The key to a good map (pun intended)


RPG Superstar™ General Discussion

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As any good superstar would do, I've started thinking ahead to the next round(s) of the contest. We have a map challenge in round two, and an encounter/map challenge in round four. A simple map only round is a first this year (as far as i know. So i ask the question; what is a map without an encounter? I feel like this may prove more difficult than expected to make yourself stand out. How's everyone feeling about round two?

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I expect the round to end up being a Golarion location and map, though that's just my guess.

If it's just a map, it'll definitely be interesting to see what people submit and how voters react. I think that would give a big edge to someone with artistic talent even if the map itself may not be the most exciting.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

In the past the voters have been told the artistic ability of a map shouldn't count on the entry round. We couldn't help it. A good map just wants to be employed further. They can inspire an adventure. I think the map-pack and flip-mat lines are a good idea of how much a good map can inspire something.

The maps at the end of Dungeon really inspired me to create something for them. Especially when the whole group couldn't make it and I needed a smaller encounter than planned. Then I found out they all linked together! Or you may remember the inspiration for the second adventure path came from a map Erik saw with 'this way to Dragathoa's lair... :)

In short a good map will inspire an encounter.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka John Benbo

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I have very little artistic skill but I frequently have to do map turnovers as a freelancer. Besides the obvious "practice makes perfect" advice, I highly recommend spending some time scouring websites that offer cartography advice. For example- Jonathan Roberts's website, Fantastic Maps is full of excellent tips that I've used to improve my mapmaking skills.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I think that would give a big edge to someone with artistic talent even if the map itself may not be the most exciting.

I plead guilty on that one.

In 2013, in the encounter round, I worked extra hard on the encounter setup and combat options, but while I had other ideas for better locations per se, I ended up submitting a quite bland one. The map itself was good enough that I went on to produce a few professional pieces for Legendary Games, but the lessons I got from that were 1. work as hard on the location as you do on the encounter; 2. don't get overly attached to your map just because it's almost done (if necessary, start over), and 3. a semi-professional looking map will sway some votes. I still like to think that I got through on the encounter's merits, but I acknowledge the map turnover might have given me just the edge I needed on a closely fought RPG Superstar round—which goes to proving that you should use all the arsenal at your disposal.

All in all, however, I strongly believe that an awesome location with an ugly but intelligible map still beats a boring square room with fabulous artwork. Just make sure that everything is clear and the scale is right, and when in doubt whether the cartographer will understand what a particular object on the map is, add keys. I've been lucky to work from maps that made my job easier (thank you Jim Groves and Matt Goodall), and even those had a minor hickup here or there, which we easily sorted out in a couple of e-mails... so, yeah, it doesn't need to be absolutely flawless or look publishable, it just needs to be comprehensible. The rest is up to how good the location is, I guess.

EDIT: I'm not saying you shouldn't do your best, it's just that, in case you don't have any artistic skills at all, there's still hope. ;)

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As one of the judges for that round...

...Artistic talent is *not* required. What is needed is a clear, easy to read map that the cartographer can turn into the lush maps you see in our adventures. Locations with elements that would lead to an interesting fight (elevation, terrain, cover), are what you need to design for your adventure, and you need to be able to clearly communicate that in a glance. Don't forget to think like a GM *and* a player—what would you want to see in a map at the table?

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

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Obviously I'll talk about this more when the time comes, but as generic freelancer map turnover advice for any situation:

1. EVERYTHING Liz just said.
2. Whatever the rules are, whatever you decide to make as a map - make sure it's something that justifies having a map. Maps take up space in a product, and they cost money. A map of a region you are going to have multiple encounters in is useful -- it tells the GM and players where encounters are in relation to each other. A map of a vast forest with a single dot in the middle indicating where a single encounter takes place is mostly a waste -- there's no need to have a map rather than a line that says "thirty miles into the forest..."
Similarly, a fight in an empty square barn doesn't need a map. Everyone can draw a rough square. A fight in a barn with two open lofts, some traps in a pile of hay, prisoners tied up in a stall, and two block-and-tackle rigs with wicked hooks you can swing at foes or climb to get to the second level might need a map.
3. Clarity. Artistic talent is not a requirement for a freelancer map turnover. Clarity is. A series of irregular squiggles in green ink you hope we recognize as trees is bad. A specific icon for trees you use consistently, and have a key or note telling use what it is? That's good.
4. Don't assume cartographers will add detail. Your details need not be pretty, but they need to be clear and they need to be complete. If you don't say a tavern has windows, and where they are, it won't have windows. Or tables. Or chairs. It's up to you as the creator of a location to decide what is in it, how big those things are, and where they go. Don't assume anything. If you draw a 15-foot-long bed, and it's just sloppy on your part, a cartographer is going to put in a wonderfully-rendered 15-foot-long bed.
5. Just glancing at the best of map turnovers immediately makes people want to run an encounter with them. Is this someplace a movie would have a great scene? If not, why not? Not every encounter has to be complex, but they do all have to be interesting.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Curaigh wrote:
In the past the voters have been told the artistic ability of a map shouldn't count on the entry round. We couldn't help it.

I do think it's a bit of a loophole. I mean no offense to contestants like Pedro who used their skills to improve their entries - it was allowed and it was a smart move. One of the things I've written about in a general advice article for RPGSS is "remember, it's a contest" and you should pick your design choices accordingly. I also mean no offense to voters who pick pretty maps over equally well designed maps with less artistic merit.

However, I'd like to hear a few (semi-)professional cartographers' opinions on the matter. Assuming a real freelance assignment, when you get a map from the author to develop into a professional map, would you prefer to receive a map that is

a) clear and has all the necessary information (including the details Owen mentioned above) and nothing else,
b) clear, has all the necessary information, and also some extra information (colors, texture, etc.)

I can imagine there are pros and cons to each approach. I'd imagine from a cartographer's point of view, the pros and cons of receiving a colorful, nearly professional quality map would be:

Pro: It's easier to see what the author wants
Con: It belittles the cartographer's skills
Con: It leaves less room for creativity
Con: It takes more time to draw the map.. why?
* Reading a finished map may require more interpretation than a B&W map that only consists of lines of varying widths.
* Imitating the author's style may be difficult if the style is very different from the cartographer's.
* On the other hand, not imitating the style (i.e. ignoring it) means the cartographer has to mentally remove all the color and texture and go back to the square 1 - it would have been easier to start there.

In my very subjective opinion the cons overwhelm the pros. I would like it if the rules for round 2 actively discouraged the "more information than necessary" approach.

However, I'm not a judge for round 2 nor a cartographer, so my opinions aren't any more relevant than anyone else's. I'd very much like to hear other people's opinions, particularly those of actual cartographers.

Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

When I made up maps for Tarin's Crown, I did one clean and easy to read of the island of which I was very proud. Pedro Coelho did an amazing job with it and made very few adjustments. The final map almost looks identical in outline and placement as the map I submitted—just far more pretty! :)

The tower was another story. I kept it clean and easy to read, but that one Pedro and Matt had to overhaul. I didn't put as much thought into as I should of and wasn't very happy with what I submitted. I think I even apologized; if I didn't, I should have.

My advise from this lesson? In addition to making it clear and easy to understand, make sure you like what you have before submitting. Even if it needs changing, if one person likes it odds are good that someone else will as well. Never submit "good enough." That is not the work ethic of a pro, let alone a Superstar.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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@Feros - Those were actually pretty clear reference maps (both of them), so don't worry about it. ;)

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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Pedro Coelho wrote:
@Feros - Those were actually pretty clear reference maps (both of them), so don't worry about it. ;)

Thanks Pedro! That's good to hear! :)

Marathon Voter Season 8

So, this might be a ridiculous question, but how does one make a map for this? Now, I don't mean "what elements do I include?" or anything. I mean, physically, how would one actually make a map for this contest? It seems like this is going to require that we have and know how to use some kind of art program or something, is that right?

