Continuing our tradition of honoring and thanking the most prolific and helpful members of our community, we are awarding – probably to nobody’s surprise but her own – 2019’s title of Master Mapper to …

Master Mapper 2019: Sue Daniel

Sue has been a member of our map-making community for some years now and has been a constant companion to us in the community forum, the Facebook group, as well as in the work for the Cartographer’s Annual and other projects. We specifically want to thank her with this award for:

  • Creating many amazingly beautiful maps and sharing them with the community.
  • Always being there to answer questions from the community in the most diligent way.
  • Taking the tools and resources of Campaign Cartographer 3 to their limits and beyond, stretching their application for everyone else.
  • For contributing her knowledge and work both on the RGPMaps blog and in the Cartographer’s Annual.

So, thank you Sue and we hope we will see many more of your beautiful works and your helpful advice in the coming years!

CA160 Necromancers Sanctum SmallThe April issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2020 is now available. It includes a new dungeon styles based on ink-and-paper cartography by the likes of Dyson Logos and MonkeyBloodDesign, which allows you to produce simple and effective but also beautiful black and white dungeon layouts. The included 6-page mapping guide takes you through the process of drawing a complete dungeon.

If you have already subscribed to the Annual 2020, you can download the April issue from your registration page. If not, you can subscribe here.

CVWe have three initiatives which we hope will make a very modest contribution to the fight against the coronavirus. This post is about the first – helping front line medical staff use the most effective methods against COVID-19, and setting out best practices to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Here at ProFantasy we are fortunate enough to be in a business where we can continue working unimpeded by the coronavirus. Creating maps is something that our customers can do alone, and many of us have more time to do so. We have a large, friendly and supportive online community.

Huge swathes of workers now are not able to do their jobs. We all have vulnerable relatives and friends who are isolated, and we know and love many people in the health service who our working flat-out to combat the virus and save lives.

We’ve always been big fans of an evidence-based approach to problems, and that’s why, with their permission, we are donating 10% of all our bundle sales to The Cochrane Collection’s COVID-19 resources until further notice. These include the very latest best practices for clinicians, updated regularly, translated into a wide range of languages.

You can also donate directly here.

New StylesWelcome to the March newsletter, dear cartographers! We hope you stay healthy (and at home if possible) in these times of pandemic. You could use the time to create some beautiful maps, for example in preparation for your games when all the current restrictions are lifted again, or for online games if you already do these or want to try them out. See our article by Remy Monsen on the topic below.

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Update 25In light of the recent world-wide developments, were many people are stuck at home, we’ve decided to extend the content in basic CC3+ to include more material for dungeons and cities, so you can use CC3+ alone to make everything from world maps via cities down to floorplans and dungeon maps. You can download this latest update from your registration page to get the additional tools and drawing styles, and the full CC3+ setup will also include them from now on.

What do you get specifically? We’ve included a selection of Annual issues, some of which were already available for free and other which weren’t so far:


Here are the release notes for version 3.94:

CC3+ Version 3.94
=================
– added new drawing styles to CC3+ install: Jon Roberts Overland, Jon Roberts Cities, Jon Roberts Dungeon, Namoi VanDoren Floorplans
– added city and dungeon menus to base setup
– added basic city and dungeon tools to base setup

New StylesAs a result of the outbreak, until further notice, our flagship map-making software CC3+ is half price.

There’s never been a better time to map out the worlds of your imagination. ProFantasy’s software has always been good value, but not affordable for everyone. We’ve decided to include new, free dungeon and city design capabilities with our core software CC3+, and offer it at half-price – just $22.45 for a permanent commercial license. This is everything you need to start making great maps.

And making maps at your PC doesn’t mean you miss out on a sense of connection. Our users have formed great online communities (check the Forum and the Facebook group) which offer support and feedback to each other – get inspired, help others and have fun.

In addition, we’ve also discounted our introductory bundles further, and we’ll donate 10% of all bundle sales to The Cochrane Collection COVID-19 resources.

Virtual tabletops (VTTs) are a great way of playing role-playing games together when you can’t meet physically. They make it easier to play with people from all over the world, and are a nice substitute when it becomes impossible to bring the old gang together in the same location any more.

