T O P
Hatta00

Larger maps, and less stuff in them. I can put a campfire token where I want it.


ThinkFor2Seconds

Yeah I can't really use any of the maps with coffins in the dungeons or big-ass pentagrams or summoning circles, even if the layout of the map itself is cool. No matter how many times I explain to my players that I'm using a downloaded map that is close enough for purpose, they will always want to investigate the skeletons on the ground. Now I need a reason why there's skeletons on the ground. It's a shame because a lot of those maps are otherwise great. EDIT: I just want to say how much I appreciate anyone posting their maps. They don't have to do that and they certainly don't have to cater them to me. My comment is just about the ones I personally can use.


snarpy

Yeah, I've had the "skeleton" issue as well. "Hey, are those skeletons alive? No? Do they have any loot?"


Legaladvice420

yeah i generally start with "I am telling you ahead of time - the big glowy thing in the corner is there because this was the only map that kind of matched what I was looking for. It is not a part of the game" We'll end the session after the fight on that map, and start the next session with "did we investigate that big glowy thing in the corner?"


nihongojoe

Work it into your story then. I've been running an online campaign for a little while and I craft my story based on cool maps I find (most of which are 50x50 or bigger for what it's worth). If you find a large, detailed map that you want to use, spend some time looking at the details in each room. A study with scrolls everywhere? The party finds a scroll of x spell. A hollowed out tree with a skeleton? Add some loot, make it reanimate. As far as size goes, you can always increase the size of the map and make the squares 10ft. Easier to do on VTT.


Legaladvice420

Yeah I totally appreciate that, but I generally find I work better in the opposite direction. I write my story/encounters/etc, make them fun for my players, and then find something serviceable. I'd rather have a momentary lapse in believability for the explanation but keep what I have written than to shoe-horn in something that doesn't make sense for the given situation. But that's just me and my style. It is obviously different for everyone.


nihongojoe

Yeah definitely. This works for me right now, but this is sort of an off the cuff campaign while another one is on hiatus. I totally understand approaching it from your angle too.


theknights-whosay-Ni

You could always use vague wording for when they investigate parts that aren’t part of your story. Glowing thing in the corner: “you study it, but even with your (whatever) knowledge, you still can’t figure it out”. Could be a thing that they will forget to reinvestigate later but also something to fill a plot hole if one comes up. Skeletons could be “you find nothing of interest” or “these bones are old and rotting, they appear as if they have been here for some time”. Allude to the lair, dungeon, or cave having been cleared of some creature to be inhabited by its current occupants. Just some ideas. Maybe it sparks something for you.


snarpy

Uh, it's a lot easier to just leave them off the map in the first place. The map shows the architecture and topology and plants and stuff... let me worry about the beasties and treasure


Albolynx

Some maps have creatures on them and with very rare exceptions I'll never use those because it's super awkward that there is a creature both on the map and a token. But probably piles of gold are the worst. Pretty much have to specifically intend players to have a reward of a lot of gold for those to be used.


DungeonMercenary

Skeleton mimics.


HenkkaArt

It's the old artistic vs. utility conundrum. Map makers want to make beautiful maps (which is understandable) but at the same time the game mostly requires maps that have a clear and functional design where the GM and the players can imagine things related to the adventure.


MiscellaneaMaps

This one feels like a surprise for some reason, even though it really shouldn't be to me, ha. I started out with the presupposition that the practical use of the maps I made was more important, and ended up slipping into the aesthetic matters because it turns out that's what sells. I'll keep this in mind, I think.


SethQ

So many of my maps have bad cover-ups, like random rocks or rugs or some shit that aren't in any way thematic to the rest of the map, because I have to cover a massive blood soaked altar, or something. Luckily my party is pretty chill about "no, that came with the map" as an answer to some things. One of them usually goes to the pen tool and scribbles it out, or writes "nothing to see here" or something, too. I encourage them to mark up my maps.


snarpy

DINGDINGDINGWHADDYAWEHAVEFORHIMJOHNNY Absolutely! The best is when someone puts up a Dungeondraft file and you can actually go in and tweak it for yourself. Also, since I usually run the bigger modules, I'm mostly in the market for maps for random encounters, so what I really want is a shit-ton of "nature" and "town" maps that are kind of generic. Pretty, and realistic, but generic.


ryncewynde88

The number of 'camp' maps where all the bedrolls are placed together as if the party is normal and kinda likes each other like friends on a camping trip...


the_mad_cartographer

I mean if you're travelling the wilderness where there's a million monsters trying to kill you, sleeping close together is more about survival that being socially comfortable :D Those who lie together survive together!


Dashdor

Unfortunately the less detailed maps don't get as much attention on this sub


MeditatingMunky

Yep. I've learned you can't make everyone happy, so I just create the maps I need to. I try to make something for everyone at some point. Its like, hey, you might not like this map with skeletons and campsites filled with gold and loot, but I do make other maps. Some generic and very easily used in any scenario, others very much specific to what I was running my players through. But indeed, generic maps don't get traction on Reddit. I made a very basic map not long ago and my comments were "very generic, looks good, but very very generic". Made another post of a dungeon with lots of details and the comments were "cool layout, great details, but not what I need this week." At the end of the day, as creators we are making things we want. It might be for a request, maybe even a commission, but most of all it is by what we are currently inspired to create. If it fits, GREAT! If not, oh well. There will be more maps, I can promise that!


Adredazlis

I’ve literally had someone ask on a completely assetless dungeon map I posted on another sub “what’s the point of this map? There’s nothing in the dungeon.” Use that big DM brain of yours, bro. The point of an assetless map is for you to make it whatever you want.


Dungeon_Master_Erik

I will def take this into consideration when making my next map pack for my patreon. A whole series of 50x50 maps with minimal clutter. Then DMs can edit them or add things where they wish.


the_mad_cartographer

Not everyone wants to dress their maps, a lot of people don't want to play around with assets and modify, so making a large empty map means: 1) There are people it doesn't appeal to 2) It just doesn't look very interesting, so no one upvotes it, so it disappears from new in 10 minutes The result is that a lot of map makers, such as myself, will promote their work with a decorated map, and give "blank" versions to their paying patrons, they pay for the privilege of extra utility and customization. So if you like a map, it's always worth having a click through to the artists Patreon to see if they provide bare maps as part of their tiers.


_FinnTheHuman_

I like having details already placed, the less time I have to spend making the map, the better. Also why would I pay for an empty map that will most likely look just like 2-3 others I have?


KnightOwlForge

Not unpopular at all. I’ve made a concerted effort to use large maps in my games and every single time my players have loved it. Last night I ran a 35x50 map that I scaled up to 70x100. It really altered the tactics the players used, because their spells and ranged attacks actually had limitations. With a small map, just about every ranged attack and spell is doable, making them quite powerful. The combat lasted longer than 3-4 rounds because they actually had to spend turns running up to threats instead of everyone bunched in a room, where say a barbarian can just rip through everything. Hopefully makers see the reasoning here and provide larger maps!


snarpy

> The combat lasted longer than 3-4 rounds because they actually had to spend turns running up to threats instead of everyone bunched in a room, where say a barbarian can just rip through everything. Yeah, I feel this is an underrated feature of encounter design. If you start encounters more than 30' you instantly add an entirely different feel to the whole thing. It makes for so much more variability.


jbram_2002

Agree, but you have to be careful about not starting it too far away. I had a DM who loved to start us 100+ ft away when my stubby dwarf legs would only go 20 ft per round. It made melee a massive chore and ranged way overpowered.


fyjham

GM has to balance the encounters for it. An enemy whose going to engage at that range is probably prepared. Either they'll have options to close the gap or reasons you want to - which keeps melee relevant. If the fight is designed to be just the same fight with the melee chars ignored for a few rounds then its not a good baseline fight. Still good for variety - lack of mobility should occasionally punish you, just not severely every fight.


Earthhorn90

I remember playing through Descent into Avernus as a Dwarf Barbarian. That one had some ... biiiiiiiig maps. One of the final ones went like this: * Player 1, 3min think time: Teleportation, cantrip, pew pew. * Me, 3sec think time: Dash. * Player 1: Pew pew pew. * Me: Dash. * Player 1: Pew pew pew, CC on boss. * Me: Dash. * Player 1: AoE, pew pew pew!!! * Me: ...dash.


snarpy

Well, use your magic evil bike thingy! Problem solved!


