2012-11-28 Mapping using Inkscape

I recently decided to “publish” my high level module Caverns of Slime. To the right, you can see the various stages my map went through. And you can see that the entire process started out with map. The map was the backbone of all subsequent activities.

It all started with the first map at the top. Things that made it from the very first draft to the very end:

  1. the ring like structure with a water flow leading to the Ooze Lord in the center
  2. the lab of one of my former player characters, Gar
  3. Shroom Lord (I wanted some continuity with the level above)
  4. orcs on landsharks throwing bottles of green slime
  5. Prison of Dis
  6. Aranea city
  7. Eternal Swamps
  8. ghouls

Things that got lost:

  1. were rats (boring unless transformed in interesting ways)
  2. poison flowers (what’s interesting about poison flowers? the Eternal Swamps ended up being not so evil…)
  3. sauro-eels (but giant eels remained)
  4. “sulfur levels of clockhouse wheels” – a kind of evil Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus (the evil fusion of men and machine reappeared in the Fortress Dam of Ix)
  5. refugees of the fungus forest (the level above didn’t seem to have any refugees)
  6. rock giant with moss (I feel that giants don’t fit thematically)
  7. dread mages of the shroom kings (which kings? what’s interesting about dread?)

Also note how I abandoned my detailed isometric map in step two. As I drew it, I kept dreading the moment where I’d have to key it and I kept thinking that at higher levels, the party would be flying, teleporting, gating, or pass walling anyway.

As for the final map: I just drew it all using Inkscape. I wanted to write more about it, but in the end, all I did was draw lines, using a lot of Ctrl+L to simplify the paths and then editing the nodes using F2 to make it look better. Every section was on a different layer so that I could lock the rest. The most important decision was to work on paper for the longest time.


Comments on 2012-11-28 Mapping using Inkscape

I do most of my maps in Inkscape, sometimes by first sketching them out, but often just playing about with it.

Simon Forster 2012-11-28 11:46 UTC

So you’re saying that you don’t doodle on paper before you turn to Inkscape? I only remember a few maps that I did in Inkscape directly: those were maps I did for Fight On! where the author of the adventure had already provided the doodle—such as this one:

AlexSchroeder 2012-11-28 13:50 UTC

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2011-02-12 Map Making Using Inkscape

A long time ago I wrote an Old School Hex Map Tutorial using Inkscape. The campaign I started this with is still on-going after 46 sessions and more than two years of play. We meet on two Sundays per month. Tomorrow is the next session, and I’m looking forward to it.

And I keep working on my map!

Working on my map using Inkscape

It just keeps on growing…

Alder King map for my play

Some of you may recognize this map as a section of the Lenap region in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

And I started on a similar map for a new Labyrinth Lord campaign in the Sea of Five Winds region of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. I love the material because it provides a rough foundation upon which I can build my own campaign setting.


Comments on 2011-02-12 Map Making Using Inkscape

I’m a big fan of Inkscape but I’ve never used it to produce that style of map before.

A very useful how-to-guide. Thanks

Chris Tregenza 2011-02-12 14:35 UTC

You’re welcome. I think the benefit of using Inkscape for mapping is that you can keep working on an electronic copy. If you start with a hand-drawn map, scan it, post-process it – that’s cool, but it’s also very much “fixed”. Ideal for a print product, but how will I add new elements for my home campaign? Drawing and scanning elements, and stitching them together, or keeping the original spot-less and working on that… So even though some ink and paper is faster the first time around, I think I’d loose in the long run of a campaign.

I think that you only get this benefit if you’re doing an incremental map.

If you produce a piece that is finished, then using Inkscape is possible, but it’s far less cool, and much less efficient.

Maybe I should put this warning somewhere on the how-to page. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-02-12 17:12 UTC

I have never used Inkscape for map making, thanks for the how-to. I just went to your Flickr, your maps are awesome Alex. I’ve been posting some old maps lately, I love map-making it’s kind of an obsession of mine.

John Williams 2011-02-12 18:47 UTC

Thank you for the kind words! Adding to the player map every now and then between sessions is a kind of meditation on the state of the campaign. What have players achieved, explored, uncovered? What random encounters did they have and how will this affect the map? Time to add new locations and lairs!

AlexSchroeder 2011-02-12 19:58 UTC

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2010-08-15 Copy and Paste Inkscape Problem

Copying and pasting in Inkscape creates pixellated images instead of copying the vector objects:

Starting with XQuartz 2.3.2, X11 has some functionality to exchange the content of the clipboard with OS X. But it currently does not know how to deal with vector images so it just captures the screen, i.e. creates a bitmap copy, and then pastes that. You need to deactivate this functionality in X11 preferences > Pasteboard: uncheck “Update Pasteboard when CLIPBOARD changes”.

Phew!! :)


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2009-09-19 SVG, CSS, and Inkscape

I have a problem with Inkscape and I think it’s related to the handling or loss of CSS information. I have a script that creates an SVG map which looks fine in Firefox – check it out and hit the submit button.