One of the main attractions for these programs when compared to general-purpose meeting/teleconference software is their focus on displaying maps to the the players, enabling you to fight your miniature battles digitally. And maps are always an important aspect in most role playing games. I myself actually use VTT software to display the battle maps, even if my group always meet physically at my place and roll physical dice, because I can more easily do things like display the map on a projector, and only display what the players see (automatic fog-of-war/lighting/sight ranges).

So, today we will look at how to take those dungeon maps you’ve lovingly crafted in DD3 and make them available for use in the a VTT environment. Now, there are lots of different VTT software to choose from out there, and I can’t really cover them all, but I’ve tried to cover some of the more popular ones, such as MapTool, Fantasy Grounds, Roll20 and D20Pro. And many things, especially all the various concerns when exporting the map from DD3 will be the same for most software solutions, so this article should help you out no matter the system.

Continue reading »

With all that worry out there in the world and all of us (very sensibly) urged to stay home and limit our social contact, let’s take a look what wonderful maps our users can and did come up last month.

Terratu in Mike Schley’s Overland style by Aten Pharaoh in the Facebook community
Terratu Continue reading »

The German role-playing, games and fantasy online magazine Teilzeithelden (“Part-time heroes”) has reviewed Campaign Cartographer 3+.

Welcome back to this article series on mapping as worldbuilding for large cities and towns. In the last article in this series, we covered developing the geographical setting for your city, identifying the main purpose or economy of the city, dividing it into districts, deciding between functional and residential districts, and we even talked a little bit about transportation. Recall that by way of example, I’ve been mostly using the city of New Cassia which I recently mapped as a means of illustration of the ideas here.

In this article, I’d like to cover some more about ways to go about laying out the canvas for your city by exploring textures, terrains and landmarks. We’ll apply this to district building next, and in a later article we’ll go into some more of the technical pieces on how to actually construct each district in CC3+ but for now we’ll stick with planning as it relates to storytelling and worldbuilding.

The most important piece to start with: in general, work on your city one district at a time. Doing so provides cohesiveness in what you’re working on, and also gives you a concrete deliverable that you can complete and then take a break. I like to do a nice quality export of each district I finish as a milestone marker to record my progress over time, as well as share with the CC3 community for any feedback.

We last left New Cassia with some districts and main roads.

Road Types, Sizes and Materials

In the previous article, we ended with defining the major thoroughfares of our city. Let’s cover that in a bit more detail. Not all roads in a city are the same size in most cities you could probably think of, so thoroughfares are the largest of these roads. Depending on the scale of your city, these may be 10′ or 20′ wide (using Imperial measurements, but applicable with the equivalent metric sizes as well). New Cassia is a large city, so its main thoroughfares will be 20′ wide; this will visually stand out as well as define the routes the city’s inhabitants will take for most navigation.

Stepping stones in a Pompeii street

Stepping stones in a Pompeii street

We also need to decide the material of these main roads: are they wide, paved cobblestone walkways? Are they well-entrenched dirt roads? Are they waterways with sidewalks, such as in Pompeii? Or are they other textures like mud, grass, sand or even more exotic materials like lava, water, or sludge? This decision point can have an easy to miss but significant effect on the story and history of your city.

Exotic lava roads in WotC’s City of Brass

Exotic lava roads in WotC’s City of Brass

Also, keep in mind, not all roads in a city need to be the same; you can mix stone, dirt and exotic roads along with varying sizes (I like to swap out stone roads for dirt in poorer residential areas). You can also think about which areas will have no roads at all. Roads are all about access; poor quality or no roads will usually lead to less access to an area. Maybe this is to keep outsiders out (or undesirables in), or maybe the government can’t be bothered to pave an older, decrepit neighborhood.

Keeping a Microdecision Log for Inspiration

Think about the implications of each microdecision. If your main roads are sludge, that suggests a sewer-dwelling city, or perhaps the Underdark. Do people use boats or rafts to traverse them, or do they walk on foot? Each of these questions can lead to interesting story developments, like defining the daily experience of a resident (or visitor, which may differ) or leading to questions about why it is that way, or how commonplace non-walking modes of transportation are.

