Cartographer’s Annual ’07 part 3

After well over a year, I finally decided to finish off this series, and yes I do plan on doing reviews on the next three annuals after this. For those needing a refresher course, ProFantasy makes a software sweet for cartographers to make their own maps, be it for video games, pen and paper RPGs, or just casual use. This software is called Campaign Cartographer 3. To support this suite, ProFantasy started releasing monthly issues of the Annual which gives new methods of using their software, general information, and new symbols and styles to use. This is the review of the last four issues of the first year of The Campaign Cartographer Annual.The ninth issue of this annual contained information on how to create maps for a Modern City. This was the second city issue in the year, the first being the John Speed City that I covered in the first review. They split it up into two different types of cities here, the modern and the early modern. I personally liked John Speed better than both of these, however I felt the early modern city was a far easier style to duplicate and was perfectly nice looking at that. I didn’t particularly care for the bright colors they used in the modern city, and don’t find much use for it as I don’t have plans on making maps of the modern, but I could see some value. I didn’t feel like this particular issue gave a lot. It was basically instructions on how to make a map with only blocks, it was somewhat helpful but the new symbols were far from spectacular, sometimes literally taking on the form of a varicolor square.

The tenth issue really was meant to showcase the Symbol Set 2 – Fantasy Floorplans symbol pack which was released a few months before this issue was released.  Though it was meant as a showcase, one thing it did really well was to show people who to use effects in CC3. I admit that the Cathedral in this issue was a stellar map, I can’t imagine the average cartographer doing this detailed of a map often, however there were so many facets on how effects were used that it made a wonderful example to newer users like me. I’ve already read this article twice and found it useful in both cases. I think of the entire year, this was my second favorite issue, following the Sarah Wroot style.

The instruction on how to use CC3 in various ways continues with the eleventh issue: Connecting Symbols. This one I absolutely detested. I’m not sure if I was just not in the right state of mind for it the couple of times that I attempted it, but I eventually grew overly frustrated, gave up and moved on. It could have also been badly explained, not entirely sure. It is a shame really, because conceptually this one is one of the better ideas in the year, it is just incredibly hard and not for the feint of heart (or weary of eyes). The whole concept is to get symbols that when you string together, make a single continuous symbol. For instance a stream could have several different symbols linked to each other to make a single river. A great idea, perhaps not the best of execution but it bears looking at again.

Last but not least comes instructions with how to create your own style packs. This helps you figure out how to set up your own templates, including how to create your own symbols for that template and make those symbols the defaults. A really basic concept to be sure, but they show you how by creating the old D&D blue map styles which I just find marvelous. I really enjoyed making these maps just for the sake of nostalgia and very well could see myself making an old school D&D campaign based off this style. A really nice way to end the first season.

Overall, I definitely felt that the Annual was worth the cash. It costs $39.95 per year and do get 12 issues. For that, you get a lot of instruction on how to become a better cartographer, symbols and styles, examples, new ideas, and honestly I really do like the monthly format. To me there is just something special of having that new thing to look forward to. It is the same reason that I still enjoy a magazine subscription or two, or even like watching television over a movie from time to time. By formating it like this, you get a very wide variety of stuff, sometimes useful, sometimes not, but overall I am very appeased.