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Depends. You could do it by hand on graph paper and then scan it in. That's what I did last year.


That's what I'll be doing (or more likely photographing a hand-drawn map and converting the image to a pdf.) I'm terrible at drawing things on the computer. My skills in MS Paint are well below those of a preschooler with palsy.

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mplindustries wrote:
So, this might be a ridiculous question, but how does one make a map for this? Now, I don't mean "what elements do I include?" or anything. I mean, physically, how would one actually make a map for this contest? It seems like this is going to require that we have and know how to use some kind of art program or something, is that right?

click on the RPGSS logo to the left, then the 'previous contests' on the right. Look for round 4 or 3 of the various years and you will see what has been done in the past. You can also look at rules for those rounds.

A twist is likely to happen, but the memory max, file type, etc. will probably be pretty close.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

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For some map-making advice, read my "Making of" article about my last year's encounter entry. I was mostly clueless regarding how to draw maps when I first started planning the encounter map, but I did my research and got better at it.

I also intend to post some general map-making advice on my blog. Next week I have a special announcement coming up, but the week after that I should be able to post the advice article.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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I made some 24x30 map grids last year, but mind the rules when that round's are posted as they may require a different size.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

mplindustries wrote:
So, this might be a ridiculous question, but how does one make a map for this? Now, I don't mean "what elements do I include?" or anything. I mean, physically, how would one actually make a map for this contest? It seems like this is going to require that we have and know how to use some kind of art program or something, is that right?

Last year I drew mine by hand on two pieces of graph paper then I took those awful reference pages and used mapping software to draw a new version. I added some color to make it interesting but largely just tried to keep it easy to read.

**edit**
It is definitely worth going back and reading the judges remarks for previous years encounter rounds for the map tips.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

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For art programs, I personally recommend GIMP. It's a free Photoshop-like program you can download. Change the preferences to have everything snap to the grid and set the grid to something like 50 pixels (it's better to make the image large and shrink it when exporting). Then use line tools and such. You can place a grid over the image by creating a new layer, pasting the grid there, and then set the layer to multiply.

I personally use Adobe Illustrator for simple line art maps. If I want to pretty it up, I export it to Photoshop and paint over it.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan

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Garrett Guillotte wrote:
I made some 24x30 map grids last year

Which were enormously helpful might I say!

Star Voter Season 8

This is a very helpful post. I hope to see you in round 2!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

Do we have any information about what the map is? Continent, city, dungeon or other encounter space?

One pet peeve I have about encounter maps is when they are larger than the typical mat that players have. Mine is 26 by 26 squares.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

Nope. I think Owen has suggested we look at previous rounds (which would mostly indicate an encounter map), but that's still speculative. Could be indoor, outdoor or anything else for all we know at this point.

Dark Archive Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

My imaginary money is on a map for mass combat.

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

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Cartographer's guild is a good place to bone up on all things mappy.
http://www.cartographersguild.com/content.php

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

Lightminder wrote:

Cartographer's guild is a good place to bone up on all things mappy.

http://www.cartographersguild.com/content.php

Thanks for linking this--I can't stress how wonderful this forum is for teaching yourself how to make incredible maps. Even complete beginners can find a vast collection of tutorials and tricks to make something amazing in short time.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

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Ah, finally found SKR's advice on maps.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

Thanks Jacob...yer a wonderful person!

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

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Here's a whole bunch of resources I got when I asked my friends for assistance. Warning: ENORMOUS LINK DUMP INCOMING.

Draw Maps like Dyson: Dyson Logos has made a series of simple tutorials for very clean map drawing. Even if you have zero artistic talent, you can learn from his techniques and use these simple tricks to create a clean, easy to read map.

