Session Zero Mapping

We recently did a session zero for our forthcoming OSE campaign set in a fantasy world loosely inspired by the feel of Colonial America, the heroes are the first of a group of pioneers who have arrived on boats in a recently revealed landmass once shrouded in great glaciers. As they adventure they’ll also be trying to help their village prosper and survive.

I love a session zero because it gives everyone a chance to get involved and invest in creating the campaign setting, of course you need to make sure your players are comfortable with that, but I’ve gamed with all of our players before and was sure they’d be up for it. Taking a tip out of the Perilous Wilds (a book designed for Dungeon World) I basically laid down the coastline, a river and the location of their village, we then alternated between us adding in areas and creating rumours related to them.

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Wednesday Wisdom – Top 10 Tips for Amateur Map Makers

It’s Wednesday, halfway through the week, myself and Hannah are talking amateur map making and giving some handy tips on how to get the most out of it.

In this episode Hannah and myself often ten tips for making your online gaming experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Check out these excellent map makers (and associated collections) online:

CBP Worldbuilding #3: Water Sources

This is the third post using Angeline Trevina’s book 30 Days of Worldbuilding (available on Amazon), the book provides 30 prompts/exercises to help guide world-building.

One of our readers Alistair suggested in the comments of a previous post that perhaps some of the swampland could take the form of bayous, have to admit I didn’t know much about bayous (beyond pop-culture references) so I had a look at a few websites including the following:

Thanks for the suggestion Alistair, I’m a big fan of the OSR module/sandbox Fever Swamp and love the idea of the bayous; that dovetailed nicely with the third prompt in the 30 Days of Worldbuilding book which is to draw the main bodies of water on your map.

I’ve already done a bit of this but decided to expand it a bit, in addition to adding some more water sources I’ve stuck some crude labels on and have added a couple of forests.

Additional water sources, some labels and forests added.

CBP Worldbuilding #2.5: Drawing more map

This is the third post using Angeline Trevina’s book 30 Days of Worldbuilding (available on Amazon), the book provides 30 prompts/exercises to help guide world-building.

This is an extension of the prompt Day 2: Draw Your Map where the author advises us to draw a map to prevent us getting lost in our world.

My initial post creating the outline of the map can be found here.


It’s been a while since I’ve looked at my Colonial Blackpowder idea for a setting.

Whilst drawing these maps I’ve been looking at a quote describing colonial America:

Colonial America was a vast land settled by Spanish, Dutch, French and English immigrants who established colonies such as St. Augustine, Florida; Jamestown, Virginia; and Roanoke in present-day North Carolina.

https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america

I really love this idea of a vast land where everything, including the terrain is writ-large, primeval and untamed by the hands of man; so I’ve been looking at some maps of America for inspiration when it comes to the placement of larger terrain features (mountains, forests, rivers and swamps).

Below is the map I currently have, although this may change in the future:

Current map for CBP setting

In the above maps the brown areas are mountains, the blue lines rives, the light green areas forests and the dark green area swamp-land.

Although I am considering removing some the northern forest area and nearby river to replace it with a desert-style area, shown below with a yellow circle:

Considered location of desert

Obviously if I was going to do this I’d remove the river and probably the forest to the south.

Making my own Dolmenwood Map

In my current Midderlands game the player started off in the City of Lunden but–seeking a cure for a virulant plague–they were part of an expedition to the Island of Emeraude. In Glynn Seal’s excellent Midderlands setting Emeraude serves as a placeholder for another OSR setting, the mystical forest of Dolmenwood as created by Gavin Norman of Necrotic Gnome.

My PCs have been in Dolmenwood for a while and we’ve been using the following map (drawn by Brian Richmond) as our Roll20 map of the area:

Brian Richmond’s Dolmenwood Players Map

This is great however it does have a number of things listed on it that I’m not too sure I want the players to necessarily know about straight away.

Recently Gavin has released a preview of the upcoming map from the in-progress Dolmenwood Campaign Book, you can see the article on the Necrotic Gnome website by clicking here.

