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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.


Campaign Cartographer
RPG Map Illustration Package
IBM & Compats.
Pro Fantasy Software

"I want to go and see that dead squid over there."
"That isn't a dead squid. That's lake Maharlana."
"Oh. Pause. "I thought it was the corpse of Cthulhu's baby brother...."

Well, okay, maybe that's a little far fetched; but how often have you spent weeks working on a scenario of depth and complexity, getting the balance right between deviousness and hackery just right, figuring out clues, developing your NPCs till you'd be able to recognise them walking down the street.... and then you lay the map on the table. Suddenly, you look at it through the eyes of your players - and see a mass of crude squiggles, without finesse and apparently at different scales in different parts of the world.

"Tough," you mutter. "I can't draw."

Well now you don't have to. All you need is access to a PC, a printer, and ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer. Let me modify that. All you need is access to a reasonably fast PC, and a decent printer. On the other hand, this is a DOS package - that makes it fast and not too memory hungry: you can even run it from floppies only. However, I've been trying to use it on my little 386sx portable, with a mono LCD screen, and believe me, it isn't easy. The problem is more to do with the screen than anything else, though, for reasons I'll explain in a minute.

Campaign Cartographer is a computer aided design package, specialised to let you draw fantasy maps. The basic module (which is the only one I've seen) is for wilderness fantasy maps. An add on is specifically for drawing dungeon interiors.

At its most basic it allows you to draw maps at any scale you choose, incorporating different geological and built features. These come from libraries of symbols, and you can scale them up and down. The version I used had libraries for fantasy maps - castles, palaces, stone circles, walled towns, etc. etc. - but I'm told that additional libraries, covering science fiction (and possibly other?) themes will be made available in the future. Mountain ranges, forests and so on are shown fantasy map style, as if you are looking at them, but you can also draw "real" maps with contour lines and shading to show vegetation. You can't, however, switch between the two.

Maps are built up in layers - one layer for the coast line, another for rivers, a third for roads and so on. You can choose which layers to print out. This means that you can have a master map for yourself, but give your players one with bits missing (e.g. if it shows a far off land). Later, you can let them have a better one. You can also print out to different scales; this is the world, this is the area that you are going to, this is the area immediately around the village - and you don't have to redraw anything; this means that even people who are good at map drawing are going to save a masses of time.

I'd love to say that everything in this program works fine, and that it's transformed the life of a mapping klutz like me. It wouldn't be (quite) true, though. I found the scaling feature difficult to follow (all right, largely because I didn't RTFM (Read The Flaming Manual - first). Also, the drop down menus don't drop down in the same way as Windows menus, but that's a minor point. It also took me quite a long time to get used to switching between one set of menus and another. My real problem was remembering which layer I was working on; the main way of telling is by the colour palette you are given to work with. As I said, I have a mono monitor, and, since one grey scale looks much like another, I was stuck. But don't let this put you off - I don't suspect that it will affect many people.

It's easy to draw a simple map with Campaign Cartographer - but if you only do that, you are not making anywhere near the most of it. Once you start wanting to do more, you may find yourself on quite a steep learning curve. Everything you need to know is in the manual, but it isn't necessarily easy to find (there is on-line help available). However, I'm assured that there are plans to sort that minor problem. ProFantasy Software have also said that existing users will be fully supported through upgrades as changes are made to the software.

I don't want this to sound like a puff piece. You can live without this if you have to. But, at this price, it's a real bargain, and your players will love you for it. Besides, even if you are good at hand drawn maps, the "secret layers" feature will save you scads of time, and add depth to your campaign.

Overall: Highly recommended.

Review by Liz Holiday
Product supplied by ProFantasy Software

Editor's Note: The most important difference between CC version 1.0 and 1.1 is that the latter has no copy protection. Copy protection, according to ProFantasy, is a major turn-off for potential users. Existing copy-protected users will be sent a newsdisk which will break the copy protection before the end of the year.

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