Jaquaying the Dungeon This link is pretty specific to dungeon design, but I think it can be helpful for ANY map where you intend to have encounters. Jaquaying is the art of ensuring that your dungeon (or whatever) is non-linear, consisting of looping paths and places where real player choice is involved, making it so that there's more than one path from beginning to end. This is a really common pitfall I see, even in past Superstar contests, where your encounter map is just one straight line funnel from start to finish. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, learn from these tips, and don't be afraid of letting players go the "wrong" way around... by making sure there ARE no wrong ways to traverse a map.

The name refers to legendary map designer Paul Jaquays.

Melan Diagrams Related to Jaquaying are Melan Diagrams. Named for their creator, a Melan Diagram is a highly abstracted layout of your area that shows you the space not by its physical dimensions, but by encounter locations and places where player choice will change how they approach each encounter and in what order said encounters are discovered. Again, this is a really good way to ask yourself "Is my map dynamic and unique, or did I just create a straight line to railroad the party to my Really Awesome Thing at the End?"

Newbie GM.com tutorial on drawing a map using GIMP This one is more technical and more on the drawing than the design side.

Fantastic Maps drawing tutorials This one is, again, more drawing than design, but they're much simpler tips focused more on clarity, and there's other advice in there that applies even to basic maps (like, "yo your location names should be clear, dude")

One Page Dungeon Less tutorials, more examples. One Page Dungeon is exactly what it says on the tin: one page dungeons. Really great source of inspiration and ideas.

Random Cave Generator (Warning: PDF) I would not suggest using any random generator to make your final RPG Superstar Entry (random is not usually superstar) but this PDF would be a great way to practice. More importantly, it gives definitions and terms for various cave features you can use as inspiration for what to put in your caverns beyond "uhhh it's a cave???" You KNOW you want aragonite trees and cave blisters in your next cavern.

Map tips from Roleplaying Tips: Some of these don't apply, like laminating your maps, but experimenting without using a grid (and LATER applying one) and the mapping software links are pretty great.

Map tips for Taverns, Inns, and Restaurants

Tips on making a map draft/outline ahead of time

World map tips

Adventure Essentials: Inns, Taverns, and Restaurants: this one is more about location design overall, but it has great suggestions for how to flesh out standard urban locations.

Also, yes, I know a lot of these are focused on Old Skool aesthetics and design principles; this is because most people I play with are Old Skool Renaissance types and we play a lot of 1st and 2nd edition-ish stuff. Even so, this stuff has stuck around for a reason.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Tothric

TealDeer wrote:
Lots of Helpful Links and clear Discriptions of Links and the usefullness

Why did I know know of this forum earlier, and where have people like you been hiding in my search to become a game-designer/writer?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Following up on one of TealDeer's recommendations... using a random generator to start with is a great way to practice (emphasis on practice). Inkwell Ideas has some good generators for cities and dungeons, etc. as well. I've sometimes randomly generated a city there, taken the general sense of layout, then redrawn that while adding more buildings, figuring out where districts are, eliminating anything that doesn't make sense, etc. which is a fun thing to do and a fun way to ge started. I'll reiterate what TealDeer said--obviously you don't want to use a random map for your superstar entry but it can be a good start.

My other suggestion would be to look up real world maps and get a sense of how things come together. Want to draw a castle? Then look up real world castle maps. Medieval town? Medieval town maps. House? House maps. Just a Google image search is a good place to start. And while there aren't a lot of real world D&D style dungeons, there certainly are dungeons, catacombs, ancient sewer systems etc. One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.

Not that I am a pro mapper or anything, but these things have helped me come up with more convincing floorplans for my games.

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

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Tothric wrote:
TealDeer wrote:
Lots of Helpful Links and clear Discriptions of Links and the usefullness
Why did I not know of this forum earlier, and where have people like you been hiding in my search to become a game-designer/writer?

I dunno about anyone else, but I for one have been sad and unemployed.

On a more serious note, Google Plus. I know everyone makes fun of it for being where ~boo hoo nobody is~, but there's an ENORMOUS community of DIY game designers there. It's where I've learned everything I know about DMing and game design, and where I got most of these links.

