First time GM seeks help: maps?


Advice


Good day everyone!

After several months, I've finally managed to start GMing, and I'm now preparing to run a published module (Dragon's Demand) in about a week: I've been translating the thing, preparing blurbs and monster's stat sheets, et cetera.
However, as the title, I've been having a lot of problems with one aspects: namely, maps.

How in the Nine Hells do you do these things? D:
As I had the PDF, I thought things would have been easier, but extracting the maps and printing results in obviously minuscule maps, and chopping them up to a reasonable size results in maps in horribly low resolutions. Trying to adjust the contrast in Photoshop and trying to work Inkscape's vectorial-sorcery-mumbojumbo resulted in scalable maps, but the square grid almost completely disappeared.

So, should I do the maps over in a program (I've found AutoREALM and Dungeon Painter), dividing the thing in several pieces and printing it, or I'm missing a way more easier method to handle maps?


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We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.


If you want to take the maps cleaned (no indicators on traps etc), go here

Uploading a pdf, you can then download the images extracted, that you want.


Bacondale wrote:
We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.

Seconding this. Unless you are in a hurry, or will be changing battle maps frequently, a blank map should be good enough. Giant pads with the right size grid also exists.


Graph Paper can also work in a pinch, you can use tacks or different colored pencils for each player and your baddies. It's not as aesthetically appealing as a battlemat, but it works out alright.

Paizo would want you to buy their "Dungeon Tiles" Product, but it costs money, so you know.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Nohwear wrote:
Bacondale wrote:
We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.
Seconding this. Unless you are in a hurry, or will be changing battle maps frequently, a blank map should be good enough. Giant pads with the right size grid also exists.

Thirding this. Conveniently enough, if you're looking for a really budget solution, a lot of gift wrapping paper has a one-inch grid on the back.


Rennaivx wrote:
Nohwear wrote:
Bacondale wrote:
We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.
Seconding this. Unless you are in a hurry, or will be changing battle maps frequently, a blank map should be good enough. Giant pads with the right size grid also exists.
Thirding this. Conveniently enough, if you're looking for a really budget solution, a lot of gift wrapping paper has a one-inch grid on the back.

Fourth-ing. I'd never bother with printing out maps and getting the scale right. Too expensive. Battlemat + wet-eraser covers everything.


And make sure they are WET erase, the kind used on overhead projectors. Dry erase markers will quickly permanently stain most battle maps.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

You could also use a blank flip-mat, which I have found to work better than the Chessex ones. Plus you can use wet, dry, and if you are daring, permanent markers, as these are fully sealed (unlike the cloth Chessex ones, which is why you can only use wet erase).

For scenarios and modules, I have had great luck with extracting the images (usually just requiring a right click on the image, but might need help from the pdfimage to extract if the layers are messed up). I then use posterazr to size them (and chop up into printable chunks). Sometimes resolution is an issue, but far less often if you just try to screen capture them.


You can leave the map on a laptop screen and use a blank grid map in front of it for combats - saves times on drawing. Just make sure to chop the rooms into different files so you won't reveal anything before time.

This is also useful for displaying scenery during the interactions without battles (spooky forests, crowded taverns, NPC portraits, etc), just make sure to mix things a bit or the players will realize you have a pattern - meaning, throw in some maps even when there isn't any combat.


I've done a couple of things.

Initially, I was buying easel pads of 1" graph paper at Office Max. They're 27"x34", so you can fit most maps on one or two sheets. I would just transfer the map from the book to the pad with pencil and marker.

Now, I mostly use Inkscape, which is a free vector graphics program (Illustrator is a similar one, but costs money). It takes a little getting used to if you're not familiar with graphics editing programs, but if you have the PDF, you can copy the image out of it, paste it into Inkscape, set the scale on it to however many inches wide/tall it is, then render a grid over it. I throw in layers for blocking, PCs, NPC, etc. so I can reveal things as needed.

Then I hook my laptop up to the TV and use it as a second monitor, show the map to everyone, and create little 1" circles with their character portraits in them to move around the map.

It probably sounds like more work than it is, but it's pretty slick once you get going.

Sometimes I still fall back to the map tiles that Paizo sells and the miniature cutouts as well. They're handy for when you're doing a random encounter or something and don't have much prepared.


I still advocate for melamine/showerboard as discussed here


Target brand wrapping paper has a 1 inch grid on the back side. Hit them up after Christmas as get as much as you can. Colored pencils or crayons work well on it.

I'm also a fan of the 2.5D style.

Plus, I love doing the whole papercraft thing.


Thanks very much everyone! Sorry if I didn't reply sooner, site has been unstable as hell this days. <.<

The Chessex battlemat looks really cool, but I'll have to order it somewhere: checked on Amazon over here (Italy) and it's hella expensive. Like, 5 times as much expensive. I'll see if my FLGS has one.
In the meantime, I think I'll go for the graph paper: that'll be easy enough to find.

@MeanMutton: Those 2.5D things are amazing. :O


snapshot the map
paste into editing software at 100dpi
calculate percentage for increasing to 1" = 5' scale
posterazor it up
print


RE: big pads of paper with 1" grid

I bought one of these, ~$35, and cut a number of sheets into several different sizes, and laminated them for reuse. Big supply of homemade battlemats. Such as it is. Probably way more trouble than just buying a Chessex mat, but I was pretty pleased with myself.


You can easily create your own battle map by printing out 1 inch grid onto a board as big/small as you want, then getting it laminated. The pros of this is that's possible to get it done at every generic print shop (sometimes it even costs less).

Another tip is to look at each map and understand the purpose of each room. 100% of the time I redraw every map to exclude pointless details on graph paper (there's only so many empty warddrobes/storerooms I can be bothered describing).


Rub-Eta wrote:
Rennaivx wrote:
Nohwear wrote:
Bacondale wrote:
We use a Chessex Battlemat and wet-erase markers to draw out the map as we progress through the adventure.
Seconding this. Unless you are in a hurry, or will be changing battle maps frequently, a blank map should be good enough. Giant pads with the right size grid also exists.
Thirding this. Conveniently enough, if you're looking for a really budget solution, a lot of gift wrapping paper has a one-inch grid on the back.
Fourth-ing. I'd never bother with printing out maps and getting the scale right. Too expensive. Battlemat + wet-eraser covers everything.

I supplement my battlemat by pre-drawing the maps on clear acetate. Then, I just lay the map over the battle map when it is needed. That saves a lot of time during the game since I don't have to constantly stop play to break out the markers.


Luckily I don't have to use maps anymore.

A few years ago my friend suddenly appeared at our game night through a time vortex of swirling purple and blue energy. He had come from the future and had come back through time to bring us forward to the 24th century.

After stepping through the vortex we arrived on a holosuite in Quark's bar on the space station Deep Space Nine. He had the holosuite programmed with castles, dungeons, inclement weather, friendly taverns, dragon overlords - and most importantly, costumes and gear for us all. We threw ion fireballs at hordes of Klingon warriors alongside their orc cousins, then we visited a Vulcan/elven shrine to rest and level up.

It was pretty sweet.


When you're independently wealthy, look into Dwarven Forge or another of the recent 3D mini terrain makers.

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