Problems with Drawing Maps


Rise of the Runelords

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So folks, as I've been reading through the AP in preparation to run it, I've realized one thing that I'm not sure at all how to deal with.

Many, MANY of the maps in this AP are, to put it simply, gigantic. Our group typically uses a whiteboard or a gridded roll-map (the kind that use dry erase markers)and neither of those are even close to large enough. Not to mention, I'm fairly sure my table isn't big enough to hold a proper sized map. And then some of the maps have squares that are ten, or even TWENTY foot grids.

How do you, my fellow DMs, handle this situation?


We use the Chessex Mega Mat which is big enough for most of the maps.

When you have something like Thistletop, sometimes you can divide the map into two sections (the thorns and thistletop itself). This isn't always possible, but with the Megamat, you can easily handle the first 2-3 adventures (I don't know about the others.)

So i really recommend it.


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I blow the maps up to appropriate scale, print them out piece-meal using Posterazor, and then glue them to poster board with spray adhesive. Afterwards I cut the maps apart into their constituent rooms, and lay down the rooms on the table as the group explores. This has the advantage as, when we run out of table space, we can simply remove the peripheral rooms and focus on the closer areas at hand. However, this is a decent amount of prep work, as well as money to print.

For the really big maps, I simply handwaved the 10 ft square stuff and made them 5 ft squares for the extreme situations. Jorgenfist for example, the external part of the fortress, if printed to scale, would take up my entire kitchen. Even printing at 5 ft squares it took up the entire table, with no room to spare. (However this was worth how epic it made the place felt!) The external grounds of Fort Rannick are also fairly massive.

You can try using multiple dry-erase maps and just draw/use the parts that your adventurers are actively at. No need to have the entire map drawn out all the time and visible. Drawing in the middle of the game may be immersion-breaking though.


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I just use Roll20.

If one of your players has a big-screen TV, you can hook it up to that.

And, they're about to roll out some more character sheet support with an iPad app.


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We use a (large) Chessex battlemat and Lego. Basically, I build each room using Lego bits, then as the players move from room to room I add more and subtract rooms behind them, kind of like a physical fog-of-war.

FYI, six "bumps" is two inches long, so the Lego math works really well.


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I had the same problem -- at first I only drew portions of the map, and I finally gave up, loaded the maps onto roll20, put it on my TV, put a blank battle mat on the table, and when they had an encounter I'd reveal the room and say, "OK, draw THAT room!"

I *love* the Lego idea, though...


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Doing it with roll20 now, did it with d20 pro previously. Honestly one issue I have is the maps are too small. Most of the groups I've played in since I started playing RPGs back in second ed D&D days avoided one inch grids like the plague. Any attempt at actually using ranged weapons/spells becomes a joke.

Before the days of VTTs we used graph paper, often taped together to cover larger areas. I remember coming across a three foot wide roll of graph paper (the real tiny grid too) at an archaeological firm I worked at and begging my boss to sell me one.

Sczarni

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

I just use Roll20.

If one of your players has a big-screen TV, you can hook it up to that.

And, they're about to roll out some more character sheet support with an iPad app.

I do this as well. I am running the AP Shattered Star, and I just load everything up into Roll20. I run off of a laptop and small table in my living room, and my players just tell me where they want to move their characters to. When I use the GM layer, I can see the monsters that I have put on that layer as well as what the players see on the big screen. Perfect for invisible creatures. I can move them around and know exactly where they are when events happen (I have had an invisible creature get caught in an area of effect spell accidentally...the players faces were priceless when they saw this body just appear after the fireball.....lol


So I bought the pdf map pack and screen cap the maps without room id tags and then make a maptool map of them.

maptool is not the easiest but, with a little trial and error you can pick up enough for doing light and vision blocking. My group rotates hosting by about 3 of the players usually they have a spare monitor or big screen tv I can connect too (I have a 25 foot hdmi cable). I then start two sessions of maptool and connect one as the client. In a pinch when a monitor is not handy there is usually 1 player with a laptop that we can use as a maptool client (it's java based and will connect over a network).

I use maptool for exploring so I'm moving one token around. The vision blocking is kinda cool. Also when dealing with maps players unconsciously can kinda meta game it. i.e. your start in the lower right of the map they have an idea the map will expand to the left and up. Maptools prevents that because they are in the middle of a black screen.

When it comes to a fight I use the mega battlemat by chesex. I actually have two good battle mats and one that is so old its hard to drawn on. I usually have a good idea what rooms will have battles and in what order. So I'll predraw the maps and use the crappy battle mat as a cover to hide the maps underneath. Also I've got my players trained to use interchangeably either hexs or square grids so now I can pre drawn four possible sites of battle.


