Saturday, March 1, 2014

Megadungeon "Best" Practices XII

The rest of this possibly endless, vast, deep series is right here.

Just one best practice today.

Keep the Map Size Manageable

Just as an actual physical tip, keep your map size manageable for you, the GM.

I've occasionally complained about poster maps. Poster maps are cool, but how do you use them face to face? Lots of folding, creasing, and concealing, or just plunk it down and say "You know the layout" or what? Too much for me.

I use either 8.5 x 11" paper or 11 x 17" paper, because I have access to both easily. It's not too difficult to copy 11 x 17 on a normal printer, either, and piece together with tape, either.

Beyond that size, I find I'm folding, creasing, and otherwise mangling the map. It gets to be too much to keep in hand. It's vastly easier for me to map on 8 squares to the inch 8.5 x 11" paper than on twice as much 4 squares to the inch paper.

This does mean it's hard to communicate detail, put down pretty little icons, etc. But it's much easier to do the macro level navigation if the paper is easy to handle.

11 x 17" is the outside of size for me, if only because it can be folded in half. The times I've tried different sizes (smaller paper, or legal size) it's made the actually carrying, copying, storage, and not losing parts of managing a big dungeon too hard.

Corollary: Keep the Maps Separate

This one is for publishers and would-be publishers - put the maps on separate, map-only pages in your PDF or in separate, map-only booklets in your physical book. Please. Page flipping is a nightmare.


  1. Hmm, haven't thought about that for some time.
    Playing online via roll20 I just think in pixel and image weight now so a mega dungeon would just quite simple to handle, bigger and nicer for in-game with notes on the GM layer so players can't see them.
    That's just for you though right? How do you handle the mapping and battle-maps for players, especially if they start running around during encounters?
    Also, how do you describe PCs exploring?

    1. Like I said, a physical tip. I have not idea what's manageable from a purely digital perspective.

      Battle maps we build out as needed. Descriptions - I need to work on a common vocabulary for describing dungeons, but yeah, it's the old school way. "You can see forty feet or so down the corridor, and it extends past your light. The corridor to the right goes about half as far and ends in a wooden door." That kind of stuff.

  2. Couldn't agree more about the flipping around in a book to get to the maps. I had Castle of the Mad Archmage originally that way in a 3-ring binder, but in play I found myself taking out the maps, and ended up doing a separate map book.

    1. With everything published I've used, I've ended up needing separate maps. The "One Page Dungeon" is a good thing, but once you need more space for what's there, you end up flipping, and then you want to upside to a one page map and a larger description.

  3. I started on the large size and just moved back to the smaller size.

    Its so much easier. It also on the scale I'm using means a Chessex Megamat has almost exactly as many hexes as one sheet. So I can draw an entire page onto the mega mat if I want to.

    Another few pages of my megadungeon done, getting there in terms of a decent size for session one. DFRPG may be delayed, but I'm moing ahead

  4. My only issue with using smaller maps is you tend to always have rectangular dungeons. I think they should be more organic and free flowing.

    1. Sure, it's tempting to keep having your dungeons fill your paper and match the shape. You don't necessarily need to do so - if you consciously fight it, paper size and shape shouldn't have to dictate shape on the dungeon on it.


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