Yesterday I picked up a copy of Wonderdraft, a really easy-to-use fantasy map creation tool, and started playing around with it. Why did I buy Wonderdraft instead of just using Campaign Cartographer, which I already own? CC3 is an awesome, and very powerful tool, but has a pretty steep learning curve. In order to keep my motivation for GM prep up (which has been a struggle lately), I need quick results. Unfortunately I have to relearn CC3 almost every time I use it, so a simpler alternative – like Wonderdraft – came in handy.
As I’ve written in another post already, I plan to start a new D&D 5th Edition campaign as soon as the pandemic allows it. In order not to overwhelm me and finally fulfill my dream of creating a D&D world from scratch (and actually play in it), I decided to start small. I don’t need to map out the whole world but I want to have some idea on how the “starting area” is going to look like. I guess something akin to D&D 4th Edition’s Nenthir Vale sounds about right.
After a couple of hours of trial and error, I created this map:
I have to admit I am quite happy with how things turned out, even though the map has a slew of issues. The rivers are definitely a bit “off” and I am still struggling with scale. Because I used small houses to represent settlements the area looks way smaller than it actually is. Readability is another issue. It is OK on a screen, but some of the labels are undecipherable printed out.
These issues aside, this area could work perfectly well as the adventure area for a low-level group. There are a couple of small settlements, a number of possible adventure sites and large areas of wilderness inviting exploration. Perhaps I’ll start again from scratch, keeping the elements I like while fixing the various issues.
How do you approach creating a starting area for your campaign? Do you prefer the inside-out method I plan to use, or so you start big by creating a map of the world? Please share your thoughts below!
I usually prefer inside out as well, even on a smaller scale then this. Beyond the Wall is my go to for that and I would do it together with the players if they are willing.
As always, I start thinking big. At the moment I’m building my own continent using the rules from Forbidden Lands and the setting from Scarred Lands. This also includes numerous homebrew rules (and tables, creatures…). Then I create a starting point (a village, a town) and from there the inside out method applies. Unfortunately, I usually don’t find an end in the sandbox principle and create numerous adventure locations and ideas non-stop.