Pelgrane Press, ProFantasy Software‘s sister company makes tabletop RPGs, and as such has a burning need for cartographic resources, so of course we take advantage of the connection. We’ve collaborated on a number of projects in a number of styles – styles we’ve then bought to our users. The latest such colloboration will be The Dracula Dossier – a Kickstarted project featuring spies versus the greatest vampire of the them all, for which Ralf will be creating maps. Back it here.
So, here are some of the other projects we’ve worked on together.
Created by Pär Lindström and designed for the the Pelgrane Trail of Cthulhu adventure collection Mythos Expedition the style lets you depict the itinerary and visited locations for journeys or expeditions as would be found in horror or pulp adventures.
The September issue of the Annual 2012 contains a new overland style based on the gorgeous world map of the upcoming role-playing game 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. The style was developed by Lee Moyer.
The December Annual 2011 brings you a companion style to April’s 1930s floorplans: city maps in the same Baedeker travel guide style for your modern horror and pulp-style games. Pelgrane Press used this in Arkham Detective Tales Extended Edition.“>
Ralf Schemmann recreated the 13th Age map in the Mike Schley overland style included with the forthcoming cc3+.
Pär Lindström created a city map and floorplans for the 13th Age city adventure Shadows of Eldolan using CC3, City Designer 3 and the Symbol Set 4: Dungeons of Schley style. He did some post work on the city map in Photoshop
[Cross-posted from the author's blog. Benjamin contacted us about writing an article on using CC3 and creating a map for his book "Dragon Choir". We are more than happy to share it here for your enjoyment.]
A Special Kind of Art
Maps are a special kind of art. Their beauty is often passed over for their function, but every map possesses a rare kind of potential, something magical.
Whoa there! Magical?
You must think I’m just a typical fantasy writer, banging on about magic again. Well that might be part of it, but let me explain the rest.
Ever since I was a kid, looking at a map would send jingling bells up my spine. From mud maps on a scrap of paper to detailed foldouts in National Geographic, I couldn’t resist them. My desk drawer was stuffed with piles of hand-sketched maps, documenting secret hideouts, traps and treasure. I even had a map of my hometown sticky-taped to my wall with annotations showing the locations of my friends’ houses.
My favourite fantasy books all began with a map and followed with a story that delivered the promise hidden in the landscape. Dungeons and Dragons lured me in to play the magic upon the map, and with the digital age came an evolving boon of sci-fi and fantasy computer games. Even today, at the bleeding edge of gaming, the most immersive and well-loved games revolve around a map. The map is our foundation; it is the lynchpin that connects us to the magic of possibility.
No matter how large or detailed the map, I examine the edges and wonder what exists outside its jurisdiction. Maps trigger a mental stretching that teases out the possible from the known. There is always more to a map than what you see; change the scale, change the perspective, and change your world.
Sticks and Sand
I contend that maps are a link to our deepest psychological urges of curiosity and territory. They are an embodiment of demarcation, inherently political in how they are depicted and interpreted. Once our primal drive involved patrolling the clan patch and scent marking trees as we went (I know some people who still do), wondering what lay on the other side of a river or ravine. We evolved from sticks drawing lines in the sand, to quill and ink, charting ever further across oceans to exotic lands, always pushing the boundaries of existing maps (often to the detriment of those in discovered territories). Today the great unknowns of nautical and geographic exploration expand further still with astronomical pioneers.
Maps are Magic
The humble map is the device that mentally transports us and inserts us in a physical terrain tinted with cultural heritage, lined with political borders and soaked in context. Maps weave a world and compress it into an image.
That, for me, is something magical.
Political Correctness and Cartography
For my debut novel, Dragon Choir, I wanted to create a map that spoke with the politics of the fictional mapmaker. My map establishes the bigoted perspective of a colonising power. Maps throughout history have been tools of propaganda, yet I have noticed that the majority of maps for fantasy fiction are devoid of political or cultural imprints. Fantasy maps can add extra punch to a narrative if they have a contextual point of view. Why be politically neutral if the plot of your book is politically contentious? Political borders are as fluid as the opinion of the powers that commission the maps.
