Some places just deserve to be exported in a nice high-quality export so you can properly examine all the details of the map.

The City of Sanctuary from the community atlas is certainly one of these places. This lovely city by master mapper Christina Trani and resident artist Sue Daniel is a visual masterwork of a city map. So, I decided to try to make a proper high resolution export of this map. The result is a map 200,000 by 200,000 pixels, or 40 gigapixels in size. The .png file for this map is over 12GB in size, and even though I have a powerful computer, actually opening this source image in an image editor is almost impossible without it crashing.

Of course, providing such an image for download is useless, since nobody can actually use it, but a far better approach is to provide it as a zoomable image on the atlas website. The image viewer used for such a zoomable image loads different images depending on your zoom level, ensure that you only load what you need at any one time, making it reasonably easy to explore this gigantic export with reasonable loading times as you zoom or scroll. You can explore this zoomable image yourself by going to the City of Sanctuary map page, and then click the Zoomable Image button located over the map image. It should load reasonably quickly, but your physical distance from my server would affect loading times. I recommend you click the fullscreen button in the toolbar at the bottom of the zoomable image viewer for a much more impressive experience.

So, how did I accomplish this feat? Well, let me start by underlining that this was not a simple one-click task, it did require quite some work and a lot of computer time. Continue reading »

This is part 3 of the “Creating a New Map Style” series of articles.

It’s been far too long since the last part of this article, so let’s hurry up and take on the next step in creating a custom style for CC3+. After setting up the template and adding new bitmap fills, we now need to look at the new symbols.

011 Symbol Catalogs1. Setting up new catalogs

The first step is to set up one or more new catalogs to hold the symbols. For this example, I’ll take the Worlds of Wonder style’s catalogs and create a copy under a new folder /Symbols/Maps/Worlds of Wonder BW/. I rename them to remove the CA145 (the Annual issue number).

I won’t go through the details of drawing or importing new symbols here, and for the example, I’ll just edit the existing Worlds Wonder symbols to be grayscale instead of coloured versions of themselves.

When that’s done let’s make sure the map loads one of these catalogs when it opens. Go to File > Drawing properties and open the map note “OnNewMap”. Basically this is a macro that gets executed when someone creates a new map from the wizard template. Change the line
“CATALOG @Symbols/Maps/Annual Worlds of Wonder/CA145 All.FSC”
to
“CATALOG @Symbols/Maps/Annual Worlds of Wonder BW/Mountains.FSC”
and do the same in the OnOpenMacro map note. This macro defines what happens if someone just opens a map based on the style.

012 Catalog Settings2. Creating Catalog Settings

One of the more obscure things to do when creating a new drawing style is to set up the catalog settings so the catalog buttons open the correct symbol catalogs for the style. To do so, click the All Drawing Tools button on the catalog toolbar and then the “Advanced” button on the dialog. The dialog should then look the one on the left here. It lists all the available catalog settings that match both the master filter and the setting filter. We will need to create a new master filter and the settings to match.

Deciding on a master filter, I will make it “WBW” (for Worlds of Wonder Black/White). I select each of the setting entries I want to duplicate in turn and create a new one based on the current one, where I replace the “CA145” with “WBW”. These will not appear in the list for now, as they don’t match the master filter.

I then type in the new master filter “WBW, and the settings appear as shown on the right. All your new settings will show up. Go throguh them in turn and make sure they load the correct symbol catalog. You can also set the properties that get set when the respective button is pressed. That by default the overland catalog toolbar loads the following six settings: Border, Coast, Mountains, Natural, Structures and Vegetation. Everything else, like Cartouches have to be loaded through the All Catalog Settings button.

Now we need to set up the master filter itself, as so far we’ve only decided on its name. Right click the Symbol Style Toggle button on the left toolbar and choose “Master Filter Settings”. Rename Filter 1 to “WBW” and save the setting under the same name.

014 Master FilterNow we just need to tell the template to load the master filter on startup. As above, go to the OnOpenMacro and OnNewMacro map notes and change the line
“SYMICONFLOAD CA145”
to
“SYMICONFLOAD WBW”.

And that’s all for setting up the symbol catalogs for a style. Depending on how many new symbols and catalogs you create it can be quite a bit of work of course, but the basic procedure is always the same.

