Mapping Epiphany

This is the third time I have tried to write this blog post. Every time I’ve written between one- and two-thousand words and looked back and found that I hadn’t said anything I wanted to say nor anything important. This is one last time to try and make this post as succinct as possible.

Several months ago, I looked over my maps to see what order I wanted to post them. I wanted to try and have a different style map every week, so we didn’t see the same type of map consecutively. What I found upset me a bit. There is a sameness to all of my maps, unlike what I see from others that post their maps regularly. When I noticed this, I had enough maps to post into March. I didn’t want to bore you with them.

So I did what I do anytime I have a problem; I studied the maps and styles I want to emulate. My graphical style obviously matches that of guys like Dyson Logos, Matt Jackson, and Stonewerks, but my architectural style is very obviously much more random. I’ve also noticed that these guys wrote enough in their posts to give me an idea of how to use their maps. I’m sure my maps would be better served if I gave them some sort of flavor–and I will try and do that with some that follow–but that is too time-intensive for me right now. It is quite frankly the drawing of the maps that keeps me going, and that is what I’d like to focus on for now.

In an effort to work on the randomness of my maps, I looked at other maps that I have liked in the past to see what I could learn. And here is where my short digression starts.

I style myself a writer and have many how-to and critical essay books on my shelf. One of my favorites is a book written by William Crane titled, Write Like the Masters. His premise is that in the field of writing, students today do not learn like the greats had learned in the past. The greats often learned by copying great writers before them. In doing so, they learned how to write a great story. I believe that many young writers today learn the craft of writing but not the art of writing. And that led to my epiphany.

The maps I’ve posted are serviceable if empty. Many offer player decision points and logical stocking points. And when I am finished with them, my dungeons are living, breathing mini-ecosystems. My Random Dungeon #7 hints at how I breathe life into these things. My system for creating my dungeons has worked for me for more than two decades. Unfortunately my previous map posts have been but lines on paper. A question of white space. And here it is, I want my posts to be better, more like the maps I find on other blogs.

So, I looked at maps from old modules, other blogs, and computer games that I liked. But instead of just looking and reading, I copied them. In my style. And I am going to incorporate these experiments into my posting schedule. They will be titled and credit given but have no other major notes like you’d find with other blogger’s maps. I want these to sit with the rest of my maps so that after a month or so (mid-March at this point) I can look back and see how they compare and contrast with my original creations. I think it will make it much more clear, why I have not been pleased with my maps. I hope you all come along for the ride.

P.S. Recently, Dyson posted An Alternate Map for In Search of the Unknown a link to an alternate map on Dragonsfoot.org for B1: In Search of the Unknown. I was struck by how much this map matched what I would have done if I redid the map, how much it matches my design philosophy. I’m noting it here because I want to devote a full post to it later on and expect that I might forget. I may just copy it in my style to see how it compares to my creations.

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