Earthhorn90

Mad Max Bikes weren't a thing in that particular 500 feet wide map...


animethecat

Depending on the edition you're playing (I'm not familiar with 5e, for example) you could take a full round action to run up to 4x (3x in heavy armor, 5x/4× with the run feat) your speed. So dwarf in heaven armor, because of being a dwarf, can run 80 feet as a full round action. Added bonus of the run feat in pathfinder 1e, you can keep your dex to AC if you have the feat. Otherwise, your dex to AC as a heavy armor (usually) dwarf is not of huge importance.


110101101101

5e you just get 1x in exchange for any attacks, just growing the gap.


Kiyomondo

Tl;dr: maximum standard movement in 5e is 2x, or 3x for monks and rogues from Lvl 2 onwards. In 5e, dwarf base speed is 25 ft. Taking the dash action only doubles your movement, so 50 ft. Heavy armour does not reduce a dwarf's movement speed in 5e. (Or any race, provided their STR is high enough to bear the weight of the armour). Dashing as a bonus action is only available to rogues and monks (1 point ki cost), but would add the base speed again to total round movement. The "Mobile" feat increases base speed by 10 ft, so a mobile dwarf could move 35, dash 70. A mobile dwarf monk maxes out at 105 ft, unless of course you are wading into the sheer insanity of *Haste*.


nihongojoe

Just ran a map last night that was about 35×70. Really thought that getting into position would take a long time. While it was definitely a factor and shaped the encounter in cool ways, the party basically got through a gauntlet and engaged the final boss in close quarters in 5 rounds or less. This was a fight through a neighborhood with 2 small encounters before the boss fight, so getting all the way to the end in 5 turns was impressive. The boss fight only lasted another 2 or 3 rounds. There's a lot to be said for large maps. Very fun.


c_jonah

I like to vary it. Over 40’ for some encounters, under 15’ for others. Really tests the players in different scenarios in unexpected ways. I agree it’s be nice to see more large maps, like for a roll20 map across 2 roll20 pages.


the_mad_cartographer

>Hopefully makers see the reasoning here and provide larger maps! We understand the reasoning, it just takes a considerably longer time to make a larger map, and it's not an overwhelming majority that require 30x30sq+ sized maps. If it was, if there was a sweeping demand for maps to be 30x30 or larger, then map makers would have to concede and cater towards that... but that's just not the case, it's personal preference. The fact is that many people get by just fine on smaller maps and would prefer 3 maps of a smaller size than 1 map that's larger. Aside from that, committing more time to **size** doesn't guarantee that people still want to use the map, so effectively you can just be wasting your time making larger maps.


Zulias

My sweeping demand is for 50x50 maps online, honestly. I don't go much bigger than that, but I'm with everyone else, spell sniper is a pretty useless feat if you're always within 150' of the enemy at most.


the_mad_cartographer

I feel, and always have, that the really long range spells and weapons are just more practical for off the map combat and "pre-map" attacks. If you're attacking from that far away then realistically you don't need to have a map until people start being up close enough that they're meleeing. When the encounter turns to melee... the person still at 150ft away doesn't need to be placed on the map, because they're so far removed they're almost playing their own side-combat.


davolala1

While I absolutely love huge, beautiful battle maps, I also agree with this. Even on the table we would always just place that mini at the edge of the map(sometimes only 8x10) and say “Ok, remember that I’m 30 feet in this direction.”


WolfgangHype

I feel like at that distance you may not even be able to fit on a tabletop. I got a larger table for gaming on (before the pandemic) and about 30x40 is what will reasonable fit on it. You also want some space to not line up everyone on the edge of the map in most instances, so I'd say anything over 100ft is likely abstracted. Admittedly most people probably use these in virtual tabletops, but I definitely printed out nice maps to use when we still met in person.


Legaladvice420

One of my players wanted part of his back story to be that his ex-wife was a master assassin. I said okay. Of course that means she's coming in to kill his ass. With the build I chose for her, she maxed out her range at 440ft. She still had a great chance to hit at that range. I had to nerf my custom built "master assassin" to have any chance of using a map, in person or online. So yeah, we really only use maps once everyone is "melee" range.


unctuous_homunculus

Unless it's literally a single room in a dungeon, I can't use a 30x30 map. It has to be 50x50 or larger for the fight to include any thought whatsoever. More demand for 50x50 maps!


SonTyp_OhneNamen

Supply and demand theory just doesn’t work in a field where there’s no supply at all for a particular product - during WWII, neither Coca Cola nor its ingredients could be shipped to Nazi Germany, so the company came up with a new soft drink with ingredients they had in Germany, boom, Fanta was born (real history - google it); Fanta was made because it was convenient, and initially didn’t sell because people liked it more than cola, but because there *was* no cola. Same goes for drawn battlemaps. The demand for battlemaps is overwhelming, so much so that people won’t demand certain sizes and not pay if they don’t get those, they‘ll just take what they can get. The artists, as you explained, prefer smaller maps, so that’s all that’s available. You don’t get to „vote with your wallet“ when most map makers make thousands of dollars regardless of map size, just because supply is limited enough to have others not care.


the_mad_cartographer

Most map makers **don't** make thousands of dollars, there is a handful who do that have been around for a few years and do this full time; the majority don't make enough to make this their full time. There's plenty of people who make larger maps, but those artists aren't so prominent so their maps fall under the radar. Given the choice people would **always** have larger maps, but they'd also have multiple variants, high detail and 5 maps a week if they had their way :D So it's not that artists have a monopoly and are holding back... it just takes too long to make a large map that might not do well. That and peopel *do* like smaller maps as well. [This map](https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/comments/jwi3xd/knuckletrout_fishing_hole_15x15/) was the smallest and most low effort map I've made... people seemed to like it more than some of my large poster maps.


Hatta00

Going smaller than 30x30 does guarantee that some of us won't use a map. A person who is OK with small maps can use a large map. A person who needs a large map can't use a small map. If you want to maximize your audience, larger is always better.


the_mad_cartographer

It's a numbers game. The number of people that would prefer 5 smaller maps is larger than the number of people that would prefer 1 large map.. because people would sooner have more maps. If I was wrong then my Patreon wouldn't look how it does. I opted to not go for the standard "one large map a week" that most other artists do. I make maps of varied sizes, from small to larger (but LARGE maps are generally reserved for my top tier patrons). If people were unhappy with smaller maps then I wouldn't have Patrons, if I tried to make larger maps but less of them... people wouldn't be happy with having less maps.


Wuktrio

70 x 100 maps are pretty hard to use when playing on a table, because if every square is 2.5 x 2.5 cm then you need a 1.75 x 2.5 m table and that is without character sheets, snacks, drinks, dice or the DM screen on the table. That's probably why many people prefer smaller maps. I would love to use large maps, but I don't have the space and also my printer can do A4 at maximum and 70 x 100 is a LOT of A4s. But it is cool on Roll20.


Zigguraticus

Yeah unless it’s a closed room in a dungeon a lot of them are too small. For high level combat especially. A lot of the time if I use one I have to make blank space at the edges to account for the movement I know my party will be doing. It’s gotten way better since I started making my own. DungeonDraft is relatively cheap (especially if you split the cost with your players) and even the assets it comes with are good (there are also a ton of free ones that a very nice). It’s a little more time consuming obviously and I can’t make anything even remotely close to the GOATs like Czepeku but I don’t need to most of the time.


snarpy

I do have Dungeondraft but... I'll be honest... I'd rather organize my encounters around cool maps I find than make my own maps that fit the encounter I have in mind. It's just way, way, way less work. I'm also pretty intimidated by the maps a lot of people are putting out these days...


WoNc

I mean, that's kind of the issue in a nutshell. Making maps can be a lot of work and the bigger the map, the more time and work it takes to make a single map. For instance, a 30x30 map is more than twice as much map as a 20x20 map (assuming constant grid size, which individual makers seem to keep consistent). The amount of map you're making increases quickly, and a lot of what's published here comes from professional map makers trying to churn out several sets of maps or more each month.


the_mad_cartographer

This guy maps.


WoNc

Yep, started recently and I don't have a lot of experience with art in general, so when I went to make a 60x40 map of a Gruul Guildgate, I quickly realized I bit off more than I can chew. I'm gonna put that on the back burner and slowly work on it in between making maps of a more manageable size.


the_mad_cartographer

10/10 would recommend. Big maps are great, but they're very centrepiece encounters a lot of the time, unless they're a dungeon. There's honestly more financial worth in multiple maps that are smaller in nature, but still tactically interesting.


