Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 05, 2012
Battlemap posters

When I recently discussed printing battlemaps for my D&D campaign on multiple sheets of paper, some readers suggested trying a poster-printing service instead. The obvious advantage would be that the map would be somewhat more solid, and in one piece, instead of consisting of regular printer paper taped together. So I thought that this was worth giving a try, and selected two of the maps I had prepared for my next adventure as test subjects. The maps had been designed to cover 2 times 2 sheets of DIN A4 paper, thus 420 x 594 mm. So I ordered one of them in 50x60, and the other in 60x45, at an online "your photos as poster" service.

Today I got the parcel with the two resulting posters. It turns out that scaling isn't all that obvious: On the smaller one the squares are 2.2 cm instead of 2.5 cm, and on the larger one the squares are nearly 3 cm big. By looking at the dimensions in pixel of the images I sent, and the poster size, I should be able to figure out how to get scaling right the next time. It should work better if I design the maps with Campaign Cartographer already to the right dimensions from the start. Otherwise I need to add white borders manually to make the scaling fit.

Anyway, while 1" squares are the standard for battlemaps, I do think that both the smaller and the larger squares will work well enough with 1" figurines. But as my adventure has lots of maps, I don't think I want them all as posters. That would get too expensive in the long run, at least for the kind of map that are very specific and only used for one encounter. But I'm sure I'll have use in the future for some generic maps that can be used repeatedly, and then $10 isn't terribly overpriced. At least not for a fan of maps like I am. :)
This may be a silly question, but have you looked into using a digital solution? Using your smartphone or a USB stick as image source. You could use all the maps you want, even in multiple versions with only parts visible as needed.

There are may ways to do this, a 32" LCD TV on a table or stand - with an additional sheet of plexiglas to catch the scratches, a rear projection box the image on the top and the projector at the bottom or a stand for a projector over the table.
Yes, I looked into digital solutions: Either a big flat screen used horizontally as surface, or a projector with a tripod. After having looked at what others did in this area, I'm not convinced.

One problem is that we aren't playing at my place. Another problem is that these digital solutions might cost more than $10 poster maps, given that we are only playing every two weeks and won't be using all that many maps per year.
It may not be as pretty but our group uses a standard grid map that can be drawn on with wet erase markers and just redraws multiuple times per night for each encounter. It saves us on cost big time, but of course, requires a little imagination. Then again, if you're playing D&D, imagination should be part of the package.
This might be a stupid question, but can't you tell them "this is my file, and it has this dpi resolution, and please don't you do any scaling on that, but print it 100% and just leave the borders blank"?
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