The Tools I Use


I haven't written a blogpost going over the different tools I'm using in a while so lets go over my toolbox, both for my map making as well as my gaming,

Map Making Tools

World Machine

Cost: Indie $119, Professional $299

World Machine is my main tool for terrain creation for a decade now, and despite its shortcomings and the arrival of new cool tools in the field, World Machine are still ahead in certain key aspects.  The ability to work on really large maps and the way it handles river systems are still the best in the business. This doesn't means it is perfect, but it works, and this is too often the case when it coms to 3D terrain tools. The biggest use for tools like world Machine are for the video game industry and so far their need for large terrains and realism have been very limited, so far, but there are lots of signs that this ai about to change which makes me somewhat hopeful for improvements in the future.

World Machine is based around a visual programming interface, and understanding how data flows and being processed are the key aspect for using it. This is not for everyone, but great for me, gives me the power of programming and procedural data processing combined with visual presentation. World Machine is a VERY powerful tool but it has a steep initial learning curve.

World Machine has a free, very limited version, which is a good way to see if you like work with this kind of tool.

Free Alternatives:


A great tool for randomly creating whole worlds with heightmaps rivers and more. Old clunky UI and of limited use if you want to make maps recreating a specific terrain.


Have some of the basic features creating and editing terrain data



Cost: Indie $99 (one time), Professional $199 (one time)

The new kid on the bloc and a very capable and promising terrain creation tool. Gaea's fractal, erosion and vegetation are by far the best I've seen and it comes with a sleek, easy on the eye, dark, modern UI. It still lacks a bit when it comes to tiling and rivers, but it is catching up, and might very well earn the place as my go to terrain application soon.

Free Alternatives: Same as World Machine



Adobe Creative Subscription $21/month (Photoshop only), $55/month for all Adobe Creative Apps

The industry standard image editor with more features than you can throw lots of sticks at. It is the best tool if you need to handle huge images and have the hardware to run it.  I use it for texture editing, combining and touching up all the renders from world Machine and Gaea, adding things like roads building etc. It is the only tool that can reliably handle images larger than 32K which is sometimes needed for me.

Free Alternatives:


It used to be a clunky and difficult tool, but the lates versions have modernized the UI and brought it up to modern standards. Very capable and has almost the features a map maker might need as long as you don't try to work on images that are too big. Great tool for the price.


A free tool that focus on the creative side of things, with a ton of smart nifty tools that rivals even Photoshop. A tool every fantasy cartographer should have in their toolbox.



Adobe Creative Subscription $21/month (Illustrator only), $55/month for all Adobe Creative Apps

Adobes workhorse for vector art and Illustration. I use it for map labels, symbols, font creation and more. A little bit clunky and inconsistent with Photoshop, but overall the best tool in its field by far.

Free Alternatives:


A feature rich alternative to Illustrator, but lacks the ability to work on large cartography.


A 3D creation tool that is growing and expanding into a fully featured workhorse in the 3D creation world. I'm new to it and still learning the basics and so far it seems to be both capable and reasonable to work with.

Filter Forge

A toll to create and render textures. It comes with a huge library of textures which is what I use. You create textures using a visual procedural workflow, very similar to World Machine which have made me realized that you can create all of it using WM, I use it to get access to all the cool textures that other users have uploaded to the Filter Forge library.

Free Alternatives:

There are several free alternatives that seems to have most of the features, except a well organized library of textures. One of the best are



It is the open source standard of the GIS world, used by lots of professionals and enthusiasts all over the world. A bit clunky but very capable. It is my GIS tool of choice for learning GIS and to try and keep the maps editable without having to use expensive tools.

Gaming Tools


This is my Campaign and Rules manager, and a tool I love. It is an open source general information management tool based on markdown and locally stored files. This means that all the work I put into my lore, rules and adventure are kept locally on my computer in a standard, and human readable, format. This is critical for for me, I don't want to loose my format because a company stops developing a tool, fold or decide to shut down their webservice. Obsidian plays well with cloud backups like DropBox and One Drive, so by keeping my data in my DropBox I both get it backed up and can use Obsidian on my laptop, phone and tablet.

A ecosystem of RPG plugins (all free) gives Obsidian an impressive range features for us tabletop roleplayers. Statblocks with rollable dice, initiative trackers, maps functions and more. Add in world class data management functions and it is, in my humble opinion, the best tool for the job. The UI is the ebst I've ever seen and it you can style it to suit your needs.

Javalent Plugins

Javalent have created a set of plugins for Obsidian that are fantastic, and they are free.

Josh Plunkett Tutorials


Josh teaches how to use Obsidian for RPG's

Tables Generator


A great tool for markdown table generation and data conversion


Owlbear Rodeo
Free (very limited) $4/month or $7/month for more storage

A simple and easy to use Virtual Tabletop Tool that concentrate on the essential functions, displaying maps, tokens and fog of war. It has a dice roller and a simple initiative tool, but no other automation and rules integration.  The killer feature for me is the "endless canvas" that lets you place maps next to each other to cover large areas, perfect for my style of play. The only VTT I've found, so far, that can easily do this.

The lack of rules integration and automation is a plus for me, I use Obsidian for that. Having to manage rules, lore ad all my other notes in a single place is a must when you run complex long term campaigns. I might look into foundry VTT (or another VTT) if they have a solid markdown integration and can handle huge maps, but I don't see that happen anytime soon.

VTT Token Maker


A simple to se way of creating tokens for VTT's

These are the tools I regularly use and that give me the ability to create maps, run games and have fun at a level I could believe would come true until a few years ago. I hope they can be of use to you as well!