Monday, February 24, 2014

How Important Are Included Player Maps to You as a DM?

I do pretty much all of my DMing these days via Hangouts / Roll20. I grab a screenshot of the map, upload it, enable Fog of War and it's ready to go.

Except that 19 out of 20 products don't include a player version of the map. Which means secret doors, traps and the like are often marked on the map, which takes some exceptional use of FoW to keep those from being exposed too early, and in some circumstances, there is not much one can do to keep the secrets secret.

A few publishers (Purple Duck is one) do provide players maps for use in VTT sessions, which is awesome for folks like me.

Would player maps make running your game sessions easier?


  1. If one really wants to embrace the medium, ship out two picture files, or one layered file, for inclusion into VTTs.

    The RPGBA Blog Carnival for March 2014 will be on the online gaming topic. I hope that we'll get a lot of "market input" going.

  2. Absolutely. I use a projector in many of my face to face games in addition to VTT games with a remote player.

    Although creative use of a clone brush in a decent image editor can often fix the problem it's still time I could use better elsewhere.

  3. I wouldn't have any use for it in my gaming. Something like Castle of the Mad Archmage would actually be *harmed* by having such a thing, since it would preclude the use of teleporting effects, one-way doors, moving walls, elevator rooms, sloping passages, etc. By projecting a DM-generated map, the players are assured that they have a correct, perfect map, and that is exactly what I *don't* want them to have.

    1. Point taken. I haven't used the projector for a megadungeon yet and hadn't even considered how it might interfere with the "inaccurate mapping as a feature" aspect which I so love in my low tech face to face games.

      Which makes me wonder if I'm not spoiling my players in all my other games. Letting people skip mapping too much might breed some entitlement that is counterproductive to be sure.

    2. When I've used a projector, I try to make a point to never actually use it unless there's going to be a detailed combat, or the room is so complex it takes more time to describe it.
      I still would like a player map for those cases.

  4. At the suggestion of one of my finest backers (Hi, Edwin!) I made both sets of maps available. He also suggested that I actually try playing in a VTT game (until then I had seen the software, but never played).

    After a session, not only was I hooked on VTTs, but I put nearly all the art, maps and other digital materials I had into a share. That way pop-up images and token art can quickly be created.

    On Whisper & Venom this was a happy bonus, on the one we are finishing up now its inclusion is being considered from the ground up. I want to see our adventures enjoyed and the extra effort is minimal to give GMs a better VTT integration.

    If such things do not fit a GMs style/needs then they can simply be cherry-picked for anything useful or ignored completely. I like the idea of giving maximum access to what I have and let anyone use the files a la cart.

    Or something like that...:)


  5. I've only just started running a game using roll20 and can see already that most of my materials will be very difficult to utilize due to the lack of a player map.

  6. Player maps should certainly be included if one of the character hooks for the adventure is that they've somehow acquired a map, which frankly should be a common hook. The players will probably expect that the map may be wrong, incomplete, and probably doesn't show secret stuff, unless the map came from the dungeon builders themselves.

  7. Online Gaming I typically use Fantasy Grounds II and Skype or Google + and sometimes just Google + with a drawing board feature. In both those cases Player Maps are helpful. Regardless, I'll take a few minutes and make my own by copying the digital map into Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint and making any changes needed to a level.

    In face to face gaming, it wouldn't make my sessions any easier. I use Paizo Flipmaps, GameMastery Maps and D&D Tile sets to build (and remove) as the players go along. I've used a Chessex vinyal map once in game using dry erase markers this puts the mapping back into the players hands and a bit quicker, but it doesn't match the look of the tiles.

  8. I like player maps, but mostly because they allow me as DM to include erroneous information and other surprises. They think they're all set and then it all starts to go wrong.

  9. I do like to use player maps, at least some times. However the player maps will almost always be incomplete in some sense. Take for instance dungeon maps. In general I like to have my party map dungeons. However sometimes they will encounter treasure maps which will lead to other dungeon locations. These will either be partially mapped out (e.g. part of the first level) or will simply indicate the location of the dungeon.


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