When I import that SVG into another SVG in order to add more layers, everything looks more or less ok. One thing that’s already wrong is that the hex coordinates are missing. When I save the file, close Inkscape, open Inkscape again, and reopen the new file, things are messed up:

  1. Coordinates are still missing
  2. Font sizes are wrong for the coordinates
  3. Symbols (text elements) around planets have some sort of white border

Do you think Inkscape will have an easier time handling the SVG if I don’t use CSS to specificy stroke width, opacity, and the like?

I’m using Inkscape 0.46 at the moment.


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2009-06-26 My New RPG Network Logo Using Inkscape

My old X-Face logo is an traditional 48×48 black-and-white image. It is used on my blog in the upper right corner and on my old RPG Bloggers 170×50 logo:

Old Logo

I wanted to have a bigger and printable version of the logo. The problem with the old logo is that the background was is on a map I drew for a campaign of mine, based on a campaign map I drew, in turn based on the Lenap map of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. If I zoomed in, the town name “Boghra Little” was going to be readable.

I decided to rearrange elements on my map such that only elements I had added myself were going to be visible, purging all traces of the Lenap map. And I was going to keep an SVG source file around. This also meant I needed to vectorize my old X-Face. No problem. Inkscape makes this really easy. The result:

New Logo; click for the Flickr page

I like it!

Tags: RSS

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2008-09-12 Corporate Wikis

There was a lot of talk about corporate wikis, measuring corporate wiki participation, and some wikis “competing” for use in the corporate area.

Oddmuse is definitely not a “corporate wiki” in this respect. I think the problem is the process of decision making: Someone starts with a list of features and goes to collect more items for that list by talking to other “stakeholders” in the company. This is what you end up with:

Corporate wikis are a waste of time

Yeah, I’m being mean. :)

Damn, I forgot WYSIWYG, blog integration, CMS, mailing list integration, bug tracking system integration, calendar integration, … there’s so much out there!


Comments on 2008-09-12 Corporate Wikis

You’re clearly right. I experienced similar behaviour in the corporate world. They are coming with a monster (sometime needing a Java client or worst a Win32 fat client) to meet all the requirements from the “stakeholders”… and at the end, no one is using the system due its complexity. Contribution must be simple and easy. Why starting a Java/large application to update one single line in a documentation? That’s inefficient and frustrating (you contribute one time… and after you avoid to use the monster). It will take time before corporation fully understand that Internet-style and minimalist Wikis is the way to go.

A good Wiki is a Wiki where you forget about its user interface when you are using it.

Alexandre Dulaunoy 2008-09-13 09:28 UTC

All we need to figure out now is how to communicat our message to decision makers. :)

AlexSchroeder 2008-09-14 00:38 UTC

Maybe we could somehow adapt RITA for this purpose?

RadomirDopieralski 2008-09-21 22:30 UTC

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2008-06-25 Inkscape for Mapping

I’m using Inkscape to create a multilayer map. Unlike my previous project (→ 2007-06-08 Old School Hex Mapper Getting Better) I’m now using Inkscape to draw the map directly.

I’m using four layers:

This is a light blue hex grid I got from a grid PDF generator [1] [2]
Rivers, hills, forest
Dots for cities, ruins – my goal is for every hex to offer something to do
All the stuff my players don’t know yet

The Alder King is going to be a game of exploration. There are no detailed maps available to the players.

Check it out.

If you have a crappy browser, the above PNG file with a transparent background will probably look borked. Get Firefox instead. :)

The above map without the Hex and Unknown layers, of course.

I like it!

In fact, I wrote a tutorial for those interested in doing something similar: Old School Hex Map Tutorial.

Now that I’ve placed a few things on the map, I will need a little campaign plan.


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2007-06-02 SVG to PDF

Gah, I can’t find a good SVG → PDF tool that I could install at my webhoster. I downloaded the svgtopdf module from the InkScape svn repository, installed PDF::API2 in my home directory, and tried it.

alex@mirabel:~$ svgtopdf < test.svg > test.pdf
Can't call method "value" on an undefined value at /home/alex/lib/perl5/SVG2/ line 57.

It seems that the library requires a height and width of the document to be specified. Ok, try again…

alex@mirabel:~$ svgtopdf < test.svg > test.pdf
Creating a page: 1600, 1200
Unknown Object Found 'defs'
Unknown Object Found 'use'
Unknown Object Found 'use'
Unknown Object Found 'use'
Unknown Object Found 'use'

Gah! That’s the central idea behind the SVG I’m generating: I define each hex only once, and then rely on the use element to assemble the map. (2007-06-02 Hex Mapping)

No good.

There’s a svg2pdf that is part of Cairo which works more or less. I built it on my webhost machine. I downloaded, configured using --prefix=/home/alex, compiled, and installed the following from source:

  1. libsvg 0.1.4
  2. cairo 1.4.6
  3. libsvg-cairo 0.1.6
  4. svg2pdf 0.1.3

Building required me to set PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/home/alex/lib/pkgconfig, and running requires me to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/home/alex/lib.

Check out my old-school-hex script with PDF support. Source available. [1]

Why am I not 100% happy? Somehow the PDF output doesn’t look too good. The aspect ratio is wrong, I think.


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