D&D General One Piece of Art VI (Maps)- What is Your Favorite D&D Map?

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Welcome to part SIX in the art appreciation series- One Piece of Art! Prior columns can be found here:
Part I (Classes)
Part II (Monsters)
Part III (Magic Items)
Part IV (Races)
Part V (Places)

Today's topic ... Maps! This one is a little different, SO PLEASE READ!

What D&D Map Do You Absolutely Love?

Now, for purposes of this thread, a necessary disclaimer. Please construe "map" to mean, well, a map. It could be a map of a dungeon. It could be the map of a country or a campaign setting. It could be a treasure map located in a module or AP. It could be some type of impressionistic "map" - the D&D equivalent of the "World according to New Yorkers." But it needs to be, well, a map of some kind.

Now, with that out of the way ... please note the following rules for the thread-

1. ONE map. You shall count to one. If you do two, you've gone two ... um, too far. Three is just way out. And zero means you forgot to post a map.

2. It has to be a map you love, and please explain why! Maybe you think it just looks cool. Maybe you love the way it has secret doors in it. Maybe you think it's the ur-Dungeon. Maybe you love the isometric perspective. Whatever! It's your love, don't make me put a label on it.

3. Explain the art source (incl. artist if known), the map, and why you chose it. Please!

First, I am going to retire a map to the Hall of Fame. That's right. The following map is just so good, so iconic, that we don't get to pick it.

If you know me at all, you already know what is coming.


That's right. The earliest generations of D&D players will always have THIS MAP. It's like the Babe Ruth of maps- sure, maybe later maps have improved on it, but it was so far ahead of its time that it's crazy to think about now. A giant, gorgeous, color map (and big, too!) begging for exploration. It set a gold standard for physical products that, alas, is rarely met today.

Oh yeah ...

Artist: Darlene
Source: Greyhawk Folio (1980), Boxed Set (1983)
Map Depicts: Greyhawk


Ahem. Okay, so other than the Hall of Fame choice

As I started the thread, I will go first. And I'm going to start with something that isn't the best, but might be the most iconic for me ....


Artist: David S. LaForce
Source: B2 Keep on the Borderlands (1979)
Map Depicts: Wilderness around the titular Keep

Now, why this map? Why not, you know, the Caves of Chaos? Because it's not the dungeon that gave people their taste of what "OSR" meant- it's this. A home base to operate out of (the Keep). A wilderness to explore that had stuff, but wasn't overwhelming. An area to truly adventure in (Caves of Chaos). And another to expand on (Caves of the Unknown).

The early B modules (B1, B2, B3) were actually written with OD&D in mind; it wasn't until B4 that a module was written specifically under the B/X ruleset. And in each, you see that emphasis. And this map, to me, is a perfect example of that.
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KotBL is the most influential for me, since I've probably looked at that thing for hours and hours and hours, and has prompted more adventures than anything else.

Honorable mention goes to Dyson Logos for putting out maps that have a refined look while also capturing that old school feel.

Also, please create a spell thread next :)


Morkus from Orkus

If you have been following these threads you may know that the wizard was my favorite class, so it should be no surprise that my favorite map is of the ancient wizard empire Netheril from the Forgotten Realms. I can't tell you how excited I was to go out and buy that setting.

Artist: Roy Boholst
Source: Netheril: Empire of Magic
Map Depicts: The golden age of Netheril

My all-time favorite—though hardly the most usable in play, of course—is the 1988 Forgotten Realms box set "City System," which is an astonishing product about Waterdeep.

The box consists of just three things:
  • a thirty-two-page booklet with information on Waterdeep;
  • a single poster featuring a "realistic" illustration depicting a view from the perspective of someone hovering about two hundred feet above Deepwater Harbor, looking north at roughly the southernmost one-third of the city; and
  • the main attraction, a single absolutely enormous map of the city, split into ten big posters.
Here's Wayne of Wayne's Books sitting on it:
Wayne on Waterdeep.jpeg

(Not sure of the cartographer at the moment. Based on the original Waterdeep map by Ed Greenwood.)


