Mapping the Dungeon


It's been a long time since I've made a dungeon map for D&D or similar games. I suspect my copy of Campaign Cartographer was rather sleepy when it got taken for a spin for a dungeon map.

I love maps - which in gaming can be a blessing and a curse. I was the kid who tried his hand at making his own track maps of the New York City subway (and making suggestions to my grandfather as to places we should go based on that).

So I like maps as entities unto themselves as well as serving as tools - whether in real life or in gaming. In the living room I'm writing this I can see hanging on the walls a 1970's New York City subway map and a map of Colonial-era New York City. When I was a teenager there was a map of the World of Greyhawk hanging up on my wall.

That said... my own artistic ability is crap. I've seen some absolutely gorgeous hand-drawn maps that absolutely fill me with envy. I've even supported some cartographers via Patreon. Over the past few years I've played a lot of Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars, and superhero gaming. These settings all lend themselves well to making use of pre-made maps or rough sketches made on the fly. For the AS&SH campaign I'm readying, I'm planning a mix of my own adventures as well as AS&SH/early D&D adventures. For my own adventures, I realized I wanted to make my own maps. That's what finally made me break out ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer again.

I reviewed CC3 several years ago and most of my comments are largely still valid for its newest version, CC3+. It's got a rough learning curve, being essentially a CAD program. But you can do some pretty amazing things with it. I'm a decent user at it - there are people who can make their own symbol sets and styles - I'm nowhere near that level of skill. But I can make a pretty decent map with the various styles that ProFantasy provides. I subscribe to their annuals - every month they release an "issue" which typically contains some new map style. At the end of the year all the issues are bundled into a single package. The map shown at the top of this post is from their January 2015 issue, a style for OSR-style dungeons. After much mulling over I decided this was the style I wanted to go with for my dungeon. It's a nice mix of style and functionality. One of the dangers I find when prepping maps for my own adventures is the perfect can too often become the enemy of the good. I'm rather pleased with the way this one is coming out. I'll soon be ready to stock the dungeon with zombies, orcs, and brigands. And treasure too, I suppose...

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