RPG Map Editor

A guide to creating fantasy dungeon Maps

RPG Map Editor

RPG Map Editor

Any game session that the game master creates should thrill the players, they should be immersed in the world that the master has created. Whether it is a classic fantasy adventure or a battle against corporations in a future cyberpunk world, or maybe it is an alternative reality of the Victorian era with amazing steam machines.

In any case, preparing for a game session is a very important process and creating a battle map for a particular event or encounter should be handled responsibly. But creating a map is not an easy task, there are many dungeon mapping software products available on the internet, all have their strong and weak points, and some cost cost quite a lot having very modest functionality and offering support that ended some 10 years ago.

Suppose you have chosen an editor that you think meets all the requirements you have for your map. You start drawing and everything seems fine, perhaps the interface is a bit unintuitive, but in general everything works, however it turns out that you are missing some specific objects that you need on your map, maybe some fancy ballista or a special icon to indicate a radioactive hazard or something else. Maybe the texture of the dungeon is not the one you need, and what is even worse — the texture is available, but you have to pay for it. Well, at best you`ll have to buy a monthly subscription and get "all the features" and yes, they will turn off those annoying ads that make you want to close the program all the time. Having overcome all the difficulties (the map is finished, maybe not quite the way you wanted it to be, but it is time to print it on a large sheet of paper or display it on the big screen) you may face a problem — bitmap graphics. In fact most editors simply use premade images that can be made smaller, but not enlarged without losing quality. What to do if this is the situation? Actually nothing: you may attempt to edit the map in a graphic editor or try something else, but there`s basically nothing you can do.

A familiar story? We have experienced this too, so we`ve formulated a few principles for our RPG map editor:

  1. Scalability
    our maps should allow increasing size without losing image quality: no smeared images, everything must be clear.
  2. Customization
    the user must be able to tweak the controls so that they feel comfortable using the editor.
  3. Icons creation
    it is important that the game master can create the missing icons and it should not be very complicated. Having mastered the editor of RPG icons in literally 40 minutes, anyone can make icons that can be used anywhere, not only in RPG maps.
  4. Color schemes for objects
    the map should be made using standard objects, and color schemes of these objects need to be configurable.
  5. User—friendly interface
    the program should be easy to learn and understand, at the same time it has to be rich in functions. We use a unified approach in our interfaces so everything is standardized.
  6. Different levels of skill
    with our product any user can draw a map instantly, but having studied the features of the RPG—map editoreditor or other modules of our ecosystem they can create maps on a completely different level.
  7. The layer system
    in regular editors, there is only one object per cell, and it is not always possible to place a bush with berries under the crown of a tree. Our editor must have a system of layers, that allows you to place various objects in the same position on the map.
  8. Visual clarity and simplicity
    we are not aiming to develop an editor to draw the most beautiful or believable maps. There are plenty of other products that can handle this task. Instead, we are aiming for primitivism when making maps. Create an outline of your idea, you don`t need to add a lot of detail, sketch it — players will figure it all out by themselves, each party member will have their own unique dungeon in their head. That`s how books work, that`s how our editor works.

Interface Overview

While designing the interface of the editor, we tried to make everything as simple as possible. The interface is divided into the following main sections: canvas, right panel, subprogram panel and central panel.

    • Other elements
      elements that will appear as part of specific sections. They will be described in the relevant sections of this manual.

Now, as the main functional areas of the Dungeon Editor are covered, it is worth describing each of the four sections in more detail.

Editing objects

It is worth noting that when you select an object, the first color scheme in the list is automatically selected, and when you delete a scheme, the first available one is selected.

Editing icons

If you apply an icon to the canvas, the icon will only be applied if there are no other icons in the application area.

Editing texture

Double-clicking is meant to prevent you from accidentally doing something you might regret.

After selecting a layer, an additional panel will show the palette of available textures, which are grouped in a standard way — community/subscription/your own. Also, each texture has an icon that indicates it belongs to one of the texture types: water, dry land and air. You can read about the position of the layers in relation to icons and map objects later in this article.

Text editing

The first thing you`ll notice is that when you enter this mode, only two buttons remain in the toolbar: Select text and Add text.

In text editing mode, "direct selection" function will automatically be enabled, but you can always click on "add text" to add new text. You will also notice new controls appear in the toolbar:

  • Curve type change
    represented by 3 buttons allowing to choose the line for the curve to be drawn along:straight line, quadratic curve, cubic curve
  • Text alignment
    ith the help of 3 buttons you may choose the text alignment type:left, center, right.Please remember that once you flip the curve the text will also flip.
  • Text formatting
    there are 4 text modifiers available:bold, italic, underlined, strike throughAll 4 modifiers may be applied simultaneously.

