Roleplaying Suggestions E-newsletter #1182

An amazing dialog got here up within the month-to-month Wizard of Journey chat Saturday on what encounter mapping software program to decide on.

(Wizards of Journey who couldn’t make the decision, right here’s a hyperlink to the recording.)

From DungeonFog to HexKit to Marketing campaign Cartographer, and a bunch of others, how do you decide?

As a result of it’s not nearly spending your hard-earned gold items on an encounter mapping answer.

It’s additionally about investing time into one thing you need to produce precise outcomes in your campaigns.

In our busy lives, nobody desires to waste themselves on pink herrings.

The next is an easy framework I specified by the decision that will help you slender down your selections quicker.

It’s not a scientific framework.

However it’s derived from a previous life as a technical illustrator and graphics creator. And from private expertise taking part in with a variety of mapping instruments through the years.

I hope you’ll discover this framework useful when selecting your subsequent encounter mapping software program.

(Additionally, I’ve began including reader tricks to the e-newsletter now. At the moment I’ve obtained some nice old fashioned encounter problem ideas for you from RPT GM Gwydion. Scroll to the tip to learn.)

Three Forms of Encounter Mapping Apps

I put mapping software program into three buckets primarily based on how a GM thinks and creates:

  • Drawing
  • Portray
  • Scrapbooking

Let’s discover each to see the way it may map to you, pun meant!

Bucket #1: Do You Wish to Paint?

In the event you get pleasure from portray, then you definitely perceive “space management of a canvas.”

You additionally perceive that every stroke is everlasting. A card laid is a card performed.

If we consider maps as data, then as a painter you see your maps as zones, swathes of features or options, and patches of data and impact.

Whereas digital instruments permit layers for straightforward separation and manipulation of data, your painter worldview doesn’t depend on that to make sense of your data.

You additionally see canvas and brush extra holistically and by way of how issues mix collectively and layer for impact.

You combine pigments, discover inside the body, and intention for an general expertise.

That is all usually talking, as a metaphor for what sort of mapping software program you may get pleasure from or grok most.

For, on this class, I put all “pixel painters.”

In a pixel painter, like Photoshop, Gimp, Wonderdraft, and so forth, you’re utilizing a digital brush to put swathes of pixels onto a canvas.

You employ brush kinds and thickness, together with the eraser, to color your encounter maps.

Typically, this makes for quick map creation however much less granular management.

You can also draw extra summary maps with fuzzy boundaries.

This method helps gridless combats effectively too.

Now, Photoshop and related apps are highly effective, they usually cross the three classes I’m laying out right here for you at the moment.

The primary intent with this bucket is, if you encounter a map app for the primary time, and you’ve got a painter’s mindset, look first to see if it lays down pixels through brushes and fills.

Bucket #2: Do You Wish to Draw?

On the opposite finish of the spectrum we now have object-oriented mappers.

What I imply by that’s, you seize an object like a room, cave, furnishing, or image of any variety, and drop it onto the canvas and manipulate it in isolation.

Not like portray the place your map is a complete and blended piece, drawing turns your map right into a bunch of issues or objects.

In case you are aware of CAD, Adobe Illustrator, Google Slides/PowerPoint, or different vector-based software program, then you definitely’ll be comfy with RPG mapping software program that provides related options.

The explanation I liken this to hand-drawing is you grow to be very involved with edges.

In vector software program you manipulate the dimensions, form, and place of map components by choosing edges and utilizing a instrument, making use of an impact, or dragging your mouse to vary a selected side of the article.

This may overwhelm painters and scrapbookers who simply need to compose a single great piece in broad strokes, to proceed the metaphor and puns.

I’m within the drawing camp although.

I like the specificity, degree of management, and quantity of element I can put into encounter maps through objects as a result of I’ve my very own particular method to utilizing maps to extend challenges, make encounters attention-grabbing, and construct cool tales.

Nicely, I say it’s my very own particular approach — possibly you’ve got the identical strategies and strategies — I simply haven’t discovered something related on-line or in books anyplace.

The draw back to being a drawer is it takes longer to construct maps.

You get choosy about putting issues.

It takes further clicks or faucets to govern stuff to the way you need.

And also you begin fiddling extra with layers, alignments, and ordering.

I discover this satisfying, and contend that in case you get pleasure from drawing you’ll finish a vector sort app too.

Bucket #3: Do You Wish to Scrapbook?

In our last grouping, we now have the tilers.

