Map-making: Using vintage floor plans

Hey, it’s been a while since I shared some tips for making maps for games!

Over on Pinterest, where I collect image inspirations for role-playing games, I’ve been seeing a lot of lovely vintage floor plans for manors and houses. It’s great material for your Call of Cthulhu or Good Society game. However, they’re not always available at a scale that lends itself to making nice game maps. Here is a simple workaround.

Continue reading “Map-making: Using vintage floor plans”

Mapping the Veins of a World

I was opening a tab in my browser for a completely different reason, and I got completely sidetracked.

I’ve been using Chrome lately, and I have the Earth View form Google Earth extension installed so every tab I open shows me a new interesting image of the Earth seen from above. Altitude makes it looks like abstract art, but then you start recognizing features. Since I’m a fan of maps, I love looking at these.

This particular image just fascinated me, making me think about what’s unsatisfactory about a lot of map-making of fictional worlds, and especially in games. They are missing the key shaping factor of the ground surface:

Water is the shape of the landscape.

Karaginsky District, Siberia

This image shows the river that forms the southern boundary of the Karaginsky District on the Kamchatka Peninsula with the Ust-Kamchatsky District, just above the point where the river reaches the Pacific Ocean. It’s both a mighty stream and a little nothing rivulet, depending on the scale you’re considering.  Continue reading “Mapping the Veins of a World”

Mouse Guard Must-Have

photo-sep-08-4-48-55-pmI’m very late in discovering this, but the hardback compilation Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is a must-have for all readers of the Mouse Guard comics (David Petersen, published by Archaia) and especially for players of the role-playing game based on the comic, the Mouse Guard RPG (Luke Crane & David Petersen).

It’s full of information about what the Guard Mice do, the art is as inspiring as ever, and the book offers a nice appendix full of maps, illustrations of locations, genealogies of famous mouse clans, etc. (You can see examples of location art here, but the ones in the book are different and contain much more information.)

The Land of Ten Thousand Gods: Map

I like making graphics!  My husband has written a hack of Dungeon World for a setting inspired by the mythologies of the Indian sub-continent and southeast Asia, called the Land of Ten Thousand Gods.  We play it twice a month over Google Hangouts, and fellow player Sean Nittner has posted the tale of the first few episodes here, here, and here.  Edmund created a hex map, which I re-interpreted in my own way.  (Right now, we’re in Fish-for-Dinner, the city on the coast at the lower edge of the big river delta.)


I wanted it to look a bit odd, like watercolours and ink by an NPC artist who doesn’t normally do maps, working on the direction of the adventurers.  I also wanted to keep it sketchy because in Dungeon World the players may keep adding locations in-between known sites.  I used MyPaint 1.1.0 because it offers an essentially infinite canvas, and added the symbols and labels in GIMP.  The font is Samarkan, obtained from; the symbols are primarily from StarRaven’s Sketchy Cartography Brushes on and a few other brush packs.

War of Ashes RPG: Manoeuvres, Continued

Following up on the post on manoeuvres from a few days ago, here is the illustrated version of what I’m thinking (go read the other post first or this one won’t make any sense).  Note that they have been rephrased in the captions, and example grid-based stunts are now each linked to a different approach—three are attacks, and three defenses.

Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other peoples’ needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death, but at least there is symmetry.

The Basic Manoeuvres

Push: When you run into melee by running 2 spaces and succeed in an attack, you can push the opponent back up one space at the end of your action, to any of the three spaces in your front arc. At your discretion, you can end in the same space or only the opponent can be pushed.

Continue reading “War of Ashes RPG: Manoeuvres, Continued”

Mapping Your World: Brush Packs

Map Symbols - sampleOver at the Emerald City Gamefest site, I review five free brush packs that are useful for map-making in Photoshop, GIMP or PaintShop Pro, and I explain how to use them and exchange them between these three programs.

Creating impressive dungeon maps in minutes

I created a tutorial for complete beginners to using Rob Antonishen (of Cartocopia)’s Dungeon Map Maker script for GIMP and creating nice maps. It took me a lot longer to write this than the combined time of finding the script, learning to use it, and producing the #fridayfiveminutemap that became Figure 4 in this tutorial!