So, here you are, having just prepared the main location for tonight’s adventure. But then it dawns on you, you have no idea when players will actually visit this location. They may even drop by multiple times.

Well, today we’ll be having a look into how to set up effects to it is easy to switch between day and night views of the same map. In the day scene, we will be using regular wall shadow effects to have the buildings and symbols cast shadows, while the night seen will use the point light system in CC3+ to have light sources in the scene that causes the symbols to cast shadows. We will be using this to show how symbols around a fire casts shadows away from the fire, and how we can have lights coming from the windows.

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Recently – with Update 25 – we included a few new styles with basic Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. As these were styles in the Cartographer’s Annual before, they all come with a mapping guide and example maps, and we want to highlight these to get you started using the styles as comfortably as possible. Let’s take a look at each of the in turn.

Jon Roberts Overland

CA51 The Bay of Ormal and SurroundingsThis overland style created by was created by fantasy cartographer Jonathan Roberts (famed for his Song of Ice and Fire atlas) specifically for Campaign Cartographer. Jonathan’s evocative style comes alive for CC3+ users with a full selection of overland symbols and background textures, organized in an easy-to-use drawing style.

The included mapping guide walks you through the whole process, from setting up the map in the new map wizard through outlining the continent, adding rivers, mountains and settlements, all the way to labeling the map with text. You can download this mapping guide here.

The included example map show the the Bay of Ormal and surrounding lands. Download it as a pdf file or in native CC3+ format.

CA54 Jon Roberts Dread DungeonJon Roberts Dungeons

Seeing the popularity of his overland style, it was only natural to follow up with a dungeon style and Jon was happy to oblige us. It includes a set of almost 150 symbols from rocks and stones of a cave floor to furniture to populate the rooms, as well 40 textures to depict walls, floors and terrain.

The mapping guide, which you can download here, teaches you to use the style by going through the process of creating a tavern and inn layout.

The style comes with two beautiful example maps, one showing the Dread Dungeon (pdf) and the other the Crossroads Inn (pdf) featured in the mapping guide. Download them in native CC3+ format here and here.

CA63 St AureliusJon Roberts Cities

Having an overland and a dungeon style, we of course needed to complete the classic trinity by adding a city style. Jon was able to produce that for us in 2012, and it remains one of the most beautiful city styles in Campaign Cartographer 3+. 37 textures and more than 70 symbols combine to make up a great resource for city mapping.

The mapping guide, which you can download here, takes you through the process of creating a city, and as such complements the City Designer 3 Essentials Guide very nicely. The St Aurelius example map is also available as a pdf and in CC3+’s format.

CA113 Owen's FarmNaomi Van Doren’s Floorplans

The fourth style included in Update 25 is another floorplan and dungeon style, created by map maker and graphic artist Naomi VanDoren. Her clear style lends itself excellently to illustrations and battle maps, and is featured in the 13th Age battle map products by Pelgrane Press. More than 200 symbols and 20 bitmap textures are included, and the mapping guide that teaches you how to use them is available here.

Two example maps are included: The Broken Shovel Tavern (png) and Owen’s farm (png), of course also available in CC3+ format here and here.

Recently we have begun to experiment with live video streaming map-making sessions in the Campaign Cartographer 3+ Community on Facebook. In two sessions, Ralf demonstrated creating a dungeon and a small town with the Jon Roberts Dungeon and City styles respectively. You can still watch the archived videos here.

Creating a dungeon with the Jon Roberts Dungeon style

Mapping a town with the Jon Roberts City style

We will be scheduling future videos via ProFantasy’s Facebook page, so you don’t have to be a member of the community group. Please feel free to suggest videos you’d like to see in the comments.

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.

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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.

Map Section
Battlemaps are the best. Whether your gaming group prefers “theatre of the mind” (TOTM), or if they like moving physical miniatures about a printed gaming surface, having a battlemap for an encounter brings a sense of visceral visuals to what could end up being just another fight in a dungeon. And CC3+ / DD3 makes it ridiculously fun and easy to make battlemaps. I’ve found a mapping approach that adds a lot of advantage to battlemaps and makes it super-easy and super-flexible to generate them for your adventures.

