View Full Version : Need to produce tons of maps quickly. How?

01-10-2012, 03:44 PM
I'm about to start GMing a fantasy campaign based around a countship. I did a similar thing some years ago, and for that campaign me and another player produced maps for the countship, every barony in it, every village and all the households for all nobels (the count, four barons and a bunch of knights). It added up to 20-30 maps (I'm really not sure how many exactly) and at least 100+ hours of work.

I'd like to do this again, but having a kid, a wife and a full time job nowadays doesn't leave me much time. Do you have any tips at all that could help me produce maps quickly with decent quality?

I'm pretty good at handdrawing maps, and I can do some things with GIMP. Unfortunately my attempts to draw maps completely in GIMP have proven very time consuming with poor results, so I'll probably just use it for finishing.

01-10-2012, 04:17 PM
Well ... :) My first suggestion for such a sandbox campaign is ... CHEAT. :) The players will never know if *everything* is done ... just do the various bits they might come across!

01-10-2012, 04:21 PM
You're going to need to predict where they are going to go next. If you know their current location, just do the ring of places around them first. Then have a couple of "generic" spots for backup that you can pull out (can always go more indepth on them later).

Mark Oliva
01-11-2012, 12:04 AM
One reason (there were several) that our project group switched to Fractal Mapper (TM) 8 a few years ago is that it makes it possible to generate lots of maps in the detail and quality that we want and with the "look" that we want in very short order. The learning curve also is very slow. You can master the whole program in a week's time.

Our maps are in a particular style that some like and others don't. That said, if you want to see a sampling of our maps, go to:


One advantage of FM8 is that one can download the free trial version and test it as long as one wants. It's the same as the full version except that it doesn't save the test maps that you make. If this sounds interesting to you, say so, and I'll let you know where to find the materials, tutorials, etc.

01-11-2012, 06:05 AM
I agree with lukc and larb - map the county, and the city/region where they begin play - then work on maps as they become relevant. Can't remember the link, but there is also a city generator out there where you input some variables and it makes a fast city for you :)

01-11-2012, 09:00 AM
Yea, what others have said, just map the places within a day or so walk that are "famous" or places their characters have personally been to for a start. This should take no more than a few hours. If you want a regional map and you know they might not explore the full extents of the map for weeks or even months, just do a quick-o sketch. I mean like simple stuff like upside down V's for mountains, blue lines for rivers, etc. You can always go back and make a pretty map. Generally, in a fantasy setting, the average person really knows little about what's outside a few days walk/ride of their hometown other than "the sea is that way", "there are some mountains that way", etc.

Even the local map might have places missing. For example, perhaps there are some fairly steep hills in the local area. There very well could be a(multiple even!) cave which no one has ever found, or perhaps even one uncovered by a recent earthquake. Sinkholes could reveal an ancient city people have been walking on top of for hundreds or thousands of years. Also, if the region is somewhat hilly think of some of the ruins in South America and Asia. Many people could walk over/past what they think is a hill that could easily be a centuries old shrine that was reclaimed by the forest.

01-11-2012, 09:27 AM
Is this the one you're talking about, tilt?


I use it to make the general layout of my cities, then use photoshop to add detail and replace buildings to suit my needs.

01-11-2012, 09:43 AM
If you are already (very) familiar with CAD software, Campaign Cartographer from Profantasy will let you make maps very quickly. If you aren't familiar with CAD software, the learning curve is pretty steep, but once you get there, you can make some very impressive stuff. CC is especially handy for making maps of the same region at different scales, since the maps are vector based, they can zoom infinitely (theoretically, anyway).

01-11-2012, 09:48 AM
Nope, I was thinking of: http://www.stargazersworld.com/2009/02/27/roleplaying-city-map-generator/

and found this fun little iso thingy as well : http://www.citycreator.com/ :)

01-11-2012, 11:20 AM
My advice is to trawl the finished map thumbnails and yank every city/town/big house map that might fit in with your campaign and then make those the starting points. Yank a suitable world map and do the regional maps yourself putting in those named cities into the places most suitable. Tho regional maps are not necessarily the easiest to do they are usually the ones where the players need the least information from them. I.e. they can be scant. Your players probably need town / city maps the most detailed and that you can get from here.

Theres always the CWBP - the guilds "community world building project" where a whole world with maps down to some towns have been done already. Look at the section here on the forums for that and check out the wiki. World, regionals, and towns all done for you for free.

01-14-2012, 01:41 AM
Thank you all for the great tips! I will prioritize heavily among the areas and start by doing very simple maps. I'll try to make something worth posting here later :)