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CC2 Day 4: Stamping Peaks, Tracing Rivers


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1 April 2002page first published

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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Usually, I think it's supposed to be either-or. Either you use contour lines, or you use mountain symbols (peaks) on a map. Being contrarian, I chose to have some of both.

So I spent the first half of the evening stamping down mountain ranges (on top of the highest contour bands). Mountains are easy in Campaign Cartographer. You put the software into "mountain mode" by clicking the mountain icon on the right-hand side, which brings up a scrollable catalog of mountain symbols on the left-hand side. You choose what you want, then click to place that symbol on the map.

A mountain range

That's simple enough, if you're only putting down one mountain. But when you want to put mountain ranges together, you have to keep sorting in mind. It's easiest to work from back to front, putting new rows of mountains in front of old ones, and transitioning from little mountains to big ones to little ones again.

What happens if you decide you want to put down a "giant" peak in the middle of some mountain range you've already drawn? When you click to plonk the new mountain down, the problem is that it sorts "on top of" the other mountains you've placed - including the mountains in front of it, which looks all wrong. So you have to select the mountains in front, and fix their sorting.

It sounds easy, but sometimes it was just easier to nuke the whole mountain range and stamp down a new one. That's partly because it's easy to stamp down a mountain range, and partly because sometimes I just can't get the sorting problems to fix themselves.

my landmass with all its mountains

The User's Guide gives a lot of good tips about building mountain ranges, such as sprinkling some foothills at the edges of the ranges. I had a lot of fun doing mountains.

I wanted to put down some special symbols to mark Dwarven strongholds in the mountains, but the closest I could find were peaks with black dots (caves). So I used those to mark the major Dwarven cities, and similarly used hills-with-caves for the major Goblin lairs.

River system

After mountains, the next logical step is rivers. Like mountains, there's a "river mode" that you get into by clicking the rivers icon. You click the points, and the software makes a smooth, curving path to match.

One interesting thing about rivers (and Campaign Cartographer in general) is that you want them to end on the coast. I guess you could eyeball where the river and coast should meet and try to click the right spot, but the software provides some Modifiers that help you stay accurate. For instance, if you use the On modifier, then click the coastline, the software will make sure that your river runs exactly to the coast. No matter how close you zoom in, there will never be a gap between the river and the coast when you use the modifier.

You can see stair-stepping as this river winds past a Dwarven stronghold

If you want to get fancy, you can make rivers get wider as they reach the sea. Once you've already drawn the river, you use the software to break the river into separate parts (line segments), then you adjust the width of each part. I used this technique on my rivers, though as you can see, there is a stair-stepping effect whenever the river gets wider.

While I was doing rivers, I also added some water-type symbols: rocks in the water, wavy lines to mark waterfalls, a whirlpool, and a lighthouse. Thus ended my fourth night's work.

My map with rivers added