Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Map for my Current DnD Campaign

So maybe two months ago, when we all realized that lockdown wasn't just going to last a couple of weeks, a number of us agreed to try playing a Dungeons and Dragons game over Zoom with myself as the DM and a party of five PCs. I didn't really have anything readily on hand, but I had recently bought the 5E adventure compilation, Tales From the Yawning Portal, which has a bunch of adventures. The Sunless Citadel is the first adventure in the book, a 5E rebuild of a 3rd edition adventure, and it is designed to take 4-6 characters from 1st to 3rd level. Works for me!

We jumped in right away with no idea really of the world around us. I can discuss the adventure another time (and you can do a search for the adventure to find a million walkthroughs and reviews), but while it was going on, I decided to cobble together a campaign setting that was fairly limited in scope, but provided a bunch of different adventuring opportunities. In the past, I'd either drawn out my campaign maps by hand, in Google Draw (really, it works!) or I'd used Campaign Cartographer, which is a great program, but the learning curve, at least for me, is somewhat steep. As I just didn't have the energy for re-learning the program and spending endless hours carefully crafting the map, I poked around the internet a little and found a web-based program called Inkarnate (click here to see). There's a limited-options free plan and a paid yearly plan with a lot more content, so I just went for the paid plan, as it wasn't that expensive.

Inkarnate isn't perfect, but for my needs, it's good enough. Lots of good map pieces to drop all over, and the learning curve isn't much at all. I figured out everything there was to figure out in an hour or so of fiddling around, and then got down to business. Here is the map I put together with maybe 6-7 hours of work, and about a third of that was me micro-managing the positions of hills and trees and such so it looked cleaner.

Click on the image, then right-click on it again and select "View Image" for a larger version.

One of my favorite campaign settings of all time is Thunder Rift, a limited-scope setting for the Basic Dungeons and Dragons game, circa 1992-ish. It was designed to be a drop-in setting you could either place into an existing campaign world like Mystara, or a region of your own homebrew setting. It had three towns and various regions the PCs could explore, a nice little isolated sandbox setting that was small enough for people to focus on without an entire book's worth of background material, but large enough that you could have many, many sessions of gameplay and not have to leave the valley.

So, that was the vibe I was going for in building the Canton of Lanark map. The scope of the map is such that a character could probably walk the King's Road from one end to the other in a week, so many of these locations are only a day or two away from some kind of safe haven, but enough things are there which might not necessarily be threats, just "places for adventure". I figure there's enough territory here to get players up into the 10-11 level range, before they'd just be so powerful that there's nothing in the region so big they couldn't walk over it. But I think that's fine - I rarely ever think of a DnD game going so long that I need to worry about double-digit campaign levels!

That's it for today, folks. I really like Inkarnate and for the price and what it offers, I'm happy with what I got. I want to play around with some of the other features for other maps, and if I do, I'll post them here. If I adjust / recycle this map for something else, I'll rename Oakhurst and the Sunless Citadel area, but other than that, nothing on that map is proprietary to DnD or any other property.

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