I use Gaming Paper. I am running The Haunting of Harrowstone, and the prison is HUGE! It JUST fits on gaming paper. I was able to get the entire prison onto a single roll. We use construction paper to provide a "fog of war."

I use our Chessex mat to draw out smaller encounters that I don't pre-draw on the gaming paper.


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Christmas wrapping paper has one inch squares on the back, i use that and the flip mat sometimes.


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captain yesterday wrote:
Christmas wrapping paper has one inch squares on the back, i use that and the flip mat sometimes.

LOL. We did the exact opposite! One of our group had a 24" color printer and he'd print out the maps for us (Best... printer... EVER!!!), THEN we'd use the maps as wrapping paper. Kids loved 'em! And at 24" wide and unlimited length, even the worst of the maps were only 2 sheets wide.

His significant other made him move the printer to his garage, so I've been harassing him for months to move it to MY garage so we can use it again, but so far no luck!

The one other method we used was for Scarwall, which is just friggin' BIG. For Scarwall, I had him print "custom graph paper" that was 28"x24", with maybe 1/4" squares. As they explored, we used a pencil and straightedge to draw in every room.

It was EPIC!

But more of a once-in-a-campaign thing. I'd recommend against it day-by-day.


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I use a blank flip mat and only draw the relevant sections (what the PCs can realistically see) as needed. I also don't go into too much detail or get obsessive about matching the printed book map exactly. Especially in natural cave settings where the boundary lines are all over the place anyway. Do it quick and approximate it the best you can. Erase and add as needed. The players want to play not watch me obsessively draw lines. It's cheap, works fine and I've never once had a complaint.

However, when I can, I definitely use flip mats and map packs that match my needs, especially for random encounters.


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Shaun wrote:
...and only draw the relevant sections...as needed

I tried to say it before, but this is EVERYTHING, succinctly.

You don't have to draw the 200x300 castle; you have to draw the 4x6 room they're fighting in, plus maybe rough ideas of the rooms around them.

That's why I advocate Roll20 and a monitor so much. Most people have at least one computer in their house, a network connection, and hopefully a TV or monitor. That's all you need, since base Roll20 is free. (Yeah, I pay, but I'm a sucker for paying for stuff I use. I even used to pay for shareware back in the 1990's. I'm silly that way.)

"Here's what the overall map looks like. Here's where you are relative to that big-a$$ map. Where do you want to go next? Into that room? Through that door? OK, do me a favor and draw THIS ONE ROOM on the battle mat, put your figures in a reasonable order there, and roll initiatives..."


NobodysHome wrote:
That's all you need, since base Roll20 is free. (Yeah, I pay, but I'm a sucker for paying for stuff I use. I even used to pay for shareware back in the 1990's. I'm silly that way.)

I've been paying them since they started taking money.

I'm really glad they seem to be making money and putting it back into their product. I definitely feel I've gotten my money's worth out of them, and I love that their's a consistent stream of updates.

But, if you can't afford it, it's totally okay to just use it for free.


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Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:
That's all you need, since base Roll20 is free. (Yeah, I pay, but I'm a sucker for paying for stuff I use. I even used to pay for shareware back in the 1990's. I'm silly that way.)

I've been paying them since they started taking money.

I'm really glad they seem to be making money and putting it back into their product. I definitely feel I've gotten my money's worth out of them, and I love that their's a consistent stream of updates.

But, if you can't afford it, it's totally okay to just use it for free.

Yeah, my friends all laugh at me for putting "NG" on my profile. They say, "You're so Lawful Good it's embarrassing!"

But I've occasionally noticed that grocery clerks forgot to charge me for something and decided that it wasn't worth my time to go back and pay for them, so I think I'm a teensy shade off lawful. (Though I did feel guilty about it afterwards...)

Yeah. I'm a rebel all right! :P

EDIT: And I'm definitely a true Californian when it comes to traffic laws. Speed limits and stop signs are suggestions, not mandates...


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I've driven California roads, and when you spend 4-6 hours a day stuck in traffic, it can break a person.
So when you see an empty stretch of road you go as fast as you can!.... Until the next traffic jam:(

edit: the most hilarious driver are Iowans, they park on whatever side of the street they feel like, no matter what the law says (not that the cops give tickets for it:p) and there are five way intersections everywhere!

And Colorado drivers have way too much faith in their breaks, like way too much!


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Massachusetts.

That is all.

(And to bring it back on topic, talk about places that are hard to draw on a grid map!!)


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Oh dear mathematical foundations of the universe, Massachusetts!

