So far, the community atlas has been a huge success, with over 110 maps added so far. These maps are available for anyone to use for personal use, and can be downloaded in either the native .fcw file format of CC3+, or in high resolution png image files for use without CC3+.

In February, it turns one year old, and in celebration of that occasion they will hold a mapping contest.

Put simply, all maps submitted in to the atlas during the month of February will be participating in the contest, where you can compete to win one of three $30 ProFantasy Store vouchers. You can check out the rules and conditions the announcement over at the forum, where you should find all the information needed to participate.

You do not need to be a forum member to participate, that post is open for everyone to read, and also contains contact information for participating via email. The forum post will contain the official copy of the rules however.

Note that while this competition is open to everyone, the community atlas is in Campaign Cartographer 3+ format, so you will need to use CC3+ to make your map. You are however welcome to use any of the official addons for CC3+, as well as the four community addons, so you should have a wide range of map styles to choose from in your map, and you can of course combine these as you choose.

Read the forum post for the full details.

Big thanks to ProFantasy for sponsoring this contest.

CA133 Moonrise BayWelcome to 2018 and a new year of the Cartographer’s Annual with lots of mapping goodness! We hope you are as excited as us about delving into the twelfth year of our monthly subscription.

This January we start with a hex-mapping variant of Mike Schley’s wonderful overland mapping style from CC3+. We provide new templates, new versions of the style’s drawing tools, a bunch of hex symbols and take a tour through the creation process of hex-based maps. Check out the January style details on the Cartographer’s Annual 2018 website.

You can now subscribe to the Annual 2018 here. Once you have subscribed, the January issue will immediately become available for download on your registration page.

I just published command of the week number 52, Symbols in Area, over at the forum. This command details one of the new commands with CC3+ update 14. Symbols in Area is quite similar to Symbols Along, and allow you to fill an area with symbols with a lot of flexibility regarding scaling, positioning, angles and randomness. Check it out in the forum.


This is also the 52nd entry in the series. This series started on the first week in 2017, and I have published a command every single week for a complete year now. Should be quite a bit of interesting information for any CC3+ users in that list. I am now going to take a break, so this will be the end of season 1 of the series. I’ll probably do a season 2, but it will be a while into the future. For now, check out the index of commands, perhaps there is an entry you didn’t read, or an entry you may wish to re-read.

SS4 Forlorn CottageAnother year is coming to a close, and we have a slew of Christmas present in store: A free extension Symbol Set 4, an update for CC3+, the Cartographer’s Annual 2018 is available for subscription and Remy finishes a one-year run of the “Command of the week”.




SchleyscapesEarlier this year Mike Schley kickstarted the first episode of his Schleyscapes series. Aimed at producing an ongoing series of quality gaming maps, in combination with bitmap artwork that could be used in any graphics editor.

As you may know Mike is also the artist behind our own Symbol Set 4 – Dungeons of Schley, and the Schleyscapes art naturally matches the art in that symbol set perfectly. Of course we wanted to make that additional material available for our users of the Dungeons of Schley, and Mike was happy to oblige!

And here it is, the Forlorn Cottage extension to “Symbol Set 4 – Dungeons of Schley”. And the best part? It is completely free for the owners of SS4 – no additional purchase required. You can download it from your registration page as an extra install if you already have SS4 installed, or just use the full setup when you purchase SS4 fresh from the web store. All the new artwork is included.

The SS4 Forlorn Cottage Extension contains:

  • 420 new symbols in the SS4 Dungeons of Schley color style
  • 14 new bitmap textures for the same style
  • 1 “Forlorn Cottage” example map
  • 2 SS4 Forlorn Cottage template wizards (imperial & metric)
  • Updated SS4 templates incorporating the new bitmap styles
  • Updated SS4 symbol catalogs incorporating the new symbols

You can either start a SS4 Dungeons of Schley map and just use the additional symbols, or use the SS4 Forlorn Cottage template to limit yourself to the new symbols.