The Problem with Battlemaps

Typically, you have a battlemap for every major fight, or area of significant interest. If you’re very lucky in buying a pre-made adventure, or very diligent if you’re making your own, you might have dozens of these.

One problem I’ve found is how to control secrecy and significance. Players tend to notice something is up when you thunk down a battlemap. It’s pretty unusual to have a pre-printed, ready-to-use map for, say, selling gems and buying potions. If the DM has a battlemap for the shop, chances are pretty good there’s a fight to be had, or a secret to be found. So ironically, part of the problem with using battlemaps is having battlemaps for Location X, and not having them for Location Y – players being the smarty-pantses that they are, they’ll figure out which of those two places to spend their Perception checks on.

Another is flexibility. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 30+ years as a DM/GM, it’s that no matter how much you plan in advance, the PCs are likely to surprise you. If you meticulously plan out and map Area X, and assume a certain amount of movement, the PCs might go very far afield of what you had in mind. Battlemaps are typically very “zoomed-in”, and concise: this area and only this area. If the PCs move beyond those boundaries, the whole battlemap concept gets frustrating, complicated, or just less useful pretty quickly.

Thirdly, it takes a fair amount of time to create battlemaps. If you have, say, a giant underground mine, and you have 8 areas that are potential areas of interest (AOI), that means you likely have to create 9 maps, all in all: one as an overview map of the mine level as a whole, and then 8 individual battlemaps for the AOIs. That takes time, and is prone to error and issue, if you’re hoping that the battlemaps each line up to and represent the detailed version of the overall map.

So, how to battle these issues with battlemaps?

The Unified Battlemap

My advice is simple: don’t make battlemaps at all.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that, otherwise it wouldn’t be too helpful. But my approach is: don’t create nine maps, when you could just make a single map, and zoom in on the detail. “Battlemap” then becomes a semantic distinction of “I want to zoom in on this area because something interesting is happening there now”. Instead of making 8 detailed battlemaps, you have a theoretically unlimited amount of battlemaps, based on how you zoom in on the overview. Let’s use an example, because that’s tricky to describe in words.

Consider the underground mine level in the example above. With the “Unified Battlemap” approach, I first draw the overall dungeon level in broad strokes, and then zoom in to each region and populate the detail.

As a first step, draw the level’s overview. Let’s say it looks like this:
Mine Level 6 Overview wo Detail

That’s a decent overview. Export it as a JPG and you’ve got something you can share with the PCs to help guide navigation and play in a general sense. “We walk to the west”, and so on. However, your gaming group normally plays with an overview map. The example is annotated with AOIs, marked with numbers for DM reference.

Let’s say AOI #11–marked with a yellow rectangle–is a necromantic shrine, with a bunch of corpses, and is typically swarming with wandering monsters… probably the kind of location that you’d want to use a battlemap for!

With a typical approach, you’d fire up CC3+, and draw the battlemap for that shrine. Let’s say it turns out like this:
Mine Level 6 AOI 11 Battlemap

Looks pretty cool and useful. But now you’ve got a battlemap that has details and information that your overview doesn’t. In addition to the overview map now looking comparatively bland, your Shrine Battlemap is limited in that it can only describe to the boundaries you’ve defined for it. This example is particularly volatile, since it’s a gigantic, wide-open mine level, so there’s no stopping the PCs from wandering off the edge of the map in ANY direction!

With the Unified Battlemap approach, you don’t create a separate battlemap for each AOI. Instead, you just zoom in on the AOI and start drawing detail. Do this for each AOI, and you have a single overview map, and you can simply zoom in to any area to export a detailed battlemap for that area.