Roll20 is quite useful. In fact, I recently used it to craft a map for the eastern side of Sandpoint for the giant fight - blew up the town map and then used various building icons to de-fuzzy the images. I wish I could export that map and allow other people to use it! ^^;;

I heard that Paizo had their own map program they were working on, but last I heard it was in beta two years ago, and I've not heard nary a thing on it since. That is a shame; I'd love for them to roll that out. I'd so use it! Especially if they had cleaner maps. Putting a Paizo map on roll20 is an exercise in frustration in trying to get grids to line up (often I'll turn off the grid when that's possible just so I don't have to worry about it being off by a tiny bit).


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Tangent101 wrote:
I heard that Paizo had their own map program they were working on, but last I heard it was in beta two years ago, and I've not heard nary a thing on it since. That is a shame; I'd love for them to roll that out. I'd so use it! Especially if they had cleaner maps. Putting a Paizo map on roll20 is an exercise in frustration in trying to get grids to line up (often I'll turn off the grid when that's possible just so I don't have to worry about it being off by a tiny bit).

Once upon a time I pushed heavily for them to make Paizo GameSpace not system agnostic. The reasoning was that they would not be able to meaningfully compete with the emerging web-driven VTTs -- at that time there were a few before they got absorbed by Roll20.

I'd still be interested in seeing that. Paizo has the ability to generate a consistent look and feel, and to support their adventure content as part of initial production. I know that sounds ambitious, and anyone from Paizo who's reading this can probably list off a dozen reasons why this would ruin their process.

But the fact remains, they're the only game company that could credibly release a VTT exclusively to power their ruleset. They have the map resources and character art to drive such a thing. And MOST importantly, that would provide a value that I would invest in, in conjunction with my Roll20 subscription which I would continue to use with all my non-Pathfinder games.

A great, system-agnostic VTT exists, and it's so far ahead that it is virtually unthinkable that Paizo would displace it without a massive investment.

A system specific VTT for Pathfinder would give them a meaningful niche.


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Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Massachusetts.

That is all.

The scariest part of my driving lifetime: I got sent to Boston to run a training course. Everyone told me not to drive. I drove around anyway. I felt right at home.

Don't underestimate the San Francisco Bay Area for aggressive driving!

(I felt out-and-out bad driving in Chicago. The drivers were so timid I felt like a bully.)

EDIT: To avoid further derails I'll just add here: Yes, Captain Yesterday, I also dislike Chicago. I got sent there many, many times. I have a friend who teaches at the university there and tried to show me the "best of Chicago". I still don't get it. Just seems like a dingy, unfriendly, uninteresting city. I'm sure natives will pipe up with things to do there. But after visiting it around a dozen times, I also have no idea why anyone willingly lives there. There's got to be SOMETHING there that's nice... my friend just didn't manage to find it for me...
Ottawa, on the other hand, is a true hidden jewel...


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NobodysHome wrote:
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Massachusetts.

That is all.

(I felt out-and-out bad driving in Chicago. The drivers were so timid I felt like a bully.)

Chicago is a terrible vile evil place* you shouldn't feel bad they deserve it:-P

*experiences may vary, i have a Homer vs. New York type thing going with Chicago, nothing good happens when i go there. i don't go there

edit: In Wisconsin you get the current joys of winter driving, its dark by 4:45, the roads have random spots of black ice, snow drifts across the hilltops, the Deer start coming out about 4, the drunk drivers are out at all times (tho they are most prevalent after 9pm), also its cold as s@#*, it could snow any time, and everyone is texting someone else, if they aren't drunk that is, or both:p

I'm really glad for us driving is entirely optional, tho i love driving:p

Silver Crusade

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NobodysHome wrote:

The scariest part of my driving lifetime: I got sent to Boston to run a training course. Everyone told me not to drive. I drove around anyway. I felt right at home.

Don't underestimate the San Francisco Bay Area for aggressive driving!

(I felt out-and-out bad driving in Chicago. The drivers were so timid I felt like a bully.)

EDIT: To avoid further derails I'll just add here: Yes, Captain Yesterday, I also dislike Chicago. I got sent there many, many times. I have a friend who teaches at the university there and tried to show me the "best of Chicago". I still don't get it. Just seems like a dingy, unfriendly, uninteresting city. I'm sure natives will pipe up with things to do there. But after visiting it around a dozen times, I also have no idea why anyone willingly lives there. There's got to be SOMETHING there that's nice... my friend just didn't manage to find it for me...
Ottawa, on the other hand, is a true hidden jewel...

I love living in Chicago. It has all the advantages of a big city (tons of good restaurants, museums, live music, summer festivals, public transportation, more Pathfinder groups than I can count, etc), with a friendlier midwestern attitude than most big cities. And as mentioned, the drivers here are pretty tame compared to what I'm used to (just moved here from Florida two years ago).