WoNc

Yeah, I've spent a fair bit of time studying the maps other people are making both to look at technique and get an idea of what sorts of stuff is probably viable and even the first few I've produced have been immensely educational. Once I churn out a few more maps and am happy with both the consistency of the quality and the procedure, I'll have to sort out some tiers and open a Patreon.


the_mad_cartographer

Wish you the best of luck with it! \- Content is king, the more you make the better \- Don't do a $1 tier, your content is worth more \- Get stuff on Roll20 Marketplace as soon as possible, it's a really great passive income


WoNc

Thanks for the advice!


drevolut1on

Honestly, this is how I felt, but then I put in a weekend to get really comfortable with Dungeondraft after getting the Forgotten Adventures assets. It was so worth it. For most encounters, it's now 15 minutes tops for a decent map, half an hour if I need a lot of detail. I'll throw on Critical Role and get all the maps I might need done in one sitting. I tend to make much larger maps than on this sub, too, but larger doesn't necessarily take longer - most of that additional space is specifically more empty to make it feel like a larger map, in my experience. And, to top all that off, I also find maps all the time and pay for a few patreons for the cool animated shit I can't do. In terms of the FA assets, they are SUCH a steal - I keep paying the $1/month because of all the updates but also cause I'd feel bad paying only $1 for such quality, ha.


snarpy

Interesting. I got Dungeondraft almost right as it was available and only really used it then, so it was really buggy and there were few assets. I should definitely try again! Any suggestions for cool asset providers (free or paid)? Another comment: you mention that larger maps tend to have more open space, which made me think of a lot of open-world video games. Often I find their maps too cluttered... encounter areas too close together, leading to a lack of "time" between things. I remember thinking of Skyrim, how it all felt so claustrophobic, while many of the modded storylines (the one starting with F?) had maps that felt more "natural". That's kind of how I feel about a lot of the maps made for RPGs (in published modules as well).


drevolut1on

Crosshead and Forgotten Adventures have incredible and affordable asset packs via Patreon. I seriously would not be such a DD fan if not for FA. It's astounding what they've made possible for me. Two Minute Tabletop has a unique style that some find really appealing, but it doesn't jive well with other styles I've found. Check out u/baileywiki for some incredible map-making tutorials and maps (and how to use them on Foundry, which is my favorite VTT).


snarpy

Cool, thanks. I will check those out.


Two-Seven-Off-Suit

Would just like to second Forgotten Adventures. They are fantastic!


KnightOwlForge

This... I am not an artist and making maps with tools always takes forever and the results always seem generic. Outsourcing map making has been a huge boon to me as a DM.


Caramellatteistasty

Czepeku makes such great maps.


polarcyclone

I run my players on a continuous initiative inside a dungeon it helps those small rooms actually feel like small rooms and adds the danger that when that one player pops a door open alone they will be alone when whatever trap triggers.


thegooddoktorjones

This points to my main complaint with DungeonDraft: it's great for making a new map but most of the time what I want is to take an existing map and add something to it. That you can't use an arbitrary image as a background seems either like a huge missed opportunity or an intentional move to keep pro map makers happy.


Eschlick

I prefer the no-grid versions so I can add my own grid and make it my own size.


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[удалено]


Webguy20

On pre-gridded maps just turn off snap to grid on the roll20 page and make the grid disappear and just use the maps grid. Its ALOT easier than trying to get the damn things to line up.


snarpy

Doesn't that mean tokens line up all over the place?


WolfgangHype

It means they won't snap, but I generally find it easier to move the tokens in the lines with the grid off than to try to get the grids to line up. One less thing I have to mess with in prep.


snarpy

Ah, I see. I really like having the tokens snap during combat. It's already kind of a cluster-f as is!


nihongojoe

Using a gridless map means tokens can snap to grid on roll20 and you don't have to line up the map grid. Easy solution for gridded maps: look at the file size, make your roll20 blank page the same size. Sometimes you have to double or halve it, but it will line up if the map is decently made.


WolfgangHype

My big issue is half the time I'm dealing with maps from adventures. You'd think the published maps would be better but honestly they're more a pain in the butt to work with. I'm convinced Paizo's grids are not even.


Webguy20

You just move them around like you would on a regular table top. Super easy.


Silas-Alec

Measuring gets to be a pain in the ass though without a proper grid


Webguy20

You use the grid that came on the map. You just turn off Roll 20s grid.


Silas-Alec

I was referring to using the roll 20 measuring tool


Reeffy_J

I have struggled with this for hours resizing in tiny amounts. Right learned the right click, advance, scale to grid (I think it's called) function. Not perfect but a huge time saver.


Shufflebuzz

Yes, of course I do that, but a lot of times the grid on the map is fuzzy and if you're off by even a pixel, it's not going to scale right and the lines won't line up. The whole aligning problem is compounded when the grid isn't aligned to the edge of the image.


Eschlick

Do that to get yourself close. Then drag the size of the image while holding ALT so that you can change the map image a tiny amount until its right.


MysticalNarbwhal

I always hated having no grid, but now I'm kinda understanding the benefits to it. Ty!


Eschlick

I project my maps on the dining room table and use Roll20 to add the grid so it’s easy enough.


Naga14

People do it just so hide non-gridded behind a paywall. I hate it but this subreddit allows it.


snarpy

That's... odd? Why couldn't they just show a version with a bigass watermark on it?


bergec

Nope. Too small or, sometimes, with the wrong part centered. There was a camp in the wilderness map recently where the camp was all the way on the left side of the map, with part of it off the map. Since that's the most likely starting position for the party, it really hurts the usability for me.


BS_DungeonMaster

Just to play devil's advocate, I usually see those not as general use maps but an opportunity to run a scenario that a centered map may not allow. Maybe a chase after they catch someone in that camp


Poonchow

I just take the maps and fill the outside space with blank forest / city / whatever the terrain is and theater-of-the-mind everything outside. Sometimes I rotate them 90 or 180 degrees to fit whatever the situation is. I appreciate having maps, it's up to me as the GM to use the resource for whatever situation


_Synesthesia_

Remember that you can flip them in PS, or use the Foundry VTT starting camera position function.


Deepfire_DM

Nope. same here.


thegooddoktorjones

I have had the same issue, 5e on 'old school' maps with 10x10 rooms that worked fine in 3e or 1e is not very tactically interesting, and with 5-7 PCs in my group there just isn't anywhere for people to stand most of the time. That said, the maps are free and I feel a lot of folks doing this for patreons offer the gridless version for a (very reasonable) fee where you can make the squares as small as you like. I recently ran an encounter on a map that was 20x20 but looked gorgeous, so I set it up as 40x40, matched the lines up and it was seamless.


snarpy

> I recently ran an encounter on a map that was 20x20 but looked gorgeous, so I set it up as 40x40, matched the lines up and it was seamless. Yes, I do this as well. Works most of the time, at least when there isn't something on the map that needs to be a certain size (like a bed or something).


DarthChunguss

> at least when there isn't something on the map that needs to be a certain size (like a bed or something). Don't let that stop you! As long as basically everything else lines up, at least. Chairs are now loveseats, and the bed is now *the best bed ever*.


pcnovaes

Wouldn't everything, every prop, double in size?


KnightOwlForge

Yeah, everything becomes supersized... if it’s breaking immersion, I just throw objects over the things that don’t make sense.


thegooddoktorjones

Not gonna work on every map. However this particular one was a treehouse village, at the default scale each house would fit maybe two people standing up, so it was ripe to re-scale. Also, my players are cool and not likely to complain if a chair seems overly large.


urzaz

Yes, it's less than ideal.


GimmiePig

As a content creator/seller, I have to say I agree with the "unpopular" opinion. I always try to make a good looking map, but, in my decades of running/playing rpgs, if a pretty map isn't playable, it's just art. As many players like to plan their approach and do some recon of a target location, I often try to include some of the surrounding area for that. I find it helps with immersion.


kuroninjaofshadows

I legitimately have had to take the map I'm using and copy paste, turn it and stitch it onto the end every combat it seems. I've honestly been missing poorly drawn maps (read: random squiggles) at this point. And the usage of maps means more prep work.