Each time you make one of these microdecisions, you can write down a question or two about it. For each mapping session, you’ll build up a short or medium list of questions. You can then ponder these in between mapping sessions. You don’t need to answer all or even most of them, but each answer will flesh out your world. You can come back to sticky questions that keep coming up, or discard them and move on.

So hopefully now we’ve at least decided on our main roads, and maybe even begun to ruminate on other road styles throughout the city. Great job! Now we can turn our attention to individual sections of the city.

Constructing our First Landmark

As a warm up exercise to district building, let’s do our first exercise in landmark construction. I recommend thinking about what the most defining building is going to be in your whole city. You figure out what “defining” means to you – it could be culturally, religiously, politically or economically. In some cases this might be a seat of government – a keep, a castle, a mayoral palace, a parliamentary house or any other such building. Sometimes a city may be oriented around this place; other times it might be at the city edge, and still others may have accidentally evolved the location of this building. These are all okay, but are microdecisions worth writing down and maybe asking yourself questions about.

Mages Academy

Sapphire Citadel, home of the Mages’ Academy, is one of the most notable landmarks in New Cassia.

Once you’ve identified this building and a suitable location, build it! Whether it is a symbol (we’ll talk more about symbols later) or some more custom construction, orienting around it will get you a feel for what characteristics you want to demonstrate. Don’t be shy about experimenting – place something, delete it, try again, change size and color…try things out until it seems right to you. And even if you need to settle for good enough, you can always come back to it and redo it easily.

Now you’ve built or placed one building. Think about what supporting buildings may surround it, and place those. A keep may have additional administrative offices around it. A military training facility may have barracks nearby. A mages’ academy may have a library nearby. Or, maybe you’ll decide this building is solitary: a grand wizard’s tower at the peak of a tall hill, with nothing else daring to surround it!

Sapphire Citadel

The Sapphire Citadel, with some supporting academic buildings and the Great Library of Ytron. Notice how the mix of grassy terrain gives more depth to the district. Also note the dirt path mixed with stone roads.

Terrain Surrounding the Landmark

Think about what terrain you expect to surround the main building. A castle may be built atop paved stone; a monument to a town’s founder may be in the heart of a central park, surrounded by grass and dirt roads; a demon’s spire may be surrounded by a lava most. Now place that.

As you’re placing the terrain and supporting buildings, ask yourself a question or two (not too many, we don’t want to rathole on this) about why they are there or what their nature is. If something (or even better, someone) interesting pops up, write that down somewhere.

Now, one finishing touch: label it! Just plop some text down on or near it with either a name (if you’ve got one; if not, you can punt on that till later) or a short description to remind you of what it is and why it’s there. Note: you do not have to do this on your main TEXT sheet; you can create another one such as TEXT ANNOTATIONS that you can use just for your own notes and labels about notable buildings. This sheet can be hidden during your final export if you don’t want to show them (we’ll talk about labeling towards the end of the series). But recalling the purpose and name of each place can help us build up stories in our city.

Congratulations! You’ve just constructed your first (and most important) landmark! We’ll be going through this process a bunch, but hopefully you’ve learned a few things from doing this:

  1. It’s okay to experiment, sometimes extensively. We’ll develop ways to keep this from ballooning too much all over the city.
  2. The process of building a landmark does not have to be scary, and can be as simple as a few local decisions.
  3. A landmark can help define the area around itself, such as the terrain and the nearby roads. We’ll need this as we build up our districts.
  4. Noting down random thoughts about why a building is where it is can lead to interesting story hooks.
  5. Textures, terrains and materials can define a lot of character, history and culture about an area.

Next time, I hope to cover planning each district, and discuss how to make each district unique stylistically and feature-wise (including landmarks!).

Ari Gilder is a software engineer, and has been interested in maps for a long time. He spent seven years working on Google Maps, working on features like local business search, Google Maps and Navigation on mobile, and studying the way users understand maps. He even proposed to his wife using maps. He often spends hours staring at maps in fantasy novels, and in 2013 starting putting together some of his own dungeon and battle maps for a D&D campaign. After a hiatus of several years, he recently dived back into cartography with CC3+, tackling more overland and city maps in preparation for a new D&D campaign. He is a father of two, and has recently introduced his older daughter to cartography, both hand-drawn and with CC3+ where she insists that black and purple varicolor trees must surround everything.

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