Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Textual Mapping

A different way to map?

I've been exploring all the different computer mapping programs there are, and while I finally decided on the one I like best, I like to keep my creative options open.  I've been exploring all the different ways to map, i.e., analog, digital, and combinations of the two. Then I thought of a fourth way to map, and I wondered if anyone else has tried it?

Anyway, my idea was, as a creative exercise, was to 'map' a dungeon using words. Describe it, instead of drawing it. I called it textual mapping.  Something like this:

The Caverns of Klon

The entrance to the Caverns of Klon is a natural sinkhole. The kobolds keep it hidden with dead brush and debris, and move the cameoflage when they need to enter. To descend to the main cavern they use a crudely built wooden ladder. The shaft is about three feet in diameter, and would be a tight fit for a very large human. Anything larger would not fit. An average sized human could not climb down wearing a heavily laden pack. That's one of the reasons the kobold use the caverns. The distance from the top of the sinkhole to the floor of the main cavern is about 30'. The shaft opens up about 10' down, and the cavern is roughly the shape of a dome. If a human uses the ladder there is a chance 20% chance it will break, every humanoid that climbs down after that increases the chance by five percent.

At the bottom of the ladder there are usually a few kobolds on guard. Roll 1d6 to determine the number present.

The main cavern is about forty feet in diameter. The outer edges are mostly unreachable because the stalactite covered ceiling slopes downward. The main cavern is the kobold living area. The floor has been leveled with dirt and flat rocks. The area has crude furniture and sleeping areas.

In the center is a clear pool of water. The water in the pool is very fresh and feed by a small magical bottle on the bottom that was long ago covered with flowstone. A detect magic spell will reveal the source of the water, but any attempt to remove it will break the bottle, and the water will stop flowing. The pool is only about three feet deep and about 8' in diameter. Also on the bottom of the pool is a small invisible chest, that contains a Ring of Fireballs, and one other random, small magic item, and a couple of 10 GP gems. Around the perimeter of the pool are a variety clay jugs and gourds the kobolds use to carry water in.

To the southwest is a tunnel leading to a smaller cavern where the kobolds keep their meager possesions and treasure. The tunnel is only about five feet wide, and five to six feet high. Very tall humanoids would have to stoop or run the risk of banging their heads. The kobolds have knocked most of the stalactites and stalagmites down, and moved them into the main chamber.

The cavern is filled with empty crates, baskets, sacks, and assorted debris. There is a basket with some rations of hard tack,dried meat and fish. There is also a small barrel of ale, and one of wine. If the players search long enough they will find a small chest with 10 GP, 20 SP, and 40 CP. In one crate there is a dagger, and two crude clubs. There is also a chest of rudimentery tools, i.e hammers, hatchets, pry bars, etc. If the players are looking for a specific tool there is a small chance 1 to 6% that the chest may contain it, unless it is something very esoteric, like a jewelers hammer.

To the north is a large tunnel which leads to a dead end caused by a cave in. The tunnel is about 8' high, and roughly 10' wide, and goes on for about 50' before you reach the dead end. There is nothing of interest in the tunnel.

Okay, this was a total of 675 words, and I think it's all I would need to run this short adventure.


It's been 39 days since I started this blog, and 31 posts, so I guess I've "missed" eight days of posts, but some of those days I posted late at night, so technically to me it was the same day.  Then there were the days I posted twice, so I think I've been good about posting frequently.

The reason I missed posting yesterday was because I spent a large amount of time creating a couple of maps for someone to use in a module they will be running at either North Texas RPG Con, or GenCon. ( Two different scenarios. )  I read a post on one of the Dragonsfoot forums, and later the Cartographers Guild, that someone needed some maps for the module they were going to run at the conventions I mentioned.  Anyway, I answered, not knowing who the poster was, ( I won't mention who it is, but he's about as old school as they come. )  Later I replied to the post on the Cartographers Guild, and uploaded the sample dungeon that I posted on here a couple of days ago, so he could see what I could do.

He eventually sent me a message, and said to email him, so that's what I did.  After reading the email, I thought his name sounded familiar so I googled him, and was a little surprised.  Oh well, this should be interesting.  I emailed him jpegs of the first drafts of the maps, and I'm waiting for his reply.  They may not actually be what he's looking for, and I think he has a few people submitting maps, so I'm not holding my breath.  All in all, it's been another good learning experience.


  1. I usually do my dungeon maps as a set of text notes with the occasional flow chart. For me, the new experiment is trying to create a map that has some personal artistic value of its own... I'm very much inspired by Year of the Dungeon.

  2. I've found that creating a dungeon map on the computer is a little, for a lack of a better word, technical, and doesn't seem very artistic as you put it. I really like the hand drawn, prop map I did years ago ( that I posted a while back ), and should do more of those. I can draw them, and then scan them to make stocking notes, or whatever.