ScarletForge

1. I agree. When my wife and I work up maps, we try to consider cover, weapon range, potential paths, etc. I recently posted a highway draft which did work really well for the encounter I set up, but for its final form, we’ll be making it larger. 2. Even the big maps I feel are lacking. Czepeku is a HUGE name in battlemaps, but I stopped supporting them because even though their battlemaps were huge and gorgeous, they lacked cover. When you have rogues or rangers in the party, or are fighting with different monsters how dynamic your map is becomes important too. 3. And this less directed at OP. I noticed a few less appreciative comments referencing the hard work these artists do. And then provide for free. Now, I’m always up for critiques. But these maps on this subreddit are available to you for free. You really wanna end up on r/choosingbeggars because you’d rather complain about someone else’s art than learn the skill yourself? Alright, feel free to downvote me now for that unpopular opinion.


GimmiePig

Regarding #3 - Critique is actually good for us content creators - it helps us improve! And I think many of us - even if we have patreons - make maps because we love making maps!


KnightOwlForge

A counter to point three... most of the makers that provide maps here for free are promoting a patreon or similar platform. Well, I am happy to pay for quality, large maps, but 90% of the patreons I’ve checked out have the same small maps. If I were a map maker and wanted people to buy my maps, I would make large maps that people want. I don’t see bringing this up as begging or hating on the people giving stuff away for free... it’s the community saying “we aren’t going to pay you for small maps.” So, it’s all about perspective. Here we are providing makers with good feedback on how to make maps that people are willing to pay for.


the_mad_cartographer

> If I were a map maker and wanted people to buy my maps, I would make large maps that people want. People want small maps as well though, and financially it's more prudent to make three smaller maps than one larger map... that even though it's larger doesn't mean everyone's going to want it.. but it just took you three times as long to make :) > we aren’t going to pay you for small maps As someone who has predominantly made maps that are around 16x22 (four A4 when printed) I can personally say that I'm doing just fine and people **are** willing to pay for them. Totally cool that it's not your thing and you prefer large ones (and I 100% understand why), but it would be wrong of you to presume that larger maps = a more profitable Patreon :)


GimmiePig

As map maker, I was surprised when a few of my patrons actually asked for smaller simple battle maps - they liked having a few on hand to drop in for quick/improvised encounters. As a guy who tends to make larger and/or multi-level maps, this was a real surprise for me. In the end, I guess it comes down to finding the map maker who makes the maps you want and support them.


Crownie

>even though their battlemaps were huge and gorgeous, they lacked cover It's hard to rag on people to hard for giving away free stuff, but I have noticed that there are a lot of maps (from a variety of people) that are high on aesthetics but lacking from a tactical perspective. (Also, a *lot* of inns and river crossings).


snarpy

> You really wanna end up on r/choosingbeggars because you’d rather complain about someone else’s art than learn the skill yourself? I'm not complaining for no reason. If someone is making maps that they either want to give away for free, or want to sell, wouldn't they want input on what kind of maps people want? I'd actually pay money to someone who consistently made maps I can use, but in all honesty I haven't found one yet. They're all either too small, or too focused on some kind of very specific encounter. I certainly appreciate the work that people do, whether it's for free or not, and I will always comment as such on maps that I use. I'm also not entirely sure what learning to make maps yourself has to do with "critiquing" (which isn't even the word I'd use) others' maps. I don't make big-budget films, but that shouldn't stop me analyzing and critiquing ones that are made. And it shouldn't stop people from making maps! It should actually help them learn more, via an "other" perspective. Heh, now I've gone on my own ramble. I should really go back to work.


the_mad_cartographer

> They're all either too small, or too focused on some kind of very specific encounter. The biggest problem for Patreon artists is that **a lot** of the people you see posting maps here *aren't* doing this full time, they have another full time job and they're trying to make their Patreon grow. There's a handful of folks who earn enough money to do this as their full time career. The result is that they only have a finite amount of time to make maps.. this means either they make ones that stand out (i.e. sometimes a specific narrative) or they make smaller ones (because that's all their time allows). If everyone who used an artists free maps threw a few dollars to the creators way every once in a while you'd see a massive shift in the industry with people putting out much more / higher quality / varied content. Unfortunately the majority of people are just happy to use stuff for free, so the people making maps keep doing it part time.


GimmiePig

That is a fair comment - but I will say it is hard to make a map and not have an encounter in mind! Too generic and the map is just that, generic. And some people want lights baked in and others don't. Some want animals or vehicles in or left out. I would say if you are a patron for a creator, you can always ask them to tweak a map a bit - I have done it and offered it up for the rest of the folks.


screamslash

My problem is maps with grids that don't fit the roll20 dimensions properly and you can never get them lined up properly.


snarpy

Yeah, Align to Grid is kind of finicky. It helps if you REALLY zoom in.


masterflashterbation

This is one of the many things Foundry VTT does infinitely better than roll20. It's really easy to line up grids. Roll20 is brutal in a lot of ways. I don't miss it one bit.


adonaes

I have had the same issue when finding maps. I DM for a group who has a lot of ranged attackers, some of which can hit enemies 300 feet away. And a monk who can run 240 ft in one turn when hasted. Most maps never allow them to take advantage of these abilities. I recently made a 1600ft x 1600ft x 1200 ft 3D map just to give them a realistic sense of how powerful their abilities really are. And I was able to use the entire map for a 7 hour session (siege). They loved it.


GimmiePig

Speaking for the dungeon draft folks, map size is limited to 128 squares by 128 squares - at 5' per square - so 640' by 640'. And at that size, many computers have difficult rendering and exporting such large maps. Best we can do is make smaller squares and stitch them together with another application. But that still makes for large file sizes and some VTT's limit file size. So we try to lower the dpi and lose some of the detail. There is always a trade off or compromise. Just know we do try! And your 7 hour siege sounds amazing!


solamon77

Honestly, I'll one-up you. Even 30x30 maps are often too small. If you're playing a game with mostly ranged combat, it sure would be nice to let the players have some space between each other. I'm playing Starfinder and I can't even think of a single time anyone has ever took a shot outside the range increment of their guns.


thearchenemy

I think you’ll find this isn’t a very unpopular opinion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a map and thought it was a great concept but that I’d never use it because it was to small or too constrained. I keep it to myself because I don’t want to gripe about someone else’s work, and lots of these same maps look great. But yeah, I consider lots of them unusable.


Czepeku

Might as well drop a link to our recent **70x108** battlemap: [https://www.patreon.com/posts/colossus-port-46038460](https://www.patreon.com/posts/colossus-port-46038460) ;) And if anyone wants to see how big our maps are before signing up, take a look at [this ledger](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UOmQ79DwxTtw8Etjcuy9C6b3Vvi0XXRHxKHkd1zK7ZQ/edit#gid=0). The bottom line on this conversation, as u/the_mad_cartographer said is that it takes *a lot* of time to make even a small map. A 30x30 map might take someone a week to create and that person probably has a full time job they have to go to.


1burritoPOprn-hunger

Holy shit it's Czepeku. Necropost, just have to say, holy shit I love your maps. They're so incredibly evocative, and always get a big "wow" whenever they're used. Admittedly they're so specific that I get more mileage out of "generic forest river crossing map 24" but, whenever I have occasion to use your stuff, it always goes over well.


snarpy

Cool, I get all that. You do have some nice maps. I guess I'd say my bottom line is thst if I can't use it because it's too small (or whatever), I'm not going to pay for it.


Czepeku

This thread have almost 800 upvotes, so it's clearly an opinion worth sharing and discussing. It's just important that people realise there's artists at the end of these maps with commitments more important than dnd and who are likely doing this as a hobby.