Reason being, G+ has built-in video chat (Hangouts) that's MUCH more stable than Skype, AND a bunch of people have written Roll20-like tools for Hangouts, so people gravitated there as an easy place to set up, plan, organize, and run games. Zak Smith of "I Hit It With My Axe" fame is there (I've actually played games with him via G+), as is James Raggi of Death Frost Doom and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

This group is a great place to get started. 6,000 members!

On an actual mapmaking related note, here's Fantastic Maps' G+ page, which has YET MOAR inspiration and stuff, and here's the previously mentioned Dyson Logos.

DeathQuaker wrote:


My other suggestion would be to look up real world maps and get a sense of how things come together. Want to draw a castle? Then look up real world castle maps. Medieval town? Medieval town maps. House? House maps. Just a Google image search is a good place to start. And while there aren't a lot of real world D&D style dungeons, there certainly are dungeons, catacombs, ancient sewer systems etc. One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.

One odder thought: if you want a Truly Weird map that doesn't necessarily conform to the average castle or dungeon, try looking up modern museum floor plans. The great part about museums is that they're designed around "encounters": funneling people into specific areas where they're going to Do a Thing. This leads to some really cool spoke and hub designs that can make for good times... and heck, an adventure set in a museum would be pretty cool on its own. Off the top of my head, I can already see the National Museum of Natural History and the National Botanic Garden as having great layouts -- both have a central area but with a spoke-and-hub design made to move people in a circular pattern throughout the space but with ways for them to branch off and take unorthodox routes -- GREAT for an adventuring party. Both also have multi levels and weird features. Also: UNDEAD DINOSAURS! DEADLY PLANTS!!!!

Same thing for theme parks and zoos. Disney especially has the concept of funneling people to The Interesting / Important Thing while allowing them the illusion of choice down to a science.

(wow are there rules for reanimated taxedermied animals? would those be undead or constructs? i guess it'd depend on the animation method, negative energy vs animate object...)

Irony: I have drawn very few maps in my life. This is all me trying to learn how to do the thing :P

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Ooh, museum maps, yes, definitely. The weirder shaped places (Museum of the American Indian) can also inspire more unusual architecture. The other fun thing about them is they have a public half and private part where there is storage, offices, even laboratories. Imagining what might lie beyond the public areas is good fuel for a story...

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

Not to mention the (abandoned) (supposedly?) underground tunnel that connects the Smithsonian Castle and the Natural History museum :P

I used to work for the National Air and Space Museum, albeit as a sales clerk, and the thing I miss most about that job was backstage access. Even if most of it is actually somewhat boring, the interesting bits made it all worth it.

Also this cool thing => http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Capitol_subway_system

Dangit now I want to write a whole adventure set in a National Mall type complex with crazy underground tunnels and weird artifacts hidden in the archives and stuff. Imagining a bunch of adventurers careening through that kind of space is pretty hilarious.

http://www.belowthecapital.org/capitol/ <= and oh look, maps of the ~seekrit senator subway~

*e* Washington, DC: Secretly Full of Dungeons

*e* Another resource, now that I've thought of it. If you happen to own the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, Appendix A in there contains a WONDERFUL Random Dungeon Generator table that I plan to use to practice. The table is edition agnostic and would be great for basically any dungeon map you could possibly want.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

DeathQuaker wrote:
My other suggestion would be to look up real world maps and get a sense of how things come together. Want to draw a castle? Then look up real world castle maps. Medieval town? Medieval town maps. House? House maps. Just a Google image search is a good place to start. And while there aren't a lot of real world D&D style dungeons, there certainly are dungeons, catacombs, ancient sewer systems etc. One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.

I'm a big fan of this, but I have to admit I find it really difficult (i.e. Google searches don't generally get me what I want). Do you have any particular sites you use or just a better search-fu than I have?