In the next article – which hopefully will not take quite as long to follow – we’ll look at setting up the drawing tools of the new style.
015 Symbol Catalogs

Dear Cartographers,

Welcome to ProFantasy’s October newsletter! We present the monthly pick of user maps, including a more detailed article by one of the authors,dive deeper into coding add-ons, and present various options for virtual tabletop software.

News

Resources

Articles

  • Grimur Fjeldsted walks us through the making of his awesome Duchy of Earlsdale map.
  • Ralf takes a look at different options available if you are looking for a virtual tabletop software for your games, especially at it relates to maps.

The November 2019 Annual issue is a very special one this year – it contains a huge tutorial and tool pack created full by Sue Daniel, which teaches you the techniques to create amazing world maps with a combination of Fractal Terrains 3 and Campaign Cartographer 3+. Like this one…

With more than 40 pages of detailed instructions, three full-fledged example maps each in a variety of styles, support files for FT3 and CC3+ and a whole bunch of pre-generated FT3 worlds for you to play with, the content of this issue is huge. And even if you don’t Fractal Terrains 3 yourself, the included CC3+ maps are a treasure trove in themselves.

If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe to the Annual 2019 here. If you are already subscribed, the November issue is available for download on your registration page now.

Many of us have started playing role-playing games in high school, college or university and made great friends along the way. As life goes on we might move away from those friends and miss the good times of gaming around the table. One way to get at least part of this feeling back is to use modern technology to meet virtually and play via the Internet. While this can be done easily with generic online tools like Skype, Discord and similar options, quite a few developers have picked up the idea and offer software products tailored to this specific purpose, going so far as incorporating rules and tools for specific games making the experience as smooth as possible.

Many of these incorporate tools for sharing and using maps – either just for visual reference or to replace a gaming surface where you would have moved miniatures on. This is where it becomes especially interesting to us map-makers, as Campaign Cartographer 3+ and especially Dungeon Designer 3 are supremely suited to producing the maps for these software tools. Therefore I want to take a look at the various options out there and how they handle maps. They are not in any significant order, perhaps a vague sense of general popularity.

roll20Roll20

Perhaps the most popular virtual tabletop option currently available, Roll20 is strongly aimed at d20-type games like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder and 13th Age, but can be used with any other games as well. A listed of directly supported system can be found here. Its map feature allows you to import floorplans (e.g. created with DD3) as battle maps, use character or monster images as tokens on the map (e.g. from the Token Treasury) and includes dynamic lighting functionality for the maps.

A basic Roll20 account is free of charge, but you can pay for more privileged access and many types of resources for the game.

Fantasy Grounds screenshotFantasy Grounds

Where Roll20 is a web-based application, Fantasy Grounds is a downloadable, stand-alone software, where one person is hosting with a GM account and the others join in with their client software. It has a very polished look with some beautiful design feature, like dice actually rolling across the virtual table, and also offers a large selection of different rules packages to choose from, which provide game-specific tools to facilitate the game.

Of course maps can also be imported into Fantasy Grounds, from overland maps to battle maps, including a grid feature to move virtual miniatures around. As you can set the size of the grid in Fantasy Grounds visually, it is very simple to add one on top of an existing Dungeon Designer 3 grid. But line of sight and dynamic lighting are limited.

Fantasy Grounds has a variety of pricing models, from a free demo version which lets you connect to a game hosted by someone with the most expensive version, to yearly subscriptions and one-time purchases.

d20Prod20Pro

Another commercial offering, d20Pro also concentrates on the d20 family of rules as the name suggests, but can be expanded to other rules systems. The official D&D license as well as Pathfinder support feature prominently on the website.

Its map feature provides line of sight and fog of war effects and – as usual – importing images as maps. It also links to its own web-based map editor – World Engine – allowing limited map creation on the fly.

D20Pro’s pricing structure is simple (and fairly low) with just a player and a DM version of the license and a 30-day free trial.

MapToolMapTool

Another option is the free (donation-supported) MapTool. It is open source and the community provides a variety of extras, but of course it doesn’t have the kind of focused, system-specific support that the commercial competitors offer. IT can be very powerful if you dive into the open source framework to build your own system-support from the ground up, but that is quite a commitment.

Its map part does offer automated line of sight and fog of war features, making it convenient to use as virtual battlemap platform, without going into the kind of financial commitment other tools require.

AstralAstral

Astral is a purely web-based application including a fairly powerful map-making option. It doesn’t have official support for specific game systems, but provides basic assets for typical games (D&D, Cthulhu) with pre-made templates.

