Dyson shows us that mapping doesn’t have to be overly complex or a huge endeavor. It was done for centuries with the technological equivalent of pen and paper and that trend can continue. No need for fancy mapping software of any kind. I do lean toward the fancy mapping software lately, but with each mouse click, I pine for those days when I spread out huge sheets of paper on the floor and surrounded myself with color pencils, gum erasers and a regular old #2.
Not drawing your own maps and using Dungeon Tiles instead? Follow the link to see how to keep those tiles organized properly! It was the organization bit that’s kept me from jumping on the bandwagon of Dungeon Tiles…. Maybe I’ll splurge and buy some now.
This is a fantastic post by ChicagoWiz on all of the urban legends surrounding sandbox games and why they’re a Bad Thing For The Players. If you’ve thought Evil Thoughts about sandbox games, then maybe you should read his post and reconsider.
Need to toss in a trap, hazard or funky terrain to make the game a little more challenging, but don’t want the players to meta-game their way through it? Then check out this post on how to make dangerous things seem more like a natural part of your dungeon/building system. They won’t see it coming!
I love doing this. I think that the genesis of a campaign should not spring fully formed from the forehead of the GM. Instead, it should be a collaboration between the players and the GM. Sure, if you’re running a pre-published adventure or campaign, this can be rough. However, if you’re winging it or running one of those “vile” sandbox games (see the link two links above this one) then it should fall to everyone at the table to create a cohesive game or environment. I remember once we even went so far as to throw out a huge shower curtain and each person had thirty seconds to draw an outline, river, piece of terrain, set of cities or a governmental line on the map using predetermined colors. At the end of the night, we had our “game world” without names. We took zoomed in and “50,000 foot view” photos of the whole thing and divvied out each segment of the shower curtain to a player. That player then had two weeks to detail as much of their part of the world as they could. I just wish we had discovered wikis at the time. That would have been great. Instead we ended up with massive amounts of printouts, hand-written notes and other things that were hard to merge together. The shared world was run by several different GMs before we filtered apart and never gamed together again. It was a good time and a great creative experience.