt.

Armageddon tired of GW's Cartographic Ignorance
Armageddon tired of GW’s Cartographic Failures…

It’s a pretty nice map, however ever since its publication everyone at GW has completely forgotten how to read it.

Look at those lines. That’s right, the curved ones. They indicate that we’re not looking at a flat map, we’re looking at some kind of globular projection. Furthermore notice that the lines are slanted – that means that we’re not looking at the map from a  cardinal direction (north, south, east or west), but at an angle. And hey! Look in the upper right hand corner! One of the lines is marked as the equator! This tells us that north is to the upper left!


Unfortunately this is something that has escaped the notice of GW’s writers and artists who have consistently read it as a flattened, north oriented map, even publishing redraws of it with an upwards pointing compass rose slapped on top – most notably in the recent reprint of Gavin Thorpe’s Annihilation Squad (a damn good read actually, despite the compass directions being all screwy BECAUSE NO ONE AT GW CAN READ A GODDAMN MAP!).

Perhaps the silliest aspect of this are the planet’s famous equatorial jungles. If we look at the map above we can see that this name makes sense – they sit right across the planet’s equator. If we go by the later maps however they’re just randomly plonked running north to south, giving one the impression that whatever Ordo Cartographica scribe first charted the planet was hitting the amasec really hard.

So, what to do about this all this malarkey (apart from making a ranting blog post that no one else will ever care about)? Why, redraft the map of course!

Now, this is a bit easier said than done. The globular projection adds all kinds of distortions and while I am sure there is software out there that can correct them in the twinkling of a nurgling’s eye I don’t have access to them. So I decided to go old school and resort to paper and pencil.

Step one was to make the map grid a bit denser. I did this by tracing the existing grid in Inkscape and then running additional lines between each of them, splitting each of the existing map squares into four. Step two was to grab a piece of graph paper and sketch in the details of each square…

So there we have it! That’s what a flattened out, north oriented Armageddon map really looks like! Armageddon Primus is actually north of Armageddon Secundus and the entire continent is stumpier than the angled view suggests

So, I now expect GW to start using this corrected version immediately! ;D

EDIT: Yes, it is rather strange that the continent to the west (the Dead Lands) is completely frozen over while the central continent (at the same latitudes) isn’t. There’s a clue to this in that the eastern continent (the Fire Wastes) appear to be barren desert. This would suggest that Armageddon has a pretty severe axial tilt combined with some rather weird orbital characteristics – which given its ancient history (no spoilers, but go read The Beast Arises…) is actually rather plausible.

Cognitive Dissonance, World Without End

Maybe it happened, but we just didn’t notice?

So, May 21st has come and gone and the world didn’t end. Presumably all those people who believed Harold Camping’s numerological interpretations of the Bible will now realise he’s a nut, switch off Family Radio and go and do something useful with their lives. Right?

Wrong. Why? Because of a little thing called Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance is what happens when a person absolutely, positively believes something, and then reality doesn’t live up to those expectations. Confronted with evidence completely blowing their beliefs apart most people simply won’t be able to discard their beliefs. This is both because of the way neural pathways work in the brain, and the sheer amount of investment a true believer puts into their creed. What kind of investment? I’m glad you asked.

Keeping with the example of Harold Camping, some of his followers will have blown everything they have on his prophecy. They will have shed their physical assets – selling their homes and businesses and emptying their bank accounts to fund his message and spread the word, aiming to “save” as many people as possible. They will have also burned up all their social capital, proclaiming to their families, their friends, their neighbours, their workmates, colleagues and random people on the street that they’re right, and anyone who disagrees will be literally damned for their foolishness. Many will have severely damaged – if not totally destroyed – important relationships with their parents, children, friends and families. They’ve thrown everything they have into the belief system, and to turn around and admit that they were wrong, and it was all for nothing is just far, far too difficult and far too painful for most human minds to come to terms with.

So, what will happen?

They’ll come up with an excuse. A compromise. Their brains will turn the facts over and over again until they figure out a modification to their belief system that prevents their sacrifices and investment from being in vain, while still admitting that the end of the world didn’t happen. The classic excuse for failed end-of-the-world predictions is that God (or whoever/whatever) was so impressed by the believers’ actions that he decided to spare the world for a bit longer and called off the destruction. We’ll have to wait and see what will eventuate in this case, but it’s a fairly good stab at whatever the dominant excuse will be.

So, Harold Camping will keep on crunching his numbers, and Family Radio will keep spreading it’s messages to a slightly smaller, but still substantial flock. The same as human belief has ever been, and ever shall be, world without end.

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