Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Dungeon Alchemist by Briganti is the perfect tool for those aspiring tabletop dungeon masters out there that are looking for tools to help spice up their tabletop games. Given my inner cartographer has been screaming to be let out lately, when the opportunity arose, I hopped at the chance to take Dungeon Alchemist out for a spin. Needless to say, I am extremely impressed at the ease of use, quality of the Early Access title, and just the general concept of simplicity found rampant throughout the various features, tilesets, and just overall experience. That’s the sign of a must-own in my book…
Though still in Early Access, Dungeon Alchemist is well worth its modest price, if for nothing more than just how well the utility runs. Devoid of the typical Early Access struggles found in pre-release software like frequent crashes, variable framerates, and poor audio, are blessedly absent here. That’s not even to get in on the actual functionality and overall experience. Polished, presentable, and most importantly, easily accessible make Dungeon Alchemist a must-have companion for any budding dungeon masters out there. If anything, the only real complaint that I have is one that I am confident will eventually be addressed. I want more than typical fantasy fare by way of the available tilesets that govern the overall theme of the map you’re creating.
Dungeon Alchemist is clearly geared towards D&D-esque fantasy settings. While I’m 100% on board with the different fantasy-esque tilesets, I really hope to see some sci-fi-esque tilesets (inside of stations/ships, urban sprawls, etc.) as I would spend hours at a time tossing entire scenes/campaigns together. Besides, I’m not doing that with the current fantasy-geared tilesets, I most certainly am doing that. It’s just that I really hope to see more themes in the available tilesets because I’m absolutely hooked on the simplicity of Dungeon Alchemist that I’d like to use it to create entire world maps.
Enough about the overall concept though, eh? What’s neat about the software, you ask? Everything.
To start, there are three basic terrain palettes currently available; Dark Parchment, Forest, and Grasslands. Where the Dark Parchment option is clean and simple, the Forest and Grasslands options add a few more elements to their initial designs. For both of those map options, you’ll have elevation choices ranging from Flat and Fjords to Ravines and Canyons, though I don’t personally use anything higher than Hills. It’s partially because any of the scenes/maps that I have in mind don’t exactly “fit” in mountainous regions, but also because any elevation beyond the Hills option I typically go with because the terrain variances (like elevation, water, etc.) seem to me to be “off.”
I’m making relatively small 28×28 maps (that can handle 2-3 buildings or a dozen or so decent-sized rooms) but when you start adding water and mountains to the features in the map, you quickly run into the problem of scale. See, the biggest “issue” I have with Dungeon Alchemist is that anything other than the relatively flat elevations feels like the scene is designed for buildings/environments that are wildly different sizes.
As you can see, when there are variations to the maps, while they look fantastic, once you start adding buildings/rooms, you can see that the building cuts into the terrain since actual assets that you apply to the map don’t follow the actual terrain, but rather on the “sea level” axis. However, this is still very Early Access and the chances are good that things like this (along with additional themes for tilesets/terrain) will eventually be ironed out.
Simplicity is king here and Dungeon Alchemist is by far the most easily accessible DM/GM utility when compared to the likes of CC3+ and DungeonDraft. Its simplicity and approachability is why my first map took just inside two hours, but my second map was just under 30 minutes. The map that is shown in our intro video was completed in about 10 minutes. Once I’m happy with the map, I can quickly export to a JPG, or even to tabletop sites like Roll20!Score: N/A