Going too big……

Ankh-Bathor_3_6

Mapping cities is probably one of the most demanding things you can do, but also one of the most rewarding ones. I must admit that I really love mapping cities and by using a tool like City designer 3 from Profantasy it is something that actually anyone can accomplish. But even though the program is fantastic it has its limitations, and so does the human mind.

In my fantasy world “the Etrakien world”, there is a city named Ankh-Bathor that, like Rome in the Roman Empire, is the actual center of the world. Ankh-Bathor was the first part of the world that I worked on. I had this idea of a large city that was situated in between two oceans on a small strip of land. The city would be both a lock and passage between the two sides of the world, a strategic location that would make it rich, splendid and the natural focus point in the world. From there the world just started to grow in all directions, until what it is today.

After having made a map or two of the world I felt that I also had to make a map of the city. But as it turned out this wasn’t really an easy thing to do. I think I have at least ten different versions of the city and none of them is complete. There are so many things I’d like to add but the size of the city makes the task quite challenging. Also some limitations in City Designer 3 did put an end to one of my most ambitious attempts, and probably saved my mental health.

At the top of this post you can see part of the map of Ankh-Bathor that I made in the black and white style that was released in one of the annuals from Profantasy. But as you can see in the zoomed out map below the sheer size of it is quite enormous.

Ankh-Bathor

What actually happened is that the size of the .fcw file got too big for the program to handle. In the end the file ended up being just over 11 MB big when the program crashed. As soon as I got beyond that size I couldn’t open the map anymore, so I had to divide the map into many smaller map parts that I later had to stitch together in Photoshop. This made the whole process more complicated so after a while I gave up. I also felt that the end result wasn’t what I really wanted, so when the whole process of making the map got more complicated it was actually a quite easy decision to make to drop the map. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.

Still there are parts in the map that I really like, and I hope to be able to finish a map of Ankh-Bathor one day. Or let me rephrase that, I will finish a map of Ankh-Bathor one day.

My June 2014 style for Profantasy

hill fort

If you subscribe to Profantasy’s monthly annual you can this month pick up the latest style I’ve made for them (June 2014). The style is a black and white battle map style that mainly is made for online play on sites like roll20.net.

The idea for the style comes from a commission I got last year when a client contacted me for some maps that he could use for his online games with his friends. The maps were all in the same square sized format and followed some specific rules, which made them rather quick to do. After having done a couple of maps I really started to like doing them, it was a lot of fun.

I made eleven maps before the client’s campaign came to an end, and no more maps were needed. But I couldn’t really drop the idea of the maps, and started to think that there probably are a lot more people out there that would like to have a quick way of making maps like this.

So I contacted Ralf and Simon at Profantasy and asked them if they would be interested in releasing a style based on the maps I made for the client. They thought it was a great idea, and the result you can see in this months (June 2014) annual.

The goal with the style is that you as a GM should be able to make a map in about ten minutes (or more if you really want to fiddle around) that you can use for your game. In the end when you get used with the style you probably can have a short break while gaming, quickly create a map of a small town, mine, forested area or something else you need, and then add it to your gaming night.

In this way you really can be very flexible while playing and if the players decide to something you haven’t prepared, well just make a quick map of it and game on 🙂

A New Years adventure

Village

So has another year passed, and what is a better way to end it then playing an adventure with family and friends.

The rumors in the village is that someone has stolen the New Year, and time is short, this year will soon end and if no one can retrieve the New Year the world will freeze in a constant state where nothing new can happen. The villagers suspect that it is the trolls in the neighborhood that has stolen it, but where can the players find them? And is the truth really so simple…..

And of course does the story need some maps. The map at the top of this post is of the village where the adventure will start out. The map is done in City Designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy but edited in Photoshop to change colours and adding some effects. I usually do that with all my city maps I make in CD3, the original colours are a bit too bright for my taste.

The map below is made in Dungeon Designer 3 (DD3) and depicts the cave where the two trolls in the adventure are hiding. Of course they are not the culprits they are completely innocent, the real culprit is the evil priest, and he is the one responsible for stealing the New Year.

Everytime I use DD3 I feel like I have to do it more often. It is a very powerful tool and working with it is a lot of fun.

But now it is time to try to save the New Year, so happy New Year to everyone reading this blog and see you next year, if my children and their friends succeed in their quest.
Cave


My first city in CD3

Stad_2

Since I’ve been quite busy lately with a commission I haven’t had much time to to do some mapping for my self, or blogging. But while cleaning out some old files from my computer, you always need more free space, I found this little town map, the first map I ever did in CD3.

When I first started with City Designer 3 (CD3) I started out doing maps in the black and white style that was a part of the 2010 annual from Profantasy. For some reason it felt much easier to start out doing black and white maps then coloured ones.