Worst drivers: Florida. And the further south you go in the state, the worse they get. Miami drivers are just downright scary, and that's coming from someone who learned to drive and spent 2/3 of my life living in the 2 counties just north of there. I was amazed when I first discovered that as bad as the drivers are in Broward and Palm Beach counties, they're actually MUCH worse in Miami.

Back on topic, I've found that most of the maps for Runelords don't quite fit on a single flip mat. You can tell that Paizo started publishing those 24x30 blank mats after they published this adventure path, because there are so many 26x32 maps in the adventure, which I'm assuming was some sort of standard size at the time. As mentioned by someone else above, I just broke Thistletop into two sections, separated by the bridge in between.

But now we're up to Hook Mountain Massacre, and that Fort Rannick map is just huge, if you try and give them the overall map with the exterior, moat, outer wall, courtyard, and all inner buildings. I have a big rollout map (48x36), and I was thinking of using that and just telling them that each square is 10 feet instead of the usual 5. But combat might not occur there, depending on how they handle it, or only in certain sections, so I may refrain from drawing it and just draw small sections as needed when we play that part.

I'm also worried about the start of the 4th book, with all of Sandpoint becoming a giant battleground. Not sure how I'll handle that.


Fromper wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

The scariest part of my driving lifetime: I got sent to Boston to run a training course. Everyone told me not to drive. I drove around anyway. I felt right at home.

Don't underestimate the San Francisco Bay Area for aggressive driving!

(I felt out-and-out bad driving in Chicago. The drivers were so timid I felt like a bully.)

EDIT: To avoid further derails I'll just add here: Yes, Captain Yesterday, I also dislike Chicago. I got sent there many, many times. I have a friend who teaches at the university there and tried to show me the "best of Chicago". I still don't get it. Just seems like a dingy, unfriendly, uninteresting city. I'm sure natives will pipe up with things to do there. But after visiting it around a dozen times, I also have no idea why anyone willingly lives there. There's got to be SOMETHING there that's nice... my friend just didn't manage to find it for me...
Ottawa, on the other hand, is a true hidden jewel...

I love living in Chicago. It has all the advantages of a big city (tons of good restaurants, museums, live music, summer festivals, public transportation, more Pathfinder groups than I can count, etc), with a friendlier midwestern attitude than most big cities. And as mentioned, the drivers here are pretty tame compared to what I'm used to.

Thanks, Fromper! I was getting worried about Chicago there for a minute! I figured SOMEONE would defend it!


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he's from florida tho, anything is better then florida (yes I lived there too lol:)

edit: and i'm sure with that many people living there someone has to like living in Chicago, i've never had any good experiences myself (and i still have quite a bit of family there, my Dad being from Chicago and all, so its not like one or two bad trips to the city) but like i said it can't be all bad :-) tho i'll never go back myself, no matter how many cool ass museums you have (Chicago actually has super cool museums:)

states i've lived in at some point in my life: Illinois, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington
also fun fact: people from Seattle pronounce the S at the end of Illinois, super funny to hear:-)

Silver Crusade

So now I'm trying to figure out how to draw the interior of Hook Mountain. I'm thinking one flip mat per room, with my biggest rollout mat being used for the BBEG's room. Should only be 5 or 6 maps that way. I can draw that tonight before tomorrow's session, right? *cringe*


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Coffee and CCR* and you won't even realize the night is gone until morning:-p

*Credence Clearwater Revival, one of the best bands to listen to in a car when you don't wanna fall asleep, i don't know why, don't understand it, its just how it is, 15,000 miles driven cross country so i know a thing or two about it:-p


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captain yesterday wrote:

Coffee and CCR* and you won't even realize the night is gone until morning:-p

*Credence Clearwater Revival, one of the best bands to listen to in a car when you don't wanna fall asleep, i don't know why, don't understand it, its just how it is, 15,000 miles driven cross country so i know a thing or two about it:-p

CCR played at the prom at the high school less than a mile from my house! (El Cerrito High!)

Only band I know of that's a bunch of middle-class Bay Area kids sounding like a bunch of Southerners. "Born on the Bayou" indeed!

LOL! Got 'im!


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NobodysHome wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

Coffee and CCR* and you won't even realize the night is gone until morning:-p

*Credence Clearwater Revival, one of the best bands to listen to in a car when you don't wanna fall asleep, i don't know why, don't understand it, its just how it is, 15,000 miles driven cross country so i know a thing or two about it:-p

CCR played at the prom at the high school less than a mile from my house! (El Cerrito High!)