Xaielao

I've noticed this too, and other things. Though some of this is just the increasingly popular of 'high vantage point' or 'tall walls' map styles, that tricks the brain and skews perception of the maps size until you see it at full size. That said, there are a number of things I've noticed recently that seems to be tied to the goal of getting lots of maps out so you'll get more $ from patreon; since most map-maker patreon payments are 'per map pack'. It's only natural, and a lot of this may just be people trying to get name recognition in a crowded ~~field~~ subreddit. ;) Anyway, some of the things I've noticed: - The same assets being used over and over. Multiple maps from the same creator that clearly have the same tree, stone or structure assets used. This is fine if your just using freely available assets to make a map for personal use. It's perfectly fine to use an asset you've used before, specially if you spend a bit of time working it into the map. It isn't ok if your trying to make money off your art and your using free assets someone else made over and over again to pump out maps as fast as possible. - Map 'variants' that are little more than a filter over the normal version. - Maps that are obviously small but that have had a tiny grid placed over them to make them look bigger. For example I recently saw a map with trees that were like 10x10 squares in size (when they should never be more than 4x4, unless they are a major focus of the map, like for an elvish tree village. - Multi-part maps released one a week that are supposed to be added together to make one big map, or used to represent a single level of a castle or dungeon. These can be cool, but not every map, every week. I get it, most tabletop map patreons are pay per map, but the more tricks and shortcuts you use, the more people are going to notice and your not going to get subscribers. There's a reason the patreon artists like Cze&Peku (my personal fave), Caeora, 2-Minute Tabletop, and Neutral Party - among others - have lots of subscribers and a big following. They have their own styles, release interesting maps with cool variants, and don't often take such shortcuts. I get it, for people just coming into the field it's crowded and hard to make your name. Maybe you start making (and posting) lots of maps to get name recognition out there. Some of these folks may not consciously taking short cuts, but your not doing yourself any favors if you are. That said, so many of you make great maps, or hell even solid ones that are useful, and release the base one for free for us to use. Even if they are smaller than they should be, or use repeating assets. This subreddit, and my favorite patreons and the free maps found here all the time, have definitely made my games better. So thank you. :)


kazeespada

I have a pet peeve where a map is too zoomed in. For example a fort map with the fort walls directly at the map edge. "Okay great, but how will my players actually start outside the fort?"


snarpy

Unfortunately, the stock maps for some of the official modules are the same! It's like, OK, this keep has twelve archers with longbows that have 1,135,953 feet range... now start your combat 5' from the edge of the turret.... like, do they playtest this shit?


qsauce7

I find most interior maps on here to be pretty good. They're an appropriate size for indoor combat and I can always add cover and other interesting features when I put them into Roll20. Fighting in dungeons/caves/catacombs/whatever should feel a little cramped. I'm okay with it. I've had more trouble with exterior/outdoor maps. Case in point, the [most upvoted map on this sub](https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/comments/fzwycg/northern_land_of_giants_part_01_27x17/) is absolutely beautiful, it tells the story of a full adventure in one image, and I'm dying to use it in my campaign. With that said at only 135 ft across and with 1/3 of its 85 ft height being unusable, I don't think it's a very good outdoor combat map. My ranged characters would absolutely position themselves off-map for most of combat and I'd have to increase the playable space beyond the 27x17 grid. That's not the end of the world, but then I have this beautiful map sitting in the middle of a white grid and at that point why did I bother to use the beautiful, immersive map in the first place? For an outdoor map I really think you need a minimum of 200 ft of potential movement in any direction (so, 40x40 minimum). Obviously, I'm extremely grateful for all the free resources on this sub and others. My games are way better because of it, but some more space outdoors would be great.


snarpy

The fact that the most upvoted map on the sub isn't that playable (according to you, I haven't really thought about it) tells you a lot about the way posts are voted on. It's maybe more about the creativity and artistic talent, the "prettiness", than the utility. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though in my opinion utility should be more important than the way it "looks".


Serious_Much

100%. So many maps are literally for single encounters and are all of 30-60ft wide. Mostly useless for any party with ranged characters Dungeon maps are few and far between and often far too impressioned with details that reduce the utility. I use them still and just say this stuff isn't there to my players, but more basic, but we'll made dungeon style maps would definitely be welcome


JamesNathanielArtist

As a creator of maps for Patreon this is a very valuable thread. Thanks!


snarpy

That's good to know. I posted it on a whim and it blew up as much as an r/battlemaps post could I guess.


Zatnikotel

Well, if it helps any, I do large map sets for this reason. Each set could be used as a giant map, parts of giant maps or invidual maps, to cater for different uses. Each of my large sets is (at least) one million square feet: Example [here](https://www.belloflostsouls.net/2021/01/dd-one-million-square-feet-of-new-battle-maps-free.html)


snarpy

Awesome. I need this, but for arctic/snowy/mountainous landscapes, as I'm running Rime of the Frostmaiden. And I'd bet a lot of other people do too...


Zatnikotel

Yup. I'm hearing that a lot (and deserts). I do have a set with some areas like that (Dungeon Dimensions) that may be useful to you - I won't link as I don't want to hijack the thread.


snarpy

you can send it to me, I'm curious


Zatnikotel

May be useful, may not: Here: https://www.belloflostsouls.net/2019/11/dd-two-million-plus-feet-of-dungeons-and-battlemaps.html


snarpy

Some of those I've already used, heh! The "night" versions look very arctic-y and are almost too big, so I can pull chunks out and use them. Thanks!


Zatnikotel

My pleasure :)


SeafootGames

The comments in here are great feedback, so thank you to everyone for voicing their opinions, I shall use it for the forces of good. :P


snarpy

You have some great maps, just looked at the Patreon. Most are a little too specific for anything I'm doing, but then again I'm running Curse of Strahd and Frostmaiden right now so everything's pretty... specific on its own, lol. I'll keep tabs on the Patreon though.


SeafootGames

Thanks Snarpy! I do some darker creepy themed maps that might be useful for random encounters for Curse of Strahd but I never do maps straight out of modules. At least not yet. :P


ZowJr

Oh my god! I thought I was alone in this. Yes. The maps on here are just positively wonderful... but they're way too small and cramped. I'd have to smash several of them together in order to get something suited for my love of more dynamic combat that equates to more than "Melee mosh down a 5 foot hallway".


TavisNamara

Let me put it this way. In Pathfinder 1e, same as a lot of d&d, a space is 5 feet. Base move speeds are 30 feet, or 6 spaces. Charging and running exist, allowing to double or quadruple that movement. So, 60 or 120 feet, or 12 or 24 spaces. A lot of maps here don't have ANY side above 25 spaces, meaning a normal character running all out crosses a full map in one turn. That's... Not big enough. I love having enough space to at least stretch a little. 30x30+. Preferably more.


dungeonslacker

I often feel the opposite and wish there were more map resources that were a bit smaller to make it easier for playing on a table and printing at home


rockology_adam

I agree. A lot of the very artistic battlemaps are made with a specific encounter in mind, and not a battle in a wider field. I had this exact issue a few weeks back with a snowy mountain map I wanted for a dragon hunting encounter. The problem was that there was room on the ledge for three out of five adventurers and that's it. I solve this problem quite regularly by blowing maps up on Roll20, double or even sometime tripled in size. It fixes a lot of my map issues, like 5 ft hallways everywhere, or ledges or caves that cannot actually fit a monster bigger than medium size. If you use the align to grid to on Roll20, and instead of selecting 3x3 squares, just map out one square on the grid, the map resizes to have 9 (3x3) 5 ft movement squares inside one square of the map's grid. I find this works REALLY well for me. Getting it to be just double is harder, and it's harder to line the map's lines up with the tabletop gridlines, but an ungridded map works well there.


3Dartwork

A lot of maps are also drawing too small of rooms. But yeah low resolution is common


obring

I find that a lot of the maps on here are way too big.


Adredazlis

So, the smallest map I have on my Patreon is 25x50. Most everything else is at least 50x50 (https://patreon.com/maps_n_quests)


_FinnTheHuman_

I feel like I have the exact opposite opinion of most people here; if it's a choice between "small and detailed" and "large and empty" then I'm always going to choose the detailed option. *The entire reason I'm buying these maps is because I don't want the hassle of building it myself*, if creators switched to making maps of huge empty woods, or 200m of road, why would I buy it? I could get a stock image of that off the internet in 10 seconds and it wouldn't cost me anything. Ultimately my players are probably (90% of the time) going to fight whatever it is they're against in a very small area, if a ranged character wants to sit 200ft away from the fight and take pot shots I'll just make a note of that, nothing is going to be improved by filling the intervening space with a picture of a field. And unless positioning and distance actually matters (i.e. during a combat, or sneaking around) then I'm just going to describe the scene anyway. Just my opinion on the matter, thanks for reading.


Kilgore1981

Seems that the online map posting focuses on cool artworky maps with a sweet vibe and all sorts of great little details and room contents. Amazing to look at. Well beyond my capabilities. Unusable in play most of the time.


Sulicius

100% correct. I have been thinking about making a guide for a long time about contrast, usability, readability, and such. Good to see that other people notice this too!


KurtKroh

Please share that with me. I want to know what people need.


