Saturday, February 8, 2014

Maps, Maps, Maps

Maps and RPGs go together like bacon and breakfast. You don't have to have bacon to have breakfast, but breakfast is definitely better with bacon. 

Whenever I'm coming up with a new setting or adventure idea, I usually start with a map. I've got a very visual imagination so getting the physical space in order first just makes sense to me. I can't really draw very well, but that's fine for a couple of reasons: 

A) Maps are abstractions; so long as a map conveys its meaning, it's a worthwhile map.
B) I've learned how to use GIMP and some other graphics programs. With a liberal dose of ctrl-z, I can take a map from bad-looking to mediocre in just hours!

"The Clodbreaker Burrow" -The Clodbreaker Wyrm's been slain, but strange lights can still be seen emanating from deep within its packed dirt lair. "Come to think of it, nobody's seen the Shire Reeve since the day afore yester'."
To my mind, a good RPG map will be evocative of the area it describes, and a great one will imply a story. Whether it's the story of the creatures that built the dungeon, the tale of the current inhabitants of the village, or the epic battle that just has to happen on that bridge, great maps are kind of like visual narratives. Remember though, if it's just a sketch for your personal game, it only needs to tell you a story.

"Horror of the Mine-shaft" - One unfortunate miner broke through to a forgotten void, deep beneath the earth. There was something there; now all that's left of the fellow is a splash of blood on fine yellow sand. (Sand that has no earthly business being in these stony bowels.)
Maps have also become a way for me to stay connected with gaming and other gamers; despite that I have little to no time for gaming. There are some great communities over on the G+ for making, sharing, and discussing gaming maps. I share a fair number of mine there. But don't worry, people that can actually draw share as well. If you're looking for a ready to use map or some inspiration, it's a good place to start.

You don't have to be able to draw to make a worthwhile map...
There's also people like +Dyson Logos who puts up incredibly awesome maps on his blog, all the damn time. +matt jackson does the same thing. And if you get some use outta those guys's blogs/maps, you can support 'em with Patreon. It's always a good idea to throw good money at good things when ya happen to have both.

Anyway, the point is I like maps.