Only band I know of that's a bunch of middle-class Bay Area kids sounding like a bunch of Southerners. "Born on the Bayou" indeed!

LOL! Got 'im!

that is super awesome! like words can't describe, well done!

my mom went to High school with Cheap Trick, coincidently one of my best friends in high school, his Dad was their main drug dealer after they got famous, small world:-p it was actually one of the talking points that made us friends:-)


I currently use Maptools, with a projection down onto a table (using a first surface mirror mounted above it). I will probably transition to Roll20 once we start the next book (I'm fully mapped for current book).

Prior to that, I had a creative alternative... I purchased thin plexi-glass sheets at Lowe's, and had them cut them into 3x2 sections (cutting was free, cost about $100 total). I had 4 sections, and I would pre-draw the dungeon onto it at home using wet erase marker. We could fit 2 of the sections on our chessex mat (for the grid), so if we needed to transition to a 2nd one (or if it was a REALLY big room), I just put them side by side. I also would cover the map with black construction paper to create a simple fog of war.

That said, I love the projection/VTT we have now. We still can use minis, and the detail in the Paizo maps adds much to the experience. I would not go back.


The Numerator wrote:

I currently use Maptools, with a projection down onto a table (using a first surface mirror mounted above it). I will probably transition to Roll20 once we start the next book (I'm fully mapped for current book).

Prior to that, I had a creative alternative... I purchased thin plexi-glass sheets at Lowe's, and had them cut them into 3x2 sections (cutting was free, cost about $100 total). I had 4 sections, and I would pre-draw the dungeon onto it at home using wet erase marker. We could fit 2 of the sections on our chessex mat (for the grid), so if we needed to transition to a 2nd one (or if it was a REALLY big room), I just put them side by side. I also would cover the map with black construction paper to create a simple fog of war.

That said, I love the projection/VTT we have now. We still can use minis, and the detail in the Paizo maps adds much to the experience. I would not go back.

I want to do this, but I'm worried about projector luminosity/distance.

What brand and model of projector do you use?

I look at the cheapo $300 ones and I can't imagine them being any good, so I'm saving up for one of the ~$700 high-luminosity ones, but they're all incandescent bulb, meaning lots of bulb replacements.

So now I know someone has EXACTLY the setup I want, I'd love to know what you're using...

(And the mirror on the ceiling is genius -- I was wondering how to get a decent projection length when the ceiling is only around 7' above the tabletop.)


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I know Paizo had been working on a online map tool of their own, but never heard anything about it since there was a beta a year or two ago. Anyone know what happened with it?


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I use a Viewsonic PJD5223 XGA DLP Projector, 2700 lumens 3000:1 DCR, 120Hz. At the time they were just coming out with the newer model, so this one was on sale at Amazon for 300 (retail was around 600). We've been using it for almost 2 years for a weekly game, with no lamp problems yet. I've been thinking about getting a backup lamp soon though, just in case.

Because it was an older model, the inputs are a little outdated (no HDMI), but I think the newer versions have HDMI ports.

The hardest thing was getting a cheap first surface mirror. Ideally I'd like to have one that is 2' wide, but there were no glass places around me that did first surface mirrors (only traditional). I found a seller on Amazon that had an 8x12 one for sale, and I got that for around $30. Other places would cut/ship custom mirrors, but they were over $200 for a 16"x24" sheet. Evidently hobbyists who make kaleidoscopes are one of the cheaper markets, but they usually come pre-cut into small squares. If you can find a hobby shop that caters to them, they may be able to get an uncut sheet from their distributors. I had also thought about trying out an aluminum reflective sheet at some point, but for right now the mirror has been working.

We meet in my friends basement (cliche, I know, but it's the farthest place from the sleeping kids!), and the lighting is mostly lamps (a little dim for atmosphere). We built a rig that goes over our gaming area, and have 2 Ikea coffee tables put together for our gaming table. The mirror is just about 7' off the table, and the projector is about 2' from it (I mounted them both with swivel mounts on boards that can slide to bring them closer/further as needed). The play area ends up being just about 3.5' wide, and since we can slide the map around in the program (or zoom out for larger views), it hasn't been problematic. I project onto a plain white surface. I'll try to take a few pics tonight when we're gaming and post a link tomorrow.

Aside from battles, the projector also really helped for larger scale maps, like when they were investigating around Sandpoint: I just projected the map of the city down and said "you are here right now, where do you want to go"... they asked for directions to the local tavern, and as they wandered down streets, I described the people/places they saw. It made it much more real for them, and they understood the context and layout of the city right away.

Tangent - re:Game Space, last I heard it wasn't dead, but it sounded like their developers were re-prioritized to other projects. Here was a thread where Vic mentions it's officially on the back burner for now... for now maptools has been stable, and works on all our computers. I may try out TTop or Roll20 soon.


