Maps are Hard

I don’t know about the other amateur game designers out there do it but I’ve been making maps with the draw tools in Mac Pages. Originally I thought I’d hire a freelance illustrator for the regional and city maps and maybe some character sketches, but as the size of the campaign grew relative to my budget, and I learned more about the world of freelance illustration it became clear that I have three options.

  1. Try to exploit some struggling illustrator with crappy rates.
  2. Pay fairly for very few black & white illustrations that would clash with the rest of the campaign.
  3. Do it myself.

I need to have a map in front of me to be able to create a dungeon, I just can’t picture it any other way. I’m also obsessed with a realistic layouts and worry about things like latrines and proper ventilation.

How can you have a realistic dungeon if you don’t know where the dragon men take their shits? 

So I’ve always been making super crappy maps as an outline for each adventure. As I’ve spent more time with Mac Pages and I’ve learned a few tricks I’ve been able to develop map at a level of quality I find acceptable for a free campaign. Here are a couple of examples.


Here is an excavation site in the city sewers where Duergar Sappers are working to bring down the city walls from within. All the line textures are default options with Mac Pages and I pulled the graph paper background from

Regional Map

Here is the regional map I’m working with. The mountain texture is by somebody called Jirtan on Deviant Art and was a great find. I deleted all the whitespace and put it on a transparent background. The other textures were found just by googling around.

All in all I’d say I spend about 30 to 90 minutes per map, but that could just be because I can’t decide the best location for the breakfast nook.


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