One of the most important things to remember when you make maps is that it should be fun. If you don’t have fun, well you won’t continue doing it. One of things I like the most is to make maps for my kids. It doesn’t matter if it is for a RPG session or for an imaginary world they want to play in. If they ask for a map I always try to make one for them.
This spring my oldest daughter turned six and she wanted to invite all her friends for a pirate party. At the moment Jake and the Never land pirates are her favorite show on TV, and of course if you have a pirate party you have to have a treasure hunt.
My kids loves to have treasure hunts and I have made maps of our house that I use when we go treasure hunting. Sometimes I include a riddle to make it a bit harder for them to find the treasure. Because the truth is that they nowadays are so good at reading the maps of our house that they find the treasures in no time. So I have to make it a bit harder for them.
But this time I decided to make something completely different that I hadn’t done before. Jake and his pirates are living in never land, but it is quite hard to get there for a party, so I decided to make a map where I turned our house into Never land. To do this I used Profantasy’s Dungeon Designer 3 program and the Jon Roberts Dungeon style from the 2011 annual (It is free to download by the way). I really like that style and it is very easy to use.
Do I need to say that the map was a real success. The kids loved it and they really played it out well, as if they were in Never land. The treasure was easily found after some exciting adventures and everyone enjoyed the booty, golden coins with chocolate inside. What more can you ask for if your six years old
As I have stated earlier one of the great things with Dungeon designer 3 (DD3) from Profantasy is that you can make a nice map in a very short time.
Whenever I decide to play an adventure with my children I try to make up the basics of the story together with them. It is a great way of getting them involved in the creative process, and they also think it is more fun when they feel that they can influence the story.
This time me and my daughter started to talk about trolls and I asked her if she thought there be Trolls nearby the castle where her character lives (of course she plays a princess). And she said that there might be. I told her that I’d heard some of the farmers complaining about trolls attacking people and livestock and that maybe someone should look into it. She really hooked into the story and started to make up things herself and now she insists on that we have to play on Saturday, because someone has to stop those trolls.
Well suddenly I had to come up with a map we can use on Saturday, and as I said in the beginning of this post, making dungeons in DD3 is a real treat. The map below took me around two hours to complete from scratch to finished product.
The map is completely done in DD3 but labeling and some effects to make it more paint looking where all applied in Photoshop. Now I just need to wait for Saturday and see if the princess can defeat all the trolls that harass the neighborhood.
I really wish I had more time to do dungeon maps. But for some reason it seems that I always end up doing overland or city maps. Don’t take me wrong, I really love doing those maps but i just wish I had more time for dungeons as well.
Mostly when I make dungeon maps I use Dungeon designer 3 (DD3) from Profantasy. The advantage of the program is that it let you create a map very quickly. You can of course spend millions of hours on details in the maps but if you just need a quick map for an evenings game DD3 will let you make that.
Whenever I make a dungeon I usually try to make a quick sketch on paper. This will make it easier when you start working on the map in DD3. In DD3 I usually start with putting out the floors for the rooms, when those are in place I start to make all the floors for the corridors. If you don’t have a sketch to use as a blueprint this work will be much harder.
When all the floors are in place it is time to place all the walls. You might wonder why I don’t use the room tools in the program, where you place floor and walls at the same time? Well the problem with that approach is that you have to do a lot of cutting in the walls to get all the doors in, or just to open up for the corridors. When I started to use DD3 this was the approach I used but after a couple of maps I changed the working process to first place the floors. And in my opinion that works much better.
When all rooms and floors are done it is time to add in some details. I always start with doors, then I place tabels, traps, torches, blood stains etc. This last step can take everything from an hour to four, five hours. It all depends on what you need the map for, an evenings game with some fiends or to publish in an adventure.
The map below, Catacombs of evil, was a test map I made when I first purchased DD3. It is made in Jon Roberts great style, that is free to download from here. When I made the map i pictured an evil cult hiding in the catacombs under a temple where they worshiped some demon. The adventurers mission would be to find the cult, free the prisoners and kill the demon.
The map is completely made in DD3, apart from labeling and the red light effects in room 8 that are made in Photoshop.
I’ve really looked forward to the release of this year’s June Annual that gives you a new drawing style by Herwin Wielink: Isometric Dungeons. The style itself includes some really fantastic graphics and possibilities and it lets you create a new good looking map in no time at all (compared to if you’d do all the graphics by hand).
