Campaign Cartographer by Profantasy Software Ltd is a veritable oldie in the world of map-making having commenced operations in 1993 and with more than 250,000 software sales through its various versions, on 3.5″ floppy disc, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and now digital download storefront. It was even the software platform for the digital release of the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas which has become a collectors item for Dungeons and Dragons fans. The software has a strong passionate following including its own Facebook Group of community users but how good is it in a world of competing mapping programs?
Firstly Campaign Cartographer is the first and core component of a suite of mapping tools produced by Profantasy – you must purchase this! on its own Campaign Cartographer allows you to construct world maps but most will want to create battlemaps for online play and for this reason most purchasers should purchase Dungeon Designer and most should also consider purchasing City Designer as well. These are available as a discounted bundle purchase.
If you would like to quickly peruse a range of maps recently produced using this software check out the Profantasy blog which is updated at least monthly with maps produced by community members.
Unlike many other programs Campaign Cartographer is not a paint program like Adobe Photoshop, its built upon a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) platform. This means that mapping occurs with symbols, points, polylines and polygons, and these are all laid out in layers (with some layers on-top and some below). The display of the layers can be enhanced using blends, shadows, and bezels to produce a wide range of maps but its not photoshop and new users to the program can become frustrated as it doesn’t operate like the tools they are most familiar with. To get the best out of a tool you do need to learn both the basics and few quirks and Campaign Cartographer is no exception.
To help the designers of the software produce hour long video tutorials that run through the mapping techniques of the various symbol packs that are contained within the base software and the annuals which collections of symbol sets to make different styles or themed maps including sc-fi, isometric maps and carboard terrain for your in person game. Watching a couple will allow you to progress quicker and with less frustration that on your own. Similarly joining the community Facebook Group is very helpful.
What’s it like?
The Campaign Cartographer mapping software allows you to produce a wide range of maps to a very high quality standard. Basic maps can be generated quickly once you have an understanding of the overall concepts. However there are other easier to use mapping programs that can provide a better experience if you are just after something simple and quick and not really that interested in map making.
If you are after a cartography platform that can produce a wide range of maps, styles and customisation the Campaign Cartographer and all the modules it has to produce creations such as star maps then this is the program for you. Profantasy also produce an Annual each year which typically provides a new map style each month for you to enjoy.
Should I purchase Campaign Cartographer?
Campaign Cartographer isn’t the simplest entry into the world of cartography but it is the most comprehensive mapping platform today, providing you with the ability to create almost anything you will want with practice.
In addition to the basic set of symbols users also have free access to the Vintyri Project which provides thousands of additional symbols that will allow you to produce a wide range of maps.
If your goal is to produce the widest variety of maps with the ability to tweak and change most setting and you are willing to take the time to learn its quirks then Campaign Cartographer, Dungeon Designer and City Designers are for you. If not then you are better off selecting a simpler and less customisable mapping suite.