Sulicius

Working on it. I'm already on 3 pages...


authorised_pope

It's even worse when a good map is spoiled by adding animals to it. I mean - what would be the purpose of an immovable horse or pig anyway?


Goubybear

Very fair feedback. I had the same feeling many times.


AF79

Also, I love it when maps have something interesting for the party to interact with, especially vertically - a balcony with a chandelier to swing off (or shoot down onto your enemies) makes for a much more awesome manor fight than just an empty ball room IMO


0zzyb0y

Side note, putting the actual wonderdraft/dungeondraft/whatever else files in your post where possible is an amazing help. I understand that many people are out here designing completely custom maps as a business so not applying to them, but for the creators just using map creation tools, I love being able to make tiny tweaks to maps.


thunderchunks

100% with ya. Maps in general for RPGs are too small. One of my current games we've been using bigger maps and it's a fuckin revelation. Being a dwarf fuckin huuuuuurts- that 5 foot reduction is brutal when it means your tank is at least a turn behind because they just can't cover ground as fast. Ranged characters suddenly both have a real advantage and also face limitations that never existed in small maps. Big fuckin maps please!


snarpy

And yeah, this is where the 5' reduction in speed, which almost never comes into play otherwise... actually comes into play!


thunderchunks

Also the different ranges of weapons, light sources and different vision lengths... Big fuckin maps man. There's soooo much built into the game (D&D, but anything that wants to use a map, really) that is MEANT to be spaced out but we've got decades of maps being limited by people's kitchen tables. Online play at least doesn't have that limitation so fuckin go big.


snarpy

This is an interesting point. For a while, using minis on a tabletop has limited the size and spacing of encounters... with VTT, that has expanded dramatically. I'm not sure if that's entirely a good thing all the time, but it's a really interesting development when you think about it.


thunderchunks

Right? And really, it gives options. A tightly-packed SWAT team room-by-room CQC session can be great fun, but it shouldn't be the only tactical experience available. Hunting guards, sneaking past roving baddies, etc, can retain their best parts and flow seamlessly into initiative if/when shit falls apart. Gives the danger more teeth when you can more tangibly gamble how far away help or trouble is versus a given reward. Layer on top of that the information assymetry when you're using FoW or lighting and you can deliver experiences that you can't really accomplish in person.


dorkboat

I just resize to whatever I want and whatever makes sense.


noamkreitman

Chiming in to help make the point. Maps are not just maps, they are story telling instruments. small maps don't allow for story telling. "As you walk through the forest there is a faint sound in the distance" doesn't work on a 30x30 map. I think mapmakers also don't think about real life scale. a Dwarven kingdom drawn on a 30x30 map is only because the paper can take any drawing. makes zero sense. A 30x30 map is 150 feet, to non-americans that's about 50 meters, or the length of 4-5 buildings on a street. that's *nothing*!! particularly out in the open


FluffyMao

Can I just say how incredibly accepting and peaceful this subreddit is? Like you've got people in the comments of this thread with totally competing viewpoints being like "i can see where you're coming from; here's how i personally get around that issue; anybody else got ideas?" It's just so wholesome and welcoming of ACTUAL discussion. Nobody's yelling about how wrong OP is, or how right, without something genuine to add to the conversation. Whether it's a tip, or a related tangent. Good job, people of r/battlemaps! Sorry, maybe I've been spending too much time on other subreddits...


snarpy

That was my impression of the sub as well. There was a little friction here between content creators and consumers, but I think that's inevitable when money is involved. It will be interesting to see how the "field" (and this sub, along with other map subs like r/dungeondraft) discusses issues like this as more and more people make maps for money. The whole thing hasn't really been around long enough to develop those black or white issues that usually generate crappy internet fights...


MattMilby

I've got you covered. [This is 728×1176](https://www.milbysmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Brazenthrone-COMPLETE.jpg). You won't need any other maps, since you can just run the whole campaign in that one. Good luck.


Gurianthe

I mean, I thought it was assumed that the maps that are posted here are pretty much a promotion so that we visit the creator's patreon and such


lunaticdesign

I prefer smaller maps myself. I used to draw them 44x34 because of the size of paper that I use and my scanner. I cut them in half and it worked wonderfully and even added a more frantic claustrophobic feel to the combat. I also use gridless maps so I can scale a he's to whatever size I need. As far as furniture scale goes a 5'x5' chair is huge so I've never let it bother me and none of my players have ever commented.


JohnDeaux739

Agree 100%!!! But, some people don’t have good computers... I have one player that if the map is bigger than 25x25 they have issues. For groups with good pc’s I just double the map size. Sure all the doors are 10 feet wide, but it opens the map up a bit and I like it more.


Asherett

I couldn't agree more. The problem is (at least partially): most makmakers don't play the game. They just create art. We NEED to keep telling them this stuff, the basics of battlemap creation. IMHO, the standard map size should be 50x50. But most importantly, LEAVE AIR around the focus of the map. Keep in mind that players need to advance towards the target. Combat usually starts at at least 60' range, that's 12 squares away from the furthest point an enemy could possibly see them. So if you're making (e.g.) a pyramid, needs to be 12 squares from the edge of it, to the edge of the map. And lots more: draw walls so that it's easy to block vision in VTTs etc. I'm willing to bet 99% of battlemap users use them in VTTs.


enrimbeauty

Most map makers I know DO play games on a regular basis, including myself. And I know most of the map makers who are actively posting their work. What information is this based on??? EDIT, no I take that back ALL of the map makers I know either currently play or have played in the past.


Asherett

It was pure speculation from my side of course, and no disrespect was intended to any actual game-playing mapmakers. But - if they DO play, I really wonder what their excuses are, I guess. Apologies for the mini wall of text to follow: I'm currently or recently a paying patron of Kronos Battlemaps, Tale Maps, Daniel's Maps, Rustymaps, Forgotten Adventures, Dice Grimorium, Eightfold Paper, Order of the Atlas, 2-Minute Tabletop, Afternoon Maps, g0dxmode, Neutral Party, Zatnikotel and Wayfinder Game Maps; and I've looked extensively into Fantasy Atlas, Gabriel Pickard, Savingthrower, Seafoot Games, Spellarena, James Nathaniel, DND Cartographers, John Stevenson/SirInkman, GoAdventureMaps, Syrkres, Tom Cartos, Venatus, Moonlight Maps, Tehox Maps and CzePeku. I spend a lot of my time looking at and using battlemaps. So I like to think I have a pretty good overview of the state of the battlemap "business" these days. And from my perspective, the majority of these map makers must be artists first and foremost, and VTT RPG players/user a distant second, if at all. Now I might be completely wrong about that, but what I'm pretty certain of is that if they did use their own maps; they'd quickly see that they should make some large changes to how they make their maps. Especially in terms of size, "air" around focus area (which is a factor of size, really) and gridding. One compelling alternate reason however, pointed out in this thread, is the economic pressure to keep releasing new maps resulting in smaller maps. But the gridding issue really mystifies me. Especially since not a SINGLE mapmaker I've looked at only offers ungridded maps, and the majority "forces" their customers to download gridded and ungridded together by including them in the same zips. In fact, the only mapmakers I've looked at that handles gridding pretty much perfectly - to such a degree that I'd rather use their pregridded maps than adding my own grid in a VTT - are Forgotten Adventures and Afternoon Maps.


enrimbeauty

What is the issue with gridded maps? I do use my own maps, as well as other cartographers in my own home games, and I am failing to grasp your issues with the maps. You just think they are fine size-wise, but not scaled properly? Or you think they all are just too small? Another point to consider is, we make what sells. If these "empty" maps sold, we would make more of them. But they don't.


