log in or register to remove this ad


D&D General Do your players map?


Up until my last 2E campaign, besides having a "Caller" in the party who acted as leader/speaker for the character's actions, one of the players would normally get designated as the "Mapper" - the person in charge of mapping whatever dungeon the players had delved into, to keep them from getting lost or figuring out where secret doors might be found due to the contours of the maps, and any blank spaces within. They would also handle the torturous labor of hex-mapping areas such as the Isle of Dread.

So, I am wondering - have you or do you have your players involved in mapping the areas the party adventure in? Is it a voluntary position, or like with my old games, required and assigned (and if so, by who? In mine, it was DM required*, the job was assigned by the leader - often to the Cleric or Wizard player).

* Well, more like "highly suggested" as I only laid down a battlemat during combat and quickly scooped it up during exploration, so the party was only getting verbal directions through whatever labyrinth the party was maneuvering.

log in or register to remove this ad

It's only needed if it's a big complicated dungeon (which was the default in ye olden days). As DM I usually say something along the lines of "this looks complicated, you feel it might be a good idea to draw a map".

Now that dungeons do not automatically default to a 10' square grid mapping is harder.

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
I remember having fun mapping (or describing dungeon maps) back in the 70s and 80s, but we eventually tired of the tedium. Now the DM will either roughly sketch what we can see, or set out actual dungeon or wilderness terrain (for encounters) or just roughly describe things and trust to blind luck. Or the DM will use the full map and show a portion of it, covering up what hasn't been discovered yet.


41st lv DM
They will as needed.
Sometimes I'll have the map already drawn, or 3d terrain placed.
Other times I chuck a few wet erase markers into the center of the table & whoevers closest will map if they feel it'll be helpful.

About 1/2 the time we just run things ToTM with good descriptions & clarifications as required.


I can remember when playing the first EOB on the PC, you had to draw a map or you got completely lost.
Funny thing after playing it a few times you had the map in your head, despite being 90 degree movements in one square steps only or maybe perhaps because it was so.

I currently only play on Roll20, a VTT, so mapping is done automatically unless Theater of the Mind is used. Beforehand, mapping was hit or miss since 3E, since the days of the dungeon crawl has slowly faded away. In 1E, we were very careful with our mapping, and DMs often created torturous designs to screw with the players.

In 2E, however, I found a great technique that tracked the PCs route with minimal effort. You simply drew a line for directions taken, leaving marks for other exits, including secret doors. If an area was noteworthy, you marked it (A,B,C...) and wrote a note on the back of the map. This made it super easy, but it did reduce the probability of finding an obvious secret door between connected areas (since you didn't map distances to know).


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Never. Then again, I don't either. I have maps of my world and important cities but location details? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Then again, I almost never do "dungeons".

As a DM I draw maps for myself to use behind the screen to describe to my players whatever terrain they are travelling through. I only draw anything out with dry erase if exploration turns to combat. Even if a player wants to map I don't let them as it just slows everything down. If they are looking to map a location to sell in game, I'll let them and then just have them make a few checks to see how accurate it is and its possible value, but I don't actually describe what they are mapping. On the same note if they are in a situation where they may get lost I will give them some indication that they are losing their sense of direction and either resolve it through a few roles or adjudicate it if they make a case for common sense. Having players map in my game serves no purpose.


Space Jam Confirmed
Having players map in my experience has always been a frustrating, non-fun disaster that detracts from the game - I don’t feel it particularly adds any realism either, since trying to map from somebody’s verbal description is not what the characters are doing - they can see their environment. I think the practice typifies an early 1E style where the game was both more adversarial and less immersive.


Rotten DM
My whole group quit mapping in 2E. I would either give the Mapper a copy of the map with stuff blacked out. Or tell them to ignore the secret stuff. Today in a big map, I just say "Do you want to go right to rooms 22-27 or left to rooms 19-10.

I had the players draw stuff back in 3.XE and 4E when we used a tabletop battlemap, but on paper honestly unless the mapper is experienced and you're drawing pretty standardised maps with precise measurements, you're begging for misunderstandings and inaccuracy and time spent correcting them. And DMs tend to be best at it, but they also er tend to be DMing.

In 5E I usually sketch stuff out for them and the other DM I play with regularly does the same.


Magic Wordsmith
The players don't have to map in my games. That's a player role that isn't really relevant in more modern editions of D&D. I don't know of any reference to players drawing maps in the D&D 5e rules, for example. Even back in the day when it was an assumed part of the game, the person who got stuck with mapping was the person who was in the bathroom when roles were assigned. Nobody liked it then and I don't imagine they'd like it now. Only now it's made more irrelevant through the use of Roll20 at our table - the map is on the screen, revealed as they move about.

Now, characters often map in my games, when it's useful to do so. In certain scenarios, particularly those involving overland journeys, mapping is a useful Activity While Traveling which helps create an asset that allows the party to avoid getting lost on the return trip. Other times, I offer gold for source maps as a further incentive for players to have their characters draw maps instead of, say, keeping alert for danger.

I've got two players at one of my tables that both map when we're in dungeons. One is better at the layout, the other has cleaner cartography.

Ironically, back in the olden days, I don't think I ever had a player bother to map.


Mod Squad
Staff member
I've found it so much easier and faster for me to produce maps for the players. I can sketch an added area on the map for them about three times faster than the "I describe, they draw, I correct, they redraw..." process in typical player mapping. I don't have the time for that nonsense any more.

In my Ashen Stars game, maps have been pretty much unnecessary.

Yes my players map. I describe rooms as if they are mapping and I require them to navigate themselves through the dungeon.

I do allow a shortcut where if they can accurately narrate their movement from the entrance to where they want to go, I 'speed-run' the party to that location.

I don't require perfect copies of the dungeon (lines and circles are fine). It's up to the players how much detail and how accurate they want their maps to be.


Unserious gamer
Never. Then again, I don't either. I have maps of my world and important cities but location details? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Then again, I almost never do "dungeons".
This. It's extremely rare for me to do a site-based session that's more than a few rooms. If I ever did anything more complicated to the point the players got lost, I'd just explain it to them.

Quite simply, I don't think mapping needs to fall into the category of "player skill tests".