Inkarnate in Review
A group of friends from university, grade school and I are doing a campaign on the wondrous Roll20 system. I’m a first time Dungeon Master and have been learning quite a bit over the past few sessions about preparation. As any DM can attest, there’s a lot of work to be done, not only for the initial setup of a campaign, but also between each session. I try to give my players multiple paths to go down at any given point but they like to have an open world. I’ve never been one for hand-drawing maps or meticulously planning out each house, village, ruin, city, Orc encampment. I make a habit of trying out different online resources for building the world and following is a review of the Inkarnate map building system.
Inkarnate is a world, dungeon, and town building website that allows commercial licensing for your creations; but if you don’t intend to profit from your maps, there are a great amount of resources available for free after signing up with an e-mail through the beta. You can also link your Inkarnate account with your Facebook account to login easier later.
In Inkarnate, new maps start with water. There is a list of tool icons on the left and the first is the Sculpt tool. This tool allows you to add or subtract land in your ocean-world. You can control the shape (circle, hexagon, and square; the latter two will create a grid overlay on the map for more exact placement) and size (between ‘1’ and ‘128’, pixels I assume). The size variation helps go from filling in large landmasses within an outline to drawing out specific landscapes with ease. When you subtract, it’s all about them lakes and inland seas and bays.
Next on the tool list is the Brush. This is for filling in your landmass with different climate regions by coloring the ground. The colors denote everything from sand to snow to desert clay to forest and field. There are also a few options for “parchment coloring” if your map is in a character’s possession or discovered on a table in-game. This tool also has circle, hex, and square (referred to as “block”) brush shapes, the 1-128 sizing, and a 0.00-1.00 “softness” slider that allows you to crossfade between the climate color you’re currently painting and the other colors around it. This tool is great for adding diversity to your landscapes and was something I didn’t think about including in my world until I saw the option in Inkarnate.
The next two tools fill all the nooks and crannies of your map. The Object tool is a collection of elements like towns, towers, bridges, and critters to flavor your map. These are all scaleable from 35-200%, and while there are few variations of each type (and some have no variations), you can add your own elements from your computer. Adding in your own elements is also possible for the Brush tool. The Pattern tool generates individual landscape elements like mountains, hills, and three different kinds of trees. These are also scaleable (35-200%) and have some variations so when you’re creating a mountain range all the peaks don’t look identical. You can choose to select individual elements to resize, move, and delete as needed.
Now it’s time to name your structures and regions. The Text tool has 4 typefaces (one that looks eerily similar to the Diablo franchise), size 5-128, bold formatting option, font color and a few different options for adding a shadow to your text. Below that is the Note tool that lets you add markers to points on the map and provide details that are available in the “Notes” section of your maps overview page.
Finally comes the Grid. I personally hate using grids unless it’s a close space and there are battles involved so I find this tool to be relatively useless. The sizing goes from 16 to 256 and after some math it’s discovered that the map is 1024 wide by 768 tall. At size 256 the grid is 4 by 3 and at 16 it’s 64 by 48, not too bad if you’re looking to make a dungeon.
You can save your work, add description of your map as a whole, and export the file as a JPG for your usage. I don’t like that the dynamic elements like the “Note” tool’s markers aren’t visible, but that, along with other file types, might be a premium option…but if you’re anything like me, you don’t have that kind of funding. This website is great if you want to have a sandbox to create worlds in and while it’s features are pretty simple, there’s a large capacity for customization of your maps.
Try Inkarnate yourself here!