Asherett

My issue with gridded maps is fundamentally that most mapmakers that add grids, add ugly grids. In almost all cases, I can get a much more visually pleasing result by using the grid functionality built into my VTT of choice. Most mapmakers add grids that are too heavy (too thick lines), too high contrast to the underlying map, and grids that are just laid over the entire map (instead of being under impassable and tall things. Let me take [one of your own maps](https://i.redd.it/1fovmwmqsqd61.jpg) as an example here. I think it's a beautiful map, you have a fine painterly style, and I love the sense of depth in the black chasm and the path far below that goes under the bridge. But isn't it obvious to you that the map would be even more beautiful with a much subtler grid? And if you'd not laid the grid over the two massive statues, their height would also be emphasized, towering "out" of the flat map. Another idea: without a grid at all, I could add a much smaller grid, and run the map with the party on the small path below, maybe with monsters on the bridge attacking from high above... As for size, I already wrote about this in my first comment, but let me try another approach: what's the average range of engagement in D&D 5e? I.e. what's the average range a party would have before entering combat? In my 25+ years of D&D, that's at least 60 ft, ie 12 squares. If you drop your players into a map with any less distance to the enemies that that, they're going to be frustrated, feeling forced into melee. So, just by this simple principle, there should be at the very least 12 squares from where the party enters, to where the first enemies could be placed. And this is just giving the party the barest minimum of range to utilize. Of course there are environmental factors of the map that can affect the engagement range. At the most basic point, if the map is indoors or outdoors. But not EVERY map can be a sudden "Orcs Attack!" ambush. Take [this map](https://i.redd.it/4prbwgydpr861.jpg) as another example. In my opinion, this map is very hard to run a decent encounter on, without running it as an ambush. The party will start in a location that is basically immediately in combat. Now imagine if that map had a 100' long corridor to the south. Even if that corridor was basically featureless, it would immediately be a far better map. Now the party can start "safe", and gradually proceed into danger, using Stealth and scouting etc etc. This is what I mean with "air around the focus". I'm not talking about "empty maps". I'm talking about letting the players have a chance to use all the opportunities of the game on your map. To give the GM a chance to tell a story with the map. I think a very good question to have in mind when making a map is "why is the edge of the map there?". By which I mean, why is that where the party starts? Keep in mind that your design strongly suggests a playstyle. In fact, the current trend of small battlemaps actually *constrains the very rules of D&D.* To take an extreme but simple example: since extremely few battlemaps offer a 300' engagement range, the value of the Warlock's Eldritch Spear invocation is almost zero. With a 25x25 battlemap, the average character can move from the edge to the center in 1 round with Dash. In practise, such a small map makes "range" in itself almost pointless - either you're in melee, or you're max 30' away. There's a lot of rules discussions that touch upon this problem. As for making what sells, you can't "make what sells" if you can't see what could be improved. In fact, I think this whole discussion is necessary *exactly* because mapmakers don't see that they're doing things wrong. This also works the other way around. CzePeku is (as far as I know) the most commercially successful battlemapmaker. One of their signature design elements (have you noticed?) is almost always including long open sightlines. Their maps are frequently long and narrow. This facilitates a "journey" from entrance to goal on the map. The maps facilitate storytelling and gameplay. Phew. Hope any of this was helpful to someone :)


enrimbeauty

alright, those are all valid points. To be honest, I dislike grids on maps myself quite a lot and when I DM, I never ever use maps with grid on them. I just use the VTTs grid overlay instead and make the scale whatever I want it to be. TBH, I kinda wish that maps with grids on them were not the norm of the industry, although I understand why they are. I also always provide a grid-free version of all of my maps for free. If you follow the links to my Patreon, the post will always have 2 maps attached - grid and no grid (in a zip folder). I might try out posting my maps without a grid on reddit, and see if that receives a better feedback. Also, for the reasons you mentioned, I started releasing "connected" maps, where you can seamlessly put several maps together to make one gigantic one. You see, working on a map that is 100x100 or even 50x50 does not only take a long time to make, it is also incredibly taxing on our computers. So one brush stroke takes a few seconds... So connected maps is my answer to it. Still incredibly time consuming, even though at this point I am doing this full time, not always possible, depending on how complex the base map is. For example, I was initially planning on releasing my most recent map along the side of another connected map that was much more simple and generic, however, the base map took me so long to make, that creating a second map just was not feasible with this release. I roughly spent 36 hours on creating it... probably even more actually. And that's just raw drawing / painting time. When you consider that all of us also have to maintain our social media presence, industry contacts, whatever additional deals we have going on along the way, DMs Guild projects, Patron updates, customer support and engagement, Discord server moderation and countless billion other things that we have to maintain, that is a 70 hour work week right there. And I don't mind it, I actually love what I do, but I am just saying what is realistic and what is not from my perspective as a map maker. The map I am going to be releasing later this week will complete a series of connected maps that will make one map that is 40x169. Yeah, it is going to be a veeeeery long and narrow map lol. And that map is split between 3-4 releases.


Asherett

Sounds cool! Looking forward to seeing your coming maps!


MeditatingMunky

50x50! That's amateur numbers! :) I actually have a map that meets all of that criteria. I put it out about a year ago, not sure if you have ever seen it or not, but it is a Pyramid Map that is 80x80 units, with 18 squares between the border of the map and the pyramid, walls and buildings blocking view, and further more - 4 floors inside, including a 42x42 unit floor, a 34x34 unit floor, 26x26 unit floor, and a top floor of 18x18 units. That map is up on my [Roll20 Marketplace](https://marketplace.roll20.net/browse/publisher/155/meditating-munky), and has both a [Downloadable Map Pack](https://marketplace.roll20.net/browse/set/4372/map-pack-v19-pyramid-temple) version, and a [Dynamic Dungeons Add-On](https://marketplace.roll20.net/browse/gameaddon/4371/dynamic-dungeon-v4-pyramid-temple) version, and it's also on my [Patreon](https://www.patreon.com/user?filters[search_query]=pyramid) (The [Guardian](https://www.patreon.com/join/Meditating_Munky/checkout?rid=1354683) Tier has access to my Vault in DropBox where this one can be found) and I also just announced today on this new [43x43 Free Dungeon Map Post](https://www.patreon.com/posts/temple-of-43x43-46742660) that I am planning to port it over to Foundry soon too (recently announced I am starting a new tier on Patreon where I will be porting content over that way). I still play my games over on Roll20 currently, one on Friday evenings and another on Sunday evenings. I've been on Roll20 DMing for like 6 years, and DMing IRL for around 20 years. Thank you for helping coach us creators in what you want, some times it may turn out that one of us already has made that and it is available RIGHT NOW! :)


Asherett

Very sneaky plug sir, but your maps are excellent indeed. That pyramid map (is it by any chance inspired by the Yuan-ti Temple map in Volo's...?) looks fantastic. You may find yourself with a new patron in a few days.


MeditatingMunky

Example Gif of the [Pyramid Criteria](https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/707634846356471961/804082144543637545/Reddit-Jokes-Gif.gif)


StevenOs

Late to this party but I can certainly see the many "maps that are too small" for any kind of "real" engagement. All of that detail can certainly be nice when you want to use it but otherwise it adds unnecessary distraction especially when it's NOT something you're using. Map size for tactical combat can go a long ways to determining how strong any given attack options are. Playing StarWars a reason Jedi are often called "insanely strong" is that when your fights all take place at melee/force power ranges of course they are going to be strong where as if you start out a fight starting at medium range with a rifle those Jedi are going to have a much harder time and such a range even makes using Rifles vs. Pistols matter. To me the "big ole normalized" setting are the most useful. You can include the layout of things but I don't need/want too many details that lock it into "at this one specific time" unless I were actually playing it for that one specific time. That "big empty warehouse" can have a lot of uses.


TheOvershear

As a content creator who is probably one of many creating this issue, the reason why this usually happens is because we want to showcase an intense attention to detail. So you might have a single small room that is extremely detailed, but only gives you 12x12 space to work with. The alternative to this, bear in mind, is a map where each grid space is, say, 100 pixels. That's really low quality and is rather painful for the map maker because there's not a lot of small details you can put in a 5x5 space if you only have that many pixels to work with. I understand what you're saying, and I agree, but it's not very easy to get out of that mindset as a map maker, and even harder to put forward the effort to put that much work into a huge map.