After having used CC3 for a long time I actually found it quite easy to learn CD3. But as you usually say, easy to learn but hard to master. And there are really a lot of small things to master here.

The black and white style is really great to use and there is a good variation of houses and structures included. But always when it comes to cities you can’t have too many symbols, and after a while you really wish there where more of them. I’ve had the idea of making some myself, I just need some more time in my life :).

Making a fairy tale book

Farjvad the tale

When I show my city/town maps to people I often get the comment that the style make them look like something from a fairy tale book. With this in mind I thought it would be fun to play around a bit with my latest map, and put it in a book. The question was just how should I do it?

Some time ago I backed a project called the Lamp Post Guild over at kickstarter. As a thank you for doing this I received some really nice goodies the other week, brushes for Photoshop, nice wallpapers and some really good textures. One of these textures was of a old looking book page. So I thought I could use that for my little project.

The first thing I had to do was to make the single page into a double page, which was quite easy in Photoshop. I also removed some of the stains from the copy and added some new. It would look strange if both sides were identical. After that I just added the map and removed a small part of the border to make it look like the map was painted on the page.

Next problem was to decide what to write on the remaining pages. One of the best campaign/adventures I’ve ever played for a RPG, be it English or Swedish, is the one named “Konfluxsviten” by Erik Granström. When he published the campaign rules for his island world Trakorien he did it as a story of a monk travelling around the islands.

So I thought I do the same here. Why not describe the town through the eyes of a traveller that is passing by. I thought of this traveller as if he came from the more densely populated coastline of Armadien and now he was documenting his trip through the large forest that the Vadsbro province consists of. In this way I could get a more fun way of presenting the town, and it would feel more like something you actually would find in a book.

Farjvad

Farjvad

This is my latest map made in City Designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy. It depicts the village Farjvad in the province Vadsbro and is part of the campaign/adventure I’m working on at the moment, even though I’ve mostly made maps so far.

Farjvad is situated about a day’s trip north east of the main town in the area, Vadsbro. Farjvad won’t actually be of importance for the adventure I’m writing, but it will still be a part of the campaign information. As you might have noticed I like to make maps, and making the adventure/campaign gives me some good reasons to do that. I also figured out that if I only have maps of the villages where the adventure takes place the players will rather quickly figure out what places are of importance and which ones are not. Also this will make the adventure feel much more unscripted if the players can go wherever they pleasein the area and the GM will have a nice map of the place.

So how did I go from a blank page to a finished map? What shall you think about while making a village map? First of all you have to decide where the village is situated, is it in a forest or a desert? The environment gives as well takes away possibilities for the map. In my case I know from the overland map of the province Vadsbro that Fjardinge is a village that is founded on two sides of a river, only connected via a ferry in the middle of a large forest.

I also decided that the south part of the village was the old one and that the north side is the new part where recent expansion of the village has taken place. Because that the village is situated in the middle of the forest there had to be some place for the villagers to go for protection if some kind of crises turned up. In this case I put a keep (nr 5 on the map) where the governor of the village used to live with his soldiers, maybe ten of them at a max. I could have gone with a palisade but in this case it didn’t feel right.

I also added a temple (nr 4), all places must have somewhere to go for religious need. The ruined temple (7) just outside the village was deserted when the new temple was done. What resides there today is up to the GM to decide.

Nowadays most travelers are using the northern road that leads from Vadsbro to the village Klyvholm. For this reason a newer part of Fjardinge has been built on the northern side. To make the sides differ a bit I decided to make the fields more square here, like they’ve been planned a bit. The big house at the square (nr 1) will also house the governor of the village (he decided to move here from his keep on the south side).

What I’ve actually have done here is making a story around the village and letting the story lead the way while mapping. I think I’ve stated this before on the blog, but having a story in your head while mapping usually makes your maps more interesting, which means a better end result. It is also a lot more fun to map when you have a picture in your head of what the place looks like, it is like seeing your ideas come to life.

The city Vadsbro

Vadsbro

In a post just before Christmas I told you about a campaign/adventure I’m working on for my Etrakien world. Well now when the overland map is done it is time to start concentrating on some city/town maps as the next step.

This is a map of the main city in the area, Vadsbro, a for the area rather large town with around 2.000 citizens. Trade is the main income and a lot of goods are distributed down the river to the rest of the Armadien kingdom. Mainly the trade is in Copper, wood and different goods they get from the Traals in the area. At the moment the whole area is experiencing a peaceful and quiet time, but things are soon going to change.

The map is actually an old map I made of the town while practicing CD3. By then it was called Littlebridge, but when I decided to write a campaign in Swedish I had to come up with a Swedish name for the city. At the same time I also added a border to the map and worked a bit with the light and effects in Photoshop. I decided to go with the same border as in the overland map of the province Vadsbro to make the maps feel connected. I probably continue to use the border for the upcoming maps as well.

Now I just have to remember to do some writing as well.