Please remember that when you press any of the buttons described above, the changes take effect instantly; unfortunately no "undo" function has been implemented at the moment, be careful.

The text has a visible line along which it is drawn.

A curve has two types of controls:

It is worth noting that for convenience we designed a reference line tool which creates a special sticking effect along horizontal and diagonal lines if the controls occupy similar coordinates horizontally or vertically.

This concludes the description of the basic controls of the Dungeon Editor. Next you will learn about the specifics of our layer system and there will be a detailed breakdown of the available objects that you can use when creating an RPG map.

The layer system

Our RPG map editor has an advanced layer system. It may seem excessive, but we believe it allows to achieve fascinating results. To explain the mechanics of the layers we have decided to demonstrate how our approach to layers works. Below there is an interactive map where you can switch the layers on and off, so that you get a good idea of how the layers are organised. It is worth noting that the higher the layer is in the list, the higher it is on the map.

textures - waterobjects - floorobjects - covertextures - floorobjects - pitobjects - watertextures - floraobjects - dirtobjects - grassobjects - flowerobjects - berryobjects - roadobjects - caveobjects - gateobjects - fortificationobjects - doorobjects - gateobjects - fortificationobjects - wallobjects - doorobjects - fenceobjects - wallobjects - caveobjects - stairsobjects - furnitureobjects - cratesicons - interiorobjects - doorobjects - windowobjects - rocksobjects - bridgeobjects - treestextures - exterioricons - exteriorobjects - caveobjects - fogtextures - airgrid

Objects editing

The last point that needs to be covered is the object list for our map editor. Currently our editor has 23 objects and 66 variations of object appearances. All of these are divided into 4 categories: general, movement, exterior and interior.

The editor uses a special system with two types of coordinate grids. The fact is that in most editors based on squares, there is only one wall size and if you need the wall to be a little thinner, you are out of luck. We have taken a different approach — we have a compacted grid, where there are 4x4 squares of a small grid per 1 square of a regular grid. With this system, you can adjust the thickness of walls and windows according to your needs.

Now, knowing that the objects have variations and can be drawn on grids of different sizes, we can proceed to the full list of objects.

List of objects

Wall has three variations with which you can paint: a square wall, a diagonal wall and a rounded wall.

It is worth noting that when using walls, you may mix all 3 variations in any combinations you can think of. Like the pit, the walls are connected to each other regardless of the chosen colour scheme.

Cave has two variations: Square cave and Diagonal cave.

A cave, unlike a wall, is rendered in large squares and joined together regardless of the colour scheme.

Fence has 4 variations, the only difference is the design of the posts: round, diamond-shaped, square и reinforced posts. There is no need to explain the column variations in detail. There is only one peculiarity about the variations — the fence is connected only within one variation but it does not depend on the colour scheme. Please take this point into account.

Gates have a special connection method: they are joined along a horizontal axis which you can rotate by pressing the "R" shortcut key. If you try to join differently rotated gates, graphical collisions may occur. Try to make sure that the gate with its "thick" frames is installed under the fortification, then everything will look tidy.

Fortifications have six variations:

Fortifications connect to the neighbouring cells regardless of the variation or colour scheme, we`ve tried to make the transitions as tidy as possible.

Our bridges connect to each other within the same variation and it`s important that the bridges are aligned or they won`t connect. Use the hotkey "R" to rotate the bridges, the colour schemes have no effect on the connection.

There are so many variations because we do not know which stairs are the best and which style is preferable. Therefore we have thought of and implemented all the options we could. It is up to you which one you will use. If you come up with another stair style, please let us know on Discord.

Stairs only connect in the longitudinal axis, so they may need to be rotated. Please keep in mind that some stairs can`t be connected to larger stairs — these are rotatable stairs of five types. The colour schemes have no effect on the connection.

All doors only connect when correctly oriented in the longitudinal or vertical plane and within the same variation. Different variations do not connect to each other. Keep an eye on the door rotation and all will be well.

The windows have only 6 variations, but they all are unique in their own way and you will need some practice to learn how to use them. Remember to rotate the windows with the "R" hotkey and you will be fine. The colour schemes have no effect on how the windows are connected.


This concludes the description of the RPG map editor. Now you have a good idea of all the utilities that are part of it, but that`s not all, of course. We also recommend checking out our tutorials on the hexagonal map editor or the RPG icon editor, which allow you to create icons for your maps or anything else you like. Don`t forget the colour scheme editor for RPG mapping objects or the texture generation system. We have more tutorials for you, but in the meantime, create and share your achievements with us and your friends!

Please wait