Cartography is an art and a science, yet adventurers running through a daedalus of underground caves and passages while being pursued by evil creatures draw maps with extreme precision. I hate that. So I have developed a way to screw the players over when they’re trying to find their way out of a maze.
Never draw precise maps
Drawing maps that reflect the time characters spend on cartography is one of my favorite dungeon master tricks. Unless the players are taking the time to map their surroundings professionally – which could take hours if not days – I will not draw the maps professionally either.
- Wrong scale. I will not draw the exact dimensions of any large location. If it’s more than 30 feet long or wide it becomes harder to estimate the real size of a room or passage.
- Small drawing area. I perfected this technique unknowingly. I’ve often played D&D on a small table and a smaller drawing map. So I had to constantly erase what I just drew as the characters advanced in their dungeon crawl.
A quick reproduction of
what I call a graphic break
which higlights my lack of
graphic design skills.
Graphic breaks. There’s probably a technical term for this. I draw part of a map and when I run out of room I add a break (see picture) and keep drawing on some other blank area of the map. That way I don’t have to erase the whole map all the time and whatever I’m drawing becomes a jumble of lines and breaks very quickly – hopefully confusing the players and getting them lost.