Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stonehell from the Party's Perspective

Or at least how they perceived Level One before they noticed that the layout had undergone...changes...since they last ventured inside.

5 comments:

The Mild Mannered Gamer said...

It is killing me that I missed being able to go into Stonehell again with you at the helm Mike.

Claytonian said...

So when your party enters the room, how do you describe the dimensions?

bliss_infinte said...

This is never mentioned much but maps that force the player to tape together multiple pieces of graph paper to continue exploration can really disorient the players as they have no idea how large or in what direction the dungeon expands - as your image exemplifies!

1d30 said...

Yeah that is a pretty precise map. I usually describe the dungeon like so:

The hallway goes 20' and then there's an intersection going forward and left. To the left you see 40' and that's as far as your light goes. Ahead the hall goes another 10' then a 30'x30' room with a door on the opposite wall.

Sometimes they care to ask whether the hall enters the room in the middle of the wall, or where on the opposite wall the door is, but it usually doesn't matter too much.

It's a tradeoff between how much time you spend describing the area to the mapper and how much time you spend describing it to the rest of the party. The mapper, to get an accurate map, needs very different information from what is useful to the rest of the group. The precise mapping info takes the players out of the game, if anything. More descriptive info, including just enough to get a map made, means you don't have to describe the room twice.

For this reason I also like giving "left, right, forward" directions instead of "north, south, etc." When you use compass directions everyone feels like they're looking at a map. When you use body-relative directions you get them to imagine their perspectives.

Finally, precise mapping, while desirable for the party to get, is time-consuming in the game time. It seems unreasonable for the party to have a map accurate enough to spot a suspicious gap between rooms when they have guttering torchlight, a soiled wet bloody parchment, ink or a big chunky pencil, and no flat surface to use as a desk. All this while monsters growl in the darkness and the torches run down.

You can even get away with a line-map. Boxes for rooms, circles for doors, put an X in any room you've fully explored or any door you've busted down. This map isn't so good at finding secret doors, but it's fine for getting back out of the dungeon and for figuring out what you haven't investigated yet.

Michael Curtis said...

I'm tell the players what their characters see and they make notes of it on a map. I'm not sure why you would do otherwise.