Practical use of your maps – Measure Distances

CC3+ maps are more than just pretty illustrations of the area your players happen to adventure in. If you like to keep track of time passing in your game (or your novella) you need to know how long it will take your players to travel from Snowport to Knight’s landing. And to do that, you’ll naturally need to know the distance, and the terrain traveled through. The latter is easy enough to read visually from the map, and sure, you can provide an estimate for the former using the scale bar. However, this gets more and more inaccurate the more winding the road is though, maybe they are even traveling along an extremly winding river.

Instead of trying to estimate complex distances like that, CC3+ has built-in tools that lets you easily measure distances, both in straight lines, but also along a meandering path. Using these tools you can get the exact answer in seconds when the players ask about the distance/travel time, and get the same answer every time.

Measuring distances in CC3+ is pretty simple, you’ll find all the relevant commands in the Info menu. So let us have a quick look at what we can do here.

If you just wish to measure the distance as the crow flies, you can use the Distance command. It is very easy to use, after activating the command, just click the starting point and then the ending point on the map, and you will get a dialog box showing the distance. There are two variants of the command, so you’ll get one of these:

I find the left variant easier to read for the simple distance, as the right one has more information, but the plain distance is the number after the comma in the top row. Which one you get of these depends on which menu set you have currently loaded so don’t worry if you don’t always see the same type of box when running the command.

Now, the number inside here may be a plain number like above, or it may contain a unit like “m” for meters or the feet symbol (‘). This depends a bit on the setup of the template, but generally, for overland maps, this number will be in miles or km (depending if it is n imperial or metric map), or meters/feet for dungeon and city maps.


Of course, measuring the straight distance isn’t what you want when you need to know the length of a road or a river to determine travel distance. Which is why we also have the Length Along command. This command calculates the distance along an entity, either the entire entity, or part of it. So, to use it, just activate the command from the Info menu, then pick the entity (like a road or river) to measure along. The command prompt then switches to ask for the starting point along the entity, or right click to measure the entire length of the entity. If you right click, the command immediately ends and you get the length of the entire entity displayed, or if you picked a starting point by clicking in the map instead, you will then be asked to provide the ending point as well, and CC3+ will calculate the distance along part of the entity from the selected starting point to the ending point. Note that you don’t have to be precise when clicking the starting and ending points, even if you click far away from the entity, CC3+ will just figure out the closest point on the actual entity in relation to where you clicked, and use that.

Do note that if the command exits immediately after the first step, trying to pick an entity, it means you didn’t click on a valid entity, either you missed completely, or you clicked on something that cannot be measured, like a bitmap image or a multipoly. If there are multiple entities in that exact spot, CC3+ might also have used the wrong one, so try picking the entity in a different spot.

A final issue with this command is that it is only able to measure along a single entity, so if your road/river is broken up into segment, you need to do them one by one, and then sum them up. Another trick is to use the (Smooth) Path command to just draw a temporary line in your map you can measure, and then delete it afterwards.


Personally, I use these commands all the time because it is a very quick way of figuring the travel distance on the map quickly no matter where and what route my players chose. And because I can measure partially, I can first get the distance of the road that are in the hills, and then the distance of the road in the plains, so I can apply terrain modifiers for travel speeds for the segments individually.

If you find these commands give you the wrong results, it may be down to the map being scaled wrongly. CC3+ is designed to make maps to scale, but it isn’t actively preventing you from not doing so. I know of several mappers who decide they don’t feel the scale of the map is right after making it, so they just change the size of the scale bar instead of rescaling the map. While this is perfectly fine if you’re only going to be using the exported image, it is going to cause all measurements inside CC3+ to be wrong compared to your expectations because those two are no longer aligned. What you can do as a quick workaround is to measure the length of your scale bar, and if CC3+ says it is 50 long, but the scalebar itself reads 100, you know your map is off by a factor of 2, and you can just multiply any distance it gives by 2 to get the appropriate result. This is just a work-around though, I always recommend keeping your map in proper scale in the first place, something I wrote an entire article about a while back.



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