Translating DCC Lankhmar Maps For The German Market

Es ist Lankhmar — auf Deutsch!

Goodman Games is partnered with System Matters Verlag in Germany for publication of all things DCC RPG in German — many of which can be found in the German section of our Online Store. Currently they are working on the German version of DCC Lankhmar, which of course requires all the usual things you might expect when translating from one language to another — but then there are all the unusual things, like not only finding the right words for some of Leiber’s more unusual coinages, but fitting the translations onto Doug Kovac’s amazing hand-drawn map of the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes!

Tina Hanisch, who does German DCC layouts for System Matters Verlag, recently described the unique challenges attendant in the DCC Lankhmar translation in the following interview with Daniel Neugebauer.

Tina Hanisch does our layouts for DCC here at the System Matters Verlag (Verlag is the German word for publishing house, but it could also be a great name for a wizard!) in Germany. She has already worked on the rulebook, the numerous adventures and of course the Purple Planet. DCC Lankhmar is the next big project that is currently in the works here. Tina has already adapted many of the hand-drawn maps for the German edition, but the city map of Lankhmar was a special project, so it’s a good time to interview her!

Daniel Neugebauer: Let’s start from the beginning: Okay, all the different map entries are translated. You have the original map file in front of you. What is your first step when adapting a DCC map into German?

Tina Hanisch: I put the translation list on the second monitor and open the original map on the drawing tablet. I copy all the English terms to separate layers, because you need them every now and then when you’re working. Then they are retouched out of the background layer piece by piece until everything is clean, and then the German terms are written by hand on separate layers.

D: What is particularly tricky about this process?

T: The larger, very lovingly hand-designed titles, which often run significantly different in German. But to still arrange them harmoniously in the same style as possible in the same place is always an exciting task.

D: Luckily “Lankhmar” is also written in German “Lankhmar”! Are there any other challenges?

T: Staying as close as possible to the original in the handwritten entries – for example, learning over time how the artist of the original writes a simple capital D or S. For more complex lettering, I try to adopt as many original letters as possible. If there are missing some letters, they have to be drawn. Sometimes I also slightly adjust the drawing in the background so that the new lettering is embedded like the original.

And of course it’s difficult to get all the terms in the sometimes very detailed originals in the end. But I think it’s challenging for everyone involved!

D: The maps of Lankhmar and Newhon are much larger than many other DCC maps. Did you have a certain strategy when working on them? For example, did you go from south to north or did you work on the big labels like the seas first?

T: I try to go through maps as large as these as systematically as possible, usually from the top left to the right and then further and further down – “line by line”. In addition, it helps a lot to mark each edited name in the translation list afterwards. What is not marked at the end is most likely still hiding somewhere.

I proceed quite differently with the more elaborate lettering. Sometimes I start with them – that was the case, for example, with the title of the Nehwon map – and sometimes I edit them as soon as it’s their turn when I go through the map line by line.

D: Okay, last question: Was there anything else during the work that required special attention?

T: No special attention compared to other DCC maps. But the number of names/terms was much larger than in classic DCC maps, which made systematic work more important than in a normal DCC dungeon map.

And it was cool to work with a full-color DCC map for once. However, thanks to the technology, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference whether it’s color or black and white. But in the end, it makes you even happier to see the translated copy in front of you.

D: Thank you very much for the interview, Tina!

The finished result ist wunderbar!

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