Ongoing development and bug-fixing for CC3+ has resulted in plenty of material that we are making available with Update 14 for CC3+. You can download it from your registration page. Try out the new Symbols in Area command and see the the long list of updates and changes:

Command comparisonCC3+ Version 3.80
– Added SYMFILL, SYMFILLM, SYMFILLOPT, SYMFILLLOAD, and SYMFILLSAVE commands as analogs to the ESC* commands for 2D elements. This feature allows creation of map features analogous to those generated by the FOREST tool, but with frilled edges and sparsely-placed internal symbols.
– Added SYMSORT option to FOREST to provide an option to make the output a little cleaner-looking.
– Added ESCM, ESCOPT, ESCLOAD, and ESCSAVE commands to allow use of ESC in drawing tools in a manner similar to FOREST and to create libraries of ESC options.
– ESC can now use the width of symbols as the distance to place them apart.
– Added MKDIR command to allow creating a directory from a macro.
– Modified bitmap options dialog to support display of dpi and resolution information.
– Updated system so that all list boxes (including owner-draw ones) will use the operating system listbox drawing color rather than color 16 (which gets to be a light gray on Windows 10) or the previous value of color 20 (which can be modified by users).
– Added GETGXRETCODE command to support accepting default values in macros
– Added ZOOMSEL and ZOOMSELM commands to allow zooming to the currently-selected entities.
– Added SETFLATTOOLBARS command to allow setting flat toolbar styles from the command line.
– Added GETVIEWL, GETVIEWW, GETVIEWX, and GETVIEWY macro commands to allow getting the current view window from macros.
– Added GETSELL, GETSELW, GETSELX, and GETSELY macro commands to allow getting the current selection extents from macros.
– Added GETDISTFMT to allow saving the DISTFMT state. This command simplifies use of the GET family of commands by allowing the units formatting to be changed and restored.
– Added PSCALESETUP, PSCALEON, PSCALEOFF, and PSCALEX commands to allow for pseudo-perspective scaling of symbols and entities.
– Added SIMPLIFY command to allow simplifying paths to a specific feature size.
– Added support for mouse scroll wheel on symbol catalog and LIST (i.e. text) windows.
– Added “Save to clipboard” operation to text windows.

– Fixed bug that was preventing regular scrolling from using the thumbwheel in text windows.
– Fixed a memory leak in drawing filled multipoly with many nodes that was causing some complex FT drawings to crash CC3 in a matter of a few redraws (e.g. panning the screen for a few seconds).
– Fixed dpi issues in CCL and GLS dialogs as part of the perpetual dpi-related cleanup.
– Fixed system hang when window size reduced to zero height.
– Fixed system crash when drawing area window is minimized.
– Fixed problem where final partial row of symbol catalog would not draw.
– Fixed GOSHEET command to match behavior of SNEXT and SPREV commands.
– Fixed missing COASTLINE sheet in CC3 standard overland template.
– Changed CC3 standard overland style coastline to solid fill to avoid pixelation error
– Fixed Perspectives House Outlines not show on startup
– Fixed Floor fill style selection in PEROPTB (Advanced) not updating preview)
– Fixed problem with IPROJ not working with entities freshly-drawn from a drawing tool
– Fixed problem with EFFECTSCACHE showing wrong sizes on 64-bit Windows.
– Fixed problem where using a space character in FRX settings names would cause XML parser failure and CC3+ collapse at startup. System now correctly sanitizes FRX names so that they are valid XML tag names. – Fixed CC2 references in labels such as Open dialog filters to read CC3+.
– Fixed problem where IPROJ was changing entity color to unexpected value when shaded polygon option was used.

Sort Symbols in MapCC3+ Manual and Tome of Ultimate Mapping author Remy Monsen has been running his “Command of the Week” column all year over on the ProFantasy forum, and it has become one of the most popular topics. As the year is coming to an end, we thought to highlight some of the commands he has looked at, not least to make you aware of this wonderful resource in the first place. So let’s see what our five top picks of the year, which everybody should check out, would be:

1. As one of the basic tools at your fingertips in CC3+, I would say that Coordinates are also one of the most important.

Text Along a Curve2. The second is also a basic thing and equally important, as knowing how to use the various Selection methods will make you a much more powerful mapper.

3. Sort Symbols in Map is a little more obscure command, but no other can save you as much time and as many nerves as this one.

4. Using Trace is another command that separates the beginning cartographer from the more experienced user. It can be a little tricky to use, but Remy expertly explains it in his post.

