Content of the article: "I run dungeon exploration in Theater of the Mind – players keep on drawing a map"
Hey all. Still a fresh DM here, with total experience of D&D of less than one year now.
Just had a session today (remotely). One thing – or many, as usual, but let's focus on one thing here – got me thinking. I'm runnning dungeon exploration in Theater of the Mind. The dungeon is question isn't overly large but not super small either, counting every room it's 10 rooms of different sizes, with some corridors / hallways connecting them.
What's going on is that at the beginning of the session I expresses that I'll run this game in Theater of the Mind (and it's not the first session either). I kept on doing that and I think it worked fine, I'd give me a score of B- or C+ for my DMing there. No major problems, but could always improve.
Anyway, what kept on happening was that the party kept on drawing continuously a map about the dungeon as we went. No problem to me there on a principle level, go ahead if it helps you, I say. However… first of all, this slowed down the gameplay insanely much. They wanted the map to be exactly right and have all the details in, such as relative sizes of the rooms and all. They wanted at times me as the DM to confirm their map with a statement that "it's right" and so on.
And this lead to another problem. At times the gameplay moved from my (DM's) Theater of Mind gameplay into a map gameplay based on the players maps. At times the players were referencing their own map and making statements such as "I move there".
Has anyone else had this "problem"? I as a DM have chosen and openly communicated the style of running dungeon exploration in TotM. Then players take the role of creating a map so accurate and updated and validated by the DM that they start using that map to play the game.
And it's not as if I wouldn't have a map of the dungeon. I certainly do. But it wasn't my choice of running a game based on the map. I feel also that it's a danger that suddenly the player's map becomes the "master database" of positioning, distances, etc., while in TtoM that master database should be obviously the collective imagination, but in practice it's the DM's head, which is query-able by the players by asking questions "is there any monster 15 feet from me?".
Am I only imagining a problem here? How does this work in your tables, DM doind TtoM and players drawing a map?
- I want to introduce new players to 100% theater of the mind style play so that they can see how awesome it can be. What are your thoughts on this? Is it still viable?
- Modular paper map project.
- Advice for being more flexible in running sessions on Roll20?
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