Making grid maps with tokens, lighting, and visual effects for your games - RPG Crossing
RPG Crossing Home Forums Create An Account! Site Rules & Help

RPG Crossing
Go Back   RPG Crossing > Discussions > General Discussion
twitter facebook

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old Feb 21st, 2021, 08:48 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Making grid maps with tokens, lighting, and visual effects for your games


UpdateUpdate: It's ready. I've got the grid map tutorial version 1.0 beta parked in an older game thread that I'm using as a workspace for other projects, until I make a permanent home for it under my next 'open recruiting' game. I'm going to add more to the 'examples' section as I go along but the main lessons are done. Post questions and comments in this thread. Thank you everyone for your interest and encouragement, in public and in private. I hope you find it useful and interesting.


Original Post
Learn to make grid maps for your games: gauging interestTo all GMs: Are you interested in learning how to make grid maps with tokens, illumination, and visual effects to use in your games? Post interest or questions here. Read the rest of the post (below the example grid map) for details.

DetailsI'm putting together a half-hour tutorial that uses text and screencasts to demonstrate how to make a battle grid with tokens, illumination, and visual effects using MapTool and TokenTool. Why make a tutorial? It's sort of a hack, born of necessity.

MapTool was designed to be a shared virtual tabletop where several gamers play RPGs simultaneously. Yet, for many years, I've used MapTool for its fantastic image compositing and visual effects, making battle grids for my games on RPGX, but ignoring its many other features.

If that's all you want to learn about MapTool, you're kind of stuck. Because the MapTool instructions, which use over 700 articles to explain its vast and sophisticated feature set, are rather daunting, leaving the lowly grid mapper with no obvious starting point. This puts me in a bind when people ask me how I make the battle maps in my games. I want to help, yet it's unhelpful to simply point someone at MapTool or the manual.

So I made a short tutorial: one article with 12 lessons running 1 to 5 minutes each, which focuses on setting up MapTool, laying out images on a grid, adding light and visual effects, and exporting images of the finished work for RPGX--and nothing else.

The tutorial started long ago as an exchange of private messages with a friend, but I've been expanding it ever since, as others, most recently several GMs from the West Marches, have expressed interest as well. The tutorial needs more work to stand on its own, and be suitable for wider consumption, but before I invest the time and effort, I want to be sure of the interest.

I've always used grids as a DM/GM, ever since the 1E DMG (on p. 94) taught basic dungeon design with a pencil and graph paper. These days, or even a grid-based implementation of an existing dungeon from a game moduledungeon design in gaming seems like a niche, where the know-how is useful to some GMs but not to players, and not to any GMs who prefer 'theater of the mind' games. Lately, I see more TotM games, so I'm unsure how much demand to expect for using mapping software to make an 'old school' dungeon/battle grid.

So, that's why I'm starting the conversation, and asking all of you for your thoughts. Would you find a tutorial like this to be helpful and useful? Do you think it's worth doing?
 
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31

Last edited by GallupsMirror; May 15th, 2021 at 08:50 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Feb 21st, 2021, 10:03 PM
Lashiec's Avatar
Lashiec Lashiec is offline
Let's Be Strange
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 5523
Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec Lashiec
Posts: 1,734
Absolutely yes, I would find this tutorial useful. I'm a new DM/GM and I'm having a hell of a time trying to make maps for my campaigns. I've spent a good amount of time trying to discover where to start and I'm about as lost as I was when I started. There doesn't seem to be much out there to help a Level 0 beginner like myself figure out where to start.
__________________
Status: Here.
Who, Me?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Feb 21st, 2021, 11:25 PM
delpinator delpinator is online now
Great Wyrm
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 19th, 2022
RPXP: 3206
delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator delpinator
Posts: 7,933
definitely interested i have two dungeon crawls soon that this would be nice for.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Feb 22nd, 2021, 12:45 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by delpinator View Post
definitely interested i have two dungeon crawls soon that this would be nice for.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lashiec View Post
Absolutely yes, I would find this tutorial useful. I'm a new DM/GM and I'm having a hell of a time trying to make maps for my campaigns. I've spent a good amount of time trying to discover where to start and I'm about as lost as I was when I started. There doesn't seem to be much out there to help a Level 0 beginner like myself figure out where to start.
Thanks for posting interest, Lashiec and delpinator.