5. Finally, Text along a Curve is a personal favorite of mine. Making nice, flowing text labels along rivers and mountain ranges can make the difference between a “normal” map and an outstanding one.

Check out the full list of commands in the index that Remy keeps with every weekly post on the community forum.

CA132A Three Pines CreekThe Cartographer’s Annual 2018 is complete and we have a free bonus issue in store to cap the year. It is a set of beautiful bitmap artwork by community member Sue Daniel that lets you add scroll and parchments backgrounds to your maps.

You can download the free issue directly from the Annual page or, if you have subscribed to the current year, from your registration page.

We’ll shortly offer current Annual subscribers the option to re-subscribe to the Annual 2018. If you want to take advantage of the reduced rate for subscribers, you can still quickly subscribe to the Annual 2017 here.

CA132 Sarnath CityWe close off the 2017 Annual (except perhaps for a little bonus issue) with another style by Pär Lindström. He created this wonderful new city style for the weird and ominous metropolis of Cthulhu City, a setting for Pelgrane Press’ Trail of Cthulhu role-playing game.

Of course we took the opportunity to create a city style for CC3+ from it. Since the style doesn’t use the City Designer way of drawing individual houses and random streets, you can even use it fully without having CD3 available.

The December issue is now available for CC3+ from the registration page for all subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2017 yet, you can do so here.

The Art of World-building author and blogger Randy Ellefson was so kind to write the following guest article for the rpgmaps blog. Enjoy!


When drawing maps of continents, being realistic is a good idea even when inventing for a fantasy or SF landscape. We’re not freed from plausibility unless we’re purposely throwing out the laws of physics and nature. Most of us are probably creating reasonably Earth-like terrain, but even if not, there are natural forces at work on most planets.

The following tips can not only prevent mistakes but give world builders ideas. Sometimes we’re not sure where to put a forest or desert, or why. Maybe we’re not sure where to even begin. The answer is mountain ranges and a decision on which hemisphere our continent is on. This will determine prevailing winds and, as a result, vegetation. If you don’t understand why, read on.

Mountains and Rain Shadows

Mountains cause moisture-carrying winds to rise. The clouds dump all the rain on one side of the mountain range, causing plants and trees. On the mountain range’s other side, there’s no water left to fall. This causes a “rain shadow,” an area that receives little to no rainfall. Deserts are the usual result.

The below image of the western coast of the United States shows the sudden onset of desert on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, which are also causing the forests to their west. Not only is this not peculiar, but it’s a common and expected result that plays out across the Earth. Not knowing this, we might try to justify such a thing by saying a supernatural or technological event caused it when nature will do it.

Rain Shadow

A rain shadow can cover a huge area, such as the Great Plains of the United States. This isn’t a desert, but grasslands, but the same effect is responsible. The Rocky Mountains have taken much of the moisture out of the air, just not all of it. Some moisture is also coming up from the Gulf of Mexico to the south, so there’s enough rain to cause grass, just not lush vegetation. Generally, desert-like conditions occur closest to the mountains. As we progress farther from them, desert may give way to grasslands and finally forests.

How do we know which side has the desert or forest? We need to know about prevailing winds to answer that.

Prevailing Winds

On a world that is spinning on its axis, like Earth, there will be winds. Which direction these winds flow depends on latitude (distance from the equator) and which way the planet is rotating. Earth rotates counterclockwise and in this article we’ll assume your world does, too; if not, then reverse every mention of direction made below.

On Earth, the rotation causes winds from the equator (0°) to the tropics (up to 40°) to travel east; on the map below, yellow and brown arrows indicate this. In the temperate zones (40°—66°), winds travel west, as indicated by the blue arrows on the map. In the polar zones, winds are again eastward but are light. On the first map above, this explains why the forest is on the westward side of the mountains: the wind is westerly.

No Deserts near the Equator

The world’s deserts aren’t within 30° of the equator due to an atmospheric phenomenon called Hadley cells (there is one in each hemisphere). This weather pattern means most deserts, especially the large ones like the Sahara, start around 30°.

It also means there’s heavy precipitation from 0°—30° and this is too much rain for deserts to form. There’s one exception to this, at least on Earth: Somalia is located at the equator and is mostly arid. The reason? The elevation is between 5-15,000 feet. This changes what would be a tropical climate into a temperate one, and that’s exactly where rain shadows cause deserts. In this case, the Himalayan Mountains are the likely culprit despite how far away they are.

