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Thread: Novice needs advice about creating maps on alien planet

  1. #1

    Help Novice needs advice about creating maps on alien planet

    I'm GMing a GURPS Alpha Centauri campaign using MapTools. I've amassed quite a few great maps and objects from here, RPGmapshare, and Dunjinni. However, almost all of the battlemaps are earth(like)-based, and fantasy encounters that assume short range combat. I've used Maptools to create very simple encounter maps large battlemaps, but would like to create some nicer encounter maps, and make some nicer regional maps to replace my hand-drawn ones. My GIMP skills are not that good, so I was looking at Dunjinni (which seems based on tiles, not sure about how it works with hex-based, or whether I could find the right kinds of tiles for things like pink xenofungus...), and also Fractal Mapper.

    Many of the encounters my players are in involve long range (maps 3000 feet or more across for shooting guns, sniper rifles, and mortars several hundred yards or more) on fairly open landscapes (there is relatively less vegetation on Alpha Centauri), with interesting landscape features (hills, gullies, rocks, creeks, and other elevation becomes very important for cover and line of sight). I've also tried other approaches - like pasting the topo map from google maps into MapTools.

    Anyway, if you have any ideas for which software would work best for this, or other ideas especially for representing elevation on large battlemaps I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Guild Adept atpollard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011


    If I wanted to do what you are looking for, I would use Photoshop (which I have) or Gimp (which you have).
    I would start with real world locations with interesting terrain.
    I would collect greyscale images of topographicly interesting terrain to provide base images.
    Then USGS Topo maps of the same area will give you contours to quanytify the changes in elevation.
    After combining the two, you have an alien terrain in need of exotic alien colors - easily created using the map tutorials available on this site and a little research on other worlds.

    FYI - the spectral color of a star will change the optimal color for plants - green is best for our atmosphere and yellow sun, but other colors are best for other conditions ... black plants for a dim star, white plants to reflect a harsh light.

  3. #3


    Alpha Centauri A is yellow like our own sun, while Alpha Centauri B is a little more orange. I'd expect plants under whiter suns to be most reflective in the UV, and the artists' conception type stuff I have seen for plants near F main sequence stars (nearly white) have been blue, mostly. But in light (ha) of our lack of evidence, there is a lot of room for whatever color plants.

  4. #4


    GURPS Alpha Centauri is based on Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, isn't it? The predominant color of the vegetation in the game is red (since it's fungus and not necessarily reliant on photosynthesis, in theory) - though that depends on how much they've riled up the ecobalance. There's plenty of green, though - even without terraforming beyond possible seed probes the ground is mostly dirt (from previous fungus cycles?) with a smattering of green (fungus activity rises when Alpha Centauri B comes into perihelion - perhaps because it handles the different light better? Or is it Proxima Centauri that enters perihelion...for which all bets are off)

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