Making maps for the first time

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
I recently started DMing for the first time, and I'm using the Red Box as my launching ground. When that campaign ends, I'd like to make stories going forward, but I'm a little unsure about what I need or should get so I can make and design maps for the new encounters. My players have indicated they're all willing to chip in some cash to get me the supplies I need, and I'd like the easiest solution. Any advice?
Campaign Cartographer is generally considered the way to go;
On the other hand, the hexographer from Inkwell Ideas has a free version;

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

What about physical tile sets?
There are of course the tiles from WotC. The new sets (in the big white boxes) are very good.
Paizo produces a huge amount of poster maps, which are nice.
Then there are printable tiles (you buy the pdf, and then print out as many as you want), like what World Works Games (they're the industry gold standard for paper craft terrain) does; 
WWG also does a physical tile set which is expensive, but incredible;
There are dozens of other companies that produce printable tiles and maps, some of which let you customize the tiles to suit your needs. To name just a few;

Here's the big paper craft website; 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

To make your own maps for adventures, that grid paper they sell in most stores.  It is cheap, no need to learn any computer controls, and you can notate changes during a campaign with just a pencil.

For gaming we long ago went out and bought a 2ftx4ft sheet of magnetic paper.  This is the material they use to make magnetic signs for vehicles.  You can buy it at most printer shops, which is where we bought it.  You then come home and use that meter/yard stick with a sharpie to make 1inch grids on it.  The expense over 20 years ago was about $40, but we still play on it today, so I consider it one of my best investments.

At the time they were making Dungeon tiles with magnetic bases.  One of my friends went that route.  I bought a hundred sheets of magnetic paper (I did this via the internet).  I have then drawn or printed out on a printer (a single sheet will feed through my printer) my floor sections (with numerous sheets used just to print out corridor sections).  I then lay out the sections and they stick, so clumsy arms and such do not disturb them.  The sheets cost me over a $100 at the time, but again they are still being used, so I consider them a fantastic investment (and I still have some sheets left, so their usefulness has not come to an end).
My favourite method so far is the blank, gridded, erasable map. It's cost effective, easy to transport and big enough for most maps you'll want to make (although the size can work against you if you don't have a lot of room).
I guess this is my broader issue: I consider myself a decent storyteller but not so good a describer. So I think I could plan an encounter but not really the room without better visual aid. So I could easily use graph paper or something like that to say "here's the shape of the room" but I can't really show "details" that way. I feel like having a more detailed visual aid, like a tile from WotC or elsewhere, lends itself to a better experience. But this is my first time DMing DnD, second time DMing any RPG, so maybe others here have other opinions/advice about this?
If you don't feel like purchasing tiles, learn map fu;

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

I'm not opposed to purchasing tiles, I'm just curious whether other experienced DMs think they get more out of detailed tiles vs a basic grid, which is what I would expect.
I prefer tiles. The detail is really nice to help, and it really helps to set the scene. I've found that with a large enough selection of tiles you can make pretty much any set up, and no area is so acutley specific that every tiny detail must be right. 
That said, I only use tiles when I have the time to set them out before hand. Typically I use a plain brown battlemat and some wet erase markers. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

I'm not opposed to purchasing tiles, I'm just curious whether other experienced DMs think they get more out of detailed tiles vs a basic grid, which is what I would expect.

I used to draw dungeons out on blank grids and such, but the new tile sets in the white boxes look really nice and have ton of options for layouts and stuff. I would get some of the nice WoTC sets if I were you. You won't be disappointed.
Sign In to post comments