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Printing Maps from Dungeondraft

I really love Dungeondraft, an RPG battle map generator. It’s got great compatibility with online platforms like Foundry VTT and Roll20, but if you’re looking to make maps for tabletop play, there’s a few tips I can share:

Screenshot showing Dungeondraft being used to edit a circular tower. The Export window is visible.
Tabletop players can’t zoom in and will appreciate you printing with good contrast.

Planning and designing

Dungeondraft has (or can be extended with) features to support light levels and shadow-casting obstructions, openable doors and windows, line-of sight etc… great to have when you’re building for Internet-enabled tabletops, but pointless when you’re planning to print out your map! Instead:

  • Think about scale: I’m printing to A4 sheets and using inch-size squares, so every 11 x 8 squares equates to one sheet of paper. Knowing this, I can multiply-up to a whole number of sheets of paper and this informs my decisions about how to best make use of the maps (and what will and won’t fit on my dining table!).
  • Focus on legibility: Your printer probably won’t have the same kind of resolution as your screen, and your players can’t “zoom in” to get details. Play with the grid styles (under Map Settings) to find what works best for you, and try not to clash with your floor patterns. If you’re printing in monochrome, use the “Printer-Friendly” camera filter (also under Map Settings, or in the Export Options dialog) to convert to gorgeous line-art. Make sure critical elements have sufficient contrast that they’ll stand out when printed or your players might walk right over that chest, campfire, or bookshelf.
  • Think about exposure: You don’t get digital “fog of war” on the tabletop! Think about how you’re going to reveal the map to your players: plan to print in multiple sections to put together, jigsaw style, or have card to “cover” bits of the map. Think about how the tool can help you here: e.g. if you’ve got multiple buildings the players can explore, use a higher “level” or roof layer to put roofs on your buildings, then print the relevant parts of that level separately: now you’ve got a thematic cover-up that you can remove to show the insides of the building. Go the other way around for secret doors: print the empty wall on your main map (so players can’t infer the location of the secret door by the inclusion of a cover-up) and the secret door/passage on the overlay, so you can stick it onto the map when they find it.
Monochrome map showing a crane tower and attached dwelling.
If you’re printing in black and white, line art can be a gorgeous look.

Printing it out

There’s no “print” option in Dungeondraft, so – especially if your map spans multiple “pages” – you’ll need a multi-step process to printing it out. With a little practice, it’s not too hard or time-consuming, though:

Screenshot showing a cavern map in Gimp, with the Export Image dialog open and PDF selected as the output format.
Gimp makes light work of converting a PNG into a PDF.

Export your map (level by level) from Dungeondraft as PNG files. The default settings are fine, but pay attention to the “Overlay level” setting if you’re using smart or complex cover-ups as described above.

To easily spread your map across multiple pages, you’ll need to convert it to a PDF. I’m using Gimp to do this. Simply open the PNG in Gimp, make any post-processing/last minute changes that you couldn’t manage in Dungeondraft, then click File > Export As… and change the filename to have a .pdf extension. You could print directly from Gimp, but in my experience PDF reader software does a much better job at multi-page printing.

Foxit print dialog showing a preview of a map printed across 6 sheets of A4 paper.
Check the print preview before you click the button!

Open your PDF in an appropriate reader application with good print management. I’m using Foxit, which is… okay? Print it, selecting “tile large pages” to tell it to print across multiple sheets. Assuming you’ve produced a map an appropriate size for your printer’s margins, your preview should be perfect. If not, you can get away with reducing the zoom level by up to a percent or two without causing trouble for your miniatures. If you’d like the page breaks to occur at specific places (for exposure/reveal reasons), go back to Gimp and pad one side of the image by increasing the canvas size.

Check the level of “overlap” specified: I like to keep mine low and use the print margins as the overlapping part of my maps when I tape them together, but you’ll want to see how your printer behaves and adapt accordingly.

Multiple sheets of A4 paper joined with a slight overlap by long strips of sticky tape.
The overlap provides stability, rigidity, and an explanation as to exactly what that character tripped over when they rolled a critical fail on a DEX check.

If you’re sticking together multiple pages to make a single large map, trim off the bottom and right margins of each page: if you printed with cut marks, this is easy enough even without a guillotine. Then tape them together on the underside, taking care to line-up the features on the map (it’s not just your players who’ll appreciate a good, visible grid: it’s useful when lining-up your printouts to stick, too!).

I keep my maps rolled-up in a box. If you do this too, just be ready with some paperweights to keep the edges from curling when you unfurl them across your gaming table. Or cut into separate rooms and mount to stiff card for that “jigsaw” effect! Whatever works best for you!

