Zak Showed Us the Way… I’ll Give it a Go.

Yesterday Zak posted instructions on how he does his unique style of mapping.  I’ve always appreciated the visual work and individual style that goes into his maps.

I decided to make an attempt and his style of doing it for the game I am going to run on Saturday for a couple friends (some of them being first timers).  On Monday I’ll post the adventure, how it went, and thoughts.

The adventure will have Bugbears (though I’m not really going with the standard trope of them..  I’ll explain more on Monday) kidnapping Plague Doctors from monastery that they do their research from.  The players will track down the Bugbears and survivors to this lair.

I knew the creatures/obstacles that I wanted and as Zak suggested, I googled pics.  I looked for a quick dungeon/cave outline but couldn’t find anything that really tugged at my tallywhacker, so I just hand drew it, inked it, and scanned it in.

Then I placed the pictures, made the arrows to the corresponding rooms, and placed the letters above which I have a quick note on each jotted down (if necessary).

Thoughts on the Process

Not gonna like, this did take a bit of time.  Definitely more than if I had just drawn the dungeon/cave out and lettered the areas.  However I see two benefits with Zak’s process.  1) With these visual cues I don’t think I (or any GM that utilizes this method) would have to consult the papers as much to see what lurks in the room.  Sure you may have to consult enemy stats or trap results, but overall you know what is where without thinking, “Ok.  They just got into room A, let’s see what my notes say.”  2) This method kinda got the creative juices going in a way that staring at a blank piece of paper doesn’t.  At least for me.  I’m not sure if that benefit would happen each and every time (and obviously I started the creative process before I did this map).

I know I wouldn’t approach all my maps with this building process, but I think it was fun and look forward to seeing how well I utilize it on Saturday.


About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

7 responses to “Zak Showed Us the Way… I’ll Give it a Go.

  • Chuck

    I’m like you. I find it easier to just sketch out a map by hand. But from time to time, I’ll do a Google Image search and start collecting inspriational images. Heck, sometimes I happen to find a piece of artwork that inspires a new monster or encounter.

  • Needles

    Nice post & I’ve been looking over Zak’s for a couple of days now. This post convinced me to start actually looking at the process & putting some of it into practice

  • thezaksmiththatpaints

    it’s funny that you went ahead and drew it. I only do these kinds of maps when I’m tired from drawing all day.

    • wrathofzombie

      @Zak- I can understand that. However where as you are artistically inclined, I am not;). Even my stickmen look like they came out of Chernobyl. Dungeons I can at least sketch with some semblance of what I’m trying to convey. When you do these kind of maps, how long do they generally take you?

  • thezaksmiththatpaints

    15 mins

    • wrathofzombie

      Lol. I can almost hear a “neener neener” in that comment. Damn thing took me about 2 hours.. I had formatting problems and I was a tard and did it on word when I probably should have used Powerpoint or something.

  • anarkeith

    Another one of those cases where sometimes the computer interferes with the creativity. I’ve seen a lot of artists battle the computer interface and really lose sight of the idea creation they’re best at.

    You can invest time in tool mastery (I’ve been using Illustration and Photo-editing software on the computer for almost 25 years) and reach a point where the computer is an ally instead of a hindrance. I’m not suggesting that it’ll take 25 years to reach that point, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling with a program you use once a month, or have only used for a month.

    A collage map like what you’ve got here could come together pretty quickly with a color copier or printer (if you really needed color), some markers and some decent drawing paper (just so the markers and glue didn’t soak through.)

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