"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wilderness Maps

With my Northern Marches campaign on my mind, I have been thinking about wilderness maps and their design.

A while ago there was a great thread over at Dragonsfoot about wilderness map design. It posited that a good wilderness map:

1. is for adventure - it had things to find, easter eggs if you will, such as lost valleys, hidden passes, etc.
2. has variety - different types of terrain.
3. has game utility - it is easy to use, has numbered hexes or some type of map key.
4. gives interesting choices - to get from city A to city B do you go through the swamp or around it?
5. provide obstacles to navigation - such as impassible mountain ranges blocking your way.

Most of the discussion there focused on hex maps or free hand maps.

While thinking about my B/X S&S hack I was looking for maps from the Hyborian Age. Some maps that I looked at were from RSI's Hyborian War. I found these interesting in that they took free hand maps and broke the area down into zones.

I found these maps interesting as you could combine the map with the province reports from the game for each zone, develop encounter tables and have a discrete area with its own feel. For example, from the province reports, the section titled Fort Wakla is made up mostly of desert and has a large fort. There is also a small chance of encountering hills or an oasis. It is inhabited by Zuagir Tribesmen. Making an encounter table with Turanian patrols, Zuagir tribesmen and some other desert encounters would be pretty easy.

The Hyborian War maps are similar to the wilderness map from DL1: Dragons of Despair where the map was split into encounter zones.

Another type of wilderness map I have seen is like a flowchart with multiple connections. These are similar to maps for old video games and MUDs. From SSI's Dark Sun: Shattered Lands...
Now, I have often mentioned that I don't mind abstraction and "gameism" in my B/X D&D so I don't have a big problem with this type of map so long as the players feel that they are exploring a wilderness.

I know that the West Marches campaign used a vector map but, as a computer dunce, I wouldn't even know where to start with that.

Are there other types of wilderness maps that would meet the five criteria outlined above?

1 comment:

  1. I've been working on perfecting a hexcrawl system for my campaign. Pretty much combining Wilderlands "Ravaged Ruins" table outputs with some random terrain generation, having plenty of quickie lairs and ruins on hand, that kinda thing.