Recently, one of our fans on the Discord (Steve Watson a.k.a Dire Mongoose), posted some cool photos of maps he made using our Modular Dungeon Tiles and Google Sheets. Steve explained how easy it was to make beautiful, functional, and digital dungeon maps this way, so we decided to interview him!
If you’re ready to “upgrade your map game” (in Steve’s words), read on!
1. What set you on this quest to create better maps for your games?
Steve: My maps have always been trashy…I felt that I was at a point where I needed to change, but having little artistic ability and less time didn’t give me a whole lot of options.
Unfortunately, I’m also very particular. A lot of pre-made maps didn’t match the flavor, feel, or the details that I wanted. When I saw the Modular Dungeon Tiles, I was instantly hooked—this was exactly what I needed.
2. What’s your history with tabletop games and map design?
Steve: I’ve always loved tabletop games. Carcassonne and Risk have a very special place in my heart. When I was in college my roommate and I would have games of Risk that would take weeks or days for us to play.
I actually started with 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons…to this day, the covers of these core rulebooks continue to be my absolute favorite. Cracking open these books vaguely resembling an old tome felt mysterious, archaic, and magical.
For a while my work kept me constantly on the road, and my gaming group has a lot of memories of poorly drawn maps etched into take-out boxes. I’ve been DM’ing for long enough now that I realize my players deserve a greater sense of immersion. It’s time to go digital.
3. Tell us about the Google Sheets maps you created–why did you make them, and how did you envision them being used?
Steve: I have my gaming group to thank for the inspiration. I’m part of a Discord server called “Wayward Heroes” that runs a multiplayer “West Marches”-style game that is all the rage now.
I played around with inserting an image into cells to use as my player token when one day it occurred to me that maps could be inserted into Sheets too.
That was the driving force, and that is when I found Loresmyth.
I had this vision of completely upgrading [my] map game, including players choosing their own tokens to use on vivid and immersive battle maps. I could get quality, published-looking maps that I could put my own creative effort into with little work.
4. How did you create the maps and assets?
Steve: At first, I was concerned that this idea wouldn’t work at all. [Loresmyth founder Chris van der Linden] has been phenomenal, though—he sent me a few tiles so I could test the concept. After that, it was a breeze. I was able to create my first tile map on mobile in under an hour. The hardest part was rotating the images I needed and sizing them properly on my phone.
I was able to toss together the Nekhathon map (follow the link to check out the Google Sheet!) in less than 20 minutes with my laptop. Resizing the tiles was still a tad finnicky. If need be, an entire completed map can be inserted into or over a cell and works much the same way.
Here’s how to do it!
From your Google Drive, create a new spreadsheet.
Click in front of the arrow to select all the tiles, then change the background to something dungeon-y, or whatever you prefer. Black seems to work the best.
Now that we have a pretty backdrop, it’s time to insert our first tile!
Using ‘Image in cell’ sticks in place better, but it’s a little more difficult to get tiles to line up. For this tutorial, we’ll stick with ‘Image over cells.’ This allows us to resize and place the tiles a little easier.
Once you’ve selected your option, this is where the magic happens.
There are a number of ways you can insert the tile. Having them saved to a desktop or Google Drive folder is by far the easiest. I highly recommend storing tiles on some sort of cloud for mapping on the go.
Editor’s Note: This map was created using the Nebulus CargoX tile set!
Your tile will be inserted over whatever squares you have highlighted. Clicking on one of the small blue squares will adjust the size. I recommend resizing from the corners whenever possible to keep the tiles proportional to each other.
Sometimes the tiles need to be adjusted to fit properly, like below:
Getting them to fit just so takes a little bit. Don’t worry about being perfect. If you stare at it too long you might start to notice it being a pixel or two off, and its not worth obsessing over. I know–I’ve done it.
Here’s what it looks like once the two tiles are lined up to your satisfaction. Keep inserting and aligning tiles until you are happy with your new map.
I kept this one fairly simple, only five tiles. The backdrop makes a huge difference.
This last step is my favorite: adding the details.
All of the map packs include various object tokens you can use to add some finishing touches. More importantly, the same process can be used for inserting player and monster tokens as well.
That’s right, you can insert player or monster token images over the map and then move them around in the space you’ve created!
All you need to do is insert an image over the cell as you normally would and shrink it down to fit over a square in the map.
I’m going to place some partially disintegrated corpses like these around the map to make it look like the scene of an attack.
Object tokens are where you can really spice things up. On the right is our base tile, and on the left we have a cargo hold and teleportation bay where several people have been killed and almost completely disintegrated. There are only seven different tokens here, and that’s just a small fraction of what’s available.
That’s all there is to it!
Editor’s Note: Once you’ve got your map finished, you can share the Google Sheet with your players and use it as a map in real time!
5. What advice would you give to people trying to create their own maps using your technique?
Steve: Keep playing with it, and have fun! One thing I learned very quickly is that it’s easier to make copies and rotate some tiles in advance. That way you’re not interrupting your vision because your map needs to zig and all of your tiles are zags.
6. What’s your favorite Loresmyth map tile set, and why?
Steve: Am I supposed to pick one? I can’t pick one.
I love the Wilderland Caves and Wilderland Forest tiles. They’re beautiful, they have tons of detail, and they’re very different from the other sets. For the same reason the Nebulus tiles really appeal to me. I usually run fantasy settings so it might be tricky to tie these in. Maybe it’s time to revisit the Barrier Peaks.
The decorations included in these sets are fantastic. Debris, paths, portals, scaffolding, there’s a lot of tools here that can be used to give your maps flavor and add your own special touches just like in the tutorial!
Have a Cool Tabletop Project You’d Like to Share?
We want to see the cool stuff you do with Loresmyth products, whether it’s a custom-made inn made with Remarkable Inns or a quest inspired by our Dungeon Discovery Decks! We love featuring fan-made content.
Contact cmahon [at] loresmyth [dot] com if you’d like to submit something to be featured on the site!