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Gamerprinter
05-08-2010, 04:52 AM
Inspired by my thread on designing 4e specific generic terrains/structure maps...
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10263-Will-be-making-some-generic-4e...&p=110842#post110842

Create a map that fits the "$100 million dollar action movie scene" instead of realism kind of terrain that is especially useful for 4e exciting battlemaps. This means large open areas, things for monsters to hide behind, hazards like pits, cliffs, quicksand, molten rivers of lava, difficult terrain, etc.

Theme should be anything you want, as long as it fits in the design paradigm described. An over-the-top battlemap made for heroic fights with bad guys and lots of minions. No 5 foot wide corridors or tiny rooms - everything is big. Try to make this a flashy environment.

Its an experiment I've been working on myself - and me, a guy who also develops campaign/modules for Pathfinder, what am I doing making maps specifically for D&D 4e??

GP

Jaxilon
05-08-2010, 05:29 AM
Well, I do not play 4e and am unlikely to do so. This might put me at a distinct disadvantage, however, if there were enough details so I understood how and why these features were useful and needed I do not see how a map is not a map. In other words, so long as everyone knows what the goal is there should be no problem. If the judging is seriously impacted by the fact that a tree stump is strategically placed so a fighter can dive behind it on his way toward a fire breathing dragon it might mean that those who have no clue on 4e will be less likely to win. Is there some reference for folks who are interested in making maps for 4e but are not players of the game? For instance, Gurps Lite is a short form of the Gurps rules and is free to read. If there are any examples of maps that are good for 4e gameplay that would be helpful I think.

I know that in Gurps there are charts for all kinds of cover and body positions during combat. Is that anything like what you are talking about? Obviously when I play I use GURPS.

You mention "large open areas" which seem to me to indicate armies at battle. The more tense movie scenes I think of are a couple of swordsmen going at it on a narrow walkway with nothing to keep them from falling so I'm not sure I get it. Unless you just mean a lot of ground is covered during a battle? I totally get the things for monsters to hide behind, hazards, etc. At least I think I do.

I'm game to try anything with a few exceptions. I just hope I don't get blown out of the water because I had no idea cranberry hats were some sort of awesome shield against buffoonery.

tilt
05-08-2010, 10:07 AM
I would be pleased to put together a short description of how combat works in 4e - once you have an overwiev of that, the mapping should be easy enough :)

NeonKnight
05-08-2010, 03:16 PM
4e, different from different versions is all about movement in Combat. A fight is different from previous editions in which you would run up and basically be 'stuck' in the fight until you or the monster is dead. Pushing, Pulling, Sliding, Shifting (think the 5foot step of 3e and 3.5 only instead of a single 5 foot square sometimes you can do it for you full movement, and not always on your turn either.)

So, 4e needs BIG, BIG, BIG environments to move around in. (look to the batllemaps linked in my sig), these are 4e maps. 20x30 rooms are not the norm. All the monsters are not in the room at once, they come from all over. Terrain IS important.

So, a 4e map is very important to the battle. Poison clouds, yawning chasms, plumes of smoke and jets of flame only enhance the battle map (remember that PUSH/PULL/SLIDE from above). These are hazards you or your enemy can take advantage of. See my example map and encounter below.

Gamerprinter
05-08-2010, 03:20 PM
Well I can't find the link to it, but WotC offered a free download of one of their adventures to get a feel for the system, which would probably help a lot. Know this, that I don't play 4e, and probably never will, but the idea of creating maps for that system seems like a smart move, since there are more 4e players than Pathfinder for example - so a larger customer base to work with.

I know things like when a fighter hits an opponent, the opponent might physically move two squares over, and on a miss one square over. A fighter can mark his target forcing the attacker to have a -2 to their attack on anyone other than the fighter that marked him. So something as silly as an archer 30' away, might be compelled to move closer to the fighter to get him, and now be subject to the fighter's direct melee. Both PC and opponent try to force the other into nasty pits, over the edge of cliffsides. Opponents have minions that must have room to work around the NPC/Monster opponent to attack party members.

