The Magicians tomb

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.


14 thoughts on “The Magicians tomb

  1. The style is actually pretty unique because it uses symbols only. Being familiar with Dungeon Designer 3 is no big asset in itself for using it, becoming familiar with the ordering functions in CC3 (front, back, send behind, etc) is the key. Wrapping your head around the isometric view can be a bit of a learning process. 🙂 But as you say, it becomes great fun once you’ve understood it.

    I do have good hope that we’ll be able to provide lots more of these symbols with Perspectives 3.

    • Thanks for the input Ralf, now I really look forward to Perspectives 3. Do you think you can have it done this month 😉
      Probably true what you say about ordering function in CC3 (and not DD3), but that kind of verifies my lack of knowledge in CC3/DD3 when it comes to do things the proper way.

  2. Is there a lot of room for improvement for a specific isometric dungeon designer tool like that? Something that “understands” the topology of the map and does rendering order mostly automatically? Add to that the ability to rotate your map etc… is that something you would be interested in? Pay for?

    • For me the most important thing is that the “style” looks handmade. As long as the “style” don’t look and feel computer generated I say that it could be interesting. It all depends on the quality of the product and the graphics.

  3. Hi!

    So while attempting to throw together a memorable dungeon crawl tonight I did a google image search for a cool looking tomb for our 13th Age campaign, and your newest map was the coolest image that popped up in the search. I’ve been a GM for 15 years and had, shamefully, never run a full-out dungeon crawl before tonight.

    I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful map – my players had a blast, it spurred my imagination (the first crevice turned into a holding cell for a growing origami gelatinous cube), and the game was an unbridled success.

    One question: I maintain an Obsidian Portal wiki for my campaign and my players requested to see the map I used. Would it be acceptable for me to post your map image while giving full credit and ownership to you (accompanied by a link to this blog post)? If that isn’t OK I’ll simply post a link.

    Thanks again for the great gaming tool!


    • Hello Neil,
      I’m glad you like the map and that you and your players had a great time using it. Of course you can post the map on your wiki, as long as you credit me and link to the post.
      And feel free to use any maps you find on my blog (if the post doesn’t state otherwise) for your gaming nights. I’m just glad that they’re coming to good use 🙂

  4. Hello.

    Your Magicians dungeon looks so awsome that I wouldn´t mind getting lost in there. If I may ask: Which products from Pro Fantasy do I need to buy in order to create an isometric dungeon like the one you´ve made?

    Thank you very much, and sorry if I made some mistakes. I´m not a native english speaker.

      • Only CC3 and 2012 annual? I thought I would need Perspectives Pro and Dungeon Designer 3. Thank you so much for the quick response. I hope we can see more isometric dungeons from you. They make me imagine a lot of cool stories and scenarios!

        Have a good night. : )

  5. When I saw that the 2012 annual contained an isometric mapping template I upgraded all my PF software and bought all of the annuals. I couldn’t wait to see how they’d implemented isometric maps in their CAD mapper.

    Herwin’s symbols are gorgeous. Each symbol is hand-drawn — the resulting maps look hand-drawn. Conceptually, it is perfect for the RPG referee.

    Practically speaking though the number of symbols available in this style (50 or so IIRC) means that your maps soon look repetitive. The first underground lair mapped in this style as player handouts has the players gasping. The fifth, not so much.

    We wanted more symbols. Many more. So we sought out Herwin:

    Herwin has created nearly 400 drawings for us that we are busily converting into CC3 symbols. There are many more to go. At the end of it we’ll release a CC3 symbol catalogue.

    And we’ll finally be able to make decent isometric maps for our own gaming sessions!

    • Thanks for the comment Ian, and I completely agree with you on Herwins isometric style. That is also the reason I don’t use it so much, it gets too repetitive.
      The extra symbols you have required looks really interesting and I love what you are doing there. Are you planing on selling the catalogue when you are done?
      Good luck with the project.

      • There is a lot of work to do between now and the release of an actual product. Part of the indecision stems from the sheer number of symbols. The “first wave” of photographs we sent Herwin will end up resulting in nearly 500 illustrations. Each of those illustrations will produce a number of symbols, as we allow for a variety of colours and drawing styles. On the flip side, with CC3 you can rotate symbols for different perspectives — two or four illustrations creating one wall or one floor symbol respectively. We’ve taken that into account with our isometric symbols.

        The net result is that we don’t know how many symbols will be there in the end.

        In addition, we have many more plaster casts that we would like to photograph and send to Herwin in order for him to create suitable illustrations. And Herwin has ideas for isometric symbols that he would like to create with us. So there is a pile of ongoing material that could be done over time.

        All of which leads me to think that we will sell these symbol catalogues as a subscription service. There will be a subscription for each texture, so you won’t have to pay for symbols that are inappropriate for your game. For your money you’ll get access to the back catalogue of symbols plus six new symbol sets each year.

        At least that’s what we’re thinking at the moment…

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