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What's the level of detail on your campaign maps?


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As I'm comparing different maps of Dragon Pass [Sartar, to be precise] I ask myself "what level of detail is the average Gloranthan campaign map?"

Are you playing with the highly detailed maps and whenever your characters are pass through some tiny location you end up here on the forum or in some of the books and do your research? [e.g. map of Colymar Tribe from the GM's Screen Pack]

Are you running your campaign with broad bushstrokes, so you only have the major, big places in mind; overland travel isn't very important and you put the characters in action without going into much details and whatabouts concerning villages and places on the way. [e.g. map of Dragon Pass 1625 ST from the GM's Screen Pack]

Are you running your campaign in a defined and "closed" region, so that your characters aren't moving much and you can go deep in the details of the location [e.g. the 77pages long fanmade description of the Arfritha Vale]

What type of using maps is your campaign style?
 

 

Edited by prinz.slasar
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22 minutes ago, prinz.slasar said:

Are you playing with the highly detailed maps and whenever your characters are pass through some tiny location you end up here on the forum or in some of the books and do your research? [e.g. map of Colymar Tribe from the GM's Screen Pack]

depends but usually, I have played with whatever was to hand. Years ago, I tried to make all my own maps but, I gave up. Took too long and commercially available maps are better.

Now, do you live near a national park with ,mountain trails Here in Canada I can walk into a National Park office and walk out with handfuls of incredible contour trail maps for free or maybe cheap these days. I have used the maps to go seriously back county and they are very good. Great to use for wandering around back country , just scan them ru them through your fave Image manipulation program to change names et voila. You might also be able to get this by post or net...

So for overland, whatever works, backcountry for home written adventures the park maps and otherwise whatever comes from store bought modules.

To the last query a bit of both, a little leading with a carrot if needed, and where I feel comfortable I let them become free range.

You know, thinking back I do racall often enough to mention  just going into descriptive mode and leaving the maps in a box.

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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My campaign start was delayed, so we're kicking it off in the new year, but usually map detail is determined by whether, narratively, you want to 'play the journey' or just get the party to a destination promptly. 

I've written three scenarios in the past six months, two of which I've created no maps for, and one of which I've created a large map (made up of three smaller maps) for, and may need to create another map of a village for.

Where I've made no maps, that's been because there are existing maps I can use (as in a 'whodunnit' scenario set in Clearwine), or because the terrain is very simple and can be pictured mentally (as in a simple Broo hole in the hills). 

In my experience, unless the map ends up being a hand-out, half of the detail a GM puts into a map is usually for their own satisfaction rather than a necessity for player understanding. Nothing wrong with that either - just saying.

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1 hour ago, Sumath said:

In my experience, unless the map ends up being a hand-out, half of the detail a GM puts into a map is usually for their own satisfaction rather than a necessity for player understanding. Nothing wrong with that either - just saying.

For maps you want to show to players, you either need a coded index, or you need various dumbed down versions of the map so that you don't show e.g. every secret door or passage. Dungeoneering 101...

That said, one way I roped in my players for my campaigns always was through the use of the maps I had prepared in world-building. The style and production method varied, starting with pencils and colored crayon, moving over to monochrome computer-generated bitmaps colored with sharpies, over to very different maps. For one world I took cheap toy balls and painted them with thick layers of acrylic color to create a globus. It certainly helped to impress the players with the scale of the setting.

Nowadays I tend to look for professional (real world) mapping tools (GIS) rather than for artistic fantasy map creators. I can always take a computer-generated map as template for a more artistic version with features re-drawn by hand to give them that manufactured quality without losing too much accuracy. Coupled with a height model, you can even create contours for aerial views like the cover of The Smoking Ruins.

I used to use Google Sketchup for 3D-impressions of architecture and even entire cities while it still was free, but since that paywall I have been looking for fairly intuitive CAD software to do 3D-models.

For presentation purposes, I would print them out faintly (or use them as template on a graphic tablet) and re-draw them manually. Haven't done any of this in the last few years, though, without a regular gaming group to referee.

