I'm looking for free software, preferably open-source, that would allow me to create maps for my story. I guess what I need is a tool that would allow some measure of 3D modeling.

Features I would very much like:

  • Fiddling with elevation
  • Drawing rivers, and making sure they don't do silly things like flowing upwards.
  • Marking precipitation, so that, for myself, I know "region X is arid".
  • Marking roads, cities, forests, etc.
  • Measuring distances
  • Generating some sort of 2D map out of the 3D model

Is there anything in existence that's sort of in the right direction, perhaps some tool for RPGs?

I will need a map with my novel, eventually, but primarily this is for myself and my worldbuilding at this stage: I want to make sure I'm consistent with distances and with routes. Also, the story is relatively heavy on geopolitics, making a map rather critical for the creative process. (This is apparently what happens when the MC is the king, and he does actual governing.)

  • I'm thinking this is a better fit for Worldbuilding. Better doesn't mean it doesn't go here, but I'm not sure it does go here. Of course there it would be a duplicate. They have several questions like this.
    – Cyn
    Mar 4, 2019 at 4:51
  • Agreed. It should probably be worldbuilding.SE -- there's an app that I know that's great for RPGs called Archivos (archivos.digital ) that works WITH maps and linking events/characters to locations. Also, the guy in charge of it (Dave Robson) posted on his personal facebook lately about some map-designing tool he's been working with, so that may be worth tracking down, (I can't use FB at work to be more specific). Mar 5, 2019 at 16:21
  • @April Archivos incorporates existing maps. I need to create them, from scratch. The question might also be on topic in Worldbuilding - I'm not really active there, donno, but it's hardly off topic here, is it? Mar 5, 2019 at 16:32
  • 1
    I would suggest this is more on-topic at softwarerecs.stackexchange.com than Worldbuilding.
    – Chenmunka
    Mar 5, 2019 at 18:26
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because map-making software is not a writing tool. Mar 5, 2019 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


Tiled is an RPG map editor. It is completely free. It works with tilemaps which can be sourced for free but may be more challenging for you because of your peculiar use case. The program is fairly versatile and I have yet to fully explore its many features. You might have to get creative to do what you need, but it should be manageable. Tilemaps are often made to allow for representing changes in terrain. It also supports notetaking. 3D options do not appear to be available.

As for tilemaps, I get mine from OpenGameArt, but there are other sources in the answers to this Gamedev.SE question.

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