Preview from Necrotic Gnome’s upcoming Dolmenwood Campaign Book

Now this map looks amazing (having be drawn by the expert cartographer Glynn Seal) and I’ll be one of the first in the queue to buy this book when it comes out; however–given the current circumstances–and the schedule of these things it’s not going to be for a while, and I could do with a slightly funked-up player map for my game in the meantime.

So–having some extra time on my hands–I decided to have a go at drawing my own version of the Dolmenwood Map, combining elements of the original and the preview map.

Please note: I am most definitely no Glynn Seal or Gavin Norman (probably more like Ronseal or Barry Norman TBH), but–given it’s the first map I’ve properly hand drawn in over five years I was pretty pleased.

So to start of with I sketched out a rough version of the map in pencil and then I looked at a couple of tutorial videos from WASD20 and QUESTING BEAST on Youtube:

I then broke out my pens and went over the pencil outlines (before erasing them) to create the black and white map below:

My Black and White Map

Next I scanned the map into my computer and used Photoshop CS 3 to colour/shade in the various areas:

My Photoshopped Colour Map

I’m pretty chuffed with the result, it’s not going to win any awards and there’s still a lot of stuff missing from it like roads, towns, etc (although I may put the towns in as tokens in Roll20 i’m not sure yet), but it turned out better than I expected.

P.S. My apologies to Brian Richmond, originally this article said that Gavin Norman drew the player’s map pictured, this is not the case it was Brian’s work. I have now amended the article.

P.P.S. Gavin has been kind enough to provide a Google Drive link containing other player map versions:

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1MjVBrzHgqltOIYGyDD5Rw0JyIWQ3DgW5

CBP Worldbuilding #2: Draw Your Map

This is the second post using Angeline Trevina’s book 30 Days of Worldbuilding (available on Amazon), the book provides 30 prompts/exercises to help guide world-building.

Day 2: Draw Your Map – the author advises us to draw a map to prevent us getting lost in our world.


Colonial Blackpowder

Since my setting is based very loosely on American colonisation I decided to use a map of North America as my starting point, I downloaded an antique map from Google.

I then printed the map and–using the old-school technique of tracing a drawing whilst holding it up to a window–I created the following outline map.

I scanned the outline map back in, using Photoshop to darken it and correct a few errors.

Next I filled the landmasses in a solid colour, using Photoshop.

This looked cool but the map was still very obviously North America, after some time I decided to rotate the map and use the shaded section as the sea rather than the land. I printed out the map and extended some of the bits on the right hand side of the new picture.

Next I scanned it in again and filled in any areas of sea that were still unshaded.

Finally I changed the sea colour to blue and shaded the land green, putting a simple colour effect, making the sea lighten nearer the land.

Finally I added an outline around the landmasses.

As you can see from the image above I’ve still got some work to do on the map and there are a few bits and pieces I’ve missed out (I’ve also not decided on scale or things like that), but–in about an hour–I’ve got a promising map that I’m pretty happy with overall.

Appendix N (additional)

GEORGIAN MAPS OF LONDON

Since writing my Appendix N post discussing a book I’ve been reading concerning the Georgian era (you can read the post here), I’ve also been searching for maps and other interesting things related to the same era on the internet and thought I’d highlight a couple of the more interesting websites that I’ve stumbled across:

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Rose of Westhaven Sideview Map

If you’re a player in my ROSE OF WESTHAVEN campaign, please stop reading now.

As some of you may be aware, I’ve contracted map fever whilst running my OSR Midderlands LOTFP campaign; one of the things we discussed in our session zero is that the players wanted to do plenty of dungeon-crawling during the campaign, so I started off drawing a few maps and reading online tutorials. I’m getting to point now where I’m really enjoying working out how the maps link together, to this end I decided to draw a sideview map showing the various elevations and locations of the different dungeon maps in the area around Porthcrawl (our game’s Homebase).

I’ve not got round to drawing a finished version yet but have roughed out the layout using Notepad.

Dungeon World Map Making

For those of you who aren’t aware I’m currently running a Dungeon World campaign for my Sunday group, charting the progress of a group of heroes who have discovered a strange sickness or blight that seems to be plaguing the land. I wanted to try out the Perilous Wildrules supplement for this campaign, which deals with hazardous journeys and provides some additional stuff for followers and advice on running your campaign.

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