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4 hours ago, Sumath said:

In my experience, unless the map ends up being a hand-out, half of the detail a GM puts into a map is usually for their own satisfaction rather than a necessity for player understanding. Nothing wrong with that either - just saying.

I just remembered, an example of a very primitive (dare I  say, "bronze age") map. The Money Tree from the RQ 3 box set GM's book uses a few drawn lives and a few paragraphs of text to be learned by rote (meat and taters for an Orlanthi) to get you to... uh, uh, uh... not telling my lips are sealed.

 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

For maps you want to show to players, you either need a coded index, or you need various dumbed down versions of the map so that you don't show e.g. every secret door or passage. Dungeoneering 101...

 

Yes always a big prob, I have used the scan and GIMP solution mentioned in my last post (my fave image manipulation program) to clean up maps and remove the dreaded Spoilers (Shh).

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On 12/31/2019 at 12:38 AM, prinz.slasar said:

As I'm comparing different maps of Dragon Pass [Sartar, to be precise] I ask myself "what level of detail is the average Gloranthan campaign map?"

In the past, something like the William church maps of Sartar and Prax were fine for my campaigns.

These days, I use the Argan Argar Atlas, as everything is covered in the same style and scale, so it is easy to use.

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On 12/31/2019 at 2:06 AM, Sumath said:

In my experience, unless the map ends up being a hand-out, half of the detail a GM puts into a map is usually for their own satisfaction rather than a necessity for player understanding. Nothing wrong with that either - just saying.

For Glorantha specifically, I find that making a map also helps me visualize how far things are from each other, especially as I try to figure out how big farmsteads are and how far a clan's lands extend. Based on the number of people in the clan, I can figure out how many cows/sheep/fields I need (roughly) and therefore how big the lands need to be. If parts of the clan's lands go over, say, mountainous terrain, then I can see how many valleys need to be occupied, and how far that goes, which then tells me a few things about which kind of neighbours the clan might be fighting with. It basically gives me a minimum of plausibility, and gives me ideas for potential adventures or encounters or places to set scenes in. But it takes a looong time, so it might definitely not be worth it depending on your tastes -- I really just like maps :) 

For other adventures, like urban ones, those that are either all in one place, or those where you don't care about the relationship between the various places for the various scenes, then a map isn't necessary. Although even for a simple adventure where you go kill Broos in a hole, I would probably make map of the hole/ruin/cavern. Did I mention I like maps?

On 12/30/2019 at 4:38 PM, prinz.slasar said:

e.g. the 77pages long fanmade description of the Arfritha Vale

Wait what's that?

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On 12/31/2019 at 1:38 AM, prinz.slasar said:

[e.g. the 77pages long fanmade description of the Arfritha Vale]

Could you tell me where to find it as I am precisely playing in this area?

Or maybe you are referring to my own document?

In this case it has grown further and I am happy to share the new version if  you want. There is also a small introductory scenario (only interesting if you intend to run a local caampaign). It is still in French* although I intend to translate it when it is finished (probably by next summer). I will have a map made by a friend of mine who is a cartographer by trade.

To answer your question, I like precise map as it gives a creative boost through constraints.

* my syntax is not very complex so any translation tool should give good results and all the NPC names are in English anyway.

Edited by Minlister
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9 hours ago, Minlister said:

In this case it has grown further and I am happy to share the new version if  you want. There is also a small introductory scenario (only interesting if you intend to run a local caampaign). It is still in French* although I intend to translate it when it is finished (probably by next summer). I will have a map made by a friend of mine who is a cartographer by trade.

Ooooo good thing I'm French then :)  Was it available on one of the French forums or something? Either way I'd love to take a look.

Edited by lordabdul
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On 1/5/2020 at 6:04 PM, lordabdul said:

Ooooo good thing I'm French then

It is a dirty job but someone has to do it...

yes, no problem, of course you can have it. I will appreciate any opinion or remarks to improve it but no pressure! It still WIP for the second scenario.

I also have a quite long scenario in Prax (which benefited from advice by @7Tigers), you are also welcome to it if you intend to play in this area.

Just keep in mind that I am not a "grognard" so dramatic blasphemy against the canon is a possibility! 

 

Edited by Minlister
Preparing updated version of the document
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