I'm just about done with the text portion of the tutorial. I'm starting on the screencast portion, which demonstrates the instructions given in the text. I think that'll be the most helpful part, but it's hard to say how long it's going to take to finish it. Previously, I broadcast a live screencast so my friend and I could talk while looking at MapTool, but this is different because the communication is entirely one-way, so I have to be very clear, and it's not always obvious to me which parts might be confusing to newcomers.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have a beta version done by early March, and then add some how-to sections for specific types of maps (cave, dungeon, woods, outdoor field, urban outdoors, building indoors) and how to make smaller objects (barrels, rocks, trees, etc.).
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Feb 24th, 2021, 02:13 PM
Baxder's Avatar
Baxder Baxder is offline
Make me unknowing
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Aug 20th, 2021
RPXP: 4667
Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder Baxder
Posts: 2,443
Color me curious. I would eventually like to run a game or two here, so this is a thing I'll need to pick up at some point.

Writing technical procedures is part of what I do, so just ask if you need someone to bounce your early versions off of.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Feb 24th, 2021, 10:44 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baxder View Post
Writing technical procedures is part of what I do, so just ask if you need someone to bounce your early versions off of.
Thanks very much, Baxder. I'm a former technical writer and information designer myself but I'm a bit out of practice. I'll post a link to the beta version when it's ready. I'm aiming for brevity, clarity, and simplicity so any ideas you have for improvements along those lines will be most welcome.
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Feb 26th, 2021, 03:47 PM
ruffdove's Avatar
ruffdove ruffdove is offline
Haroog!
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 24431
ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove ruffdove
Posts: 5,187
This sounds like the kind of thing that would be worth doing just as a permanent public resource for the site.

Personally, I've been running a Paizo AP and have been able to use the published maps with powerpoint, so I don't have any current use for this tool or tutorial, but it's hard to imagine that I won't want to look at it at some point in the future. Thanks in advance for this service to the community!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Feb 26th, 2021, 04:15 PM
Unko Talok's Avatar
Unko Talok Unko Talok is offline
Belle-Sprout
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 21864
Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok Unko Talok
Posts: 15,412
A long while back, I played with Maptool a little bit. But, as you mentioned, it's got a huge learning curve. I had more luck with Dungeon Painter Studio, but I may have just been more bullheaded at the time I was using that.

Thanks for even considering doing this, Gallups!
__________________
Site Rules & Help | Become a Community Supporter
Black Lives Matter - Gay and Trans rights are human rights.
she / her / hers
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Feb 26th, 2021, 06:32 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffdove View Post
This sounds like the kind of thing that would be worth doing just as a permanent public resource for the site.

Personally, I've been running a Paizo AP and have been able to use the published maps with powerpoint, so I don't have any current use for this tool or tutorial, but it's hard to imagine that I won't want to look at it at some point in the future. Thanks in advance for this service to the community!
You and the community are very welcome. Thank you for expressing support and interest. That means a lot to me.
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Feb 26th, 2021, 08:21 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unko Talok View Post
A long while back, I played with Maptool a little bit. But, as you mentioned, it's got a huge learning curve. I had more luck with Dungeon Painter Studio, but I may have just been more bullheaded at the time I was using that.

Thanks for even considering doing this, Gallups!
You're very welcome.