CR 1/8
Finally, an easy one:

Artist: Rory Barbarosa! *
Source: X1 - Isle of Dread, player's map (yes, the blank player's map, specifically)
Locale: Isle of Dread
Rationale: Vast titillating plains of unknownth for players to explore, most of which is ultimately just empty, unkeyed space meant to be sculpted into whatever madness the DM desires. For little-kid me, this was the grandaddy of maps.

* More seriously, I'm not sure who the actual map designer was.
* edit: cartography was by David S. LaForce. (h/t Snarf)
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Finally, an easy one:
View attachment 258157
Artist: Rory Barbarosa! *
Source: X1 - Isle of Dread, player's map (yes, the blank player's map, specifically)
Locale: Isle of Dread
Rationale: Vast titillating plains of unknownth for players to explore, most of which is ultimately just empty, unkeyed space meant to be sculpted into whatever madness the DM desires. For little-kid me, this was the grandaddy of maps.

* More seriously, I'm not sure who the actual map designer was.
Heck, out of that adventure, this map was more impactful to me I think :)



Getting lost in fantasy maps
I love Dyson’s Shattered Tower! I am using it as a pivotal part of my campaign and have modified variations of it all over.

But the map I picked is the fabric map of the Tablelands region of Athas. I don’t recall TSR or WotC putting a region map on fabric before but I love that they did it here. Plus, Diesel’s style is one I love so much.

It has extra points of interest that never appeared on the other versions of the Tablelands, including silt routes.


Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
So many maps. I have several full-size prints hanging in my office that were already mentioned. But if I had space for another, it would be this one by Mike Schley:

The Moonshae Isles was one of my favorite sandboxes within the Forgotten Realms, even though they weren't originally in Greenwood's FR. Despite being introduced in 1st edition, the area has gotten minimal attention over the years until 4th edition.

Shortly after the successful release of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, a handful of articles began to appear updating some specific areas of the Realms, like Waterdeep, Cormyr, and Daggerdale. These articles followed the idea of Neverwinter to update those areas into central hubs for thematic adventures based around the location, culture, current events, and history. Though not nearly the same scope and size of the hardcover book, it felt as though they were really on to something. Alas, they pulled the plug on most projects at the end so we may never know what could have been (and have not really seen since).

Of those articles that did appear with updated maps (Schley did similar ones for Vaasa and Cormyr), this one stood out as my favorite. The map itself is beautiful, and full of details. There are so many locations and names marked that invokes so many ideas. It is small enough to have a highly thematic and focused campaign.

But there is so much intrigue and conflict embedded in this region, it can never be dull. You have the eladrin returned to the elves from the Feywild, reclaiming their ancestral kingdom. You have the celtic-inspired Ffolk who venerate the Earthmother and contend with the outside world. You have the western kingdom which is the gateway to the outside world, bringing foreign ideas and people. The barbaric northlanders tend to raid those in the south. Wizards are regarded with fear and suspicion. The dark power is a dragon-like beast. Vampires have secretly become the rulers of one island. And then there's the underwater realms, the firbolg, the ruined wizard's tower, etc.

To me, this map represents so many possibilities and stories that have sadly been overlooked for too long.

The Player's Wilderness Map from The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Only Gary Gygax is listed in the credits of my copy so I'm assuming he made this map.

This was my first major adventure I got to play in that I had just become comfortable with the mapping system and I relished creating a map for me and the other players to use and noting it with the encounters along the way. I actually had my version of the map from when I played back in 85 up till 4 years ago when it was ruined when my bedroom flooded.

It's bare bones so the DM can customize it, but it's still evocative for me.



Mind Mage
I love the Darlene map.

Unofficially: these are some of my favorite maps.

The comparison between Forgotten Realms Toril and reallife is neat. And it is useful, to when making a point to diversify cultures.

This map of Magic The Gathering Zendikar is beautiful. It is by one of the ENWorld forumers. But I realize now, I didnt record the name of the artist. Please claim credit! It is both plausible and whimsical, and makes the Zendikar D&D setting appealing.

MTG Zendikar.png


Mind Mage
It's interesting how weighted responses are toward region- and world-scale maps, with only a couple interior-scale dungeon maps so far.
The two scales might done nicely as separate categories.
Heh I was going to do official map tiles for minis. I mostly use theater of the mind gaming style, so dont use the tiles. But some tiles are quite beautiful.

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