This post originally went live on May 19.
There is a third group that is specific to the sea that is neither navy nor pirate. They might be found with those other two groups, but they are unique because of their goals. Even if you find them among outsiders, these ocean-traveling sailors and adventurers tend to stand out. Many believe they have been cursed by a wanderlust that directs them to the open sea. Others simply think they want the glory of discovering a new land since the group appeared only after the Great Cataclysm. No matter what, people have a lot of respect for the Mappers.
The name pretty much says it all. These are people who don’t care about riches, glory, fighting, or defending a nation. All they want to do is map out the oceans, which are vast and always changing. While they do have a handful of land-based members, the Mappers prefer the sea. Each one has their own reason for this, which is what lends itself to the wanderlust curse idea. Yet, there really aren’t many detailed maps of the ocean. You have the bigger pieces of land, but there are believed to be thousands of islands that were moved or created by the Great Cataclysm. This is why many Mappers claim that they are simply rediscovering the information that was lost. Still, there are those who want to find legendary lands and map them. Rumor has it that a special sect of Mappers even want to get to the the four moons of Windemere.
Unlike pirates and navy members, there isn’t much uniform to the skills of a Mapper outside of cartography and map-reading. They might have different tools, various levels of seamanship, and previous specialties. For example, a former forest tracker might use her skills to become a Mapper and be able to go it alone in some areas because of their combat training. Another might have magic while a third is also a priest. It is fairly rare that one finds a Mapper who doesn’t have a second job or come from an unconnected background since this is more calling than career. Those that are a Mapper from youth to old age end up gathering an assortment of skills. Like forest trackers, they are prized guides when one is adventuring, but the downside is you never know what else you’re getting. It doesn’t help that these people will only gloat about their mapping skills and not share what else they can do unless they trust you.
So, why are these people considered the third power of the Windemere seas? The answer is fairly simple. The other two groups would be in a lot of trouble without the Mappers doing what they do. Pirates and navies buy maps and navigation gear when they are traveling into unknown areas. Sometimes, they will keep a Mapper on the crew to help with traveling quickly and put the other sailors at ease. There is less fear of getting lost when these professionals are around, which is something they take pride in. Another service is that Mappers are always happy to train others in map reading and whatever navigation tricks they have. The veterans have special tools and styles, which go to a chosen apprentice. Yet, the basics are always on the table if they are given a chance to travel into a place they haven’t been to before.
One curious thing about Mappers is that they rarely interact with each other. There are only two reasons that they work together. One is a yearly gathering to compare notes and see if anybody has undone your previous work. This meeting bans all writing implements and memorization charms, but does allow map trading. Every Mapper has a collection that they are always looking to increase. Now, the other type of gathering is when several join forces to make a single crew. This happens when a special circumstance is discovered and multiple Mappers are after the same mystery. While some may want to race, most will work together on something that could be seen as a once-in-a-lifetime event. These outings can be chaotic though because you have conflicting personalities and there’s always a poor captain that they hire to help.