Below is the map I created using ProFantasy software, Campaign Cartographer 3 (CC3). Why did I use this software? The simple answer is that it is the best mapmaking software on the market. The ProFantasy website and community is jam full of support and ideas. The CAD software is powerful and upgradable, allowing an amateur cartographer like me to produce a professional looking map like this.
When the days stretch and the land bakes, the dragons will again scour the sky. A city of bones and a city of gold plot against each other while the rebellion gathers strength. A young man is caught in a tempest of intrigue that will forge a new era of freedom, or forever scar the land. He must discover the secret of the Dragon Choir to save his father and end the stranglehold of an unforgiven nation.
The next version of Campaign Cartographer, CC3+, is in late beta. We were hoping for a release this year, but that’s looking less likely. You can read about the new version here.
We’ve got two show-stopping bugs to deal with before we release the CC3+ beta to a wider audience.
Who is this audience?
We released Character Artist 3 this time last year, and until 1st January 2014 offered free CC3+ upgrade protection to purchasers. Character Artist 3 users will be able to download the beta version and give us feedback as soon as our two big bugs are dealt with. It’s impossible for us to tell when that will be, but I hope it’s in the next couple of weeks. If you are in this category, we’ll send you an email, and update your registration page with the new version. When the new version is finished, you’ll get a new update.
When this wider beta test is completed, we’ll release the upgrade, but we absolutely don’t want to release it until we are sure it’s solid on all operating systems.
It’s been a while since we posted a round up of user maps, mostly because we are very busy with CC3+ and had the summer’s convention schedule to take care of. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been great maps posted to the forum – quite to the contrary as you can see below.
You can always rely on Grimur to take everyone’s breath away with his gorgeous maps, like this one using the Herwin Wielink overland style.
Continue reading »
We’ve started a new series of short video tutorials for Campaign Cartographer 3 and its add-ons. These are meant to be small tidbits of useful information we (or anyone else for that matter) can point to when asked about the tool or method in question. Check out the first two:
Drawing a semi-circular room in Dungeon Designer 3:
DD3 Semi-circular Room from ProFantasy Software on Vimeo.
Editing a landmass drawn with the default CC3 tool:
CC3 Editing Landmasses from ProFantasy Software on Vimeo.
As this is a new series for us, we’d like your feedback and your suggestions on what topics to cover. Post them here in the comments or over on the community forum.
You can subscribe to us on Vimeo or use our YouTube channel to follow these videos.
We’ve recently stumbled across this wonderful little video tutorial by Jason Hibdon (Eugee on the community forum). Jason creates a quick battle map for a virtual tabletop game, using the free “Jon Roberts Dungeon” style from the Cartographer’s Annual.
You can download the free Annual issue here.
We’ve been following Alyssa Faden’s wonderful map-making work on the internet and have extremely please to now see her great artwork in the Annual 2014. With the November issue, you can create overland maps in Alyssa’s style, including her signature floating clouds.
The Annual issue includes more than 250 symbols, 16 bitmap fills, 40 drawing tools, as well as a 6-page mapping guide to follow along.
As a subscriber you can download the November Annual issue from your registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2014, you can do so here.
The “Internationale Spieletage 2014” in Essen (short version: Spiel’14), the second big convention of the year (after GenCon) is over and we had another great and busy show. Many new CC3 users were added to the fold, and I talked to a lot of users, answering specific questions, helping with technical problems and demoing new stuff (yes, including CC3+). Here’s the report I prepared for Simon and Mark on my return.
I arrived at Spiel on Wednesday as usual, and picked up Gordon on the way to help me set up. Unfortunately the tables I had ordered from the Messe where not there - apparently some other exhibitor nicked them for their own booth - so we had to leave part for Thursday morning when the replacement furniture was there. Not a big problem, we were quickly done before the show opened.
