Mini post: Maps

I’ve got an all day music event to go to, so today’s post is going to be kind of short. (Incidentally, if any of you reading this are in the Reno, NV area and don’t already know, today is day 2 of the 10th anniversary Marianarchy, which is an awesome semi-annual charity/music event, and you should go).

Basically I just want to share some thoughts on using maps, or battle grids. They suck. They’re a pain in the ass.

Yes, they can be very helpful in visualizing the events of a combat session, and they certainly help in understanding how attacks of opportunity work. But they take a lot of time to make, they take up a lot of space, and I’ve found them to not be worth the effort. I’ve spend 30 minutes or more making big, detailed game maps for combat sessions that take 5 or 10 minutes in real time, maps that take up valuable table space which could be better used for dice, character sheets, beer and dorritos.

Uhmmm… yeah that’s all for now. Talk to you next week!


2 thoughts on “Mini post: Maps

  1. Granted my RPG’s have been largely confined to D&D and Pathfinder (the same thing for this discussion) – and I find maps to be a huge benefit both as a GM and a player. As a player the tactics of combat, or even larger strategy help – but also it helps things feel more ‘real’ Even a shitty, hand drawn map really communicates to me the player what the GM is envisioning here. Very much a picture is worth 1000 words sort of thing.

    As a GM I will draw out a map with main geographic points and political boundaries with city locations. I’ll even, occasionally, make a map for a really involved ‘dungeon’ (at no point in my years of gaming has a ‘dungeon crawl’ ever taken place in a dungeon LOL). We use dry erase boards for this, and combat. So I can mark things as we go – but I’ll have the master map of my plans drawn up for my reference.

    I think maps are really important for fantasy gaming – but not every combat needs drawn out in advance. Maybe I just need the map to know that if they go form point a to point b, it will take 3 days and I want to ambush the party twice a day, i need 6 combat events lined up.

    • My group rarely uses maps. We’ve always done fine just describing the scene. I know maps can make things more clear, but the space they take up, as well as the time and effort it takes to make them (compared to the time they actually get used) makes them not seem worth it to me. If the GM describes things well, and the players have good imaginations, that’s usually enough.

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