Coronoides wrote: ↑
Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:48 am
Old inaccurate or incomplete real maps are a good basis for a campaign setting. Take a look old medieval maps where they pretended they knew the whole world but most of the information was wrong.
That is a major aspect of my B/X campaign worlds... so much of the civilized world was upturned/changed over the previous century that few recent maps are available, and then not very accurate (since it's hard to verify things from an ivory tower) but old pre-Tortured Century maps are all over the place, often found with added doggerel/annotations that may be right or wrong or both.
I had a bandit gang in the area use this to run a con, they altered a treasure map so they could ambush treasure hunters, and spread copies all over the place, tavern gossips, included in trades with merchants or monsters, etc. But they kept a copy to the real site, so when adventurers took them down they got the Glengarry leads, as it were, and found the treasure (in a haunted glade of course).
Even in more civilized campaigns/worlds I include inaccuracies. I use Campaign Cartographer so some of that happens naturally; when you copy stuff from a 50 mile hex map onto a zoomed-in 5 or 10 mile hex map, the redraw is going to be far more precise. And it is easy to include a separate layer of players' info, so I can hide all but their layer and the background and print their semi-blank map. Once in a while I'll give them an updated copy placing things they've discovered.
I also try to include one or more arrows pointing off the map edge, labeled with "75 miles to Ironkeep" or whatever.
Also, I always like to have one obvious bait encounter that everyone knows about, often a dragon or giant lair. Because everyone knows where Smaug or Dragotha is, right? 1st levels have never been crazy enough to go straight there... but I enjoy listening/watching during games as the levels pass by and they try to decide if they want to take a run at it.
Finally, one of the first Campaign Cartographer manuals suggested always placing a random symbol or 3 on the map, whatever symbol seems cool or something different from the rest, an isolated shrine or monastery or ruin. It's sort of like symbolic brainstorming, sometimes you naturally start thinking of what it is and how it's connected to the rest, and sometimes it comes in handy when you need to stick a module or encounter somewhere... or the players say "hey, let's go see what that is".