View Full Version : What do you do for Maps?

2019-03-31, 11:04 PM
So I'm weighing my options on whether to start DMing. I'm just dipping my feet back into D&D after taking a long hiatus with PTA/U. I'm greatly enjoying playing and enjoyed DMing PTU, so I figured I'd enjoy DMing. However, my past 6 years or so of experience are all play by post. So I'm weighing a lot of things before making my decision and reaching out to possible players.

Basically my question is, what do you all use for maps? For pbp I used google docs with some tokens, but that wasn't a terribly evocative or visually pleasing medium. I could use it but I might want to step my game up.

My restrictions:
- Willing to spend money (reasonably) - probably up to around $50. So I won't be getting the gorgeous 3d printed dungeons.
- Location unsure: I'll probably be in my place, but depending on my players/times I may be at a local game store due to roommates
- Technology: I can link up a laptop to the display to get stuff on the TV if need be with a separate chromebook for me to use as a tool. No experience with roll20 or similar as a creator, but willing to learn if its relatively intuitive
- I have legos (seen some people write about using lego maps. I'm intrigued, but interested in hearing if others have used them)

So what have you all used or found successful? I've been trolling articles, but more info is always a good thing.

2019-03-31, 11:12 PM
i just went to a teacher supply store and bought a couple of dry erase whiteboards. The big one hangs on the wall where i put an outline of the campaign world where the players have been. And a couple of smaller 2X2 boards that I lightly cut 1X inch squares into.

Graphics arent great obviously but it works as a visual representation for tactics and you can write on it quickly, make notes right on the map and slide tokens around with no problem.

2019-04-01, 01:29 AM
Go down to where they print your local newspaper and ask for a couple of roll ends. Skip the front desk, check around the side/back where the loading bays and the giant recycle bins are, ask the people working there. 15 yards of newsprint is far to little to run through the press, but you can get a lot of mapping out of it.

For tokens check a hobby/crafts store. There are usually wood flats. One inch squares for critters, print off some googled images at the right scale, a bit of glue stick and a pair of scissors. I flip them over when the critter is KOed rather than removing them, lets you see where the body piles are for adjucating difficult terrain. Numbering them is good too, just a small one in the corner.

For PCs or important foes 3/4 inch by 1 and 1/2 inch flats, picture on one side, name on the other, base from a small bulldog clip (pop out the wire handles while using as a base). Having some colored pencils or art pens handy is nice.

2019-04-01, 02:37 AM
I've been making a set of dungeon geomorphs on the cheap. made a grid file in gimp2 (like photoshop, but free) that I can print to A4 pages to 1 inch scale, over which I just draw in walls with specific connection points for openings, wall edges and pathways. Trim the non-grid edges then run through a laminator (mess resistant, and more durable for ongoing use).
They won't win any art awards, but they get the job done, and are simple to produce quickly when I'm setting up a new dungeon.
Plus, by having a consistent alignment system, I can mix and match the pages to create new dungeons out of old tiles.

The drawing style I've been using is pretty close to the style of maps in Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. When ever I draw in a new feature, I save off a transparent file of the feature in isolation so when I want to make a room with it I can just drag and drop it before printing.

For tokens I've gotten a little fancier, but still cost effective compared to minis.
Hardware stores or hobby shops for 1 inch round mosaic tiles (I like the mirror glass ones, the edges give a nice effect). $8 for 60 tiles.
For 2 inch and up, I use a hole cutting drill attachment and go to town on some mdf board. a $5 board is enough for a couple hundred discs.
Find any monster images I like on google, scale, print, cutout (circular hole punch = huge time saver), glue to an appropriate sized round, then spay with some clear acrylic to make the printed image smudge resistant.
The time taken to do it all just comes down to streamlining. Per token, image hunting probably takes the most time. For 1 inch tokens, I print off about 35 per page, 3-4 pages in a sitting. Put on a movie and have everything cut glued and sprayed before the credits are rolling. After 8 hours of drying they are ready for play.

Ken Murikumo
2019-04-01, 08:19 AM
Me & mine are simple and lazy.

For combat we use a chessex wet-erase battle mat with minis. The battle mat is basically a marker-board so with different colors you can draw terrain damage, structures, and the like. We have a combination of old school d&d minis & lego figures for the enemies, and a few 3d printed custom figures i made to represent the players. Who ever is DMing for the session spends a few minutes sketching the map onto the battle mat while describing the setting further. We use spare colored D6s of different sizes or even what we have on the table to represent some things on the map (we've used my stylus container to represent a train car at one point).

Normally we use each square as 5 ft. but for huge battles we've made each square like 10 or 20 ft. Last session i ran, they infiltrate an enemy shipyard (space ships) with intent to hijack a ship and sabotage the rest. Each square was 30 ft. (each characters normal movement).

For out of combat I use my laptop and google images / deviantart to show a picture of the general setting to give everyone the right mindset in addition to describing the setting. I've tried map generators to plot out cities, but it never caught on. Instead it's just easier to give players some points of interest and let them do their thing.

For dungeons, we tried mapping with graph paper, but that also never caught on. Instead i've been more successful with "flowchart" dungeons and "5 room" dungeons. But now that i think of it, my group has done very little actual dungeon crawling in a game called dungeons and dragons.

2019-04-01, 12:22 PM
If you're lazy and broke and American, grab yourself some wrapping paper. The backside of American wrapping paper has a 1-inch grid, perfect for drawing out battlemaps.

2019-04-01, 01:04 PM
I use a large whiteboard and sketch rough maps when it's important. Also lets me have a "minimap" of the overall area and notes about other stuff (like names that are a pain to spell).

For tokens, I went out and bought a bunch of glass gems (used as vase fillers) like these (https://www.amazon.com/Miracolors-Vase-Fillers-Glass-Gems/dp/B07DLKJYC3) except in assorted colors. Those work great for small/medium creatures. I use blank bases (from either Reaper Bones or Pathfinder Pawns) for the larger ones when needed. PCs and important NPCs get actual 3d painted models from my small collection.

I only draw maps for things where positioning is relevant, but don't try to fit it to a grid. We measure instead (with a ruler or rough estimate). Not as formal as full grid-based, but more visual than pure theater of the mind.

2019-04-01, 01:30 PM
I use Chessex battlemats and have never looked back.