MeditatingMunky

Most of my maps are 30x30 or bigger! I even have some maps like a Pyramid Map that is as big as 80x80 grid units with 4 floors ranging from 42x42 to 18x18 (smaller as it goes up, ya know... pyramids...)! As for the Watermarks, creators need to have a way to point to their sites or Patreons. It's not a hard ask for a free map that is posted in the public. You can easily sub to their Patreon (usually get more variants, blank or decorated versions, and even higher res, with and without grids) to get rid of that watermark, or just simply not use it. At the end of the day, when I pick up my pen, I create what I am inspired to create. I hope people like it, and findit useful, but its what I want to make, and if it fits, GREAT! If not, oh well. There will be more maps. THAT is for certain.


snarpy

>As for the Watermarks, creators need to have a way to point to their sites or Patreons. It's not a hard ask for a free map that is posted in the public. Absolutely, I'd never argue against watermarks on free maps!


enrimbeauty

Well, if y'all want big maps, here's my 57x70 map [https://www.patreon.com/posts/hels-end-battle-46594563](https://www.patreon.com/posts/hels-end-battle-46594563)


the_mad_cartographer

I think it very much depends on what you want the map for, i.e. scenario, what the make up of the combatants is (ranged vs melee) and what the map itself is (a backstreet or a bridge across a valley). I'd say the *majority* of maps here are around the 30x30 mark, a lot are considerably bigger. I personally put out a lot of maps that are even 16x22, which I feel is more than appropriate for a lot of single use encounters. If I went 30x30, started combat in the middle, then the reality is it's not doing that much more to open up the combat, and as often as not combat wise players box into a group and stay quite static in combat hugging the Warrior/Pally, etc. That said, I recently made a map of a sea wall, that was a centrepiece for a blockade or some sort with ship combat... so that map **had** to be bigger, and it was, it was 100x50, because the size of the environment required it. The crux of it is really, at least if you're not designing using Dungeondraft or Inkarnate, that the bigger the map... the longer it takes to make it, at least with the same level of detail. So sometimes maps are big, sometimes they're small, I think it's important to mix and match, it just means that sometimes you're going to come across one that *would have been perfect if only...*


snarpy

I've seen your maps, at least, the more famous ones. They're awesome! I can't use many of them because they're so specific (and I'm usually running premade modules, so I only need maps for random encounters), but they're awesome. My combats rarely start in the middle, because encounter distance is almost always fairly far. The only way I could use a 16x22 map is if I'm ASSUMING one side or the other is surprised. At least, it is in my games, where there always seems to be someone with a Passive Perception in the high teens...


the_mad_cartographer

> I've seen your maps, at least, the more famous ones. They're awesome! I can't use many of them because they're so specific Appreciate the compliment. However this, in a nutshell, is often the issue and I just replied to another comment regarding it (might have actually been yours :D ). I have tons of maps that aren't specific. Basic caverns, forests, streets, water, etc. with very little narrative on there... probably is those kinds of *useful* maps are very uninspiring and die in new when you post them on Reddit. If it's not some giant sword, an enormous temple, or my recent giant penis-styled purple worm.. people just don't see them :D


enrimbeauty

yup! That is exactly the problem. People may want to use generic maps... they just don't really want to SEE them or upvote them lol. So they die as soon as they are put up and nobody sees them. So our choice, as creators is either a. Make maps that catch people's eyes and get upvoted, so they are seen, and then hope that you have enough time to provide some generic maps along the side of the "catchy" releases, to satisfy those that want generic maps. OR b. Make maps that die and go nowhere.


KurtKroh

>he more famous ones. They're awesome! I can't use many of them because they're so specific (and I'm usually running premade modules, so I only need maps for random encounters), but they're awesome. > >My combats rarely start in the middle, because encounter distance is almost always fairly far. The only way I could use a 16x22 map is if I'm ASSUMING one side or the other is surprised. At least, it is in my games, where there always seems to be someone with a Passive Perception in the high teens... That is very very true. I am amazed at how much attention some really cool maps get but are only useful for a very specific use. Put a nakedish girl statue or petrified Titan in and they skyrocket in popularity.


snarpy

Yeah, the issue is that I can't find them? Like, if I go to your site it barely shows any of the regular ones, all I see are the fancy unusable (to me) ones, and I don't want to throw down $$$ on a subscription when what I see isn't super appealing? I do see a link to Roll20 products, and at least I can see those. But then it's like, well, it's five bucks for a bunch of maps, but I only really want the one of them. I'd fully pay a buck for one map if it meant a good encounter. Again (see my other post to you haha, just realized...) it's maybe becuase I don't get the business model.


the_mad_cartographer

My content in particular is now becoming more difficult to navigate as there's quite a bit of it, not helped by Patreon just having a terrible layout so people can't find anything (but basically each month I do a new theme and there's a Master List for each theme with a gallery showing one of the variants for each map made that month). Right now I'm having a compendium put together in a small pdf with all my maps so people can see exactly what is available in each theme :D I'm not saying people should go pledge to people for the sake of it, but if for example you find that you regularly use the free maps of Czepeku, or Afternoon Maps, or Tom Cartos... it's just nice if someone goes and throws a few bucks their way every so often; it helps the artist and shows that you value their time and energy. Generally the way Patreon works for most of us is we provide some free content to get people to check out our Patreon, then they see there's MORE content (more maps, variants, assets, gridless maps, etc.) so the free maps versions are there to get people to check us out. The challenge **is** working out what people want. The truth is a crazy detailed original map can die if people think "I can't use that" and don't upvote, but *another forest crossroads* gets hundreds of upvotes even though we've seen a million of them, because people think "I always need a forest crossroads." So if artists were making what we thought people wanted... we'd all be making the same stuff; city streets and forest maps.


ZeroGNexus

All I know is that big maps take a long time, and a lot of time don't grab much attention. A lot of people just like their small generic maps, and they make much more sense to make if it could lead to more eyes and possibly Patrons. At the end of the day it's a time vs money thing. As much as I'd love to just work on maps all day, I have obligations and personal issues to deal with as well. That won't stop me from making larger maps too, but it's constantly on my mind.


damnedfiddler

A problem I have in my current campaign is that my players are travelling a wilderness in a survival style of gameplay. Therefore, rivers are great boons as they bring water and help guide the players. So i need to serach for wilderness maps wothout rivers wich account for like, 10% of all battle maps.


Silansi

To add onto this: versions of maps without light sources included. I'm using Foundry VTT and it usually causes additional work for me to have to sync up the light sources with the ones drawn on the map, or maybe I don't want any on the map at all if the place has been abandoned. I'm usually having to request it from mapmakers, to mixed success. Honestly, just including one without light sources would be great for customizing, or even better a file that can be edited to do this kind of thing for yourself.


KurtKroh

>ork for me to have to sync up the light sources with the ones drawn on the map, or maybe I don't want any on the map at all if the place has been abandoned. I'm usually having to request it from mapmakers, to mixed success. Honestly, I am planning to have variations with fewer assets like no table clutter or no furniture versions. I am happy to do this. Please understand that most mapmakers use other licensed assets. We cannot give editable versions as this often violates our license agreements. If I upload a Clip Studio paint file where every light source was on one layer, a person could cut it out and use it. It needs to be baked into the pie, so to speak. Please feel free to reply with a list of specific variations you would like. I would not have thought of a no light source version until you mentioned that need.


uchideshi34

I’m a bit late to the party on this one. I’ve been thinking about this recently a lot due to a map that I am working on. The main challenge (ignoring the effort involved as others have made this point) is that no matter how large you make a map, the players can always run off it. The associated problem is that if you need surround your points of interest with “empty” space then the large part of the map is then uninteresting; if you make the edges interesting then you need to surround those points too requiring an even bigger map. I do think we need to recognise that this is not an open world computer game. That said I don’t think your minimum size of 30x30 is not too onerous (if the creator doesn’t “hand draw”) and it is worth people recognising that size does indeed matter. My own most recently posted map didn’t meet this criteria but then in my own defence it was more of an idea than a map really. You do see much larger maps posted but I will be honest the level of quality and care does tend to diminish almost certainly due to effort involved. In any case, I am very grateful to those who post maps here whether I choose to use them or not.


snarpy

If you're talking about the chessboard map, that one is amazing. I really like the way the very not-natural chessboard is sort of "overgrown" by the surrounding nature. It feels very "real" and lived in.


uchideshi34

Thanks very much - the 2MTT assets are really what make it work of course. It wouldn’t be much use for a running style combat but I enjoyed making it which for me was the main motivation.


TheDMPastor

I'm with ya. I'm always doubling up or enlarging things to get a more usable size.


KurtKroh

Here is a large map I posted. Couldn't find a way to post it in this discussion. ​ [https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/comments/l56o8q/large\_60x50\_100\_dpi\_battlemap\_outdoor\_fall\_cave/](https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/comments/l56o8q/large_60x50_100_dpi_battlemap_outdoor_fall_cave/)


Bing_Bong_the_Archer

I get it, though it hasn’t been a problem for me


pizzapartypandas

I tend to string some similar them together as if they were rooms or connected.