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Sunday, January 16, 2011

QGIS for D&D. Part 1: Do you need a GIS support for your world and campaign?

I'm D&D fan for at least 6 years, who spend a lot of time to learning rules of  how to play  the game and run a campaign, but unfortunately without noticeable experience of playing. It happened that my wife's friends decided to play D&D and we were invited. I was the most experienced amongst them and decided to be the first to run the session, all the more so I had an old draft for my own world and campaign. "Now or never!" - I told to myself and prepared the first quest for them... But it is not the point. The point is that DM have to have the map of his world.

CC3 or CC2 is the common software to create maps of own D&D world. Despite produced images are not maps but schemes, it is not GIS as well... Ok, CC3 (2) was developed for a purpose and it gets the job done - you have nice pictures of your world fast. That's it. But you have to pay for it and the most important - it is not a GIS... did I mentioned it?

The "map" can be created almost in every image editor and it will fit requirements for the accuracy and beauty just because there are no requirements for accuracy and beauty for the map of imaginary world. Actually there is no need for accuracy of such "map", but it is pleasant to have a nice looking one... Seems that there is no need to use GIS... But my mind is twisted and weird enough to think otherwise.

Take a look at this beautiful fictional map designed by Mike Shley for Wizards of the Coast (source):

Beautiful map designed in Photoshop

It looks very good. But there are numbers. And you have to look for what they mean in additional book, file etc., because this numbers related to important places on the map. What I want  for my campaign (amongst other advantages of GIS) is to have access to these numbers descriptions right from the map itself.

I'm going to create not just a map of my world but GIS support for my campaign! And also it will help me to add some skill points to my GIS profession ;-) Actually, world and campaign creation is a long-term process and if your world is good enough, you do not need to create another one for the next campaign, but run new adventure in the same world in different (or my be even in the same) time. So investing time in GIS development might give significant benefits in future (at least I hope so).

Firstly I need to choose the GIS software. Obwiously it will be QGIS, because it's free, run under Linux, powerful enough for my plans, and... I like it)))

Now I have to decide what do and what I do not want to have as results.

What I want [is GIS support]:
  • a general map (that's obvious);
  • roads and rivers lengths to know the travel time;
  • places of the main encounters with descriptions;
  • settlements and other places of interest and with descriptions;
  • generalised maps of settlements and outdoors with the major encounters;
  • anything else???
What I do not want:
  • a beautiful, but useless picture (there is no one to show it anyway - even players won't be able to take a look at it because it'll be to much information for them), but it doesn't mean that the map itself must be ugly;
  • plans of dungeons and castles (there are other special software for it).
So the plan is to have general map with the "encounters" layer amongst others; additional layers for special quests (will be placed in TOC's sub-folders named after the quest). Campaign, quests, places, encounters and NPCs will be described in .html files (linked between each other) and will be evoked from the QGIS (from object info dialogue).

Progress will be reported.

UPD: See also:

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