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The Numerator wrote:

I use a Viewsonic PJD5223 XGA DLP Projector, 2700 lumens 3000:1 DCR, 120Hz. At the time they were just coming out with the newer model, so this one was on sale at Amazon for 300 (retail was around 600). We've been using it for almost 2 years for a weekly game, with no lamp problems yet. I've been thinking about getting a backup lamp soon though, just in case.

Because it was an older model, the inputs are a little outdated (no HDMI), but I think the newer versions have HDMI ports.

The hardest thing was getting a cheap first surface mirror. Ideally I'd like to have one that is 2' wide, but there were no glass places around me that did first surface mirrors (only traditional). I found a seller on Amazon that had an 8x12 one for sale, and I got that for around $30. Other places would cut/ship custom mirrors, but they were over $200 for a 16"x24" sheet. Evidently hobbyists who make kaleidoscopes are one of the cheaper markets, but they usually come pre-cut into small squares. If you can find a hobby shop that caters to them, they may be able to get an uncut sheet from their distributors. I had also thought about trying out an aluminum reflective sheet at some point, but for right now the mirror has been working.

We meet in my friends basement (cliche, I know, but it's the farthest place from the sleeping kids!), and the lighting is mostly lamps (a little dim for atmosphere). We built a rig that goes over our gaming area, and have 2 Ikea coffee tables put together for our gaming table. The mirror is just about 7' off the table, and the projector is about 2' from it (I mounted them both with swivel mounts on boards that can slide to bring them closer/further as needed). The play area ends up being just about 3.5' wide, and since we can slide the map around in the program (or zoom out for larger views), it hasn't been problematic. I project onto a plain white surface. I'll try to take a few pics tonight when we're gaming and post a link tomorrow.

Aside from battles, the projector also...

Awesome! Thanks SO much for the details!

I'm amused that both of us use IKEA tables -- we shelled out $263 for the giant black one that extends to 108" for larger gaming sessions.

I'm in the S.F. Bay Area and one of our players is a telescope enthusiast -- somehow I think the mirror isn't going to be an issue, and those ViewSonics are down to $200 used.

Looks like I can start building my "ultimate gaming setup" soon after all!


If your friend can get a larger mirror for cheap, let me know! I may be interested in investing...

If I could get a larger mirror, I had thought about gutting the center of the table, replacing it with white coated plastic, and mounting the mirror UNDER the table. That way, the projector is not mounted, just knee high off to the side (or even built into the area below the table). But because the distance between the mirror and game surface is shrunk, the mirror would have to be almost as big as the surface itself.

My other idea was to gut the table, lay down 48" LDC tv into it, and cover the screen w/ plastic for protection. The issue there would be air flow, as I've heard TVs lying down screen up tend to overheat...


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my brother does the TV under a glass table thing, i myself go for the ole hastily drawn on the flipmat i thought i hated pictionary method:-p

Still kudos for the most wholesome use of a ceiling mirror yet:-)


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Aforementioned telescope enthusiast built his own mahogany table with built-in 55" flatscreen TV, but the problem with TV monitors is that you have to protect the screen, so there's some distance between the screen and the minis = parallax issues. (I sit at one corner of the table and always see the figures as "in the middle of nowhere" instead of in a square.)

I still think "projection from above" is the way to go. Give me a few weeks to get it set up and ask me what I think... I'm VERY interested in The Numerator's "projection from below" idea, but I think 'above' will be better for both minis on the table and ease of use.

And honestly, who can possibly imagine a mirror on the dining room ceiling used for tawdry purposes? Oh, wait...

Time will tell...


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NobodysHome wrote:

Aforementioned telescope enthusiast built his own mahogany table with built-in 55" flatscreen TV, but the problem with TV monitors is that you have to protect the screen, so there's some distance between the screen and the minis = parallax issues. (I sit at one corner of the table and always see the figures as "in the middle of nowhere" instead of in a square.)

Parallax is something I've been wondering about. We were planning on building a table with an inlay for a Chessex map that would let us put a piece of Plexiglas on top to be flush with the table surface. But that would put the minis nearly an eighth of an inch off the grid. (The do-it-yourself plans got cancelled when we finally got honest with ourselves and acknowledged that a.) we don't have the tools, time, or working space to actually build something, b.) it would probably cost as much to build as to buy, and c.) needed a conventional dining room table in the first place. Maybe in a couple years...)

Don't you have problems getting your minis in the right place with overhead projections, though? Shadows and all? Or are you all moving things around sandbox general style with extendable back scratchers and the like?

