Here is something I posted over at Treasure Tables
(its a GM Forum/Blog) as I am currently curious about the various Map Programs and Options
Offical Description (From the Website) - AutoREALM is a Free GNU mapping software (a "cartographer") that can design maps of castles, cities, dungeons and more. AutoREALM is generally used by Role-playing Game practicants who enjoy doing their own maps. But it could fits the needs of other people. If you are a Role-Playing gamer or else, you are cordially invited to join the AutoREALM community: fellows gathered around a free hobbyist map tool. Originally made by Andrew Gryc (say "grits"), AutoREALM is now Open Source, creating a unique opportunity for the RPG world to mix graphics and computer programming.
My View - After looking at the site, and the various images and such it appears to be a very clean and simple interface, for those of us who are used to PCs that is. One of the benefits I can see is it being open source. I am rather impressed by its look, and I intend to give it a more in depth review once I have a day off (I am gonna download it and try to use it and see just how easy it is)
2. Campaign Cartographer 3
Offical Description from the Website - CC3 is the fastest and most powerful map-making software for gamers. So if you're a busy person who wants the best, this is the software for you. In minutes you can learn all you need to rapidly create beautiful maps for campaigns, games and even real-world applications.
My View - Once again, after looking at the site, it appears that this program has amazing potential. With a large slew of possible expansions, and the ability to make high quality maps, its a map makers dream program. However, it does not appear, at first glance, to be that easy to use, and is not the cheapest option there is. The basic program is $44.95 and each little upgrade is more money. Also, it doesnt appear that they have a demo of the program available.
Offical Description - Dundjinni is a full-featured fantasy map creation program. It allows users to create walls and floors, place objects, insert text, and more. It boasts an intuitive interface and an impressive selection of objects and textures (over 190 images). It also allows you to author d20 adventures in a simple yet elegant way. Available for both PC & Mac.
My View - I actually tested the demo for this yesterday, and personally I was not impressed. The tiles didnt even appear where I tried to place them. Strangeness. It boosts a nice community and people appear to like it, so maybe the demo is just broken or an older version, I dunno. But I am not willing to drop $39.95 on something that MIGHT work. Also, the interface was not pleasant to me.
Offical Description - MapTool virtualizes the battle map, miniatures, and wet-erase markers. In combination with Voice over IP software this allows GMs and Players to get together virtually and interact much like they would at a session around the table.
The virtual tabletop in MapTool can do things that the classic battle map couldn’t easily do. Prepared maps from other software can just be dropped into the background and tokens moved over the top. You can also save the entire campaign at any point to resume later.
My View - It appears to me that it is more of a virtual tabletop then an actual mapping program. It may be useful for people who play online, but as a pure mapper I think there are better options.
5. Dungeon Forge
Offical Description - Dungeonforge is an easy-to-use map creation program for Role Playing Games. It is fast and flexible and can produce maps in the style of Dungeoncrafter and Dundjinni (as well as using the same range of art).
The maps can be printed for tabletop use or used in online games.
My View - Its free for one, and boosts some decent features, however it does not appear to have been fully updated in a LONG time, and so may have some bugs and other issues with it. I am going to try this out along with AutoRealm and give a more in depth review.
6. Fractal Mapper 8.0
Offical Description - With Fractal Mapper, creating worlds has never been so easy! Fractal Mapper is a high-powered mapping system that lets gamers create a wide variety of of maps - dungeons, continents, cities, and more! With it's easy to use interface, powerful features, and unique capabilities, making high quality maps with Fractal Mapper is a breeze!
My View - Now this program has me interested. After looking at all the various screenshots I am impressed by how neat the dungeon AND overland maps look. Its on par, cost wise, with both Dundjinni and CC3, at $34.95 (it is cheaper by a bit), and also offers a free trial, which I shall try of course!
7. Microsoft Excel / OpenOffice Spreadsheets - Not technically a "mapping program." However the latest Treasure Tables Blog Entry has a link that deals with using Excel (and thus OpenOffice) as a Mapper! Check out Excellent Maps
. I am going to test this method out as well.