ETCR - Expedition to Castle Ravenloft in DD3
I began this project in September of 2010. I knew that I wanted to run this campaign soon but could not find any maps anywhere that got into the amount of detail that I felt this castle deserved. I am by no means an advanced cartographer. I had purchased Campaign Cartographer nearly 5 years previously and never really used it, telling myself each time, “I will have to learn to use this program someday…” and putting it off.
After using so many maps from this site I decided that it was time that I contributed something of my own as repayment. I sat down and decided to teach myself Campaign Cartographer while making this castle. I didn’t care how long it took me, nor how many times I would end up backtracking on already completed floors as I learned how to use the program properly. It took me four months to complete the major parts, but I am still finding things here and there that I go back and retouch.
Each room was done after reading through each description entry of each edition of the module. I tried to capture everything that is included in the descriptions into the map. The length of time I spent constructing these maps should not be taken as an indication of wise or knowledgeable use of the program as much as it should reflect the amount of time perusing libraries of textures and symbols and overcoming indecision on which to use.
I am now in the middle of reffing the actual game. They have yet to actually enter the castle. I am making the other encounter maps for the campaign as we encounter them, now that I am a little better at using the program. The castle itself is for the most part complete. There are a few points I would like to make about mapping this castle, though.
The castle has had slight changes made to it throughout its various incarnations from D&D 1st edition, 2nd, 3rd and now a 4th edition board game. The last I have not even bothered with, even though I own it, as it is more random layout.
I created the castle for use with the 3.5 version. However, there are quite a few oversights that needed to be addressed. Staircases changed directions as well as orientation, and the third floor had two ‘renovations’ namely the Hall of Ghosts and the secret passage area. I referred to all three renditions of the castle when doing this and used the 1st edition version as drawn by David Sutherland III as the final authority. So the Hall of Ghosts has 10 alcoves, not 6, for example, and the secret passage is wider than the 3.5 version.
The maps are designed to be used with Maptool. My players have a monitor (ASUS 25” flat) that is laid out with a protective piece of plexiglass over it on which they place their niatures. The maps are presented on the monitor in scale with fog of war in place as well as
light sources for the characters. This called for quite a bit of detail to be put in these maps.
The castle itself has a ‘darkness’ effect that I represented by adding a glow of black to the walls. It is a little distracting when viewing it as a fully lit map, but when using Maptool with the light source effect on, it is quite eerie. I have only done this on some smaller test maps as these maps after rendering are quite large.
This brings me to an important point. I have done all of this and would like to share what I have done but these maps are huge! I created them as pngs for the transparencies, then used irfanview to resize them and convert to jpeg. The more I resize them, the more blurred or pixilated they become. I need some advice on getting these converted properly. I have seen quite a few maps posted here that are quite detailed and beautiful in just a couple of megs. I am having a hard time figuring a way to do this with what I have done. So let’s talk numbers.
The first floor map is the largest since it includes the castle battlements, drawbridge and surrounding area. It is 13200 x 9000. To capture the detail properly I rendered at 300 dpi. I divided this into 18 segments and resampled each of these to 2 m files so that they could be imported into maptools, then put together again. However, most floors are much smaller since they are just the size of the castle proper.
To post on this site I am putting the first floor and grounds together and resampling to 3 3 m files just to give you an idea of what I am doing. The whole thing (1st floor and grounds) started as a 137 m file. I then rendered the actual inner castle in 2 separate files. This is all to avoid having the whole thing look like an 8-bit Nintendo game.
I am sure that there is a better way, short of dividing everything up and posting 18 images per floor, but I am unaware of what that is. I admit complete ignorance on converting these formats. I have a co-dm that has a little more experience with these matters and he also is struggling to find a way to get these manageable yet preserve the detail.
If anyone has any advice for me on this matter, please speak up!
I am happy with the results, otherwise. I just hope that I can post these in such a way that others will find these maps useful.
The 3m maps of the first floor and grounds will be my first post. The approach to the castle will be redone, eventually, after I get better with overland mapping. The courtyard grass I am not concerned with either, as I doubt that there will be much gameplay out there.
This ground floor was the first that I did. I then worked my way up the floors and did the basement floors last, touching up the earlier floors as I learned to use the program. The inner castle is the most recent render, some mistakes were corrected (such as the fact that there should be no second set of doors when entering the castle).
Let me know what you think.