Thursday, November 19, 2015

The beauty of small maps

I like maps. No, I love them.

I love creating maps of imaginary lands, tracing the line of trees, thinking about the state of affairs of the people who live there...

Maps don't need to be pretty, though: they need to be understandable (is that a word?). So, if you show me a nice map in full color or some hexagonal tiles on a map, I'll be pleased anyway. Just give me some map scale to understand what's hapenning and I'm game.

During the last year or so, I began to focus on some areas of my maps. Yes, it's nice to know there's a whole new world off to the edge of a map, but look at what you have in your hands! Look at it. Picture how many wonderful adventures you could have there.

Of course you love Hyboria and that massive land to explore. Of course you think Toril or Oerth is fantastic (YMMV). But do you need all of those?

How much adventure can you find in a single city (Ptolus, I'm looking at you)? Or in a small area like Skyrim? Or in a trifecta of cities like San Andreas, San Fierro and Las Venturas? Or in Dracula's Castle?

Small maps have everything their bigger cousins have, but in detail. And this detail may give you lots and lots of choices in your game. You don't have to showcase your whole world, thinking about The City of the Week (like the Monster of the Week on saturday morning cartoons), as you can make that small world more alive to your players.

Yes, I still create large maps (ask my daughter), but nowadays I'm zooming in. There's beauty there you don't see easily in large maps.

Beauty that enhances any narrative.
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