Advice needed: Map making for RPGs

Moving past Paint.net and Gimp

I need some help.

Okay, maybe that’s both vague and obvious… let’s try again.

I need some advice on a good map making product I can quickly and easily use and deploy images from for the Darkwood role playing setting I’m planning on running over Google+.

Specifically I need something that can turn a concept map like this (which I hastily threw together with a simple image manipulation tool):

Darkwood overview map

Darkwood overview map

Into something a bit more professional and pretty.

Now I know if I took some more time and tried harder, I’ve demonstrated in the past that I’m quite capable and believe I could turn this into a nice parchment looking map of yore, but I’m getting to the point I don’t want to take the time to do so.

EDIT: I took the time to do just that. I like it, and it works for the setting, but as a functional map I’m worried it just doesn’t do the trick.

Darkwood Map

Darkwood Map

I also realize I could just put pencil to paper and freehand something. And to be fair, that’s my default backup plan which I’m not wholly opposed to using, but if something simple to use exists, why not give a new product a try?

I’d prefer whatever product(s) recommended be able to take me from large scale maps of this nature down to a town level.

What’s more, ideally I’d like to be able to display the town level maps in isometric view.

Finally, huge bonus points if your suggestion is free or has a free demo with full features.

Anyone have any ideas?

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4 Responses to Advice needed: Map making for RPGs

  1. Kory says:

    Hello:
    I have used NBO software for about nine years now. The support for Fractal Mapper by the company is great. I have used their software to make maps that I have published and use for my company’s game world. I have some of the political maps of our game world in the gallery at http://www.alquennas.com and click on gallery, choose Bryagel and look at the political map. It will do town maps to entire planets and everything in between. There is an advanced 3d rendering of the planet as well. It is also a good price.

    Also you might want to find an old atlas at a used book store.

  2. Kevin says:

    I took a look at the NBO Software site and like what I see. I’ll probably look into downloading it and giving it a trial spin.

    The atlas idea is a great one I hadn’t considered… good thought that.

  3. Kevin says:

    I should point out that the altered map took over a couple hours to get right – and it just seems to me that’s time wasted if the map doesn’t work functionally.
    What I’d really like is something that can set up both regions and isometric town views without having to spend hours getting it right.

  4. Jan says:

    I use Hexographer, especially for settlement, regional or state maps. It works quite well and has an okay usability (which is more than okay concerning that I never met a tool that has a better usability). I can definitely recommend it, though I’m not quite sure what your requirements are. You will get a hex map in the end, but if you export it without the hex border lines, it looks quite good. http://www.hexographer.com/

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