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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Easy Mapping for Players

Time to create clear advice for players who are mapping.
Players need:
  • Index cards, or
  • Squares of paper (for example, US Letter or A4 torn into quarters)
Mark the top edge of the first card/square as “North”. This can be either true North or “logical North”, the direction you start out facing as you enter the dungeon.

If the entrance starts with a corridor, draw a short line northwards. You can add an arrow on the north end of the line as a reminder of where you started.
Example Player Map

Draw simple lines for tunnels or passages. Don’t worry about scale. Just make short lines. If you want to keep track of distances, write how many turns you had to walk to get to get to a room or intersection.

Don’t draw every turn a passage makes. All you need to know is what direction you started in and what direction you are facing at the end. So, just use a single straight line, two lines if you change direction, or a U-bend if you end facing the opposite direction. This kind of simplified mapping will help with mazes, since you won’t need to map every twist and turn, just where the intersections are.

Every passage ends with either a room or an intersection. Mark rooms with short labels. Use these same labels when you make notes about what’s in the room, or if you start a new map for that room.

You don’t need to map the layout of a room unless you feel it’s important, for example if the room is two or more levels with exits on both levels, or if there is some kind of barrier dividing the room. When this happens, just grab another card or square of paper, label it with the room label, and sketch the layout. Again, no need to draw to scale.

If a passage or room exits reaches the edge of the card or square, add a new label and start a map on a new card. Give it the same label.

These cards or squares represent an actual map that the PC is making, even if the “real” map would look very different. If the real map is lost, the GM confiscates the cards. If a piece is torn off and lost or otherwise is unreadable, the GM confiscates one or more cards.

If you get lost or don’t know which direction you are facing, start mapping on a new card. Leave the direction off, but treat the top of the map as “logical North”, the direction you choose to face when you start the new map. The GM will give directions from that reference point. Once you figure out the orientation of this new map in relation to your other map(s), you can write “North” on the edge that matches “North” on the other map(s).

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