Sunday, 21 December 2014

How to create your own RPG maps?

This is going to be a links post rather than a detailed explanation. The reason being is that there are a lot of good explanations already out there. There are a lot of programs on the internet you can create rpg maps with, I'm just going to talk the ones I've used.

Lets start with the easiest

Pyromancers

http://pyromancers.com/dungeon-painter-online/


This is a flashed based website embedded tool that allows you to draw grid based dungeon maps. Its wiziwig, just click on the style of tile you want, select rectange, eclipse, custom polygon etc and draw some shapes. Its a very quick and easy way of producing room/dungeon layouts. The end result isn't very graphically distinct and creating unconventional shapes can be a bit of a pain but it works. You can export your creations as image files.

I used Pyromancers quite a bit at first, as it was a very easy way to create excessively large dungeon maps.


http://www.hexographer.com/

Hexographer comes with a free ware version, download this and try it out. Based on OSR blogs this seems to be what most people use.


Using the freeware version you can create simple old school hex maps very quickly. Visually its comparable to some D&D stuff from the 80s.

There are a few other freeware hex mapping bits of software. I tried using a java script one (forget its name and link) but Hexographer seems to be the most accessible/best. I used it for my Mutant Future campaign to create the game world map. The colours of Hexographer didn't really suit the setting so I opened the output image in Gimp and altered them a bit. Hexographer does the hexes well, but lines for rivers and boundaries always look a bit crap.


This brings us to GIMP, that is GNU Image Manipulation Program

http://www.gimp.org/

Currently at version 2.8 this is one of the best pieces of freeware on the net. It is essentially a freeware version of Photoshop. Unlike most bits of freeware, once you learn the ropes its pretty much as good as its commercial competitor (it's definitely better than corelpaintshop). 


Gimp can be used to create any sort of map, dungeons, cities, worlds etc.

All of my maps are built on the basis of these three Cartographers guild tutorials





I recommend starting with Toristan's dungeon map tutorial if you are new to GIMP. Its an easy in and explains stuff in some detail. Then look at the second link, Roba's mapping. It will show you some more of GIMPs potential.

In general cartographers guild is great. There are a lot of tutorials and the forums are full of friendly folk who will answer questions. Critically, you don't need to be able to draw or have any real artistic tallent to produce any of this stuff. It's all process and effect. 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Point to Point roleplay mapping

Other than AFS magazine, Chris over at the Hill Cantons blog is a big proponent of point to point rpg maps.

http://hillcantons.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/pointcrawl-series-index.html

Another point to point map I created was for a climbing session. There is a 'flare' at the top of a column in the great cave that switches on and off irregularly. The players are sent to fix it. At the top if an ancient structure / device that is essentially a light house. A lot of the adventure involves climbing the column and choosing different paths up it.



Makes more sense to use point to point for such a map. Hexes give granularity but sometimes it's too much. Some modern games like Dungeonworld recommend point to point maps / flowchart campaign structures. This got me wondering a bit. There are a lot of forum threads along the lines of; How do I actually run an rpg session? Part of the cause of these threads is in my view the move of rpgs away from something simulated and structured to something very abstract. I don't have an issue with abstraction but it is more counter intuitive. In a world where the explorable area is mapped and rules govern how far you can move it is easier to understand the imaginary. If the game is series of connected 'scenes' it is harder to conceptualise.  My advice to any new GM is to draw maps of your world, dungeon, village etc. Make the world as real as you can.

Point to point maps have their origin in war games;


They were a response to a problem with area maps. 


The argument being, that area maps are sometimes unclear.  For instance if four areas meet at their corners can you move diagonally between them? Usually not. Point to point maps show clearly all the routes an army can take. I usually think that point to point maps can look a bit ugly in war games and prefer areas. Also when I'm thinking about conquering a country, I think of capturing areas, territories, not points. Sometimes point to point can look very good though, and in wars where the pathways were more important than territories it makes sense. I know Martin Wallace used point to point for A Few Acres of Snow because it was the routes down rivers and trails that were important in the war. Another advantage of point to point is it is easier to show movement restrictions. If you have a path between two areas that only one army a season could fit down, showing it by colouring the point to point line is easier than colouring a border on an area map.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hand drawn style maps


Working on a new session/mini campaign for Hyperborea. I am creating a hand drawn style map for it. This cartographers guild post is a great help http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=10655. 

Here is the progress so far.




The Season of the Wolf.

The concept is to bring together a number of ideas that have been kicking around in my mind. I intend to create a point to point style map and have the world simulated to a limited degree. Normally in rpgs stuff happens when NPCs show up, otherwise it does not. I plan on putting a time track into the game and having the werewolfs that the players are hunting move around and do things through time. Depending on how much time the players loiter things might happen ahead of them.


A lot of the inspiration for this has come out of AFS magazine. http://hallsoftizunthane.blogspot.co.uk/

Issue 3 (i think) talks about using point to point maps over hexes, Issue 6 includes a new huntsman class and a great adventure by Joseph Salvador set around an icy Fjord.

The close to finished map;

There is still stuff that needs work. The celtic north arrow and swastika are sort of just stuck there and need reworking or removing. I also need to put in a neat border and a scale bar of some sort.