I really like the idea of using Roll20 to show the exploring positions, and then drawing out one room at a time for combat. That's readily achievable.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Oh good questions! my only concern is if extended reachers/back scratchers are used i have no General Patton costume to wear (luckily we have two St Vinnies close by, also you know major college town and all, i'm sure general patton is one of the easier costumes to find actually:-p)

The other concern is i have no kitchen ceiling mirror (the back pantry one is hard enough to explain as it is)

But yes i agree ceiling projection is the way to go, as Nobodyshome says unless you have a short table or an elaborate super awesome pulley system* its hard to see whats going on with the TV under the table method.

*which might be even harder to explain then the mirror, "I like to climb" Guest "In... your... dining room.....?" "Yes, doesn't everyone?"


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Akerlof wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Aforementioned telescope enthusiast built his own mahogany table with built-in 55" flatscreen TV, but the problem with TV monitors is that you have to protect the screen, so there's some distance between the screen and the minis = parallax issues. (I sit at one corner of the table and always see the figures as "in the middle of nowhere" instead of in a square.)

Parallax is something I've been wondering about. We were planning on building a table with an inlay for a Chessex map that would let us put a piece of Plexiglas on top to be flush with the table surface. But that would put the minis nearly an eighth of an inch off the grid. (The do-it-yourself plans got cancelled when we finally got honest with ourselves and acknowledged that a.) we don't have the tools, time, or working space to actually build something, b.) it would probably cost as much to build as to buy, and c.) needed a conventional dining room table in the first place. Maybe in a couple years...)

Don't you have problems getting your minis in the right place with overhead projections, though? Shadows and all? Or are you all moving things around sandbox general style with extendable back scratchers and the like?

I really like the idea of using Roll20 to show the exploring positions, and then drawing out one room at a time for combat. That's readily achievable.

Well, his TV screen is nearly a full inch below the surface; I think that's the major issue.

1/8" doesn't sound too bad. A full inch is impossibly confusing.


My group is currently using a LED Tv for mapping. We just lay it flat on the table at game time. When we were choosing the TV, we just chose the one with the least outer bevel, and placed a piece of plexi-glass we had cut over the screen. We have had no issues with getting miniatures to line up on the grid, works like a charm, and not a single complaint regarding that yet. Easily!!!.. the best investment I have made for gaming ever.

On the biggest maps (Fort Rannick & Sandpoint)we have used digital tokens, so we can shrink the grid to get a closer look at the larger area. Was amazingly easy to run this way.

We use maptool's as I find it easily has the best VTT options for in person gaming. It can be accessed via Laptops, Ipads and Andriod Tablets. But the main feature here would be Maptool ability to zoom in and out, and scale the map to fit the 1 inch grid on the fly. Plus can be run over LAN. Oh, and it's free.

Cost me around $200 bucks total.

PS. Now I just want to figure out a way to make a Digital DM Screen, so I can have a second screen to show pictures via powerpoint, such as handouts, as well as highly visible initiative counter as opposed to my boring cardboard wall.


The forum ate my post! D:

I came up with a cheap solution taking advantage of my large table: the chessex mega battlemat + translucent plastic dropcloth. Take standard wet erase markers, cut out enough dropcloth for each layer of a dungeon, and prep your for that whole chapter. I use printer paper or binder paper as a psuedo-fog of war and remove pieces or slightly rearrange them as the players discover more parts of the dungeon.

I like this method because I can see the squares on the map without drawing on the map. There's no break in gameplay to draw maps as players transition from one layer to the next. If a sheet gets too dirty, recycle it and cut a fresh piece. Be careful about orientation though, I've ran into some problems when I've put a map down upsidedown and was slightly confused when referencing the adventure's map.

I would consider using a projector and roll d20, I'm a huge advocate for digital tools, but there's also something old-school and tactile about the grid maps and miniatures on the map. I also hesitate to make modifications to my apartment's walls since I'm still renting.


Sorry for the delay, but I have some pics of our setup to share!

To answer the question on Parallax, I'm projecting down onto a sheet of 1/8" plexiglass (with white contact paper on the far side), and we haven't had any noticeable issues with image distortion. However, we do find it amusing that we have a much BIGGER projection of the map on the ceiling, from the reflection off the plastic!

Also, we use minis on our map, and the projection over them is not very noticeable nor does it cause a distraction.

Here is a link to our setup.
(minor location spoilers if you haven't played Burnt Offerings)

The first two pictures show how the projected map looks. Brightness has not been an issue. The first has fog of war active, the second with no fog (to show the full dimensions that we get from the distance we have, and how the color looks).

