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Thread: Mapping a forest.

  1. #1
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Default Mapping a forest.

    Arghh.

    My Darling players have decided that they need more gold and equipment before taking on the adventures I had planned.

    One of the characters died last week, she was replaced by a wild elf ranger with a background in magical heb lore. So now the whole party is off in search of rare and valuable herbs.

    The place they are headed is a 500 mile thus-far-uncharted forest. I have made an attempt at mapping a small section. The whole place is trees so I figure there is no point in a whole bunch of forest symbols. I have included contour lines and a river as well as colour representation of moderate and dense forest, plus some forest trails. The triangles represent areas where enchanted herbs may be found. The coloured tree symbols are areas dreamvines, hangman trees, hookwood trees and carnivorous bloodbloom trees.

    I will throw in some ruins and sinkholes to cave areas at some stage too, so I can have some more controlled scenarios in coming weeks. But for now I am stuck with trying to map miles of forest.

    If anyone has a better or more interesting way to deal with this; let me know.
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    Publisher Mark Oliva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aval Penworth View Post
    I have made an attempt at mapping a small section. The whole place is trees so I figure there is no point in a whole bunch of forest symbols
    I only can guess which software you're using, so I don't know what your possibilities are. However, I would use forest fills or textures, certainly not a "bunch of forest symbols," but also not plain colors either. See the very quick and very dirty sample above. However, such things are matters of tastes and preferences rather than good or bad.
    Mark Oliva
    The Vintyri (TM) Project

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    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response. And for taking the time to make a sample.

    I used CC3, but I could use photoshop too. So how would you depict forest trails and elevation?

    If you were publishing an adventure including a 100 mile forest trek with hunting and animal trails, elevation changes, hidden caves, ruins, important flora and fungi, creatures territories, enchanted glades and so on ...how would you present the map?

    Would you label everything right on the map, have a symbol key, or some other method?
    Last edited by Aval Penworth; 03-22-2010 at 09:28 AM.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    I think for GM-mapping purposes, your map works fine. Its easy to see where things are located and elevation and so forth shows nicely. The map Mark presents is more like a "teaser" for the players - an overview from a tower or hill outside the forest. Once they enter - they should map them selves and you should keep track of where they actually are going instead of where they think they are going *lol* - although Im guessing with a wild elf ranger - they probably won't have problems finding their way
    regs tilt
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  5. #5
    Publisher Mark Oliva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aval Penworth View Post
    So how would you depict forest trails and elevation?
    I don't remember all of the parallel operations in CC3 anymore and I don't work with PhotoShop, but I'm pretty certain that the method I would use with FM8 will work, at least to a certain extent, in CC3. I would make the trails as a filled fractal polygon with a mud type fill.

    However, I would keep all parts of the trails that aren't visible to the players invisible on any map that they see. The same would go for all other elements of the map that show things that the PCs wouldn't know.

    I would represent the changes in elevation by varying the darkness or lightness of my textures. If I wanted the dotted lines and numbers to be on the map, I would use the CC3 elevation tool, as you probably did, and make the dotted lines and numbers white.

    If you were publishing an adventure including a 100 mile forest trek with hunting and animal trails, elevation changes, hidden caves, ruins, important flora and fungi, creatures territories, enchanted glades and so on ...how would you present the map?

    Would you label everything right on the map, have a symbol key, or some other method?
    Again, I would keep everything that the players can't see on an invisible layer (or perhaps sheet in CC3). Whether I would label on the map or only use number locations would depend upon how crowded the map was getting. I prefer direct labeling, but only to the extent that it doesn't clutter the map.

    Our project group prefers numbering locations and offering a number key within the adventure text. We seldom put keys on our maps. In addition, however, to the extent that numbered sites are big enough to make doing so reasonable, we would try to use graphical textures that represents those sites, but these too would be only on the layers (sheets) visible to the game master.

    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    The map Mark presents is more like a "teaser" for the players - an overview from a tower or hill outside the forest. Once they enter - they should map them selves and you should keep track of where they actually are going instead of where they think they are going) <SNIPPED>
    There are different philosophies on this. Tilt certainly represents a philosophy with a respectable RPG following. In fact, it's the Gary Gygax/Dave Arneson philosophy from original TSR D&D. The three of us in the Vintyri Project don't agree with it. We don't want to put a burden of mapping upon players (on behalf of their PCs) unless it's something the players want to do. The old Gygax make-em-map-it rule tends quite often to slow down a group and bog down an adventure rather than keeping it on a brisk and hopefully exciting level.

    A decent PC group usually will gather some information about their destination and will get a visual glimpse of it when it enters an area. My sample map isn't intended as a teaser, as such. It's intended to give the players a more realistic look at what their PCs are seeing. Of course, my PC version of your map would be a crop of the entryway, not a view of all hundred miles, unless, of course, the PCs already had learned in advance what the geographical dimension and boundaries of the forest are.

