The areas of the map covered by each terrain, such as the salt dunes, or the jungles, are always consistent. This can help you determine your approximate location by checking your current terrain against the world map, even when lost.
On a smaller scale of terrain, there are several randomly generated biomes that each screen can be affected by. The standard terrain will be slightly altered, be it by being covered in or , or have a outbreak. At the greatest concentration of such biomes, there are often rare items or liquids to be found.
The world map and surface zones are only the beginning of your adventure. The vast caves of Qud await you, and you can delve many, many, layers downward in any particular zone. Enjoy the adventure. Live and drink, friend.
You can ascend to the the world map from any surface zone by pressing the Move Up directional key. By default, this is the NumPad Minus (-) key. You can then use the directional keys to move around on the world map. To enter a particular part of the world map that you have traveled to, press the Move Down directional key (+). If there are hostiles nearby, you cannot ascend into the world map. You must be in a safe location first,either by defeating the hostiles or by running away.
Each time that you move a space on the world map, there is a chance that your character will become lost. If this happens, you'll be forced to enter the zone you're currently travelling over, and you won't be able to re-enter the world map until you regain your bearings. You can regain your bearings by talking to another humanoid, or if you can't find someone to talk to, you will have a chance to regain your bearings naturally each time that you enter a new zone.
Distance on the world map is measured in parasangs.
Each tile on the world map is one parasang from the next tile. This example image shows a chunk of the world map that is 3 parasangs tall and 8 parasangs wide. The player is currently one parasang south of Red Rock.
It is common for village quests to involve finding a location that is a certain number of parasangs from another location, and you can use the world map tiles as a guide to help you with such quests.
Zones are the "screens" that your character moves through, fights in, or completes most other actions. Zones are the actual locations that you can enter from the world map (in other words, everything besides the world map). 1 parasang or tile on the World map represents a 3x3 area of 9 zones. When you descend downward from the world map, you'll arrive by default in the central zone of that parasang. If you've previously discovered special locations, such as ruins, lairs, villages, or other places, you'll be given an option to decide which part of the parasang you want to decend into from the world map.
Here's an example of what 1 parasang of the world map looks like. As you can see, it is a 3 x 3 area composed of 9 total zones.
Each overworld parasang has a base difficulty tier associated with it. In general, a tier represents the minimum level of creatures and objects in that terrain. World map locations have a surface tier value from 0 to 5, and this value is used to determine the zone tier of specific zones within each parasang, whether on the surface or underground.
Refer to the zone tier article for images and additional detail.