Content of the article: "Modular paper map project."
So I'm running Dungeon of the Mad Mage for two different groups, currently one on level two, one on level three. Since starting the campaign I've been trying to come up with a method of visual representation of the layout as they explore. Theater of the mind is good and all, but this thing is so expansive that after a while the players tend to lose a sense of scope and location awareness after the thirteenth random hallway that turns left, the right, then forks. It makes exploration tedious, and the start of every session tends to turn into a huge recap on where they are more than what they've done or accomplished. I was also finding that the groups tended to railroad ahead with what was right in front of them, and ignore or forgetting avenues and breadcrumbs they left behind.
I tried grid paper, but it was taking too long to either draw it as we went, or explaining each room in enough detail for a player to do so, again dragging down the game. Dungeon Forge and other 3d printed and modeled dungeon tiles are amazing, but can be costly and require storage space, and making packing up to travel more of a pain.
I"ve gone the paper mini route, as I much prefer having minis that look like what they're fighting without selling major organs, I've recently upped my battlemap quality by going from markers and colored pencils to making them in Dungeon Painter Studio. As I've gotten more comfortable with the program, I started tinkering around with the scaling and come up with a solution that has some pretty great results.
So after creating the dungeon level from Mad Mage, the pictures showing level 3, I export each section on a 1cm grid pdf and print on run of the mill card stock using a color laser printer. I cut each explorable section or room out and with the key label the back of each to designate a map number. For rooms with fight that drawing on a vinyl grid map would be too much, either by terrain in the room or the scale of it, I isolate the room and export into a 1 inch grid pdf that I can lay out when needed.
So as the party explores, going from room to hallway to tunnel to room, I can describe what they see as they go, but then I pull the map piece from the pile and drop it in as they go. The party gets a visual reference on where they're going and where they've been, they get a better scale of the space and scope of the rooms they enter and they can more easily decide whether to keep forging ahead the way they're going, or go explore that tunnel or door four rooms ago that they may otherwise have forgotten.
As a bonus since it's all flat paper, like the battlemaps I've been using thus far and the paper minis, I can just throw it in a binder sleeve and it gets packed up with rest of my notes, making travel with it easy and without having to lug extra bags around.
Haven't really seen anything like this around the forums so thought I'd drop in and share the project. I started this last week and in that time have gotten levels 2 and 3 of Mag Mage mapped out and printed, ready to go, and the feedback from my groups has been over the top positive.
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