The results, after doing this “zoom-in detail imbue” across the whole map, looks like this:
Mine Level 6 Overview

As a result, you have a single map file that serves as dozens, if not hundreds, of battlemaps: just Zoom Extents and Export Rectangular Section and boom, you’ve got a battlemap!

Other Details / Recommendations

You might note that the examples use two different grid scales: The “overview” maps use 20′ gridlines, and the “battlemap” examples use 5′ gridlines. This is really easy in CC3+: just create a separate Sheet for the different gridline scale, and draw the different grid on that Sheet. Just remember to hide one, and show one, of these Sheets when you do an export!
I also use this approach for AOI annotations: one at “overview” scale, and one at “battlemap” scale for the individual AOIs.

Here’s what the Sheets for the examples look like in the example map:
Unified Battlemap Scale Sheets
So why would you, and wouldn’t you, use this Unified Battlemap approach?

Advantages:
1: Saves Time: Since you zoom in to an existing area when creating a battlemap, you don’t have to draw the outline and general elements of that map to begin with, so you can hit the ground running.
2: Flexible: There are no limits to the battlemaps you can export, create, or zoom to during a game. No matter what the PCs or monsters do, you’re covered!
3: Detail: Having detail automatically reflected at the macro level makes your “overview” map much more richly detailed… for zero extra effort!

Disadvantages / Requirements:
1: Meticulousness: This approach requires a meticulous hand, for sure! Imbuing all that detail across the entire map will take time, but it’s not too much of a chore once you get used to it, and I feel the results are worthwhile.
2: Printing: Although this approach will result in print-worthy battlemaps you can print out and use in your gaming sessions, the resulting encounter will still be bounded by that printout. This offsets the “flexibility” advantage above, but only if you’re using pre-printed physical battlemaps.
3: Beefy PC: Perhaps obviously, you’ll end up with a monster of a map file, and not all PCs can easily handle it. SAVE YOUR WORK FREQUENTLY, and don’t be afraid of saving multiple file versions, just in case. I have a Core i7 with 16 GB of memory and an SSD, and I very, very rarely have performance issues with CC3+, but your mileage may vary, and there’s no question the Unified Battlemap approach requires a lot more processing power than traditional separate overview/battlemap files. My record is more than 5,300 entities in an underground city map, and I’m still able to scroll and zoom around pretty quickly:
Underground Ruined City Overview

Conclusion

Let me be clear that a good GM/DM, or a very flexible gaming group, can work around all of the issues described here. And ultimately, fun it what’s important; it doesn’t matter if you have a detailed, immaculate, battlemap for each and every contingency. But I can verify from first-hand experience that it can add to the fun, and I’ve found that once you get used to this approach, it’s so very much easier to deal with!

Jason “J. Evans” Payne is an indie RPG and fiction author and cartographer with more than three decades of experience as a DM, game designer, and author. He’s been using Campaign Cartographer and its related tools since 2015, and vastly prefers that to his day job. A father of three, he’s also been an adjunct college professor, an IT geek, and a miniatures wargamer. Check out his one-man RPG company at infiniumGameStudio.com.

By Christina (Lorelei) Trani

Mapping with ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer 3+ has brought my home games to life – especially from my humble beginnings. When I first played tabletop roleplaying games our fledgling Game Master strictly used theater of the mind. Some of us, such as myself, needed the visuals for combat, so we graduated to some graph paper, we were luckily required to purchase for math class, some colored pencils (if we were even luckier), a ruler and one set of dice between us. I, being the only female in the group, and the most artistic of the lot, usually was tasked with drawing out our GM’s map vision. This went on for a few months … enter the Satanic Panic of the 80’s, combine that with Italian – very Roman Catholic- immigrant parents and my days of D&D were done.