The basic version of Astral is free, but you need to pay for more online storage space, as well as additional assets for map-making, ambient sounds, etc.

Other tools

There is a variety of smaller tools around, and the VTT Wiki is good place to get a list and check them out. Or see this comparison of different vtts on Taking20.

With the weather turning cold here in Europe and the trees shedding their leaves, it’s a great time to spent the darkening evening drawing a beautiful map or two. The ProFantasy community certainly has obviously done so and produced more awesome maps. Here are a few for your your delight!

Shera McDaniel (Ladiestorm) continues to transcend our organization and typing of map styles and produces wonderful city maps using the Mike Schley Overland style. Here is the city of Narvania.
Narvania City
Continue reading »

The Purple BoxA Purple Box

The second-hand store around the corner of my 1995 midtown apartment always had interesting merchandise. Most evenings on my way home, I would jump off my bike at the store and look at the various new items they had in stock for the day. Since they were second-hand I often asked myself questions around previous owners and I found that the items with all their diversity often told small stories.

One night a small purple box still wrapped in plastic had appeared in the store window. Campaign Cartographer for PC, 3.5”. A few days later the floppy disk fired up my MS-DOS. A: DIR, CC.EXE and a land called Jaw Peninsular appeared in 16 beautiful colors on the screen of my Compaq 486.

I have always loved maps and the imagination they spark at the first glimpse. I longer to wander and explore these foreign lands, and a great fantasy map is for me a medium to get closer to that experience.

Now I was able to create the maps myself, learning that the experience of creating fantasy maps is one of asking questions as well. Who lives there? Why do they live there? What do they trade in? Who threatens them? Why?

Answering these questions makes the world come alive, and fantasy maps reveal their stories while you draw them.

World Building

Earlsdale started like that 25 years ago. A small feudal region in the center of the world. Three Duchies fighting for power and a cursed kingship that none of them dares to claim. While fighting each others, the surrounding empires to the east, west and south would expand. Soon their agents infiltrated Earlsdale only to be followed by their armies. War had come to Earlsdale.

Earlsdale was in 16 colors! It’s a shame, I lost the floppy disk and internet was not really a thing with lots of images back then. I would have liked to see it today. Nevermind.
The map changed not only because of updates and new symbols set for Campaign Cartographer, but because the players of my gaming group (same group of friends since 25 years) helped to shape the world in our regular sessions ever since. They answered many of the questions. Adventure sites were added. It happened that a city was burned down. Once the players invested their fortune to build a small keep (Liederburg, east of Schlandern). I added the keep in the CC2/Symbol Set 1 version of Earlsdale back in the days.

So Earlsdale is not the final map, it is only the current state. It is a still image of a 25 years world-building project, that keeps asking questions. We answer them as we explore. The Duchies of Earlsdale evolves and still keeps on revealing its story, since the players entered “The Royal Oak Inn” in Siegesbruck (south-eastern part of the map) in 1995.

There were even rumors at the last gaming session, that the “Tower in the Lake” near Ahnendorf, had sunken into the sea. It has been several years since the players were in Ahnendorf. I don’t know the answer yet, but time and adventure (or a new update/style for CC) will tell.

What you will be looking at below is the CC3+ version of the map. I have collected some of the basic steps and techniques I have used in the following tutorial.

Mini Tutorial

Background

I use the default settings of CC3+ with the Mike Schley overland symbols. For the background I prefer a slightly darker style with more variety in texture. An easy way to accomplish this is to add two new sheets with textures. The first texture is used to get a darker and richer green color, as well as to add more texture into the background. The second texture (Texture 2 below) is used for even more texture and by that variety of the overall background. The sheets effects are key for these overlays, and I use the transparency setting with low opacity (15-25%) to get the result I need.

Textures

Mountains & Hills

Next up are the mountains. In a regional map like this, I like to add some variety in size of the mountains. I use a scale from 0.5-2.5 on the mountain symbols. When the mountains are placed, I use the default mountain- and hills fills drawing tools, as well as the mountain- and hills background drawing tools to fill areas around and between the mountains. The “hills background” drawing tool works well also to create plains to add even more variety to the background. I then add some hill symbols manually around and on top of hills fills and backgrounds and place them on a new sheet. The key for this technique is moving all these sheets beneath the background texture sheets I created above. That way they blend in perfectly with the color and texture of the background. Add another sheet for hill symbols that will need to be in front of mountains or other symbols and place them above the symbols sheet.