    I have no problem with people getting lost going into something, but usually I'm not very interested in withholding map information that they already have learned when they're on the way out, unless, of course, the question of getting lost then is an element of the adventure.

    I run my campaign with a digital projector and a screen 2 meters (more than 6 feet) wide. The map or dungeon plan always is on the screen. When the PCs see something that has been hidden on the map up to that point, it goes from hidden to visible. I seldom hide anything again that the PCs already have seen. That usually would do nothing to improve the adventure, even though they have a clear map of the way out on the screen.
    Mark Oliva
    The Vintyri (TM) Project

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    yep.. very respectable.. thats me *lol*... jokes aside I see what Mark is saying. When we play we ususally use a mix of "styles" to our mapping. Some mapping is done the "old-school" way, with the players drawing a map as they go along - this we only use in dungeons - and not nescecarrily in all dungeons. Sometimes we map with the mapping equivalent of stick figures = a stick is a corridor, a square a room and so forth. Sometimes we don't map at all just going with the flow if the DM says theres no need. Often everything is handled by 1 inch combat maps.
    When we go outdoors, the maps are usually just displayed to the players, at least the overview maps. If a forrest were a challenge like a dungeon = the players had to find the "treasure" in there... we would probably either do some semblance of a map or just play it out in the challenge system in D&D4e - that works nicely. So a row of challenges could easily let the players wander around the forest looking for the herbs (nature challenge), and avoiding (or not) the monsters ... and having them make some rolls to not get lost in there. Unless it was a magic forest however - getting permanently lost would require abyssal skills in the group ... "moss, how the beep should moss be helping me find my way out.. should I eat it?" *lol*
    regs tilt
    :: My art on Deviant Art :: My mapping blog tilts fantasy maps :: My work Catapult - Perry & Gehrke - EasyTruckIT ::
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  7. #7
    Guild Adept loogie's Avatar
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    Depending on what photoshop you have, there are a myriad of things you can do with brushes... i recently found a sweet little tutorial on making mts that could help you out with drawing elevations.. takes some getting used to, but if you limit the height, and make the slope less strong, it should depict gradual inclines fairly well... also, for forests, drawing dozens of trees may be in fact a good start, and not entirely too hard if you use a brush that radomizes a tree sample, make it spread wide in both directions with plenty of space in between, use a few different brushes with different trees for variety, and you got yourself a bit more of a looker... as stated above your first map was quite a good one for GM lookup purposes, but if you wanted something for users to be able to see as a battlemap or somesuch a bit more eye candy can help illustrate the picture for them.
    Photoshop, CC3, ArcGIS, Bryce, Illustrator, Maptool

  8. #8
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    yep.. very respectable.. thats me *lol*... jokes aside I see what Mark is saying. When we play we ususally use a mix of "styles" to our mapping. Some mapping is done the "old-school" way, with the players drawing a map as they go along - this we only use in dungeons - and not nescecarrily in all dungeons. Sometimes we map with the mapping equivalent of stick figures = a stick is a corridor, a square a room and so forth. Sometimes we don't map at all just going with the flow if the DM says theres no need. Often everything is handled by 1 inch combat maps.
    When we go outdoors, the maps are usually just displayed to the players, at least the overview maps. If a forrest were a challenge like a dungeon = the players had to find the "treasure" in there... we would probably either do some semblance of a map or just play it out in the challenge system in D&D4e - that works nicely. So a row of challenges could easily let the players wander around the forest looking for the herbs (nature challenge), and avoiding (or not) the monsters ... and having them make some rolls to not get lost in there. Unless it was a magic forest however - getting permanently lost would require abyssal skills in the group ... "moss, how the beep should moss be helping me find my way out.. should I eat it?" *lol*
    I am running a "House Rules" version Rolemaster. So this forest adventure will have plenty of opportunities to use skills. I think that characters with region lore skills can have a rough personal "mind's eye" map of the area but I don't like the idea of plonking down a fully detailed map, unless the characters actually have the map, no matter what their skills might be. So I think I will make the two characters with some knowledge of the area maps that reflect their personal understanding of the place.
    Last edited by Aval Penworth; 04-04-2010 at 02:21 AM.
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  9. #9
    Community Leader Gracious Donor mearrin69's Avatar
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    As a DM I think I'd want the map presented by the OP. It's nice and clear and contains potential encounter areas and "avenues of advance" plainly marked.

    If I was making a map to hand out to my players, however, I would skip any kind of realistic satellite view and do a hand-drawn kind of thing with the things they might reasonably know about marked on there. Maybe it'd look like the Tolkien map of Mirkwood in The Hobbit. If you've got knowledge checks in Rolemaster (I bet you do...lol) you might give them the map and then let them ask around/remember stuff and fill it in as notes on the map. That gives them a map that can be discussed in-character...and a nice prop besides.

    Just some thoughts.
    M

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