Tobold's Blog
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I want more poster maps!

While the official retail price of a D&D 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Kit is $39.99, you can get it from Amazon for under $30, and that is good value for money. You get a big box with a paperback which basically corresponds to a Dungeon Master's Guide, plus 2 booklets with an excellent adventure in 2 parts, 2 poster maps, and 3 sheets of tokens for monsters and players. As an "play right out of the box" experience after having started with the Red Box, this is pretty much spot on.

The only problem I have with the Dungeon Master's Kit is that 2 poster maps isn't enough, although they are printed on both sides. The provided adventures simply have more locations than that. And that leads to strange results, like you having a poster map for one half of a keep, but not for the other half. You can then hand-draw the other half on a dry-erase battle map, but the contrast will be jarring. Or you need to make your own battle maps. I found one source for .pdf maps for this adventure, I just need to find out how to print a pdf file enlarged over several sheets of paper. I would like to have something looking like this, but besides not being skilled enough for such a build, I have the impression that it takes ten times as long to build such a keep than you spend playing the adventure in it. I'm not even sure the 3D build is the most practical to play D&D on.

I am currently preparing a different adventure, but the fundamental problem remains the same: The adventure has far more locations than provided on poster maps. I want more poster maps! In the adventure I'm preparing, the general map of the dungeon is only provided in small in the adventure booklet. I tried using Dungeon Tiles for the corridors of the dungeon, but found that this doesn't work all that well. You spend too much time looking for the next tile, there is a strong risk of the dungeon coming undone during play, and if you want to stop the play session and continue another day it becomes tedious. The only advantage is that you can show the players just the part of the dungeon they can see, while a printed map risks showing more. I ended up designing and printing two battle maps for the same part of the dungeon, one showing the view when first entered, then other once fully explored.

Right now my best solution is still drawing simple dungeon corridors on a dry erase blank square map, and making battle maps for the fights on my computer using Campaign Cartographer 3 / Dungeon Designer 3. Those battle maps I then print out on regular paper and tape it together to form larger maps. That isn't quite as pretty as the poster maps, and for some maps I need to reduce the scale a bit from 1" squares to 2 cm squares to fit on a reasonable number of sheets. But unless WotC provides more poster maps with their adventures, that is the best I can do.
Don't tape the sheets together but flip the separate pages over one by one. This way you can arrange the whole dungeon on the table without showing the map to the players.

The only drawback is that the players will know if they are in the corner or next to the edge of the map. Kind of like with WoW maps.
Try the WotC map-a-week archive. They date back to 3e days but don't require a subscription and there's literally hundreds, maybe thounsands, to choose from.
Don't tape the sheets together but flip the separate pages over one by one.

I actually did that on the last map I used, but with tape. The map started out folded with only one quarter visible, then got folded out to show half of the map, and ultimately the whole map. The only disadvantage of having it taped is that you need to remove the figurines or tokens before unfolding.

I could try without the tape, or take a roll of tape with me and only tape the sheets together after I put them on the table. In any case the main problem is printing the sheets in a way that the page breaks are exactly where the dungeon doors etc. are.
This reminds me that I'm pretty lucky in my current situation, where we play RPGs at a wargaming club and just borrow a 6x4 and a bunch of terrain anytime we want to do combat.

Outside of "knowing a lot of people with warhammer terrain", it'd be a very expensive option, unfortunately.
At least in the US, many Kinko's or the like offer large-format printing. I'm not sure what the price for a one-off A2 or or A3 print would be, probably similar to the price of the printed WotC maps I'd guess.
A friend of mine managed to find a cheap low resolution projector and luckily for him his game room lets him just hook the thing to the ceiling and he routed the wires as a permanent install. Then he bought a whiteboard that he just lays over the table top. Projected battle maps with the ability to draw as well for quick real time changes (ROCK SLIDE!). May not be the simplest but its SUPER effective and he's easily recouped the cost in printed or purchased maps. I've seen some for as low as $120, and I've even seen some designed with mirrors and magic or something that are designed to project onto a table while sitting on it, but I can't find one now to give an example.

You just sound like you want SUPER customization and access, so allowing you to set up maps as say a powerpoint and just flick between them sounds like a solution, but may be more than you're up for fighting with.

Good luck, your recent posts have made me miss RP :(
I'm surprised you're so invested in maps. In my P&P group we just sketch everything on a reusable battle map, and only the bits that we absolutely need. Considering that this is a game of the imagination, I'm not sure why it should matter so much to have the terrain pictured in high graphical detail. I mean, showing me a picture of a monster helps me imagine it better, but showing me pictures of grass or stone tiles... eh. :)
First, I should mention that I have the overland maps of Reavers of Harkenwold that I created in more zoomed-in sizes if you need them (higher resolution).

Second, have you checked out PosteRazor? It's excellent for printing large maps to PDFs that are easy to tape together.

Third, if you do happen to subscribe to D&D Insider, all of the maps from their adventures are available in electronic format, including the official Reavers of Harkenwold maps that I recreated on my own.
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