We've been receiving a number of E-Mail questions regarding our experiences in raster mapping with Fractal Mapper (TM) 8. Many people still seem to be under the impression that FM8 is a vector mapping program. That's not correct. FM8 can do raster maps, vector maps or hybrids that are a combination of both. There probably are additional programs that can do that credibly, but the only ones of which I'm aware are FM8 and Campaign Cartographer (TM) 3 from ProFantasy Ltd.

I've done quite a bit of mapping with both. Just about any result you can get with FM8 you also can get with CC3 and vice versa. I personally prefer FM8, which is easy to learn and use. CC3 has a really steep learning curve, and I've found that its takes at least twice as long to make a map with CC3 as it does to churn out virtually the same map with FM8. However, those are matters of personal preference. Both are excellent programs in my opinion.

Users of FM8 and CC3 who have been in contact with us and who still are making vector maps in 1990s style seemed to be confused about what FM8 can do on raster level, particularly with overland and city maps. You already can see some samples of village and city scenarios on the covers and the pages of the PDFs that accompany our symbol sets, which have been posted here. We aren't at the point yet where we can release a sample city map, but we have done an alpha signoff on one overland map from the J÷r­gar­ (TM) campaign setting.

Before you read on, two cautions about this map:

1. It shows you some of what FM8 can do in overland raster mapping, but FM8 can in fact do much more than you see in these maps. Because we distribute our maps in open, editable format, we've kept our work relatively simple for game masters who may later want to modify it to suit their own campaigns.

2. Don't view this map at all as being sensible setting design in terms of adhering more or less to the rules of geology and nature in the real world. This really is something of a crazy map that makes little geological sense. Parts of the J÷r­gar­ setting are rooted in mythology, which also describes geological nonsense. The many strange rivers that flow down from the north are replications of some of the 11 great rivers of the world that flow down from Hvergelmir Spring atop the Upphaffjall Mountain in the mythological Eddaic description of the world. Most members of this Cartographers Guild would tell you correctly that this map has "river violations" galore.

The heart of this map also shows the ruins of a great empire that was destroyed in wars in which magic of the highest levels was employed, adding more unnatural elements (i.e. violations). These Fallen Lands are recovering very slowly. Not even magic is more powerful than nature in the J÷r­gar­ setting. But much time will pass before these lands revert to their natural state.

As I've mentioned before, our project group is doing an extensive tutorial on raster mapping with FM8. I had hoped that we'd have it available by year's end, but life in the real world has gotten in the way of that goal. However, I think we'll be able to offer it (free and open, of course) by late January or in February.

The mapped area is 3,900 miles/6,200 km wide and 2,800 miles/4,500 km high. The grids are 700 miles/1,100 km between the lines. Keep in mind that this map is the start of what you can do with FM8 on raster level. It's not an ultimate result by any stretch of the imagination.

This map also is not an end product. As we go into the beta phase, additional changes probably will be made.