So I just watched the edge of the World DT. I really liked the idea of a map on a table. I think it allows for some awesome modding and story ideas. I would recommend adding a feature where you could send your hearthlings outside of your map to explore… They could disappear for awhile then when they “discover” something, it could appear on the table as a separate but smaller section of map. Once the hearthlings take care of the quest arc for the new section of map, it would disappear again. This is a (I think) a great way to add dungeons, cities, and additional biomes without having to cram them all into the map slice the hearthlings are living in.
An example of how this could look:
Undead start wandering near your village at night. Send an armed group of hearthlings to investigate the source. They wander off. After 5 in game hours, they discover a crypt deep in an old growth forest. The crypt map/set pieces appear on the table beside your primary map. Once your hearthling army defeats the necromancer, the crypt map/set pieces disappear again. I think this would look much better than the current method of random crypts popping up once a week outside my city walls.
A system like this would allow modders to build all sorts of custom set pieces and quest lines. They can take place in their own unique biomes, and wouldn’t need to fit somewhere on the existing map. Quests can start when a traveler passing through the village mentions seeing something strange, or when the player decides to send hearthlings to explore in a random direction. All of this would make the world seem larger without actually making it bigger.
I think this would also help create the code base for multiplayer. Since instead of a set piece, you would just be loading another person’s entire map near yours.