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There's a few books by David Macaulay that are awesome in regard to how different structures are built. I used the one about Pyramids to great extent during Mummy's Mask. Patrick has the one about Castles and it's pretty amazing too.

I haven't seen many of the other ones, but I hear they're good. Might be worth checking out.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
My other suggestion would be to look up real world maps and get a sense of how things come together. Want to draw a castle? Then look up real world castle maps. Medieval town? Medieval town maps. House? House maps. Just a Google image search is a good place to start. And while there aren't a lot of real world D&D style dungeons, there certainly are dungeons, catacombs, ancient sewer systems etc. One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.
I'm a big fan of this, but I have to admit I find it really difficult (i.e. Google searches don't generally get me what I want). Do you have any particular sites you use or just a better search-fu than I have?

For things like castles and such I look up tourist websites, if a standard image search isn't getting me anywhere--a lot of castles, churches, etc. open to the public will have images of the maps online. Look up urban exploration sites too.

The other non-online place to look is the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble (or similar bookstores). Often they will have coffee table books and the like for cheap that include things like maps and floorplans. I got a great huge book full of medieval town maps from B&N for like $5-10.

Otherwise it is indeed luck of the draw--if there's anything in particular you're looking for I can always try to help. Can't guarantee I'd have any more luck than you would though.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I have lots of books on castles & several on architecture at the shop. I will have to see which ones have maps though (or is it called a floorplan :)

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DeathQuaker wrote:
One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.

Not sure if they count as "real life", but I've had good luck poking around model ship forums like ModelShipBuilder. Maritime museums often have ship plans (Norway's, for example).

0one games also makes some excellent ship maps. (Pirate ship, drekar, galley, galleon)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Garrett Guillotte wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
One caveat is ships... I've had a hell of a time finding real life deckplans that are readable by an average joe.

Not sure if they count as "real life", but I've had good luck poking around model ship forums like ModelShipBuilder. Maritime museums often have ship plans (Norway's, for example).

0one games also makes some excellent ship maps. (Pirate ship, drekar, galley, galleon)

Good to know, thanks!

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

Do y'all think it would be kosher to post and share practice maps, so long as those maps are absolutely not going to be submissions? 'cause I've been practicing, and I actually would like some feedback, but I don't want to get disqualified in case I somehow make the top 32.

The map is absolutely not Superstar material :P I made it using a random generator, and I just look at it like "who would even build this. what kind of person would build this. even a crazy wizard wouldn't build this it's not weird enough"

it's like the Uncanny Valley of dungeons, not quite actually a useful or sensible space. It's mostly drawing practice at this point.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

TealDeer wrote:

Do y'all think it would be kosher to post and share practice maps, so long as those maps are absolutely not going to be submissions? 'cause I've been practicing, and I actually would like some feedback, but I don't want to get disqualified in case I somehow make the top 32.

The map is absolutely not Superstar material :P I made it using a random generator, and I just look at it like "who would even build this. what kind of person would build this. even a crazy wizard wouldn't build this it's not weird enough"

it's like the Uncanny Valley of dungeons, not quite actually a useful or sensible space. It's mostly drawing practice at this point.

I would suggest finding a "pit crew" and sharing privately, only because we're in the home stretch and you might want to use some of your practice maps and you surely don't want to accidentally pull something from one of the other maps that get shared publicly or at best be accused of it.

Star Voter Season 8

I would find it very interesting if we were given a map and had to create an encounter based on the map.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 8

TealDeer wrote:
Do y'all think it would be kosher to post and share practice maps, ...

Hi TealDeer. If you were to personally ask me (but you have not)... the answer is no.

Share what you have with those you trust. Protect your IP (until you decide how and when to let it go). What you have others might not have. What you think is common and trite may be uncommon and worthy.

As collegial as this process is, part of becoming an independent business person is identifying your competitive edge and utilising it (with all good grace of course!).

The fact that you are working through the process ahead of time is sensible - why disperse the benefit of that at this time?

