Upon returning to gaming, or at least active gaming, I no longer had the same appreciation of maps as art. There are so many mapping programs available on the computer that in most maps, the art that you find has been put there by the original programmer.
The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG opened my eyes up again. I've been following a handful of mappers that blog, as they put up some really nice pieces, but I was no longer seeing them as art. They were just another tool for use in an RPG. Then I picked up DCC and nearly had my eyes ripped from my skull. The adventures have maps that are literally artwork. Goodman opened my eyes so that the blind could see again. Regretfully, I don't think any DCC maps are online, so you'll have to peek in your own book (or a friends)'s or at the new adventures to appreciate them. No worries, there are other great mappers out there.
There are a few folks around that do some amazing freehand maps. Matt Jackson does some awesome pieces. Some are quite simple, so are very in depth. They all have a silent beauty to them.
|Matt Jackson's Map From Captain's Logs From the Sandbox 2: The Broken Omnicrys|
|Keranak Kingdom Map for Barebones RPG by Bill Logan|
My last example is an adventure map, a small location. This reminds me of a DCC map without all the extra weirdness that accompanies them. It is a beauty in it's pure simplicity. I want a print of this. Then I want a two week vacation on the island.
|Map from Toys For the Sandbox - Pirate Island by Teo TayoboBato|
Yep, maps fuckin' rock again :)