- lets the players know where they've been
- serves as a kind of adventure log
- helps players plot goals for the next session
- can help the party find secret doors
- can help the party circumvent random encounters
For years, mapping formed a part of D&D that players tolerated, but that few questioned. Then, this revolutionary game seemed so fresh and intoxicating that even duties like mapping found love, just a lot less than the game’s actual fun parts.
Here is Geoffrey from the comments, he also hates mapping:
I think this is a great idea a flow chart can serve most of the purposes that an accurate map does. The only limitations of a flow chart are in avoiding random encounters and finding secret doors. Let's see what the comments have to say:
First, let’s throw out the notion that it is in any way necessary for the party to produce a map of the same quality as one of Pathfinder’s in house cartographers. That s$&% is useless and pointless and it sets the bar way too high. Instead, let’s agree that the best way to map is the way that those of us who ever played a game Zork already knew – one of the old Zork games before graphics were invented that is. All the party needs is a flowchart. A room is just a box with a name in it. A connection between rooms is just a hash mark on the wall between the rooms. A hallway is just a line. That’s it. Quick and dirty.
The point is that a player’s map isn’t meant to be a f$&% architectural rendering. It’s just meant to show how to get from room to room and which rooms are where. Basically, a player’s map just needs to answer some very basic questions:
- How the hell did we get here?
- How the hell do we get back?
- Where the hell do we go next?
- Where the hell is that room with the statue with the missing eyes because now we have those two eye-shaped gems?
In other words, players don’t need a map. They need a flowchart. That’s it. Hell, it’s really just a list of rooms with identifying features and some way of showing how to get from one to another. These are perfectly fine player’s maps:
|This map has a lot of pretty colors and attempts to be to scale. I am not going to say whether or not it accurately depicts the dungeon. That would be telling. This map was made while the party was trying to locate a treasure trove.|
Maps are a record of an expedition and players should tailor the type of mapping they are doing to the type of expedition they are on. If there is a unity between the purpose of expedition and the type of mapping that players are doing then the maps will be more useful and more rewarding to make