Temple of the Horned GodAbout 10 years or so ago, one of my old middle school D&D friends and I started playing again. This time I was our Dungeon Master and quickly took up my old habit of making up the maps. I did this by hand for years until 2015 when I found ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer 3+ and started printing out my maps on poster. I first set myself up with a guide for Dungeon Designer depending on what size map I had intended on printing out as several of the vendors I use print in different sizes (such as Staples, Office Max/Depot, and VistaPrint). For poster sizes 11”x17” set at 55’x85′, 16”x20” set 80’x100′, 18”x24” set 90’x120′ (this is the most common poster print), 24”x36” set 120’x180′ and the largest map I’ve printed to date 36”x48” set at 180’x240′. My players have loved the colored maps, the assets and add-ons CC3+ give my players visuals they’ve only seen on virtual tabletop gaming not ACTUAL tabletop. It was a game changer.
Craft Mapping 01

Always looking to surprise and delight my players with an encounter, I took my mapping to the next step. I decided to start applying my many mediocre crafting talents to use and combine them with my maps. My first foray into craft mapping was a simple as getting some rocks and stones from outside my apartment, cleaning them off and laying them down over some rocks I had placed on an Outdoor Forest Encounter map. My adventuring team loved that they had something to actually hide their minis behind. As a Dungeon Master, I was THRILLED! I started to find some of our encounters were a bit boring as the players weren’t using the terrain on the maps to their best advantage. With this small added addition, it seemed to click, and we were off!

Next project…. Clay. For sculpting amateurs out there like myself, and little to no investment, you can purchase some air-drying clay. This is used to create “mounds” of terrain to place on maps. With some modpodge, acrylic paints and some model landscape turf, and even a few rocks and twigs from outside, I was able to create some fantastic terrain elements to add to my maps. Depending on the kind of investment you’d like to make you can then begin to add in some trees. These can be made by purchasing premade model terrain trees, creating your own with wire and terrain foliage, or even better, this time of year, with all the trees and bushes in full bloom, you can trim off some branches and bushes, insert them into the clay before drying and have an instant forest element!
CraftMapping06

Papier-Mâché is another great way to add some cliff terrain to an already awesome map. You can see my original map. It really was just fine the way it is, but this encounter I had planned was a key part of their main story arc, so I wanted to make it special. This section of the cave I knew would be layered cliffs of ice…so how could I achieve this? Yes, back to grade school art class and papier-mâché ice cliffs! I started here with a piece of foam board to use as a base, after sealing that, I began to layer the papier-mâché, making sure to make it jagged, like ice would be. After drying, I painted it with white and shimmering white paints, added some silver and iridescent glitters, some tufts of cotton balls for snow and some broken glass and mirror fragments purchased at a local craft store as a finishing touch.

CraftMapping05My latest crafting project has been my favorite, to date. I knew my players would eventually be taking a boat trip, and I had a pretty cool encounter planned for when that happened. I found a free .fcw file of a three-deck caravel and did what I do with free. fcw’s…. made it my own. I used the bones of the ship and changed the fill styles, changed the symbols to a photorealistic version and printed out the map of the three decks on a large poster. My intent was to play the encounter on the poster, but again I started thinking about how I can enhance the encounter. I was looking at the boat and realized the mast was the exact size of a dowel I had picked up at a local craft store clearance not long ago. So, I began to cut out the ship from the poster, then traced and glued it onto a thin poster board. Cut a 1” wide dowel into three individual 4” masts and paint them to look like wood. I also painted the underside of each deck to look like aged wood planks. Then each mast was glued onto the floor of the deck and put a piece of sticky tack on the top of each mast, to attach to the deck above and still be easily separated for more in depth exploration of the deck. I placed the ship on a map of water I had created, and poster printed, added some undersea monster minis in the water, and turned this boat into one of the most exciting and fun encounters to date!
Crafted Ship

All these crafting ideas can be done on a variety of budgets. There are so many items around your home that can be incorporated into terrain, just use your imagination and a little ingenuity. Just look around and use what you find in your own home, craft closet, workshop, or gardens and enhance your CC3+ maps to this next level of fun!

