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View Full Version : DM Help Rational Terrain/Building Layouts



Milodiah
2015-11-02, 12:54 PM
Hey Playground,

I must concede that I am a rather obsessive GM when it comes to certain factors, and one of them is a desire for maps, floorplans, etc. I like to be able to inform the players that there are three doors out of this room (one of which is a closet and the other a bathroom) and a large plate-glass window, that there is a security camera in the hallway but it cannot see most of this room from bad placement, etc. etc. Especially exacerbated in games like Shadowrun, where (at least for my playstyle) every detail counts. It's a pet peeve of mine that our group's current GM puts almost no effort into terrain/environment description, which leads to the phenomenon of nobody using cover (because there isn't any explicit indication of there being any), nobody seeking high ground or tactical positioning (see previous), etc.

Since I worked for a building inspector when I was younger, floorplans come pretty easily to me, with the exception of large commercial/industrial buildings (which tend to be what are needed). I try to do terrain too, because I'm also a student of military history and even such minor factors as a fence or a ditch has changed the outcome of many a battle. I therefore try to include both, but then you encounter the issue of telegraphing to the players that "this must be an important fight, because the GM pulled out a pre-rendered map instead of scribbling out a diner or whatever in front of us!"

So, beyond the standard D&D-oriented discussion of "make sure your dungeon actually makes sense/has a purpose", what all do you guys do in terms of actually modelling the terrain and/or structures for your games?

TheThan
2015-11-02, 01:25 PM
I use some graph paper and a battle mat.

I map out the encounter area on the grid paper as part of my prep work for the game. During the session I refer to it and draw the map out on the grid with dry erase marker. This way I can fill it in without too much telegraphing what going on.

Each map on the grid paper uses a key indicating what is supposed to be what, and where. For example a straight line with diagonal slashes through it. Thatís a fence with barbed wire on top. You can go through it but it causes movement penalties, a climb check and a little bit of damage (Ouchy barbed wire).

goto124
2015-11-03, 03:04 AM
[Quote]. I therefore try to include both, but then you encounter the issue of telegraphing to the players that "this must be an important fight, because the GM pulled out a pre-rendered map instead of scribbling out a diner or whatever in front of us!"[/wuote]

How (non-)linear are your games? Is there some semblence of a plot to follow? Things such as important NPCs that must survive, important plot points that the players must go through somehow, etc? Or is it more sandboxy?

You could easily tell the players (assuming the following words are true, feel free to adjust as you see fit): "I set up the details of the setting, environment, NPCs, and so on. But I don't decide the plot - that's up to you. You make events important."