Keep plugging away and the rewards will come.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steve Clarkson wrote:
TealDeer wrote:
Do y'all think it would be kosher to post and share practice maps, ...

Hi TealDeer. If you were to personally ask me (but you have not)... the answer is no.

Share what you have with those you trust. Protect your IP (until you decide how and when to let it go). What you have others might not have. What you think is common and trite may be uncommon and worthy.

As collegial as this process is, part of becoming an independent business person is identifying your competitive edge and utilising it (with all good grace of course!).

The fact that you are working through the process ahead of time is sensible - why disperse the benefit of that at this time?

Keep plugging away and the rewards will come.

Touch my IP! Love it! Touch it!

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

James Casey wrote:
Touch my IP! Love it! Touch it!

Und now, ve roll a Perform (dance) check!

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Casey wrote:
Steve Clarkson wrote:
TealDeer wrote:
Do y'all think it would be kosher to post and share practice maps, ...

Hi TealDeer. If you were to personally ask me (but you have not)... the answer is no.

Share what you have with those you trust. Protect your IP (until you decide how and when to let it go). What you have others might not have. What you think is common and trite may be uncommon and worthy.

As collegial as this process is, part of becoming an independent business person is identifying your competitive edge and utilising it (with all good grace of course!).

The fact that you are working through the process ahead of time is sensible - why disperse the benefit of that at this time?

Keep plugging away and the rewards will come.

Touch my IP! Love it! Touch it!

Will save made! Thank Desna!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm kind of known for my old school cartography and my style of mapping, but honestly, that's not where the impact comes from - The REAL trick for a map isn't the style and good looks.

The real trick is making something awesome that will feel exciting to explore or have the action in. Think of a set piece, and build the map up around that set piece. The rest is just dressing.

Remember to work in three dimensions - give them levels to move on instead of just running around on a flat surface. Steps, platforms, ledges, gaps, crevasses, and so on. Make it fun, make it something you can portray on a map fairly easily, and run with it!

Regarding sharing practice maps and sharing IP - you can probably guess my response here as I've been sharing my maps publicly (400+ maps now?) for 6 years now. The more you put your work out there, the more feedback you get. Also, it motivated me to get better at my craft and to be able to see the differences as the years went by.

It's been my opinion that the best way to differentiate yourself is to show your skills.

Star Voter Season 9

Having read through this thread, i feel I have a much better understanding about Round Two. Thanks, everyone. Now, we just need to wait and see who gets the opportunity to flex their skills :)

Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of the things I will be looking at, (without knowing the round rules yet), is the key -

If the map type is one that needs it, does it show a compass north?
If the map type is one that needs it, does it include the scale?

Are there symbols on the map, or areas which aren't listed in the key - this would cause me to have to come back and ask the designer what they are if they are not really obvious.

Basically, I won't be scoring on artistic merit, I will be scoring based on whether I have enough information to professionally render the map design without having to come back to the designer to ask questions.

Then after that I will look at the area from a play perspective, are there environmental challenges that add to the encounter areas? But until we know the round rules, I can't say much more than that for now. I am sure this part of the check list will grow once we know the round rules ;)

For tie breaking - did you use a clean sheet? Did you ink over your rough draft lines so that it scans/digitizes well enough to be read easily when we see it? Does the map layout look clean and legible? Does it give the impression that the designer really cares about the map/encounter areas they are designing for.

Artistic skills, art packages, map making tools will not be a criteria if I can choose the best entries without needing to use those as a deciding factor.

I want clarity.
I want completeness.
I want environment to be considered.
I want it to look like an interesting area to play in.
I want the number and size of player characters and foes encountered to be sensible for the area being portrayed (no dragons in the 5' x 5' loo :P) - if it's a lair, make it big enough for the occupant to be comfortable :)

I will not care if you can draw or not, so long as I can work it out :)

I will post my annual list of things I will be looking for once I know what the criteria for the map will be. For now, I hope that generic summary will do.

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