Miniatures on a cave map, with the D&D Player's Handbook acting as a paperweight.
Any hefty tome, e.g. the 5e Player’s Handbook, can act as a paperweight.

The Revenge of the Hot Water Bottle

This article is a repost promoting content originally published elsewhere. See more things Dan's reposted.

Imagine a personal heating system that works indoors as well as outdoors, can be taken anywhere, requires little energy, and is independent of any infrastructure. It exists – and is hundreds of years old.

A hot water bottle is a sealable container filled with hot water, often enclosed in a textile cover, which is directly placed against a part of the body for thermal comfort. The hot water bottle is still a common household item in some places – such as the UK and Japan – but it is largely forgotten or disregarded in most of the industrialised world. If people know of it, they usually associate it with pain relief rather than thermal comfort, or they consider its use an outdated practice for the poor and the elderly.

Imagine my surprise to discover that not only are hot water bottles confined almost-entirely to the UK and Japan (more-strictly, I suppose the article should say “the British Isles”; friends in Ireland tell me that they’re popular there too), but that they’re so distinctly confined to these isles that English speakers elsewhere in the world need this article to explain to them what a hot water bottle is and why they’d want one!

I’m a fan of hot water bottles; I’ll sometimes take one – or even two, during a cold snap – to bed. But reading this article feels like reading a guide for aliens living on Earth: explaining everyday things as if you’d never come across them before.

Geohashing expedition 2022-02-20 52 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-02-20 52 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Outside a warehouse full of sheet aluminium, Kitts Green Road, Birmingham.

Participants

Plans

I’m hoping to find the 2022-02-19 52 -2 hashpoint one day earlier and one graticule over, and I think I can stretch the range on the electric car enough to be able to return home via this hashpoint too.

Update: managed to change the car after finding the 2022-02-19 52 -2 point, so I can make this. Probably be there about midday, weather-permitting.

Expedition

Following my successful expedition to 2022-02-19 52 -2 (which completed level 6 of my minesweeper grid) I stayed overnight in a delightful converted hayloft near the hashpoint before pressing on the following morning to this hashpoint (via a whole series of delightful geocaches in and around the village of Blakedown).

I didn’t expect much of this hashpoint, but I wanted the excuse to recharge the car before going for another leg of my journey – either a trip up to visit a friend in Lichfield or else a hashing expedition one graticule further East where today’s hashpoint seemed to be in a graveyard! But more on that later.

I parked at the Morrisons car park at (52.757778, -1.752222) at 14:48 and hooked up to the charger there (once I eventually found it). I had some difficulty making it work, but it seemed to get started eventually. Then I began my walk to the hashpoint. This was far from the picturesque walk of yesterday, taking me through a series of housing estates that were nondescript at best, unpleasantly scuzzy at worst. Shooting video as I walked, I was at one point loudly mocked by a group of young men passing in an artificially-loud car, but it was an activity that soon had to end anyway as the rain began to pour down. At around 15:11 my GPSr ran out of battery power (I’d failed to find its charging cable the night before) and there’s a clear gap in my tracklog: fortunately I was also equipped with not one but two backup devices (my phone, of course, and my watch), so I was able to continue heading in the right direction, and when I found a convenience store near (52.739167, -1.998333) I bought some AA batteries (my GPSr can have its rechargeable battery removed and 3 × AA batteries put in its place to allow it to continue) and pressed on to the hashpoint.

As anticipated, the hashpoint was on a road dividing a light industrial park from a housing estate, right outside a plant specialising in bending plate aluminium; I reached it at 15:23:48. I walked back the same route as the rain began to fall more and more heavily: by the time I reached the car it had become torrential. The dubious charging point I’d used had taken £16 from my bank card but provided only enough charge to take the car from 66% to 67% battery, which – combined with the rapidly-worsening weather – made me rethink my plans to visit Lichfield or explore further East and I instead used my remaining distance to take a long (slow, wet, diversion-filled) drive home. Ugh.

Tracklog

My GPSr kept a tracklog of my entire two-day expedition:

Download tracklog.

Photos

I shot video of most of this expedition but don’t have time to edit it, so here are stills from the video instead:

Map of 52.4836540,-1.7821973

Dan Q found GC8R5ZK NANOBLITZ Pulling a Female

This checkin to GC8R5ZK NANOBLITZ Pulling a Female reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

The recent winds had blown this little lady clear of her hiding place and into the tree next door. Thankfully I was able to retrieve her by her tether and return her to where (it looks like) she belonged. Log starting to take on water but not in need of maintenance yet, but possibly worth replacing the seal on the container later in the year. TFTC!

Map of 52.396633,-2.176583