PDA

View Full Version : Incorrect Maps [any]



Ubercaledor
2010-06-15, 01:38 AM
I've been toying with the idea of giving a map to the players as a prop with incorrect information on it, or exaggerated scale, etc... with in-game clues as to it's inaccuracy.

I figure it adds realism, but metagamers in particular would probably kick my head in for it.

Has anyone else tried this and what are peoples thoughts on the idea?

GoodbyeSoberDay
2010-06-15, 01:42 AM
It depends on the hints. Maybe make it obvious that the map is not entirely to be trusted by making some benign discrepancies pop up in the first few locations they encounter; of course, then you have to make sure to include some useful information up front so they don't throw the map away.

Swordgleam
2010-06-15, 01:44 AM
Always. I've never given anyone in game a to scale map. Accurate maps are an incredibly recent invention - even the best ancient maps were far from perfect, since they had to go everywhere and see everything and record it all by hand.

It gives you extra breathing room, since if a town looks two days away on the map and after two days' worth of encounters the session still has half an hour to go and you have nothing prepared for the town, no problem. The town is really three and a half days away.

Any player who metagames with the assumption of a perfectly accurate map deserves whatever they get. Any player who whines about an inaccurate map (though if you're switching over from perfect ones you should give some warning) deserves a handful of d4s to the face.

--Lime--
2010-06-15, 01:47 AM
Props = win.

Go for it, 100%. Anything like that to flesh out gameplay is to be highly commended.

Altair_the_Vexed
2010-06-15, 03:18 AM
I've been toying with the idea of giving a map to the players as a prop with incorrect information on it, or exaggerated scale, etc... with in-game clues as to it's inaccuracy.

I figure it adds realism, but metagamers in particular would probably kick my head in for it.

Has anyone else tried this and what are peoples thoughts on the idea?

I've done this - the PCs got hold of a couple of maps of the route taken by an archeologist treasure hunter who had looked for a thing long before. As it happens, they used the map to guide them in a general direction, and then did lots of rumour gathering on the ground once htey got into the general location.

See, it worked as a clue to get them going, but didn't stop the local adventures (and side quests) that a long quest needs.

Quincunx
2010-06-15, 03:30 AM
It doesn't even need to be incorrect to be a problem, just vague. We rarely deal with vague maps nowadays, so there's enough reader error built in that you don't need the additional aggravating factor of misleading directions.

"We're at the six-way junction, where's the thousand-year oak?"
"Um. . .North, and a little bit east. Down that road, probably."
"Ok, how far?"
"I dunno. There's a smoke symbol in the way though."
"I don't see any smoke. . ."
"Oh, good. Maybe then we won't see this hydra either."

742
2010-06-15, 04:36 AM
Always. I've never given anyone in game a to scale map. Accurate maps are an incredibly recent invention - even the best ancient maps were far from perfect, since they had to go everywhere and see everything and record it all by hand.

It gives you extra breathing room, since if a town looks two days away on the map and after two days' worth of encounters the session still has half an hour to go and you have nothing prepared for the town, no problem. The town is really three and a half days away.

Any player who metagames with the assumption of a perfectly accurate map deserves whatever they get. Any player who whines about an inaccurate map (though if you're switching over from perfect ones you should give some warning) deserves a handful of d4s to the face.

your much too nice, they should go on the floor next to their bed.

it would make a great plot based puzzle but maps in general can be pretty annoying.

panaikhan
2010-06-15, 07:14 AM
I've actually DM'd published scenarios that deliberately screw with the PC's mapping using magical effects (distance distortion, teleportation between two featureless, but different, corridors etc. etc.)
Other, more mundane tricks were used in the old classic Tomb of Horrors - 'safe' routes down corridors that actually cross more pits than they miss, concealed doors concealing secret doors, fake secret doors concealing traps, the list goes on.

I've even seen 'innacurate mapping' in a PvP argument. The task of mapping was given to the Kender - the Kender's player doodled 'in-character' additions to the map, which almost ended in a TPK when the party (having abandoned the Kender to some grizzly fate) tried to use a secret passage that didn't exist to escape a dragon.

I say go for it. As Lime said, props = win.

Darkfire
2010-06-15, 08:09 AM
Relative distances may not be known accurately but travel times probably will be, especially between communities that trade with each other or landmarks of major import (i.e. water sources in a desert). The odd note along the lines of "x days by horse" will probably be of more use than the actual layout of the map and should be sufficiently accurate to allow your players to plan effectively whilst at the same time be sufficiently vague enough for you to throw a spanner in the works when it needs to take them longer or somewhere other than where they intended:

Bad Weather

There's nothing like dense fog to make navigation a nightmare even when you have an accurate map and a decent compass.
Heavy rain can cause flooding, wash away bridges and make otherwise fordable rivers dangerous to cross.
Strong winds (or the lack of any wind) can make any journey by ship longer than expected.

Out of date information or unexpectedly rough terrain

Wood/forest overtaking poorly maintained paths
Deserts expanding/wells drying up
Rivers changing path or being dammed can create new lakes and marshes
From personal experience: agriculture! The direct path from Kitty to Sourton on Dartmoor looks nice and flat on the map (http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/135767 and use the compass links to move NW twice) but it turns out you've got to cross loads of drainage ditches (next time round, we switched our route to use an old rail-track -60 off the bearing).
Abandoned settlements

Person_Man
2010-06-15, 08:22 AM
I'm a big fan of props as well. But once you "lie" to the PCs in a big way, they will never take anything you say or give to them at face value ever again. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just makes everything take ten times longer, because the PCs insist on questioning everything because they assume that every prop might be a forgery or misdirection, that every prisoner might be a succubus, that every quest giver is really going to double cross them, and so on.

