I am not ashamed to admit it. I scribble maps. My favourite one was in Sharpie on thin paper, and as my webcam was mirroring everything, I showed it to the players backwards, and it was so simple (a house, a profile of a hill, and an X for them) that they could make it out.
I’m here to extol terrible maps that tell people what’s going on, and don’t have to be works of art. Art is great. It’s part of how I make my living. It’s also awfully slow compared to putting things down on paper to explain where they are. I’m happy to accept money to do that, and I’m sometimes very interested in making an art-work that happens to be a map, or showing off to my group what I can do, but the purpose of a map is to show people what an area looks like so you are all, as it were, on the same page.
The most useful maps to me are an overhead view, and a strip map. The overhead tells people what is there, although it might not be in-character knowledge. A strip map tells them how to travel. It might be drawn, it might be a recital of where you have to go and the landmarks on the way.
None of them have to be well drawn. They just have to have the available information. If you ever think you’re failing at maps then remember that I, a professional artist, once held up a sharpie map on lined paper, backwards, and it worked.
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Please, please, do show your readers some of those scribbled maps!
They mostly get thrown away, to be honest. But let me see what I can find…
Here’s one. Our road layout isn’t like the official maps, for reasons. This map has all the King’s Roads on, or at least most of them. Probably.
ALRIGHT ABOUT 1/4 OF THEM!
Lovely, thank you! Sometimes scribbled maps look more genuine, because they look like what an inhabitant of the land might draw on the sand to show directions to someone else.
I got carried away, and I’ve scheduled some Terrible Maps posts for September. I’ll try to remember to flag them up for you.