The style itself was a bit tricky to work with for me. Or if you put it another way, the style really showed me how much I still have to learn to completely master Dungeon Designer 3. Maybe I have to take a closer look at the Tome of Ultimate mapping to catch up on a thing or two.
Getting all the different objects in the correct order in the map really gave me a slight headache. When you create a map in this style you really have to plan in what order to do things, if you don’t want to move things back and forth on the actual sheet. It took me some restarts of the map to get a hang on it. But once you understand the logic everything runs a lot smoother. The secret of success is to work from one of the top corners to the opposite lower corner. In this way you will naturally get the graphics in the right order and you don’t need to rearrange the order of the rooms and corridors all the time.
When you reach that point everything also gets a lot more fun. I really enjoyed working with the style and the result gets so good that you just want to keep going, it’s just as addictive as playing a good computer game.
However there was one thing I felt was very frustrating with the style, and that was that I want more! The style feels like a small taste of something that could be amazingly fantastic. I want circular rooms, walls with windows, more furniture, different floors, traps, outdoor environments, sewers and I could continue that list for another two posts. This is what Perspectives 3 (if it comes out) should look like.
At the moment when the selection of different graphics isn’t too vast a lot of maps will turn out looking quite similar. So it is quite hard to do something unique with the style, but I’m hoping for a bright future and more isometric add-ons in future Annuals maybe.
The map in the post is a small map of a temple to the mad magician and his hidden tomb beneath. Nothing spectacular but it will be great for an evening’s adventure with my kids.
One of the best strengths when it comes to Profantasy’s product line is that the products are easy to use and good at producing great maps in a fairly short time.
I’ve decided to introduce my two oldest kids in the world of roleplaying, and if you’re going to play with someone for their first time you need to make an impression on them. So you need maps!
We talked a lot about how you play and that you don’t have any gaming board that you use. I said that it was a bit like playing a fairytale. They both thought it sounded great.
The system we used is called Äventyr, a roleplaying game for children made by a Swedish guy and his eight year old daughter. It is very simple but works really good as an introduction.
In one of the first adventures I played with them they had to enter a mine and get rid of the dangerous Trolls that had moved in. To make it more exciting I made a quick map in Dungeon designer 3 of the mine. This map took me about an hour from start to finish. Nothing fancy or complicated, but it is great that you in such a short time can make something that actually looks good and pleasing to the eyes.
And do I need to say that they loved it
I’ve always been very fond of Dwarves and their mines as a great location for an adventure. I guess you can blame this on Tolkien and his description of Moria. I still remember how excited I was when I saw the Lord of the rings on TV for the first time (now we’re talking about the old film, not the new ones) and they entered the old mines full of orcs.
This map however is only of the entrance to a Dwarven kingdom. It is made in the Dungeon Designer 3 add on for Campaign Cartographer 3. The style used is from the 2011 annual, Jon Roberts Dungeon. This particular style is actually free for anyone to download.
When I map some kind of fortification I always try to picture how an attack on the area would be done. How could I defend the area in the best way? Whoever that want to get past the fort has to pass through the entrance hall (1) on the map. So I wanted the entrance hall to be well guarded, I accomplished this through the watchroom (5) next to it. From there the guards can watch who enters and also shoot at them. The inner iron door will hopefully prohibit any hostile intruders from getting any further in.
The two towers facing the outside (4a-b) are also good spotting areas from where you can see who’s approaching as well who’s standing in front of the gates. I try to continue thinking in this way while mapping, other important aspects are where will the guards sleep, eat or relax? Remember this is a place where the guards probably spend a week at a time before they are relived.
In the end I also added the secrete passage (11). This passage shouldn’t really be there because it is a huge security risk. The reason I put it there was that if some adventurers need to sneak in past the guards they need a way to do it. So the passage was added to make the map more fun to use in an adventure.
This was the first map I made in Dungeon Designer 3. The program however I feel is the most complicated one from Profantasy, mainly because there are so many different things you can add and have to take into account. It took me a long time to realize that I in this map actually by mistake used the wrong beds and tables (they are from another style then the one I intended to use). So it was very good to have the pdf from the annual style to use as a guide while exploring the program. This however doesn’t mean that this is a bad program in any way, probably the contrary. But it crave from you as a user that you take the time to learn it.