Yeah I'm really just looking for a starting point. Like I said, this is just a little bit of fluff that I'm adding to a DnD game to spice things up. Honestly, I remember making lame jrpg's in C++ in the 90's and it was a lot less intimidating than this, but in just a couple hours of watching those tutorials I've already made the map I needed, setup a few sprite sheets for the characters, and got the walking animations working. I'm sure I'll hit a roadblock when the time comes to setup a battle system and triggers to open doors etc. Either way, I'd rather invest some time in learning this rather than just buying a copy of RPG maker.
The main difference to me is that there's no limit on image size for my monsters. In RPG maker (at least the older versions I've used) you couldn't really scan an image and set it as a sprite, I think the limit was like 256 pixels or something. I know it's weird, and kinda hard to explain, but shitty low-res sprites of my player-characters fighting against really clean looking high-res monsters is exactly what I needed for this particular campaign... and trust me, if it takes me a month just to plan this one 5-minute level, that's not much of an investment compared how much time I spend writing a campaign, sketching characters and monsters, balancing battles, and writing NPC dialogue.