I've been noodling around with MapTool since (I think) 2008, mostly because there were so few good alternatives available at the time--and also because it's available free of charge. I know almost nothing about its other features, but as an image compositing tool, I know MapTool colder than Neptune. I can't say if MapTool is necessarily the best option, but I sure do love the nifty illumination, vision, LOS, and FOW effects. I'm not up on Dungeon Painter or other products that have come along since, so I don't know how they compare.
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Mar 2nd, 2021, 07:01 PM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
How does that sound?
right-aligned image

Update: I've been recording MapTool screencasts with audio--vital to each lesson--but the voice quality is awful. The first recordings sound all skinny and tinny, and barely audible. So I boost the input level and raise my voice in subsequent recordings, only to sound all skinny and tinny, but slightly louder, with lots of annoying huff and pop.

I just ordered a high-end podcast microphone to replace my old beat-up one, so hopefully that'll do it. The super-duper mike arrives on Friday. I had hoped to finish the screencasts this weekend but now it looks like I'll be starting them instead.

Thank you. That is all.
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31

Last edited by GallupsMirror; Mar 2nd, 2021 at 07:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 12:24 AM
Master of Monsters's Avatar
Master of Monsters Master of Monsters is offline
Is it nap time yet?
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Dec 25th, 2021
RPXP: 5485
Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters Master of Monsters
Posts: 5,969
I am looking forward to seeing the results. My maps are functional, I hope to add pretty to them!
__________________
As a DM: Lichy Business /|\ Fireside Tales: Group 1 /|\ Fireside Tales: Group 2 || Up Next as DM: Little to no activity over weekend Enjoy your 4th.
As a Player: Guild Battle /|\ The Closing Calamity in the Crags: Group 2 || Misc Endeavors: Monster Den /|\ Writers Block /|\ Team Up
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 01:19 AM
GallupsMirror's Avatar
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror is offline
A legend in my spare time
Artist in Residence
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 6326
GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror GallupsMirror
Posts: 2,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by Master of Monsters View Post
I am looking forward to seeing the results. My maps are functional, I hope to add pretty to them!
I can't help much with the pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the Or maybe the cyclops?beholder, after all.

But, an image of a torch that actually throws bright light for 20 feet, and dim light for another 20 feet? Dungeon walls that really block light and line of sight? Monsters hiding in the shadows? Darkvision that really works? A way to see how beat-up the badguys are looking during a fight?

It's been about 15 years but I'm still blown away at how well MapTool represents those things in technical detail on a battle grid. It does look cool but (for me anyway) it's really about the tactical dimension that these things add. And, the feels! It's scary to walk into that kind of dungeon, too.
__________________
Tutorial: 3D Combat
Tutorial: MapTool Battle Grids
Cover Artist: Explosive Runes 25 & 31
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 08:05 AM
Pinotage's Avatar
Pinotage Pinotage is offline
Ancient Dragon
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Jan 18th, 2022
RPXP: 3946
Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage Pinotage
Posts: 816
I know how to use MapTool for lighting (visibility layers and all that, Day/Night settings) but I'm curious to see what you have in mind for showing the status of enemies beyond the current implementation. Definitely going to watch what you come up with.
__________________
Posting Status: None (16-23 January)
Stop the Earth, I want to get off!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Mar 3rd, 2021, 08:09 AM
Andrew101010's Avatar
Andrew101010 Andrew101010 is offline
Community Supporter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: Sep 27th, 2021
RPXP: 260
Andrew101010 Andrew101010 Andrew101010
Posts: 31
Thank you for offering this, Gallups. I have limited experience gaming online of any type, and the few times I've tried to run a game I've felt compelled to run TotM simply due to my lack of mapping knowledge. Your example map looks to contain a lot of functions, and is (to me, at least) visually pleasing. I would love to learn how to do this without having to go through hours and hours of videos to learn the bits that pertain.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:20 AM.
Skin by Birched, making use of original art by paiute.( 2009-2012)


RPG Crossing, Copyright ©2003 - 2022, RPG Crossing Inc; powered by vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Template-Modifications by TMB