I wasn't too thrilled with our booth placement, as we were in the middle of mostly LARP booths, and the big booth across the aisle blocked part of the view unto our place. I'll try to talk to Merz Verlag next year to get us more among the pen & paper rpgs again. Those are pretty scattered around the hall though, with lots of space taken up by food & drink places. The same hall layout as last year was in use, with some moving around.
But my concerns seemed unfounded, as both Thursday and Friday proved pretty busy, both being busier than the respective days in 2013 by a good margin. Saturday was weird. We had a few very early customers and then nothing at all until well into the afternoon, when it suddenly picked up again. Overall it came out to slightly less than last year. Sunday was the quietest day, as is often the case, but we also did quite a bit better than last year. We had a big train drivers' strike on the weekend, which led to a shortage of parking space around the halls on Saturday. This probably had an effect on attendance, but I can't really say how much. Saturday did seem somewhat less crowded than previous years.
The vast majority of customers were new to CC3. More than 80% of sales included a CC3, and only very few of those were people upgrading from CC2 Pro. The Mike Schley/13th Age sample map I had on the table drew quite a lot of positive remarks and we told a lot of people about the upcoming CC3+.
The Free Annual with every order certainly provided the impetus for some people to buy at the show. As you can see from the numbers, Annual Vol 6 was a very popular choice - because of the Herwin Wielink isometric dungeon style. The big example map of that on the wall drew a lot of interest and it was nice to be able to tell people "buy CC3 and choose this as your free Annual" and you're set to draw this.
The Starter Bundle remains very popular, with some people swapping in a Character Artist or Cosmographer for either City or Dungeon Designer. Some people went for the 4 for 3 bundle from there, basically getting another product for a few more Euros.
I demoed quite a bit, mostly CC3, DD3, CD3, CC3+, Cosmographer, Character Artist, FT3 and Perspectives, in about this order of demand. Comments from existing users were mostly favourable, with only a very few "it is too difficult" concerns.
Gordon and Carsten were a great help as always. I even had a third helper on Saturday (Michael), but since it was a bit quieter than usual, that wasn't really necessary at all. Take down on Sunday evening was done in lightning speed. As the exhibitor parking was right below the halls, we just carried the stuff to the car. I was out of the halls and away 20 minutes after closing time.
Gordon is ready for the show.
View down the aisle.
A great display at the Dropzone booth.
Cute visitor to the booth.
Carsten and Michael wait for customers.
Our youngest helper takes a nap beneath the tables.
The Galeria with kids play areas and concessions.
This month’s symbol pack is brought to you by fantasy cartographer TJ Vandel, also known as Schwarzkreuz on the Cartographer’s Guild forum.
We loved his idea of creating a dungeon symbol set specifically for dwarves. The style works on its own, but can also be used as an extension to the Dungeons of Schley style from Symbol Set 4, as TJ has carefully crafted the symbols and textures to mesh with Mike Schley’s wonderful artwork, without sacrificing his own touch. 190 symbols, 29 textures and more than 50 new drawing tools allow your dig deep into the mountains and fortify your halls in fine dwarven style!
As a subscriber you can download the September Annual issue from your registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2014, you can do so here.
While we are feverishly working to get CC3+ out to you, here’s another example of Mike Schley‘s overland style that is included in that next version of Campaign Cartographer. We created the map in the process of testing , and while we won’t give a fixed release date, let’s just say we’re getting very close now.
The map is a redo of Lee Moyer‘s gorgeous map for Pelgrane Press’ and Fire Opal Media’s 13th Age game. You can download the original here. The map shows the Dragon Empire, the game’s broadly defined, high-magic fantasy setting of a powerful human empire beset by troubles on all sides.
Click on the map to download a hi-res version suitable for printing.