This is how a Points of Light setting should be. Ask a local villager where the nearest town is and they look fearfully at the Dark and Looming Hills to the North. “I heard there are folks lived that way one time, but I doubt they’re still alive.” Townsfolk will tell and re-tell tall tales about “The Southern Kings”, “The Swamp Lords” and “The Black Fae Portal” but if asked for directions they will look at their questioner as if they were being asked for the way to the moon.
Anything which cannot be reached before nightfall is myth.
Between those fabled Points of Light there is darkness and fear. Stepping out of the Point of Light your heroes call home means stepping into the very place they have learned their entire life is dangerous and most likely fatal. Entering the Dark is suicide in the eyes of the average Points of Light resident. They will shake their heads and cross themselves (or whatever followers of Pelor do – big round friendly sun circles, probably) as the Heroes leave the stockaded village, most likely never to be seen again.
The Points of Light campaign setting needs no map. Leaving the confines of home is a step into the Unknown, and the Unknown has no map because that’s what Unknown means.
Ah, you say, what about the GM? Shouldn’t he (or she) know what’s out there? After all, isn’t that the GM’s job – to know the unknown?
Yes, up to a point.
Ideally, the GM’s knowledge should extend at least as far as the next scenario, and at most as far as the current story arc. Anything else, even to the GM, is black. Full maps complete with preset locations, terrain details and more (such as the Nerath map for 4e) are a shackle which limit GM invention. Keeping things vague and unknown means the GM is free to add new feature and change the world according to the needs of the story. If I want a 200′ wall of bones surrounding a vast area, or to move Hammerfast, I can. The blackness in a true Points of Light setting is an unwritten part of the tale, waiting to be told.
Let’s imagine for a moment that the heroes are residents of Fallcrest. They know of the old King’s Road, but incursions of foul beasts, untamed nature and wild magic have rendered it impassable for generations. Somewhere to the West lies Winterhaven, but what few maps they have are so out of date as to be unusable. The problem is that their mentor in Fallcrest is dying of an unidentified ailment, and the only words be utters in his delirium is “Demons in Winterhaven! They are coming!”……
It is time for the heroes to venture out and spread the Light.
And make their own map.