World in Progress

beige analog compass

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:

The “Vale”

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!