Ok, this is a multi-faceted problem, so bear with me a moment.

Tools were recently released to allow the modding of the campaign map for shogun2 total war, my love of both mapping and total war naturally led me to want to mod this map myself..

The catch.. The tools released are for converting raw data into something the game can use, for the campaign map this raw data is layered map made in 3dmax, which im horrible with, and even if I werent, an entire campaign map from scratch in 3dmax is a 1000 man hour endeavor. Simply not a realistic goal for a small mod team.

The question(s).. What could i create a height mapped 3d map in that would easily import/convert to 3dmax for finishing? Secondly, could anyone point me in the direction of open access maps i could import to 3dmax to practice with finishing (alternately an open access 3d real world map that could be converted into 3dmax would be an invaluable community resource). Third (tertiarily?), any pointers on using 3dmax for mapping would be greatly appreciated.

Any answers, input, advice, resources, or anything s greatly appreciated, thank you!