View Full Version : First time GM: map making.

2015-02-17, 10:17 AM
I have a game, and a willing player (who's struggling to learn the rules sadly...), and i was just thinking about designing the map (well, after I wrote my own quick-start guide for my single player...), problem is, I've never actually done it before, and I'm not too willing to spend money on something like this, but at the same time I kinda want more than just a sheet of grid paper with maybe some thick lines to mark boundaries like walls.

I've seen a lot of people play tabletop rpgs with online programs, but I don't know if there's any free ones, and regardless most are made for fantasy games, the one I'm running is a superhero game, so they likely wouldn't have the right tilesets anyway.

Is it possible I could just get away without any sort of map? Besides maybe a crude one behind my GM screen?

2015-02-17, 10:33 AM
What system are you using? Some games need maps more than others.

2015-02-17, 10:53 AM
BASH, ultimate edition. The book does make references to squares in things like movement and range and aoe effects.

Kid Jake
2015-02-17, 11:13 AM
I run my M&M game through Roll20 even though we meet up in person. You can make maps, custom tokens, whatever strikes your fancy with very little effort.

2015-02-17, 12:41 PM
Are you talking about a dungeon map or a battle map? Because a good* dungeon map is essential, but with some games you can get away with not using a battle map.

*"Good" meaning well thought out and easy for you, the DM, to read and interpret, not artistically good.

2015-02-17, 01:11 PM
BASH, ultimate edition. The book does make references to squares in things like movement and range and aoe effects.

Systems designed to run without maps (e.g. Fate, 13th Age, Apocalypse World, Leverage) really don't need maps. Otherwise is there confusion when people don't know where they are or want the details for tactics? Very easygoing groups are fine - tactical groups need mats.

2015-02-17, 04:12 PM
Well my sister has never actually played an rpg before, so I'm kinda guessing she won't be doing much with tactics. My custom 'quickstart' thing won't even have things like called shots in it. Its mostly just 'how you punch people in this game.

Kid Jake
2015-02-17, 04:18 PM
Then it might be better (or at least way easier) to just abstract combat. Make a doodle of what's where if it'll help her visualize everything, but maps are often times more trouble than they're worth for games that don't need them. I usually just save them for big, important scenes to make them feel special.

2015-02-18, 03:39 AM
With the way the game works, I could probably get away without maps since there's only one player, and the game has rules that let a group of minions act as if they were actually a single character. Which means that most of the time I'll only have 2 maybe 3 different 'actors' on the board at once. Worst case scenario I'll have an army of minions blocking the way between her and the main villain of the session.

Kol Korran
2015-02-18, 05:41 AM
I see several kind of maps in a game:
1) Large location maps: These are world maps, country maps, city maps and the like. For the most part you may need some rough sketch, or burrow from some book or site. (There is also the cartographer's guild, but I understand using some of their stuff costs money). These maps often go for being beautiful and impressive, with general localizations, but less detail.
2) Adventure site maps: A dungeon, an old fort, the woods and so on. These are usually more detailed, but their degree of detail depends on the game, and you. D&D tends to use distances and grids. Other stuff can easily go without description.
3) Battle maps: This is for games that use them. If the game makes use of areas/ distances/ squares and the like, then the game can benefit highly from these. I myself use a simple battle mat. With battles, the main thing is CLARITY of stuff and their positions, not how beautiful it is.

Even if it's one player, she may want to know if her magic can or can't reach THAT target, or how much penalty she may take using her bow, or how much would it take to walk in THIS route. Yet again, if the game doesn't demand it (FATE core for example has a highly simplified battle system using "zones" instead of distance), then feel free to just decide such things yourself. But make the explaining of the situation VERY CLEAR to the player. I suggest that even if you don't use maps, have some eraser board so you can sketch and wipe certain scenes (Like an exploration scene) quickly, to ease up player understanding. "One picture worth a thousand words" and all that.