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I want to create my own maps for my campaign, but I'm not good at drawing. Are there any tools that could help me?

As I'm not good at drawing pictures myself, I'm looking for a tool that allows you to combine images and tiles with text to make a custom map.

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10 Answers 10

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've had some success with PyMapper and Tiled.

PyMapper is a bit tricky, but is great if you have dungeon tiles and want to pre-determine layout.

Tiled is fantastic for generating arbitrary maps, as you can use any image as a "tile reference" and lay out the map exactly as you like.

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The maker of Hexographer has a new product out for dungeon mapping called Dungeonographer. I like these applications a lot. You can learn it and start making decent maps in an afternoon. You don't need any drawing skills or knowledge of how to use CAD or vector drawing. It is point and click for the most part.

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The Game Crafter has a massive storefront that sells blank hex and grid-maps, as well as allowing you to print a set of dungeon tiles if you're so inclined to use them for Pathfinder-type play. You can find numerous tile sets ready for print (on your computer) or purchase (where they'll print them and ship them to you) that fit pretty much any common or uncommon (but perhaps not rare) scenario.

Importantly, you can also create your own tile set and print it, and/or market it to other people who may find your tile set useful. So while not necessarily on-line, this is a valuable resource for tabletop play.

If you need a mapping program for general grid layout, you could try Gliffy. I'm hoping that Gliffy will be more general-use for mapping and grid/hex-work layouts in general. Plus, it's online (so accessible from any connection), and you can use it for free. It will do architecture layouts and hex-mapping, as well as other various chart manufacturing.

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Huh, I'm curious as to why this was down-graded when it fits the question and supplies a useful resource. –  William M-B Sep 3 '13 at 3:49
    
At the time, this answer was entirely about Gamecrafter, which is not "a tool that allows you to combine images and tiles with text to make a custom map". As it's still largely about that non-sequitur, I'm not inclined to retract the vote. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 3 '13 at 4:03
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If a mere warning against careless self-promotion—not a censure, not a demand to remove it (which is not necessary anyway)—is enough to put you off the site, then I am not convinced that the warning is inappropriate. We are a self-moderated community, and acceptance of that is kinda necessary to participate. Incidentally, I'm unable to figure out how to add a grid or hex overlay in Gliffy, which makes it hard to use for this purpose without a more detailed explanation. That's the kind of oversight I'm warning against in thinking promotion first, community service second. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 3 '13 at 20:59
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On the subject of Gamecrafter, if it is an excellent answer in principle, some description of how would be useful. As it stands, it sounds like it's merely a site where people can purchase pre-made tiles or upload their own, not a site that offers tile creation tools. If it offers tools, then it does in fact answer this question, and mentioning the actual tools would be helpful. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 3 '13 at 21:00
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(Last, I'm only one user. If you don't like my attempt at constructive criticism or think that my opinion is an outlier here, you needn't pay it any attention.) –  SevenSidedDie Sep 3 '13 at 21:06

Masterplan will do everything that you need.

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Hi @Andy, Welcome to RPG.Stackexchange! Would you mind adding a link to Masterplan? –  C. Ross Aug 24 '11 at 12:19
    
+1 for adding link! –  gomad Sep 12 '11 at 17:41

MapTools comes bundled with a variety of nice set-piece tile graphics for things like walls, stone floors, furniture, torches, and so on. My approach is to sketch the rough map on graph paper, scan or photograph the sketch to a JPEG, and then use it as the blueprint for the rest of the map.

MapTools also works as a virtual tabletop. So once a map is ready, I set up my PC as a server, and keep a small laptop behind the screen with the DM view. Another player connects his laptop to a projector and displays the players-only view. Our remote player(s) dial in and see the same map and tokens as everyone else.

You can install several "frameworks" or collections of scripts which will let you import/export DDI power cards, monsters, and character sheets. I don't think I would use a framework if all of my players were at the table, but because one of my players Skypes in, it is incredibly nice for him to be able to roll his attacks with a few clicks instead of having to type "/roll 1d20+8" over and over for a burst attack. A third-party utility called MaPnakotic brings support for iPad and iPhone devices, which is nice when my players want to pass around an iPad to look at the nooks and crannies of a map.

I still use MasterPlan for encounter balancing and plot threads, but for mapping, nothing beats the flexibility of MapTools.

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RpgPlaneMapMaker (free).

It's for Photoshop CS3 or better. Download it in the Dungeon Master section at RpgPlane.WordPress.com.

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I like it ... it's photoshop and i know photoshop. Didn't know of this one! –  ChrisR Feb 24 '11 at 8:19

I use the Masterplan tool.

In addition to mapping, it includes adventure planning, monster customization and combat tracking.

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If you are looking for non-digital methods, we used to make templates out of really thick car stock or cardboard. We would have square ones, arcs, and other shapes that let us draw on a huge sheet of butcher paper that was strewn over the table. We would try to map with fountain pens or other "archaic" tools to try and give the maps a little more feeling of realism. Think about how your party mapper would be in a dungeon, trying to map things out as you walked along, ink dripping everywhere, scratches where you are wrong and little notes. We used to hang up the really awesome adventures on the wall, the butcher paper was pretty durable (and cheap!) so it held up well to spills and other gaming hazzards.

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The easiest tool I have found to create floor plans is Undermountain Games' DTiles: Dungeons. It is not really a mapping tool as such but I have used it as such by down-scaling on the screen and doing screen grabs.

For Example:

alt text

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  • Dundjinni is quite intuitive and gives you good results for encounter maps
  • Campaign Cartographer has a steep learning curve but provides many features. It lets you create anything from overland maps over city maps to dungeon maps.
  • AutoREALM is a free alternative, but I have no experience with it.
  • Hexographer is a tool to easily create hex maps. There is a free version of this, too.
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