The One Ring

village
The other day I bought the RPG The One Ring from cubicle 7, which I kind of fell in love with. Growing up with Tolkien on my bedside I was really thrilled finding this game that really nurtures the world of middle earth, really showing respect to the heritage.

Well I’m not going to talk about the rules of the game, that I kind of like as well, but more about the maps. I think the maps in the game are absolutely fantastic. I like the simple lines that gives a very clear picture of the place it depicts, but at the same time leaves some parts to your imagination.

One thing I’ve realized while making maps is that sometimes less is more when it comes to mapping. Leaving out details can actually in the end give you the feeling of more details in the map. This is a thin line to walk and it’s not always the right thing to do. But for the setting in The One Ring I think that the maps are absolutely spot on.

Inspired by the maps in the game I decided to try out something similar. This is a map of a small village divided by a ferry crossing. Nothing spectacular but a quick and simple training map. And I think I will continue down this path because something grand might come out of it in the end.

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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.

Kartotum

When I grew up I used to play a lot of Role playing games and especially I played a Swedish game called Drakar & Demoner (Dragons &Demons). Most of the adventures they released took place in a campaign world called Ereb Altor. At that time I thought the world was one of the coolest places for an adventure that existed, and I must say that the maps I saw then and the adventures I read really has influenced me a lot.

As I might have mentioned earlier making maps is my hobby, during the days I work as an IT-engineer, so mapping is something I do in my spare time. For that reason I’m very restrictive when it comes to taking up commissions, making maps for someone else means that I can’t make them for myself. But when I realized that the world Ereb Altor still was alive and that people still actually were working on new material I just couldn’t turn it down.

So after a short introduction to the people running the site I was asked to do a map of Kartotum, the capital city of Palinor. Making this city however turned out to a bit of a challenge. So far all of my city maps have been done in City Designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy, a great program when it comes to make cities. However the program has its weak sides, and one of those is that it works best when it comes to making cities without too much elevation. Of course you can draw some elevation in the program, but not in a way that I wanted to do it.

You see Kartotum is situated on the slopes of a mountain so it is surrounded by great cliffs, and to draw that in CD3 was something way out of my league, if it’s even possible. So I decided to make the city and all the houses in CD3 and then draw the cliffs by using a combination of both Artrage pro and Photoshop. But to do this I first had to mark out the area in CD3 where the cliffs would be. To do this I added a green colour, different from the actual grassland, where I later would add the cliffs, as you can see in the map below. In this way I could place the symbols correctly in CD3.

When the city was done in CD3 I exported the map and opened it up in Photoshop. In Photoshop I added the black lines for the cliffs and saved the image as a .PSD file. The actual shadows around the lines I decided to add in Artrage Pro. The water colour brushes in that program are absolutely fantastic and in this way I could get the shadows exactly as I wanted them. I also added the colour of the cliffs in Artrage before opening the file in Photoshop again to add some finishing shadows and light effects.

Working on this commission has teached me a lot when it comes to adapting to some one else’s ideas and opinion and I must say that in some ways it’s even more relaxing doing maps for someone else than yourself. Suddenly you don’t need to come up with all the story and explanation to all the stuff you make. That is someone else’s headache.

Learning CD3

As you might have noticed I really like to make city maps. I don’t know why but I just love to see how a blank paper slowly turns into crawling streets and vast parks. It makes my imagination really spin.

Most of my city maps I make in the program City designer 3 (CD3) from profantasy. It is a great program with a huge toolbox you can use to make the creation of your cities a much smoother experience. To make the maps more unique I also like to edit them a bit in Photoshop afterwards.

When I bought CD3 my first impression of the program however was quite different. You can easily describe it in one word, overwhelmed. Just the sheer number of tools and objects made me fear for my mental health. The first time I started the program I think I just closed it immediately.

So how did I go from there to where I am now? Well the answer can actually be divided in three parts. First of all practice. I started out quite small with a little village and first after a couple of small practice maps I went for the bigger cities or towns. Secondly I looked up some tutorials, especially Gandwarfs tutorials over at the cartographer’s guild where extremely helpful. Thirdly there was a black and white city style released in the 2010 annual from Profantasy.

So what was so great with the black and white city style? First of all you get a very nice tutorial in every edition of the Annual, this makes it very easy to learn a new style, you can just follow the steps described. For me this meant a lot when it came to learning CD3, because I could in this way quickly pick up the different tools to use.

Secondly the amount of objects decreased quite a lot in the black and white city style compared to the coloured styles that were included in the actual program. This might sound a bit odd but the good thing here was that suddenly the program didn’t feel as overwhelming as before. When the choices in objects decreased, it kind of made it easier to grasp the program and find what you were looking for.

The map included in this post is a map that I made while trying to learn CD3. It was one of my first experiments to make a really large city map. I especially experimented a lot with the random street tool in this one. The random street tool is really a great help when you quickly need to fill and area with many houses.

When I was done in CD3 I opened the file in Photoshop and added some cliffs on the northwest side of the city. I also draw my own arena object to add to the city, I really missed that object in the style. As a finishing touch I made the map sepia coloured and placed the map on a paper background.

Well after that I just continued doing city maps and slowly the interface started to make sense and nowadays I rather feel that the there are too few objects in the program then too many 🙂