If there’s one thing I’m hopeless at, it’s map-making. Whether it’s a dungeon, town or entire continent, my efforts end up looking so….. well, wrong. No siree, maps definitely aren’t my forte. Thankfully there’s no shortage of online help for my particular afflication, and the latest issue of the ever lovely Roleplaying Tips Weekly has pointed me at another one.
No prizes for guessing what the Roleplaying City Map Generator does, but what it does, it does pretty well in a charmingly appealing old-school kind of way. It’s actually something of a misnomer as it’ll generate anything from a Hamlet right up to a modern US city in glorious vector-graphic-ovision, stopping along at Viking villages, Wild West towns and pretty much anything else (if you tweak the setting enough) en route. Clever, it is. It’s a Windows application, though as those things can be made to run on Linux and Mac OS too with little effort, that’s cool by me. Oh, the irony of Windows binaries becoming a universal app format, eh?
Here’s a quick example I like to call Verbonc, the Faded City. There’s nothing like munging a classic RPG location name to get the juices flowing :D .
This was generated using the Small Town with Incomplete City Wall Around City Centre template, which gives it that rather nice “once was mighty, now fallen” feel that would be perfect for any 4e Points of Light setting. The Generator only outputs .bmp images (see? old school!), but that’s easily fixed by loading into pretty much any paint program (I used MS Paint in this case, for speed) and saving as a .jpg, shrinking the images from around 4Mb to a mere 234k. This is a 1200 pixel square image (click to see full size), but the app will also generate a tileable set of images if you prefer your maps really, really big. That’s perfect if you want to export the map and add place names, etc.
What’s good about the generator is that it does exactly what it needs to do; there’s plenty of twiddly dials and settings to get just the right appearance, and the result is a usable map of your settlement. The output is good enough to use as-is, or it can be turned into something beautiful in GIMP or Photoshop if you’ve the time, talent and patience. There’s a few rough edges (menu is, annoyingly, spelt incorrectly – but English isn’t the author’s native language – and the City Name Generator needs work), but overall it’s perfect for a map making numpty like me.