Favorite maps in RPGs?

As I work on some maps for a client, I’m curious what maps you’ve seen in RPGs that you especially liked. And more particularly, I’m interested in why you liked that map – setting immersion? Plot hooks? Functionality at the table? Flexibility? Just plain nice to look at?

3 Likes

I haven’t really done anything with that style, so I can’t speak to the actual usefulness, but I could endlessly look at the maps in these two posts. Something about the minimalism appeals to me a lot:

While they’re not very artistic or anything, from a functionality standpoint I’ve gotten a lot out of the maps in The One Ring. Having colours for the difficulty of the traversed terrain and runes for safety is a quick and easy way to interact with the map, both for players and the GM.

Night of Conquest for Classic Traveller has a great city map. Everything that’s important for the movement mechanics in that scenario (streets, bridges, the river, districts) is there in just enough detail that you can easily reference it and there isn’t much distraction by mechanically irrelevant detail.

http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Divine_Intervention/Night_of_Conquest

3 Likes

@Stentor_Danielson what are some maps you really dig? What do you dig about them?

2 Likes

I’m a big fan of Dyson Logos’ dungeon maps, and this one right here is one of my all-time favorites, the Secret Crypts of Titch:

I love Dyson’s style, but more than that I love how the places are themselves always interesting and evocative of situation. Combine them with a few questions posed to the players, and you get all sorts of interesting creative crystalization.

Like, playing a new Dungeon World game with this map (and no details beyond the name, “Secret Crypts of Titch”) prompted me to ask the Artificer what they knew about the Titch, and he said they were masters of clockwork-style engineering, devices and gizmos and weird pseudoscience. And the Ranger answered my question about “what’s the biggest danger in these hilly woods” with “dire bats.”

Looking at this map, I immediately thought "Okay, that square room with the pillars and the secret trapdoor? Puzzle trap… like, you have to spin things on the columns to the correct combination or the entrance slams shut and the place fills with phlogiston and then ignites. And the dire bats? Well, clearly that square room has been serving as the lair for a small colony of dire bats, so the floor is covered in guano and etc. etc. etc.

In other words: Dyson’s maps give you a cool framework to build on, but they don’t, like, dictate anything about the location. They don’t (usually) mandate anything about the what’s going on, but they give you enough of a sense of place to scaffold your creativity on (either during session, collaboratively or using random tables, or prior to the session as prep).

16 Likes

I like Gus L.'s maps. Here’s a nice example.

It’s a free adventure you can look at here: http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/2014/07/osr-superstar-round-3-submission.html

11 Likes

I like it because when I stare at the map, even without reading the key at all, my mind just swarms with ideas. I also love how he visually represents all the relevant things in the environment right on the map. But most of I just think it looks really great.

2 Likes

I love what Roan Studio puts out:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/8657/Roan-Studio

Once I got a taste I bought all their stuff? There are some wonderful isometric/faux perspective vertical maps that make you want to deep delve… I’ve actually used Roll20’s dynamic lighting for it to great effect, using Dungeon World.

And the maps have more prompt-like hooks and leave a lot open to play with. Like, look at this verticality:

13 Likes

This style is my favourite style for fantasy inspired games.

Or

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/93345

It’s fantastic, not realistic or to scale and there are inspirational details on the map that would allow me to run a campaign from the map without any further details of the world. I dislike most world maps because almost everyone seems to go for realistic real world style maps and I find that uninteresting. Give me a map of the world how their inhabitants think it is not how it really is. Tell me a story or at least inspire me to one with a map. If I can hand it to the players as an in world artifact that’s a plus too.

2 Likes

The isomorphic maps in the original Castle Ravenloft (Dungeon Module I6) are the gold standard by which all other RPGs maps should be judged (and, spoiler, found wanting).

11 Likes

I never played traveler but I kinda love this site

https://travellermap.com/

I have to agree with @Mathias on the Isometric view (ironic since I don’t like isometric non-TJRPG games). But its been my favorite approach on screen with Roll20-- especially where I can find screen shots on levels from rpgs and use those. It’s particularly handy for games where distance doesn’t matter or is relative, like 13th Age. I think those maps create a dynamic and different look. They also help make players see the space in more than a flat dimension or worry about ranges.

I hadn’t seen the Roan Studio materials, but I picked up the Epic Isometric Bundle from WarDrum a while back. I’m not a big dungeon mapper person when we play face to face (we move from point of interest to point of interest ala Dungeon World. But for a recent session, I wanted to mix it up a little. So I map a map in Photoshop using the Epic Isometric Bits, split it in two levels, and then blew those. Then I cut out puzzle pieces for each of the rooms, which I taped to the map I gave them. As they explored, they got to remove pieces, like a dungeon advent calendar. It was a cheap and effective prop and added a lot to the game-- probably took more time than it should have, but the players dug it.

Here’s the map I assembled with the EI pieces:
Google Photos

10 Likes

I have two examples, one old and one new. The Dark Sun boxed set (the second one I think?) had the setting map printed on cloth. I found that super atmospheric, perhaps because it was the first rpg prop that felt a little like an in-game object that I encountered.

The second example is the location illustrations in Mutant Year Zero. The way they include map-like information in illustrations of buildings and spaces is very clever and super usable.

2 Likes

I always loved the Runequest 2 map. There was something about it that sparked thoughts of adventure!

http://www.saduria.co.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/Map-DragonsPass.jpg

4 Likes

The Quade Diagram in Mutant City Blues. Is it technically a map? I’d say it’s mapping an abstract possibility space instead of a physical locality. You might disagree.

But the Quade diagram serves the same purpose as a dungeon map does in a good dungeon crawl: it constrains choices, creates decision points, and offers avenues of further exploration. It structures the narrative by focusing the players and characters both on the questions of how disparate spaces are connected to each other through a labyrinthine network. But the diagram does this in the genre-appropriate space of the procedural mystery. So navigating physical space is easy, but figuring out how two different uses of mutant powers are connected is significant.

3 Likes

Relationship maps :smiley: Any game which builds relationship map in will be loved be me greatly! The inbound outbound ones especially which ensure every character has a real hook to each other.

5 Likes

Well, I’d have to admit that I love real-world maps, with all those weird little names and hills and lakes … I can spend hours just looking at a real-world map, reading names and imagining stuff.

Even better is Google Maps for just skimming across, then zooming in and looking up facts on the internet. I have found the strangest and most inspiring things.

3 Likes

I love this twitterbot that makes maps, complete with names. It makes a small section of a map, I think one every hour or so, and is supposedly based on sound geographical principles. Oh, and it add unpronounceable fantasy names to boot!:sunglasses:

https://twitter.com/unchartedatlas

5 Likes

Like Jeremy said Dyson for dungeons but I just love Deven Rue’s land maps.

She hand draws each tree, just the inattention to details is wonderful, you can get lost in her maps.

4 Likes

This is going to sound a bit silly, but “realism” how many maps have you come across and there’s not an “outhouse” or “Faclities” Sometimes you get a “Community Bath chamber” but not often a Bathroom! These rooms exist in real life, Elves and Orcs poop like HUmans, So there has to be a room to “drop the kids off at the pool”

Exploring a Castle or Keep where do/did the staff sleep? Where’s the Broom CLoset?! I mean someone had to clean the place, where is the cleaning equipment? the Brooms, the mops, the buckets,m the plungers? The laundry Rooms? I like finding these nooks and crannies.

Just my thoughts, they’re weird I know :slight_smile:

4 Likes

THANK YOU. I always try to include a privy or the equivalent in any dungeon or building that people live in. Or at least some sort of disposal place of bedpans and the like.

3 Likes