Your Map Detail Philosophy?

How much detail to create before the session versus during the session?

Two versions of a map of a road through the woods below. The first has boulders in open grass and stream areas. The second has boulders and significant tree trunks throughout the wooded area.

However, the GM could add details, even the boulders in the open areas, during the session as new sections become visible: “You peer deeper in the woods and see a couple massive trees with a few boulders . You hear muttering from behind this boulder .”

What’s the better approach?

That’s a gigantic map! Is there a reason for going that big? Seems like it would be easier to handle the situation with a more focused area.

when I build maps, I only create as much as I need. so sometimes thetre as small as 10x15 squares in a forest. That way I can build as we play as encounters happen. As I dont try to prepare for every possibility, rather I prepare to be ready for the unexpected. and shmeppy is much faster to draw than, say by hand in-person.

Wow nice job on the cathedral.

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No, don’t get me wrong, I pre plan (and map) marquis encounter areas. And I have some that are biggish… if the size is meaningful. I just feel that building for building’s sake is more effort than a GM should put into the job. Definitely create your centerpiece encounters, and maps, but a big open trail, river and bridge seems like it could more effectively be narrated for the travel along the road, then when they reach the bridge (continue to narrate) and when you need it, pull out the map.

It’s hard to remember that and I totally fail that at times, with online gaming it’s easy to fall back on the parts of the game where everyone can agree on what they see: the battle map. But the game is always more engaging when the map is brought out after the lead up to battle is narrated dramatically. Except dungeon crawls. Then the map is central… and hilarious.

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for example here is a massive map I created (where the characters were allowed alot if in town interaction, ownership and then finally a massive battle) the size was definitely a major player to the map. but that is my question: if you make a map huge: why?


But this would be my preferred size: small, manageable and quick to build:

I do a mix. For areas that the players will visit repeatedly, I put more effort in to it. I’m actually thinking about making some “random battlefield” kind of maps with generic terrain drawn on them, since I often find I will quickly whip one up in the moment when needed and would prefer to have that done in advance.

A large city map:

A more “random” map design:


Ive been thinking the same, sort of a replacement to the battle maps I no longer have any use for during the plague.

Thank you! theres a TON on this map, but here’s an export for the whole thing as of yet.

you’ll notive I too have a cathedral in there.