Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maps

The first maps weren’t anything like what we know today. Instead of being big pictures of the land as if you saw it from the sky, they were lists of how you got from one place to another. Think more along the lines of an online set of directions telling where and when to turn. (Terry Jones did a show on it called the Great Map Mystery, which is free on YouTube.) They were called road script maps. So what? I know, it always comes down to that. I think it is vastly better for GMs to use these for planning missions. First, if you’re giving the players a set of directions, you should use these road strip “maps”. Here’s how it works - I’ll bet you’ll feel it’s familiar: Start in the city of Forsbury. Travel 3 miles north long the caravan road. Stay right/NE on the road north, avoiding the NW road to the castle. Continue traveling 12 more miles NE to the town of Tabler. Do not take the Forest Road east (one mile north of the castle). There are good inns in Tabler. Continue NNE for 17.5 miles to Redwell. Redwell is a large town with many inn and entertainment alternatives. Along the way there might be some land marks to help keep the reader on course: bridges over streams, religious spots, road markers, etc. Second, you as GM now know exactly where they are supposed to be going. You put a little thought into it, so now you know where you might want to put that ambush, or place the fake ambush that you want to use to keep them on their toes. You can also plant the NPCs who are going the other way at the inns and they might have the clues you need to pass out. These maps will not replace the overall “normal” maps. You still need those for when the party wanders off the route and tries to off road it. The problem is that if you give them a more modern map of the area, you give them way too much information. They can look ahead for where the hills press in on the road (that ambush we talked about). They might see what they think is a short cut, that will make you play way more off the cuff than you wanted to. And besides - it’s not like they just photocopied the other map. To produce a real map could take a cartographer weeks. Producing a road script map would more likely be a day, at best. Here’s a pic of what they looked like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Britannia_Atlas_Newmarket_to_Wells_and_Bury_Edmunds_1675.jpg

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