Gone Mapping. Don't Wait Up.

Last week, I solicited recommendations on pens for mapping. I scored a set of Sakura Micron pens at Blick (a short walk from work, and for $6 - yay, member discount!) and scribbled a map in a graph composition book in about 10 minutes at work. Since then I've been playing with hashing and fill, and I'm still experimenting.

All the hashing looks muddy to me.
Then again it's all freehand, and I'm still tinkering.

I forgot how much fun it is to create a map. Every feature and passage tells a story. I'm not even talking about the Moebius Adventures' Brick By Brick levels of storytelling, though the depth of detail you can generate with the Doors supplement is very cool. I'm talking about the passages and structures themselves taken as a whole.

Who built this place? Who paid for it and how? When was it built? Was this room a modification or something totally new? Why was it built? What need does it serve? How did that need change?
I hope to do this, but better.
The Tomb of Tor-Kantor
from my Highcastle game.
Click for a bigger version.

Who's using it now? Is it used the same way, or did the new residents repurpose it? What changes did they make? Is the workmanship vastly different?

And from this line of questioning, history arises. I've tried to do justice to fictional history, but I rarely get beyond one or two layers of the past. That's nothing when you look at a place like Cairo, or London, or Jerusalem. Still, 2 layers of history provides a deeper flavor than some GMs who totally handwave it.

Not that I blame anyone for handwaving history. The truth is, unless it's required for the current story, history isn't terribly interesting during play. It's more fun to deal with the current adventure than worry about who was here before, though that "Aha!" moment when the players piece together scraps of the past and use that knowledge to their benefit can't be beat.

So yeah, I'm mapping again. I'm not happy with most of what I'm doing at the moment, but I just need to crank out maps until I can polish my skills and elevate it to a level that works for me.

Thank you, Ira Glass.

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