"When I was born, I didn't have the power I now possess. I thought myself omnipotent back then, creating worlds at a whim, crafting people from nothing, watching their lives play out. After so many eons of creating worlds, it dawned on me. The real challenge, the real power... It's becoming a meaningful part of the world, not creating it. So, here I am. Perhaps you'd like to try the life I left?"
--Aeoia, the Banished
Making the most of your Free Account
Here at Astral we put a strong emphasis on being free. Everything you need to run campaigns is free, and we intend to keep it that way. Let's talk about what's included in a free subscription.
So, what do I get with a Free Account anyway?
A free account comes with all the map building tools, right out of the box.
- Weather FX
- Dynamic and Global Sound FX
- Line-Of-Sight tools (Dynamic Lighting)
- Map automation (Triggers)
- Basic map asset packs to jump start your map making, including animated maps and tokens
- Much more!
You aren't restricted only to assets available on our marketplace. Anyone is welcome to bring their own assets to Astral to use on their maps. You can simply upload these assets to your Vault or directly to the map you want to use them on. We also provide tools for Asset Management such as tagging for the Vault Searchbar during map creation and folder management for sorting.
Astral provides 1GB of asset storage to all community members, free of charge. This does not include maps you create, only assets you upload to use on the site. Once your assets are uploaded, you can use them in as many maps as you want with no penalty to storage.
What kind of restrictions do I have with a Free Account?
As stated in the Pricing Page, community members on a Free Account are limited to 100 assets per map and 25 characters per map.
"Whoa, hold the phone! I use way more characters than that in a campaign, and what am I supposed to make with 100 assets? A campaign for ants???"
These restrictions are only per map, which means a campaign can have an infinite amount of assets and characters. The limit only applies to assets and characters in a specific map in the campaign, not the grand sum of all characters and assets.
So, what does that really look like for map-making? Well, let's take a look!
The above map was made with about 70 assets, so well below the limit. There's plenty of detail, but there's also a few tricks done there to make this a reality.
How can I reduce the amount of assets I'm using?
Having more assets and details can really make a difference with a party that prefers visuals over theater-of-mind. However, more assets means a larger hit to the quota! So, how do we make it look like there's a lot, without doing a lot of work in the process?
Tiling is a big one. You'll notice that I have a lot of roads. What you might not know is that all of those roads make up about 10 assets. Using some tricks with Layer order, you can make seamless roads that feel authentic without being a huge drag on your asset limit. If you haven't checked out our Asset Management and Tiling write-up, I'd suggest starting there.
Let's separate the roads, see what they really look like. I'll hide the other assets prior so we can get a good look.
The majority of the road system is made up of singular assets that have been tiled for length. This isn't only good for roads. With some out-of-the-box thinking, you can not only use fewer assets, but also spend less time making deceivingly detailed dungeons.
Let's take a closer look at some of the props near the Tavern.
By holding "Shift" when resizing, you can tile assets instead of stretching them. Experiment with different outcomes as some may create cool effects!
Tiling can be used in many different ways. You can make a road look longer, or giving the appearance of much more detail than is really there. Notice how we placed another offset asset on top, making it look like a stack of barrels. Little tricks like this make the unnatural uniform placement of tiling look a bit more authentic.
Rather than leaving a building open on the global map, creating walls and floors and furnishing the inside, it's better to create the building interior as a separate map. Not only does this help your asset limit, but it makes the platform run more smoothly on everyone's devices. While it's completely possible to make an entire map full of buildings that are fully furnished and complete with Dynamic Lighting and Doors, it may be better to create a new map for the interior of frequently used buildings.
Not only does this increase Astral's performance for your players, but it also allows for highly detailed maps, with well buildings that individual players can explore while the rest of the party is still exploring other parts of the town.
In the above example, the Hero decides to enter the tavern while the Sidekick remains outside. The Hero enters the next "depth" of map, which is a zoomed in view of the interior. Though technically a separate map, it gives your players the perspective that they are exploring a region, including the buildings. "Maps in Depth" is not only a good way to let your players explore different areas on their own asynchronously, but allows you to keep your asset and token limits manageable.
Remember, each map can separately contain up to 100 assets and 25 tokens!
If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us over Discord or the Forums! You can also email email@example.com