Of making maps and other demons / Do people care about props

I’m hitting bedrock for a while and thought, eh, let’s go ask for input.
Anyone experienced with doing maps? Mostly coloring is the issue here.

Never did something particular in this vein so I’m pretty stuck.

Been trying to do a campaign map of, well, the campaigns area, and while it’s still a rough WIP, I just have no idea what to do with the desert-y area and the sea. Looks far too plain and one-dimensional and it’s bugging me.

We never really talked about similar things so I really am not sure if anyone else got some practical experience here. I know Simon tends to do battlemats on his own, so I’d like his input here too.

That being said, I’d like to start a short discussion on props. More specifically, if players even care about them. Due to the nature of the hobby, over-preparation may be a bad habit, but there are some cases where it shouldn’t hurt, right?

Do you, as players in longer campaigns, prefer props from letters, maps, etc., or do you rather rely on the GM’s descriptions and note down anything of interest yourself?

Personally, I try to keep it to a minimum, and when it exist, make it as modular as hell.
The game this map is aimed at is an online game so I can easily just open my graphic editing program and use some of the templates I prepared in advance to make stuff while still running the game.
No matter how much I may complain about it, technology does make some things easier, doesn’t it?

Maps are similar - mark down bigger cities and some trade roads. Add stamps for smaller locations and add them to the map in the middle of play - easy!

I guess my question would be - where does the fine line of using props lie? How much is too much? Etc

Honestly dude from a player and dm perspective the map is fine. The desert area is pretty much the same as everywhere except it’s yellow instead of green and has no trees…
If you plan to add to the map as you go then soon it will get crowded and possibly ugly. Sometimes that’s half the fun and gives players a feeling of accomplishment, seeing what they found on an updated map even if some of it is just fluff you made up and added to the map anyway. The map will get full as you go.
Just my opinion.

Alright, thanks for the input and support!

This actually opened my eyes to the fact that a desert should have dunes and not hills.
How easy it is to miss obvious things at times pfft. back to fixing it

(This also answers the initial question. :wink: )

Hamada is the most common type of desert anyway ^^
(not counting polar deserts)

I use maps from time to time
especially in a (bottled) city setting

I often look for maps online and then photoshop/edit them, since this is by far faster than to start from scratch. :wink:

What I really use often is pictures for NPCs, since this helps the players to remember them.

I started doing that ~2009 with Pixie Wolves, since it had a cast of ~100 named NPCs; later a L5R City of Lies - Campaign had even ~150 named NPCs; finding, posting and printing their pictures (I even used them as tokens during play), helped these campaigns a lot!

150? Holy crap. I don’t think I had as much actual npcs in my entire career. Which ain’t saying much, to be honest.

Bottled setting: a metropolis in a japanesque asian-style fantasy setting (samurais and stuff^^)

[li]the noble family of the governer with vassals, retainers and courtiers
[li]two representatives of two different noble families of the same clan as the governor’s; each with retinue
[li]two representatives from two different families of a second clan, who had strong political as well as mercantile ties with the city; each with retinue
[li]a noble family from a third clan, who were allowed to honour-guard an ancient shrine of their ancestors
[li]noble merchant patrons (from several different clans/families) and their henchmen
[li]local merchants & innkeepers
[li]local famous artisans
[li]eta (“untouchables”; mostly leatherworkers, cremators and garbage collectors)
[li]the inhabitants of the geisha island of the city
[li]the abbots and monks of several local temples
[li]imperial officials/magistrates
[li]several ronin (masterless samurai) for hire
[li]nobles from two neighboring provinces; each with with vassals, retainers and courtiers
[li]bandits / criminals
[li]hidden members of several secret organisations
[li]relatives of the PCs back home / in the metropolis
[li]imperial officials back in the Capital
[li]feudal lords of the PCs back home

it added up pretty quickly

The PCs were imperial magistrates tasked with setting and collecting taxes for the Emperor and sending those to the Capital, harshly punishing any blasphemy against the Emerald Empire and the Emperor and settling disputes between members of different clans; but they were forbidden to involve themselve in inner-clan disputes, even if it they were from different noble families and they were not allowed to earn any money besides from their annual stipend as imperial magistrates.

As I mentioned yesterday:

In another L5R campaign the PCs got a crudely drawn map (made by me), that “had to be right”, since it had been made by an high ranking imperial official and the PCs were just low nobility.

E.g. the PCs would have to stall time, if a long passage on the map was by far shorter in reality, to protect the honour of the highranking imperial mapmaker.