I think we as readers often want our favorite stories to live on even after they’re done. Fortunately, there are many ways we can keep stories alive. From fanfic to fanart to RPGs (role-playing games), there are many ways to explore our favorite worlds beyond the site.
There are several role-playing games based on books, especially those based on major fantasy series. Some of them are more like video games like The Lord of the Rings Online (a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG). Others are classic table games that are similar to Dungeons and Dragons. There were RPGs from The Wheel of Time, Dune, HP Lovecraft’s Monsters, and even A Song of Ice and Fire. There are even books based on RPG campaigns.
The point is that books and roleplaying games are closely related, ricocheting each other and creating more stories that everyone can enjoy.
However, for this to work you will need maps. Although some books have the most beautiful cards, they don’t rely on them. On the contrary, RPGs are entirely based on cards that make the story work for the players. For example, some attacks or powers have a certain range that you need to consider in order to hit your opponents. Or, using your long sword up close and personal can decapitate your teammates. So cards play a pretty big role in role-playing games. In order to create these fantasy maps, we need fantasy map generators.
So, I’m presenting you with ten of the best fantasy map generators to help build the world of your RPG (or book).
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Free fantasy map generators
Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator
Azgaar’s is a free website that generates maps automatically. However, you can also edit them and create them from scratch. Its tools include adding rivers or routes, customizing emblems (think House Stark and his white wolf), and changing the layout of the entire map, among other things. There are also different views. You can view the map divided by states, cultures, religions, temperature zones, an elevation map, and so on. At the end, you can save it as an image that you can upload and edit again. It’s a great map generator that does a lot of work for you and has enough wiggle room to create some really amazing maps.
On this website, you can draw your own continents and customize them as you wish. You can add stamps of trees, mountains or rivers and even text. You can also change the style of the card (e.g. elves or dwarves). While the site is simple, you can add a lot more detail to your maps than other map creation tools. There is a free version and a paid subscription service. The free version is good enough, though it limits the number of maps you can make, as well as some of the detail stamps. You can still make great maps that show civilizations.
Donjon is a free website with multiple generators on the main page. You can use it to create new names, storylines, and calendars, among other things. One of his tools is a simple fractal world generator that is not too detailed, but it works. Most of the time, you can use it to create a world map with tools to manipulate the amounts of water, ice, and land. You can also change the color style of the card. Donjon also has a second map generator that allows you to put a few extra things like names on the original map you made.
Watabou Medieval Fantasy City Generator
Watabous Generator is a little different from the others. Cities are created instead of world maps. It gives you a random cityscape at first, but you can edit it pretty much. The generator focuses on the outlines of the buildings that cover the city, so it is not very detailed. However, you can add some things like temples, castles or rivers and warp and style your card so that it is a lot more customizable than you think. Plus it’s free!
Unlike other generators, this is free software that you need to download onto your computer. Simple maps are created with an almost hand-drawn style. You can edit the terrain, background, icons and text style once your map is created and if you like it you can save it as a PNG on your computer. It’s pretty simple, there isn’t that much detail to add to the map, but it’s a useful tool for generating continents or islands.
Paid fantasy map generators
WorldSpinner is one of those 30 day free software that you pay later for. It creates a world for you that you can edit heavily. You can customize anything from land masses to the temperature of the world. The coolest thing about this software is that you can use it to fill your map and then move the history of your world forward to see how it has changed (e.g. cultures expanding or states forming). Although it is a world map, it is very detailed as it shows cities and other landmarks.
This is a one-time purchase software that creates detailed maps that are reminiscent of Middle-earth. It’s used to create detailed continents – similar to Incarnate, but easier to use and better looking. You can also use it to make region maps for specific continents and possibly even city maps (although this is more of a route). This software allows you to add elements to your heart’s desire, and the really cool thing is using a brush that allows you to edit these elements even further (e.g. make a lake bigger on one side) All in all, it gives you beautiful maps and is very intuitive.
Campaign Cartographer is software very similar to Wonderdraft. It’s a one-time purchase that allows you to create detailed world and region maps. It has many stamps and other elements that you can add to customize the card generated for you by the software. What really works out well with Cartographer is that there are many – and I mean many – styles that you can choose from to suit the aesthetic you want in your card.
Other world building tools
Interactive maps of World Anvil
This is one of the best world building tools I’ve ever seen. You can upload maps (the maps will not be created) and add any worldbuilding information you want. You can create timelines or family trees. You can write and pin articles to specific points on a card. Let’s say your world had a terrible war under a lonely mountain. Well, you can write about this war and attach it to said mountain. In simpler terms, it’s a tool that lets you create a story Bible and attach it to your world map. There is a free version, but it is quite limited when compared to paid subscriptions.
FlowScape is paid downloadable software that you can use to create your own landscapes. It’s basically a 3D modeling program that creates animated scenes. It doesn’t make full maps, but it is similar to painting a scene, which can help with the imagery of a story or game.
There are so many great novels out there that could become amazing role-playing games! The top fantasy books on Goodreads, for example, are brilliant books that ask roleplayers to write more stories.
Go out there and be your own fantasy cartographer!