Tile mapping software program enables you to decide a styled hex or sq., and in point-and-click or brush-stroke vogue, lay down the weather you need in your map.

You don’t manipulate the stuff on the tiles such as you would in a vector or “strains” app.

As an alternative, you possibly can dimension, rotate, and magnificence issues on the tile degree.

You’ve libraries of tiles, select the particular one you need to lay down subsequent, cue up its attributes, after which paint.

On this approach, I see tilers as being a hybrid of drawing and portray.

However I additionally see it interesting extra to anybody who likes to assemble collages and groupings of issues in pretty fast vogue.

For instance, one in every of my favorite tilers is Hex Equipment. Select your theme. Decide a class. Choose a tile. Spray it round your canvas.

So I consider in case you get pleasure from scrapbooking, then you definitely’ll love tile-based RPG mapping software program.

RPG Mapping Software program Suggestions

There are various, many selections on the market. Under are a number of I’ve used and so could make an knowledgeable advice.

In the event you get pleasure from a mapping app not listed, please hit reply and let me know the title and what bucket you assume it most closely fits it.

I’ll develop the checklist and ship it out once more sooner or later for all GMs to profit. Thanks!


Wonderdraft and Dungeondraft by Megasploot.

These are part-tilers, half drawers, and half painters. I feel they’re glorious.

In the event you put a d20 to my head although and instructed me to decide on, I’d put them within the painter bucket as a result of the way you lay down the objects is like wielding a brush.

Dungeondraft is extra of an encounter builder, however I’ve discovered Wonderdraft (world mapper) nice for encounter maps too, so checklist each right here.

Donjon Dungeon Generator and Fantasy City Generator. Undecided the place to file these, really. However they’re painters to me since you set a number of values and a whole canvas spits out.

Following the identical logic, I put watabou’s superior random generator mappers on this class: Medieval Fantasy Metropolis Generator, Village Generator, Metropolis Neighbourhood Generator, One Web page Dungeon Generator, and Perilous Shores Generator.

Inkarnate is an exquisite world mapper, that may additionally double as area or space encounter mapping software program.

DunGen is one other random dungeon map generator. One click on and also you’re carried out in case you don’t want fancy.


DungeonFog. An online app brimming with options and a fantastic library of objects, patterns, and textures so every encounter map can look completely different.

Marketing campaign Cartographer and its cousins from ProFantasy. It is a full-featured fantasy CAD app and it makes stunning maps. Steep studying curve in case you are new to this kind of map-making method, however there are guides and a powerful neighborhood for assist.

We’re fortunate to have Platinum Wizard of Journey @Monsen within the RPT discussion board.

He wrote the official guide and tons of different articles and documentation for Marketing campaign Cartographer and has provided to reply our questions on this CC3 AMA thread on the RPT discussion board.

Dungeonscrawl. That is extra of a pixel-based editor, however with cross-overs in different buckets.

Flowscape I’ve restricted expertise with, but it surely creates great-looking 3D photographs appropriate as participant handouts or VTT use.

Cityographer. From the creator of Worldographer.

Dungeon Painter Studio. So the title contradicts me right here, however I really feel you’re working quite a bit with edges and objects, and that mindset pays off probably the most with this app.

Fractal Mapper created by NBOS, a former Roleplaying Suggestions sponsor, is quite a bit like Marketing campaign Cartogpher. I used it for years.


HexKit. I supported the Kickstarter and it’s a implausible and easy hex-tile mapper.

Dave’s Mapper. Certainly one of my favorites for a fast map after I don’t need to finesse one thing.

Gridmapper by Alex Schroeder is one other favorite. Net-based, old fashioned, free, and easy. Get a hyperlink to save lots of or edit your map to make use of once more anytime.

Hextml. Browser-based. It’s come a great distance since I first checked it out in early 2020.

Mipui. Free and open-source. Click on and drag.

Dungeonographer by Joe over at Inkwell Concepts is a stable tile mapper as effectively.

Completely satisfied Mapping

There are a ton of selections on the market for RPG mapping software program.

It may be exhausting to decide on which one meets your wants and preferences greatest.

As you take a look at every mapping app, think about if it’s a match as a painter, drawer, or scrapbooker.

This may at the very least assist slender issues down for you.

And if in case you have mapping software program not talked about on this article, please drop me a word and share, together with what bucket you assume it most closely fits. into Completely satisfied mapping!

Focus on these sport grasp ideas on this thread on the official Roleplaying Suggestions neighborhood discussion board.