About the author: Lorelei was my very first D&D character I created more years back than i’d like to remember. When I decided to venture into creating maps for my and others rpgs, I thought I owed it to her to name myself Lorelei Cartography, since it was her that led me to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming in the first place. Since then I have been honored to have worked with companies such as WizKids, Pelgrane Press, and ProFantasy. You can view some of my work at www.LoreleiCartography.com

Many gamers use some kind of digital solution such as virtual table-top software to display maps on a projector or computer screen even when running a local game (as opposed to running a game over the internet, where such software is pretty much required). All of these software solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, but  CC3+ itself may actually be a very good solution, depending on your needs. Now, just to start with the limitations, CC3+ don’t have any kind of remote viewing/projecting options, so this do require that you share the screen you are actually working on (This can be a secondary screen/projector that is set up to mirror yours, or it can be done through screen sharing software, which allow others to see your screen even over the internet).

So, why would you use CC3+ for this? What advantages does it have over other VTT software? Well, the main reason CC3+ is good for this is that this is where you made your map in the first place. This means that the map is fully interactive, and you have all your regular CC3+ tools available to you to manipulate the map during play. If you export the map from CC3+ to an image file for use in a VTT program, then everything becomes static. In CC3+ you can hide or show sheets and layers, you can move symbols and edit whatever you need to do.

Of course, CC3+ isn’t optimized for use during play, while a VTT program is made just for that purpose, so some things are probably a bit more complicated to do in CC3+, so it is up to you if the flexibility CC3+ offer with regards to what you can do with your map during game play is worth it. For this article, I’ll showcase a few features of CC3+ that helps you during play.

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The TowerWe are excited to introduce a new contributor to the Annual this month. Community member Christina Trani recently created a series of battle maps for Pelgrane Press’ encounter book “Fire & Faith”. We were delighted with the map work she did with CC3+, so we asked her to create a whole new series of maps for the Annual.

The Curse of the Lich King map pack is the result. Enjoy four gorgeously detailed maps in both DM and player versions. Let the Regional Map lead you to the Lich’s Tower, then navigate the Maze to find the undead’s Vault and, – if everything goes according to plan – destroy its unholy phylactery. Check out the issue’s details on the Annual 2018 web page.

Also see a preview of the Annual’s April issue and it’s star charts style.

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

by Christina Trani

High in the peaks beyond the Hills of the Seven Sisters is the luminous, dark tower said to be the home of an evil Lich King, named Drech Za’Uul. A dark, cursed land beyond the shores of the Brimspire River, few dare cross to stop the wizard and his evil doings and none have survived and returned to tell tales. Ghosts, ghouls, and wights feed on souls who get lost among the Forest of the Dead. Hordes of zombies and skeletons wander the Hills of the Seven Sisters. Who dares seek the hidden Phylactery of the Lich King and destroy it, so once and for all the evil Drech Za’Uul can be killed and free the land from this curse of evil and darkness?

When I was first approached by Ralf to do an issue for the ProFantasy Annual, I realized quickly that I had no talent in drawing, so I set out to create a series of maps for an adventure featuring a Lich King.

The maps, I knew first off, should be created with just the core products, CC3+, DD3 and CD3. Considering I am known for being one of the faster mappers among the ProFantasy Forum users, I am also known for my use of the photorealistic symbols provided by the free CSUAC, Bogie’s, Dundjinni Archives downloads, and other purchased artwork, so going back to basics and using only the core products would most certainly be outside my comfort zone of mapping.

Overland MapAlways up for a challenge I set out to create a regional map first. As some of the forum members may recall, I often mention overland and regional mapping is “not my bag” and quickly found myself frustrated and deleting a lot of maps. Then, while perusing the forums, as I do daily, a fellow member made a map using the 2011 Overland Perspectives Annual and posted it. Well, his map inspired me to try that perspective using the Mike Schley and Herwin Wielink styles and came up with The Realm of the Lich King. In this map, I muted the color palette using the Adjust Hue/Saturation effect to get the look I was hoping for with this perspective style.
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