The third pic shows the projector/mirror mount. My friend didn't want to drill into the ceiling (he's renting), so instead we built a temporary rig using 2x4s, and it sits over the gaming table. We're going to make a prettier version that is not in the way at some point, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

The fourth and fifth give a wide view of the whole area, and give perspective on scale and lighting. We mounted a monitor to the rig (next to the GM chair), used for GM reveals and/or players who are remote for a session. The fifth picture also shows some of the mirror rig behind the couch. There is also another armchair to the left of the GM spot, but I realized the pics didn't catch that.

Lastly, for fun I threw in a pic of our wall o' minis! I do love me some Pathfinder Battles...


Just in case you're willing to go with a cheap acrylic first surface mirror, I found a 12" x 24" one for under $50.

Whether it's any good? Considering it's under half the price of glass ones, I'm dubious...


Zebbie,

Zebbie wrote:
PS. Now I just want to figure out a way to make a Digital DM Screen, so I can have a second screen to show pictures via powerpoint, such as handouts, as well as highly visible initiative counter as opposed to my boring cardboard wall.

I just subscribed to Roll20 and I do just that! I used 2 accounts. DM Eric on one Chrome tab (DM control tab), DM Eric logged in as Player on the flat battle map TV on the table on a Chrome Incognito tab, and Player Tonya on a Digital DM screen in Firefox on a large info TV where I show handouts, pics of monsters, and the like.

It works very well,
Braxon


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Tonight I used my ViewSonic to project onto the table for the first time.

Beautiful, man! Truly beautiful! (Wipes a tear from his eye.)

Similar to Braxon, I have Roll20 in Firefox on one screen and Roll20 in a different account in Chrome on a second screen and it works beautifully.

Now, Braxon, suppose you show a handout or a pic of a monster on the secondary screen. Do you have any idea how to close it without having to scroll the mouse over the the secondary screen? It's a pet peeve of mine -- the GM can't close player handout windows.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I guess I'm old-school, but I only bother drawing a map if there's going to be combat there. Then, I draw it with Vis-a-Vis wet-erase markers on a 1980s-vintage Chessex battlemat.

Non-combat areas I describe verbally, and let the players draw their own maps.

For that matter, I don't bother with tactical maps for small combats that I know the PCs are going to win easily. I just describe things old-school.

Worked in 1985, still works now!


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

I just use Roll20.

If one of your players has a big-screen TV, you can hook it up to that.

And, they're about to roll out some more character sheet support with an iPad app.

Just a question how do you do your maps for roll20. Just starting with it and was wondering if there is any easy support for APs.


While respecting Haladir's "Old Manliness", our setup is now a ViewSonic projector going 59" down onto a chunk of dry erase board my friend was going to cut up and throw out anyway.

Disadvantages:

  • The projection is only 20" x 24". So far, this hasn't been a problem, but for larger battle arenas, it may...
  • As the day wears on, some people complained that the projection was too darned bright.

    A first-surface mirror would solve both issues at once, but so far we're too lazy to order and install one.

    Advantages:

  • With Roll20, I can show maps of the city, pictures of NPCs, battle areas (with actual 1" squares no less), die rolling (important rolls are now done with a virtual die), and anything else I feel like.
  • Since it's so easy to bring up random areas, the PCs don't know when there's a fight and when there isn't one. For example, I brought up an NPC's house on Saturday, just because I could. They spent some time discussing tactics, setting themselves up, etc. All for... a pleasant conversation with an allied NPC.
  • With kids around, a plain dry-erase board is a godsend. The board had a cup of water, some melted chocolate, and bits of chili dog spilled on it. No worries! Didn't affect the map at all! You can wipe off a vinyl map, but if the spill goes onto your lines, you're in trouble.

    So I *was* Haladir. But then I bought a projector. And now I'm happ(ier)!


  • Talonhawke wrote:
    Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

    I just use Roll20.

    If one of your players has a big-screen TV, you can hook it up to that.

    And, they're about to roll out some more character sheet support with an iPad app.

    Just a question how do you do your maps for roll20. Just starting with it and was wondering if there is any easy support for APs.

    For Windows, I swear by Hypersnap and PDF versions of the AP.

    You can copy out pics of the NPCs, save them as JPG's, and upload them as handouts. You can screenshot the maps and load them as backgrounds/battle maps.

    Surprisingly, I've had much *worse* luck with the interactive maps, though I love them muchly. You can't copy-and-paste them, nor load them directly. (Roll20 now allows you to upload PDFs as images, but so far it's only worked for single-page PDFs for me.) So I end up getting them in the configuration I want (for example, Player View, Grid On) and then screenshot 'em. There must be a better way, but I haven't found it.

    For my Mac, Command-Shift-4 and Preview provide similar functionality.

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