Volthawk
2010-06-15, 12:14 PM
Well, to take an example from a game I'm playing in, this happened:




You have already been given some basic adventuring supplies, and you've purchased what else you need. Councilman Trai'on ends his monotonous briefing, and adds: "We have also prepared a map for you, which is mostly blank. Take it with you, and perhaps you can fill it in as your travels progress. Now, before you leave, have you any questions?"


(the map looks a little like this, and has no weight for whoever's carrying it:
http://i48.tinypic.com/2ik9soz.jpg

Telonius
2010-06-15, 12:19 PM
Just remember, "There be dragons here" might not be an exaggeration.

valadil
2010-06-15, 12:25 PM
Props are awesome. Misinformation can be awesome. Players can't always handle misinformation.

In particular I remember running a murder mystery the PCs were trying to solve. They took everyone's word at face value and assumed it was a logic puzzle to fit together. They knew the culprit would lie, but couldn't fathom the idea that anybody but the culprit would give them anything less than perfect information. Eventually they realized that more than one person could lie. But they didn't get why people were telling certain lies (these people had been lied to and didn't realize they were repeating lies). They actually stopped the game to tell me I wrote it wrong. I had to explain to them that it wasn't a logic puzzle but a social scene. People give out bad info and they have to sort the good from the bad, not just put the pieces together. Once they accepted that, the game went fine.

Anyway, this sounds like an awesome idea if your group can handle it. Have you established that NPCs can give out bad information yet? Even if you have, you ought to consider clues indicating that the map is fallible.

Milskidasith
2010-06-15, 12:35 PM
There are rules for forged maps in It's Wet Outside, I believe. A successful Knowledge: Geography check against the forgery check used to make it, IIRC, told you it was inaccurate.

Then again, that was purely for nautical charts, and they only imposed a harsh penalty so a supernaturally good captain like a PC could still generally chart a near perfect course with false charts while having a vague idea where he was and where he was going.

Ubercaledor
2010-06-15, 06:53 PM
Hmm, thanks for the feedback, I feel much more confident now.

You guys have given me ideas about multiple maps, all generally out of scale and without a compass-point (as much as everyone seems to know generally where "north" is, I've not yet heard of a character owning a compass) as a sort of puzzle... how to arrange the maps to get from point A to point B, understanding that the maps may not be entirely accurate and often have symbols and short-hand that the players may not understand

"Oh, lets go towards that river." "That's not a river, it's a snake!" "No... it's a chasm!"

:smallbiggrin:

IonDragon
2010-06-15, 07:18 PM
Totally do it. Aside from the props bit, inaccurate/missing information is the best way to challenge highly optimized parties. Even if your party is not, challenges should get switched up from time to time.

Zaq
2010-06-15, 08:27 PM
I gave my players an inaccurate map once. I used it to drive home the point that the world had suddenly changed a lot (there was a surge of magic that... well, kinda violently altered things). It got the message across.

Swordgleam
2010-06-15, 09:54 PM
You guys have given me ideas about multiple maps, all generally out of scale and without a compass-point

If you have extra time, make them of varying physical quality. Soak one in tea (or even just water) overnight to age it, tear another one up a bunch, have one be really professional looking, etc. Have the torn up one be the most accurate, of course.

dspeyer
2010-06-15, 11:50 PM
I was once given a tactical map drawn up by kobolds including the route of the "ninga skwad". That told me right away how precise the map was likely to be.

Ubercaledor
2010-06-16, 08:28 PM
Exactly, and would give more options for side-quest rewards, e.g.
befriend the town guard? Get a map of the town, defences etc...
Help out a troubled merchant? Get a road map with basic "2 days east" instructions and a "web" of towns not drawn to scale.
Take on a mission for the guild? Head down this road, turn right at the wierd tree and follow the river west.
Searching the corpse of a bandit? Basic tactical maps, a few hide-outs and some secret paths, but where do they go? What do the symbols mean?

A lot of work, likely, but my favourite part of DMing is world-construction anyway, and if you don't use it in one game, you can always use it later...

Maps to more adventures: great for when the PCs think up something really creative, but not quite worth XP

Kantolin
2010-06-17, 02:17 AM
It just makes everything take ten times longer, because the PCs insist on questioning everything because they assume that every prop might be a forgery or misdirection, that every prisoner might be a succubus, that every quest giver is really going to double cross them, and so on.

That!

That is why I make sure that there's a lot of truth mixed in about each lie. The moment a group of players gets the feeling that the DM is out to get them, everything starts taking ages and ages.

What bugs me then is when DMs get irritated when the PCs start repeating, "I move 5ft forward and check for traps. I move 5ft forward again and check for traps." When they were punished, sometimes multiple times, for not doing exactly that recently. Geez.

Anyway, incorrect maps are cool. Generally, I have them be more correct when you're near the group that wrote it. So if you're traveling from teh human to the elven kingdom, the human map is really accurate near their home while the elven map is really accurate near theirs, and the in between is usually vaguely accurate.

braxsus
2010-06-17, 03:07 PM
thumbs up.

Inaccurate map is to be expected..

I ran a three year campaign in which the party were actually hired as cartographers to map out the unknown areas..
Mini adventures tied to gether with over arching meta -quest..