Mapping Fantastic Southeast Asia

Here’s a draft version of a map for games set in the Lan Xang era of Southeast Asia, using the South-up orientation we could have used in ancient times. Dai Viet, Cambodia, Champa, Lan Na, and Ayutthaya kingdoms were the key neighboring states.


The borders are approximate because of shifts during that time. Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea, and the Gulf of Siam also shown. Ideally, would eventually also include Lanka, India, and key regions of China, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, but to keep it manageable, this seems like a good place to start.  Key realms of the Nyak, Nak, Garuda, and Kinnaly will also have to be addressed.

The BBC has an interesting article that might be helpful for many to take into consideration regarding the use of South-up maps to change our perspective and what we privilege when contemplating the world. Others might be interested in the map the writers and editors at Sinxay.Com created to help readers visualize the world discussed in the epic of Sin Xay.

One of the significant questions is how we might create a map for a world that also helps players to imagine the battles of Phra Lak Phra Lam, the Lao epic inspired by the Ramayana. Those of us working in Lao American SFF might also want to keep in mind ways to incorporate the stories found in the tales of Xieng Mieng, the epics of Manola & Sithong, Kalaket, Keo Na Ma, and the Toad-King Khankaak, and Phadaeng Nang Ai.  Here is a South-Up map that encompasses the primary region that would be of interest for creators engaging with Southeast Asian fantasy.

SEA Map political divisions.png

Back in 2014 Open Culture shared a great map by Massimo Pietrobon depicting the Earth as the ancient supercontinent of Pangea. While it has its critics, it’s also helpful to visualize what might have been if there hadn’t been continental drift. This could be very useful for alternate historians and others interested in an intriguing what-if scenario. Laos and Southeast Asia are located in the top near China.



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