Wednesday 15 March 2023

Isometric Maps

GM Achievement Unlocked: I create Isometric Maps

I have been having Joy Out Of Measure with two tools for making maps. Today, though, was a massive step forward.

When my friends and I first started with Roll20, my first thought was: “This is totally optimized for combat. Number-crunching combat. Guess all that role-playing and talking and writing is put on hold for a while.” 

My second thought was: “This is going to totally drain all my free time as a GM, creating all these high-quality maps. I do not want to go broke trying to find and buy good quality digital maps.”

Thankfully, two sites have saved my bacon and my wallet. They’re also rather fun to use.

I’ve done more with Inkarnate at first. I poked around it a bit, and thought, “This is a very good bargain for a year of Pro level access.” I’ve made both regional maps and Roll20 battle maps. I even had success creating the catamaran that the players in my campaign have just boarded and will be on for a session or four.

My players have to date not seen all the maps I’ve created. They are a very intelligent bunch, so I’m not going to give them here additional hints of undiscovered locations. I will show some maps of places they have already encountered or are not likely to reach.

This is my first cut at a catamaran.

This is the first bar I put together, run by a dwarf and made of stone. It’s called the Solid Favour.

I also am very thankful to have Dungeon Scrawl. Dungeon Scrawl makes some things quick and delightful to do. Other tasks are nearly impossible: I spent 45 minutes trying to make the white square in the bottom left room red. I eventually did it, but decided I’d just annotate the square differently next time, or mark it red in Roll20, or something else.

The truly outstanding achievement I unlocked today, though, is something I have always thought was beyond my skill set:

Isometric maps.

I remember looking at Ravenloft in 1983 (or, rather, peeking over the shoulder at the GM’s copy in 1984) and being stunned by the utility of the isometric maps that module had. I thought, “Wow! Those must be really hard to make!”

My pride at creating my first isometric map in Dungeon Scrawl fills my house today. I normally make a throwaway map when I try something new. Today, though, my first cut at an isometric map was for a setting my players will ideally reach. That first cut worked so well, I’m keeping it hidden. I have created a second isometric map to prove I can actually do it to anyone reading this blog. This map is a hasty slap dash born of memories of the shopping malls in the suburbs near where I grew up.

My map making skills are only going to improve. I am very thankful to have found these tools, and to have an opportunity to build with them.

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