Sunday, May 9, 2010

Map Monday

A quick and dirty hex map of all the non-hidden places along the Road to Fallcrest, as per Oliver's suggestion.

Whuppin' out this map has got me thinking about the role of the map. It occurs to me there are three map types in D&D: the DM's map -- the one with the goodies only the DM will see -- the players' map -- the one they're putatively drawing while trudging along -- and the prop -- an actual map on actual paper handed to actual people in order to spice up the game.

Having had that thought, I had another map-related thought; none of these blog maps are useful as D&D maps. I mean, clearly they ain't player maps so rule that out. Neither are they props; a prop, imho, is something more archaic, like a pirate's treasure map. Inky. Frayed at the edges. X-marks-the-spot kind of thing. Can any of them be considered DM maps? Mmmmaybe. I mean, quite a few of them have 'eyes only' info, but that's not sufficient for a DM map, really. A DM map needs also to be on a grid/hex in order to convey information to the players in a measurable, standardized way in addition to reavealing all the hidden goodies.

If anything, these maps are akin to development art for movies or video games. Art used for insipiration, but not meant to be actually used in the telling of the story. Which is fine, but I'd also like to make some useful stuff. Maybe blueprint-like DM maps presented along with the corresponding papyrus scroll or message tied to an arrow, that sort of thing. If you, dear reader, have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.


Simon Forster said...

I think your maps would prove useful for DMs, if only for a perspective of the area. I'd maybe throw in a few numbered areas, a key, that sort of thing. A hex/grid is useful, but a simple scale indication would suffice for the overland maps.

Your Fallcrest maps were perfect player, prop ones. So maybe something like that for the others?

Quick question: how do you draw your maps? Pen, pencil, other? Then scan and photoshop them?

Sandman said...

I agree with Simon, your Fallcrest maps (DM and Player's), prove really useful. I actually used them for play and my players were amazed at your work.

That goes for your Winterhaven map too, it helped my players put everything in perspective.

As for suggestions: I think you should just post those kind of maps, sure you could add a grid of something, but I think just a scale at the bottom would be better.

astropia said...

You forgot a fourth kind of map - the overview map a DM prepares for the players.
"This is what you know of the area."

Your illustrative maps are way better suited for that purpose than my map-maps and city maps.

Your Fallcrest bird's eye view gives such a perfect impression what life in that town must feel like, and which landmarks and features have what impact on daily life.
And you just show what PCs can see after a brief tour of the streets - there is no secret DM info. The players are left with natural impressions like "wow, this looks like a wealthy house", or "over there, the wall is in disrepair", and can incorporate those into their dealings with the town's inhabitants.
It's much harder to relate that kind of information in a casual way through technical maps or DM monologue.

There are some high concept maps on your blog, maps that are indeed not suited for gaming (like that one on which villages look like theater flats). But as mapping experiments I find them even more interesting than your more "regular" fare.

PatrickW said...

Many of the maps you post are good props to show what the PCs see, which is darn usefull for DM's, especially for the travel portions of adventures.

Plus, they give DM's a better perspective on what can be seen or what things might look like that bowed text or a standard hex map does not convey.

Kevin said...

Your maps are perfect for my need as a dm and for my players. Echoing everyone else, the Fallcrest and Winterhaven maps are awesome. I also like and used the Mapping the Nentir Vale map as a rough one that the characters would know of the Vale.

I enjoy the hex maps because they do show the distance without me having to break out a ruler to measure distances.

The blueprint style are awesome, the Inn was great for showing my players what the place looks like and what they can expect when the walk in the door.

I love what you'e done. Keep it up.

Colmarr said...

Agreed with the other posters.

The only difference between a player map and a DM map is that the former doesn't have "secret" stuff or labels on it.

All it would take would be to remove the labels and most of the maps (especially the town ones) are perfectly usable as player handouts.

The overland "view" maps are a little less useful because they assume that the PCs reach a certaint vantage point. But that's a fair price to pay for some gorgeous imagery

crazyred said...

Hey Simon, I use an erratic mix of photoshop and good ol' pen and paper depending =)

crazyred said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Thinking out loud, let's break it down some more.
We have three map categories: DM, Player, and Prop.
We have three map...let's call them 'genres': City, Wilderness, Dungeon.
Potentially that gives 9 distinct types: DM City, Player City, Prop City, DM Wilderness, Player Wilderness, Prop Wilderness, DM Dungeon, Player Dungeon, and Prop Dungeon.
I think we can toss out Player City, don't you? No one maps a city do they? Player Wilderness is on the bubble too I'd bet. Regardless, Player maps are a "first person" endeavor, so for our purposes let's ignore them.\
They city maps work in that it's reasonable for players to have a lot of city info up front, kind of the way there's a comprehensive map on the first kiosk you see at the mall.
I think my hang-up is with wilderness maps. DM wilderness maps needn't be pretty and, without Player maps, that leaves prop maps for the wilderness.
So that helps me narrow down the useful maps: City maps (which are both DM and Prop) and Wilderness and Dungeon prop.

gorckat said...

I love your sketches and your maps.

I'm DMing a group of people playing for the first time, including my brother. He read up on the Vale and dropped the village of Nenlast into his background and I can't wait to show him your sketch.

I snagged your sketches of the Nentir Inn this evening.

Your work is really awesome. Thank you.

Matthew Miller said...

Just came across this site; what beautiful work! One thing that would be immediately useful to me would be a version of your Winterhaven town map without the "key" circles. That makes it a pretty good prop, and the players can learn the locations themselves. Any chance of you making that available?

Brandon Kruse said...

matt, i'll give it a shot but since moving a lot of my stuff has gone missing.