Release Date: 8 December, 2022
Platform: Windows, Switch, Playstation 4, Linux, Xbox One, MacOS
By Chris Picone, 23 January 2023
I've been a DM (across a range of platforms) for a bloody long time now. And, like most, I'm always looking for easier better ways to generate maps, both planned and on the fly. With that in mind, Dungeon Alchemist understandably caught my eye. So how is it?
It's definitely easy to use! Just select the room type you want to place, click and drag it into whatever size and shape space you want it, and boom! it auto-generates a room for you. And if you add other rooms on (say, adding a cellar or pantry to your tavern), it automatically adjusts the walls and windows and adds doors. A randomiser button also features, so if you don't like the pre-generated layout the program comes up with, you can cycle it through until you find something you do like. It does have some weaknesses; the generated rooms are very simple and repetitive and it doesn't do an amazing job of making more drastic changes for different room sizes or shapes. It also only generates a room at a time, not whole buildings. It's totally fine for creating random villages or buildings for a quick visual aid, or for snapping up a quick room map for impromptu combat, but not fantastic for unique or story-important mapping. A range of customisation options are available, so you can manually place everything if you really want to, but that gets pretty boggy.
While the room and object options are a little shallow at the moment (at the moment it's just generic stuff like churches, farms, and taverns), Dungeon Alchemist is still in Early Access and more features are being added all the time. Having said that, I think this program will really come into its own as users start adding their own custom pieces through the Steam Workshop. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing more sci fi options because I can see this being very useful for quickly generating landing stations and exploration points in something like Traveller.
In addition to being able to create buildings and villages, Dungeon Alchemist also comes with a surprisingly good scenery generator. At the click of a button you can generate forest, mountain, or desert landscapes. A few more buttons and you can create water worlds, islands, whatever you like really. You can make small maps for immediate use or whole worlds if you like. And then there's a slew of "paintbrush" tools that allow you to quickly alter the elevation, add dirt tracks, etc. Great for world maps, landscapes to fit your towns on, scenic pieces for quick reference, or open environment combat maps.
Dungeon Alchemist also comes with a stack of "value add" features. For example, while you can freely make digital maps as you please, it also has settings ready to go if you need to print your maps. It also comes with a small selection of creature tokens, top-down, isometric, and cinematic views, and a photography mode.
The verdict? Dungeon Alchemist isn't the most powerful generator out there but it'll be enough for most people. While it does have a bunch of customisation features but is best used for quickly generating random rooms and landscapes. Its real strength it that it's so quick and easy to use.