Mountains

Ocean, Rivers and Wetlands

Oceans and rivers are now placed with 3-5 different thickness levels (0.75 to 3.5), ranging from narrow at the mountains and broad at the sea. I add a dark green color to the “Outer Glow” sheet effect. Remember to add some broader areas in form of lakes and wider river areas. I add the ocean in the south with the same settings as the river, but with a darker texture for sea contours in deeper areas. I add another sheet for marshland and swamps, but this time keep the following sheets above the background layers I created earlier. The texture is another one from Herwin Wielink overland style (from the Annuals and one of my favorites), with transparency effect and inner edge fade to nicely blend in.

Rivers and Wetlands

Vegetation

For the forest I use another texture than the default as forest background. I create the drawing tool and a new sheet using this texture and add transparency and inner edge fade like for all background elements. I place tree, jungle and swamp symbols on the entire map. Quite a click feast, but its worth it. Remember individual and small clusters of trees everywhere on the map where vegetation is present, like on the foothills of mountains, along rivers and later on in front of settlements.

Vegetation

Civilization

Now my favorite part starts – the structures. I like to vary the structures as well, mixing them a bit up by using combinations of them (castle, hamlet, village – makes a good town). This might not be realistic in scale, but it looks good and creates variety and adds individual character to a settlement. I play around with scale here within the range of 0.75-1.25 and use the mirror function for even more variety.

Around settlements I place farmlands on a new sheet, again adding transparency and inner edge fade effects to blend into background layer, and to avoid sharp edges of the smoothed polygons. Roads are placed between settlements, with a brown outer glow effect. I now place the last structures such as bridges, castles and other sites of interest.

Structures and Roads

Labels and Finishing Touches

Labels and finishing touches are an important part. I create the labels as symbols in various sizes, with a paper background texture. Square corners for cities, towns and villages, round corners for castles and sites and areas. I do various sizes to reflect the size of cities and to match length of the site names. Important cities have shields. I then add sheet effects, such as shadows and outer/inner glow. In the finishing touches I play around with texture and sheet effects to get a result that matches with the overall mood and colors of the map. I add the title (font: “Ode”, Adobe Fonts). Compass and scale bar is added. I export the map in a large format (7300×5903 pixels in this case). I then add the image to a zoom application, customize it and then upload the files to my webspace.

Labels

Final Map

You can see the full map in the zoom application here: Duchies of Earlsdale.

Full Earsldale Map

I should probably dedicate the map to the person that sold the purple box at the second hand store back in 1995. Oh, boy! You missed out so many stories.

If you are interested in some of my other maps, check out mapventures.com.

Happy Mapping,
Grimur Fjeldsted

About Grimur

Grimur is half-icelandic, half-german and lives with his wife and three kids in Germany’s northern most city Flensburg. In his daily job he heads up communications and marketing in a global technology company. He began to create maps in 1995 when he was studying, and he has been part of the Campaign Cartographer community ever since. He enjoys experimenting with styles and creates all his maps for the same home-brew setting. Besides being with his family or making an occasional fantasy map, he enjoys good coffee, history, design, boardgames and all things digital.

This is the third article in my series about XP development. To understand this article properly, you should be familiar with the contents of the previous articles.

When writing commands for CC3+, we frequently need to communicate with the user. This is often in the form of requesting some data from the user, such as where to place a node or which color to use, or we want to provide information to the user, such as instructions on the command line or the information the user requested. In this article, I’ll talk about the Text Formatting & Output Service (FormSt) used to prepare data to display to the user, and the data request format (ReqData). We have been touching both of these briefly in the two prior articles, but it is time to discuss these a bit more in depth.

Continue reading »

CC3Plus 3.92Unfortunately a little problem crept into the previous update to CC3+ and affected the display of sheet effects for some users. Thanks to prompt reports, we were able to fix this problem quickly and just released a new update (23) and full setup for CC3+ version 3.92. As usual you can download them from your registration page.

Version notes

CC3+ Version 3.92
=================
– Fixes bugs in effects system
– adds command EFFECTSDLLS (listing active sheet effects and their source) for future de-bugging

Dear mappers, welcome to ProFantasy’s September newsletter! We have released an update for CC3+ including some beat new features and there is a two-part article on how to get the best of your FT3 map into Campaign Cartographer 3+.

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