I love making maps but it’s taken me a while to get to a point where I found tools that work for me to design and create maps quickly and easily. Here some of the resources I’ve used to create maps. One of my goals in finding software is finding free software. I know there is some powerful software out there, but I just can’t yet justify spending money on map making software.
Auto – Generating Maps
Gozzy’s Random Dungeon Generator: A really fun and easy to use random dungeon generator. He also has a ton of other resources, including a random city generator, a random wilderness generator and others. The graphics are great too! If I had a projector, I would use this all the time to quickly generate maps. As it is, I tend to draw out or describe maps and I DM, so I don’t need pretty graphics as much.
Donjon Random Dungeon Generator: I love this one, as it creates maps that look a lot like the maps in old D&D modules. Plus, they are much easier on a printer to print out. Plus, he has a ton of great other random generators, including treasure, d20 and 4E encounters, and stuff for Sci-Fi. I tend to use some of these random treasures to inspire me as I’m not always the best about handing out treasure.
The Isomage House: Tons of great resources, including a wilderness hex map generator, a cave generator, a traveler sector map generator and a lot of resources for GIMP as well.
Dave’s Mapper: A really cool dungeon map generator that takes geomorphs created by other people and puts them together into a random map. I had fun playing around with this. It can make some really cool/strange maps. Thanks to Dyson Logos for the recommendation!
Map Making Software
Dungeonographer: This is a pretty solid piece of software, with a free online version. It just updated to include the classic “blue line” maps of early D&D. Inkwell Ideas also are the people behind Hexographer, software that you can use to create Hex Maps. While power pieces of software, these programs have a bit too much to them for my taste. I need something that I can quickly create maps, and these have some fiddly bits to them that slow me down. I will admit I have some experience with graphic design software, so that might explain why I ended up using google docs and GIMP for most of my maps.
QuickHex: Creates hex paper on demand. There are a lot of tools like this, but I like this one because it allows you to create a hex paper with a transparent background, so you can superimpose it on another map. Very cool!
Ye Olde Map Maker: A pretty neat little tool and website that lets you create old style maps by dragging tiles onto your map. Lots of examples for you to look at.
Graphic Software that can be used to make maps
GIMP: Free graphic design software for Macs, Windows and Linux. Often times, this is more powerful than I need. Here’s a great walkthrough on creating dungeon maps with it though, that I found helpful. One thing I would love to put together is a set of patterns for building maps. I’m not an expert at the GIMP backend, so this might be something that will take a while before I put it together. Here’s a link to a quick tutorial to creating interactive maps on GIMP.
Google Docs: This is my person favorite for creating overworld maps. It’s easy to use, and has a lot of good shapes already created. Check out a sample of Fallow’s Vale map, and here is a link to the google doc version of the map. It’s nothing too fancy, but honestly, I need it to be quick, easy and legible over fancy most of the time.
RPG Characters Blog: Periodically this blogger posts maps that he encourages people to use to create adventures. The maps themselves have a very cool old school feel.
First 4 Dungeon Tiles Sets: While the Wizards Dungeon Tile Mapper doesn’t appear to work anymore, you can download the mapper and then have images of the first 4 dungeon tile sets.
How to make Crosshatches for Maps: A great tutorial to make a map with crosshatching.
Your Dungeon is Rock has a couple of interesting links to random mapping resources.