View Full Version : DM Help Dungeons & Dragons map creator software

2015-12-15, 03:43 PM
Hello, my brother plays dungeons and dragons with his friends, and he spends a lot of time on map creation when he is the DM. They play on a homemade projector table to which the DM can connect a laptop. Currently, my brother uses Photoshop for map creation, but it seems to me that there has to be a better software for this to save him some time. After some investigation online, I found plenty of map creation software. However, he mentioned that he would like a feature that I have not been able to find anywhere. Specifically, he wants something similar to presentation view in PowerPoint--he wants to see a slightly different version of the map on his laptop than is presented through the projector (he would like to have hidden monsters or aspects of the map that are simultaneously visible to him on his laptop and invisible to the players on the projector)

Other features he is looking for is the ability to toggle between multiple levels on a map. For example, he has one castle map that has 5 stories, which he currently shifts by toggling layers in Photoshop. Also, I think he wants to be able to move parts of the map during the play time (otherwise I could just get him any old map creation software and then have him put it into PowerPoint for multiple layers and presentation view).

Unfortunately, my hopes are not high that something like this exists, but does anyone know anything that might do this? Help would be much appreciated

2015-12-15, 04:08 PM
Having the projector computer logged on as a player on roll20 while your DM brother manipulates the map from another computer (logged in as DM obviously) can do everything you mentioned I believe.

2015-12-15, 04:41 PM
I attempted something kind of like this some months back; the idea was to create a webpage that served as an "interactive map" of sorts… which was really nothing more than click/tap-and-drag icons (their positions stored in a database) over a table-turned-map (which works well enough on my laptop, but gets kind of wonky on my tablet).


I haven't touched it in ages, but if I remember correctly I had plans on creating a custom right-click menu that would allow for easily switching maps, easily switching games, have an option to reset icon positions, and… um… yeah, this is why I haven't done much. :smalltongue: Hell, even the example map based on The Shackled City Adventure Path is still unfinished.

2015-12-15, 11:41 PM
Great, thanks. Does the map have to be created within roll20 for this to work? And if so, do you know how well the map creation works within this program?

2015-12-16, 02:00 AM
Also, do you know how the DM can actually hide components of the map using this software? I looked at some roll20 tutorials, but all I found was that the DM can adjust their opacity independently of that of the players, meaning that some things can be hidden in darkness to the players but not the DM. However, this wouldn't suffice for one example my brother gave me; he said one map was creating was a minefield and he wanted to know the locations of the minds without revealing them to the players. Do you know if this software could do something like that? Thanks again

2015-12-16, 04:45 AM
I have a projector setup like this for my games. I've never used roll20, I use MapTools. It can take some tinkering to get used to MapTools but it can do everything you were asking. From what I've read roll20 is easier to use, but costs money for access to the DM tools.

I've got my laptop with an extra USB monitor hooked up to my projector that projects down onto my table. After configuring my maps I start a GM session in MapTools as the host. I then open a second session as a player and connect to my host session. I put the player session window on the second screen and projector. The primary laptop screen has the GM session. The GM session lets you set visible objects, secret doors, monster tokens and fog of war and choose when they become visible on the player session.

It can be a bit of a learning curve to use MapTools. It does have some map creation software but I've never really used that. Mostly I just import premade maps and use those.

2015-12-16, 05:00 AM
So far (and I've been doing this kind of thing LONG before it was a thing) the best set up I've come up with to use with a projector is a combo of two software titles:

1. Dundjinni for the map creation
2. Kloogewerks for the actual projection bit.

Kloogewerks is what Roll20 tries to be. There is a server and client version. Obviously the DM uses he server version to run things. You can do "fog of war" easily and hide/reveal parts of the map as the party explores, put monster "tokes" down on the map (so you don't have to mess with minis on the DMs end of things), project AOE blast radius marker overlays and a lot more. I find it works best if the DM runs the server on one computer and the client software on another (or run a dual monitor set up if you don't have an old computer to run the projector). You can get more than one client version and run network games with ease (people with the client version can put their own character tokens on the map and move them around.)

(I'll try to remember to add the hyperlinks to the individual bits of software when I get home...my work computer has 90% of the internet blocked (I'm amazed I can get on here.))

2015-12-16, 09:13 AM
The Roll20 DM tools are free.

When you set up a campaign, you can either be logged in as a GM or a Player.

If you are a GM, you have access to the following:

Map Layer
Token Layer
GM layer.
Music tab

And a few others.

The maps are all super easy to set up, and with the GM layer, only the person logged in as GM can see the contents of that layer.

If the computer hooked up to the projector is logged on as a player, and the one your brother is using is logged on as GM, then nothing on the GM layer will show up on the projection.

You can also easily toggle between floors, and since you're using real tokens you don't have to worry about moving digital tokens.

You can also set certain layers to play songs or ambience when they are loaded, so the GM doesn't have to worry about managing that.

It's all pretty easy to learn if you spend some time experimenting. And what's more, you can upload your own art. So he can still draw the maps in photoshop and use Roll20 for the transfers, music, and GM layer.

I'd recommend it, personally. I've been using it for about a year now and I love it.

2015-12-16, 10:07 AM
he said one map was creating was a minefield and he wanted to know the locations of the minds without revealing them to the players. Do you know if this software could do something like that? Thanks again

Put the mines on GM layer.

He can see them; players cannot.

2015-12-16, 08:03 PM
Awesome. Thanks a ton