Putting it Together

How can we use this information? We can follow these steps when planning and creating a continent map:
1. Determine which hemisphere our continent is in, and how far from the equator (or even whether it spans it)
2. Decide which parts of the land mass are in each latitude/climate zone, noting the prevailing wind direction:
a. Between 0°—40°, winds are easterly
b. Between 40°—66°, winds are westerly
3. Add mountain ranges where desired
4. Plan where your deserts and forests are:
a. Between 0°—30°, no deserts except in highlands
b. Between 30°—40° forests to the east of mountains, deserts to the west
c. Between 40°—66°, forests to the west of mountains, deserts to the east
Remember that a desert may give way to grasslands and then forests, farther from the mountains that cause a rain shadow. This can give us a line, from left-to-right (or right-to-left) of forest, mountains, desert, grassland, forest. This depends on mountains running north-to-south, as this is perpendicular to the wind direction and therefore blocks the winds. An east-to-west range may cause this but on a smaller scale.

Also, note that winds are westerly or easterly but not perfectly so. They move slightly toward or away from the equator, as the above image illustrates. We don’t need to be super picky about this, however, partly because the vast majority of people have no idea about any of this. We always have the caveat that no one from our imaginary world is going to show up on Earth and announce to our horror (and the delight of our critics) that there is, in fact, no desert or forest at a specific location despite what our map says.

We may not know where 40° latitude is on our maps, but as long as we’re in the ballpark, we’re okay. The goal is to be plausible, not necessarily right.

Hopefully all of this informs and inspires your work, rather than inhibits you. If you’d like to learn more such details, they can be found in my book, Creating Places (The Art of World Building, #2).

A Quiz

Based on the image below (from my world Llurien), see if you can answer these questions (answers at the article’s end):

Question #1: based on where mountains, forests, and deserts are, which direction are the prevailing winds?
Question #2: how far from the equator is this region?
Question #3: which hemisphere is it? (hint: look at the vegetation icons)
Question #4: If you know the answer to the first three questions, what explains the existence of the deserts on the bottom area of the map?

Article Quiz Map

About the Author

Randy Ellefson has written fantasy fiction since his teens and is an avid world builder, having spent three decades creating Llurien, which has its own website at, where dozens of maps, all made with Campaign Cartographer 3+, can be viewed. He has a Bachelor’s of Music in classical guitar but has always been more of a rocker, having released several albums and earned endorsements from music companies. He’s a professional software developer and runs a consulting firm in the Washington D.C. suburbs. He loves spending time with his son and daughter when not writing, making music, or playing golf.

He’s the author of The Art of World Building book series, podcast, and blog. More details can be found at This article is drawn from information found in Creating Places (The Art of World Building, #2).

Quotes about The Art of World Building Series

NY Bestselling author Piers Anthony: “It is exhaustive, well written, and knowledgeable…I, as a successful science fiction and fantasy writer, have generated many worlds, so this material is familiar, but it would have been easier and probably better had I had a reference like this. It is realistic, recognizing that the average writer may not have the patience to work out all the details before getting into the action…”

Ed Greenwood, inventor of The Forgotten Realms: “With CREATING PLACES, Randy Ellefson has penned a sequel to his CREATING LIFE that walks story creators through worldbuilding along an entertaining road that runs everywhere, making sure nothing is missed. Plentiful examples are provided, and a veteran worldbuilder can find just as much fun and comprehensive reminders in these pages as a novice. Some books are nice to have, and a rare few are “must haves.” Like Ellefson’s preceding book, CREATING PLACES is one of that rare breed: an essential reference work. Unlike most references, this one is fun to read. Not to mention a goad and spark for the imagination!”

Quiz Answers

#1: east
#2: not very because easterly winds are nearer the equator
#3: this image is in the northern hemisphere. If we can see the tree icons (they’re a little small here), rainforest icons are used on the southern half, implying the equator is to the south (it’s just off the bottom edge of the map).
#4: since this is near the equator, there can’t be deserts, except that those areas of the map are above 5,000 feet (called the Marulan Highlands)) and are therefore a temperate climate. This lets the mountains on the right cause a rain shadow.

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