Campaign Cartographer 3 is definitely one of the RPG tools I wish I had more time to work with. When you design your own campaign setting or even if you’re just running a game, maps come in quite handy. Not everyone can draw them by hand, so map-making tools are quite popular.
Campaign Cartographer 3
One of the more powerful tools is definitely Campaign Cartographer 3 by ProFantasy Software. Instead of being bitmap based like most other tools, CC3 is built upon a CAD system. This has some drawbacks but also huge advantages.
The main drawback is that CC3’s learning curve is pretty steep. As you can see in the screenshot above the UI can be quite confusing at first. If you feel totally overwhelmed by the UI, you can decide to pick the “Simple Menu” during installation. You can of course switch to the full menu later.
And since it’s based on a CAD system the control scheme feels “backwards”. Usually you choose the element you want to work on first and then pick the tool you want to use on it. That’s how most Windows applications are controlled. But in CC3 you first pick the tool, then you choose the element you want to use it on and then you have to chose “Do it” from the context menu.
But when you have managed to get used to the somewhat awkward control scheme you have a very powerful map-making tool at your fingertips. CC3 comes with a set of predesigned templates that help you to create professional-looking maps in just a few hours or mere minutes depending on how detailed the map should be. The templates provide you with matching terrain features, symbols, etc.
And there’s one more advantage to programs like Photoshop or GIMP: I followed a few tutorials for Photoshop and was able to create awesome-looking maps but after I was done I actually had no idea what I’ve just done. It still felt a lot like voodoo to me. This is different in CC3. After following the tutorial once I pretty much knew what every step on the way to the final map was and how I can use each method again in the future. Maybe the learning curve isn’t that steep at all.