15th May 2002, 10:24 PM #1
While guiding your players though whatever adventure you're running, do you generally allow them the sometimes arduous task of mapping their way or do you map for them as they go? I ask because there are some adventures with areas that are simply impossible to describe well enough to have someone else map. Or do your players map things out at all?
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I use a large chessex map to map as they go. I used to have them map, but it got to confusing for everyone. So, for my games the map is not that big a player in the adventure that I can't help them out with it. It safes time and gets rid of possible confusion and that is very important to any game.
IMO, inexact maps are just part of the problem of being an adventurer. Generally I describe what they see as clearly as I can, and let them try to interpret it on paper. They can ask questions, however, to clarify things (if the character could reasonably determine the answer in-game). There's nothing that says that the player map should be identical (or even really close) to the DM map.
Of course, sometimes I get lazy and just fill it in for them.
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This is in a Dragotstar campaign so players have access to satellite images and scanners and other tech, but I can up with a pretty good sattelite overhead map using photoshop and a few basic filters. If you want the PS file and have a beefy connection send me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maps are an overrated element in role-playing.
I don't use them.
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I'm not suggesting you're wrong, but what is your reasoning?Maps are an overrated element in role-playing.
I agree that many DMs have more of a map fetish than is perhaps necessary - for some it's even more fun than playing...just look at the FR atlas folks...
Everything takes place in a "scene". Whether it is the "Climactic encounter in the Cultist's Lair", or the "Hallway encounter with a shambling mound." The points that connect them aren't important enough to spend much time in.
Just as you wouldn't map out and take time to deal with each step the party takes while travelling from the neighbourhood tavern to the mage college, you don't need to do this in a dungeon.
You may say that this takes away player choice; don't players have the right to choose which dark, dank passageway they want to head down? This may be true, if you're playing an entirely tactical game, where every choice may be important. Lots of people play this way, and it's a fun way to play the game. But others don't want to have to detail each 30' long corridor or dead-end or empty room. You want to get to the meat of the adventure.
So what you do is come up with a flowchart. To get to place X, they have to either take path Y, leading them through places a, b, and c; or take Path Z, leading them through places d, e, and f. You still get all the excitement of the dungeon, but you don't have to wander around doing nothing for a while.
I started using this method while playing Star Wars. There was no way I was going to be able to "map out" and entire Star Destroyer; so I let the players tell me where they wanted to go. "We'll try and find the power core, you guys head to the brig, and you guys try to reach the docking bay." Each group might have an encounter that impedes thier progress, but exactly where in the ship that happens, or exactly where in the ship the brig/power core/docking bay is, isn't important. What happens to them along the way is.
It's like a movie - you don't have to see the whole journey, just the important things that happen along the way.
Ever since we started using a combat board with the miniatures mapping has become a lot easier, as it's just a matter of the players copying onto papers whats laid out on the board in front of them.
But before that mapping used to be origianlly down to the players, with the odd bit of help from me as Gm where necessary some angled corridors or irregular shaped rooms just aren't easy to describe.
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I see what you mean, and have to agree that this approach can lead to a much tighter game. It's not appropriate all the time though; sometimes the PCs need to be able to explore.
These are a pet peeve of mine - I consider it bad adventure design when you're running a published module with more than perhaps a couple of these in it, because PCs waste time searching and looking for a point to these rooms in general. It's almost as if the module author is trying to bore the DM and group and waste their time on purpose...dead-end or empty room
Last edited by rounser; 16th May 2002 at 01:13 AM.
I think that it's just a different approach to running a game; niether one is "better" than the other, although they each have different feels and can work well with the appropriate game or group.
I think that it's an approach that most people don't consider, so I try to promote it.