3e/Pathfinder fights where each exchange of blows on adjacent squares in static fashion is somewhat rare. Its more likely that from the start of a fight to the end, the participants have moved 10 or more squares away from where they started. Battles are more fluid and really move around all over the place. A 10' x 10' room does not serve a 4e dungeon well, nor do 5' wide corridors, consider chambers that are 10 to 30 squares across.

If you're like me, you wonder how does a 300' x 200' dungeon chamber not collapse without walls supporting the ceiling above you - as I say, throw reality out the window. 4e does not concern itself for realistic engineering concepts rather great fight zones with lots of space, hazards and exotic terrains to make battles more exciting.

I hope that Tilt can provide an overview of these concepts better than I have explained. My education was over 2 days on a board with 4e lovers trying to beat these ideas into me. They really like my maps, and want me to build something they want to play on, not like the realistic stuff I normally design.

I hope that helps. Perhaps Tilt or someone could find a link to that free adventure (I hear its not such a great adventure, but it might better explain what I am trying to say here.)

GP

PS: thanks, NK, you beat my post by only moments and you've done a better job than I.

tilt
05-08-2010, 03:23 PM
and by the way, thanks for making those maps neonknight, we've just left the trolls caves and returned to town ready for more battle (KofTW), and your maps makes it so much more fun to play :)

tilt
05-08-2010, 03:33 PM
I can do my best at least - but neonknight has explained the basics. I've been playing since it came out 2 years ago, and where in my younger years that would have ment 2-7 times a week for 2 years, now it more like 1-2 times a month for 2 years.
The quick start rules are here: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/TryDnD.aspx
Basicly you don't need huge spaces to fight in, but the more challenging the map is, the more fun it is. Example - last game, one of my monsters used his sliding power (slide enemy 3 when hit) to push a character down a pit - which happened to contain a gelatinous cube - great fun for all... or was that terror...? ;)
But even though places to slide people are fun, having tight quarters with corridors crossing running from room to room is also fun.
And - just at note to GP - for a fighter to "mark" an enemy he has to attack him so sword vs. bow doesn't work here :)

NeonKnight
05-08-2010, 07:13 PM
And - just at note to GP - for a fighter to "mark" an enemy he has to attack him so sword vs. bow doesn't work here :)

Ahhh...But a Paladin can Mark at range, and my Psion can mark in a Burst, so, not all powers can mark at melee. ;)

rdanhenry
05-09-2010, 02:36 AM
Personally, I think that if you want "action movie" style play, then the Feng Shui advice that a map is the enemy is entirely right. You dress the set of a film after you know what props are actually going to be used. Sounds to me like D&D 4e is trying to ram together incompatible paradigms; up to this point, everything I'd heard about 4e suggested (or explicitly stated) that it was back to the miniatures war-gaming roots of D&D. It may be that I have an incorrect impression. The last time I cared what happened to *D&D, Gygax was still involved.

tilt
05-09-2010, 01:32 PM
A lot of people is talking about D&D is becomming the pen-and-paper version of a computergame, what I think that people forget is that D&D is more than combat - combat is great fun, but it is all the stories that tie it all together that is roleplaying - so basicly if you play D&D, AD&D, D&D 3, D&D 3.5, D&D Pathfinder, D&D 4e or D&D homebrew - it's all about what you do with it. I personally am very pleased with the new rules, and I love that all characters can be equally involved in combat, a wizard can fire spells all the way through - not limited to 2 magic missiles and then a short nap ;) ... a cleric can help healing, but can do so as a minor action, and therefor is able to fight also and not only a healing machine (which many clerics got reduced to by falling comrades), everybody can heal a little in the new rules (taking ones second wind). All in all well balanced and great fun to play. It is of course always personal taste that decides, but I've played perhaps 30 different types of rpg's during my 30 years of playing, so I've seen a lot of cool stuff and a lot of ... not-so-cool stuff, so I have a little experience to draw from *lol*.
And kudos to wizards for reviving D&D after TSR let it slide...
(and neonknight - yep, but the paladin then HAVE to engage, or he looses the mark and the ability to mark for a turn - so they all have advantages and disadvantages ... just trying to say to players that don't play 4e, that there is a lot of tactics involved, not just point-and-click combat *lol*)

Gamerprinter
05-09-2010, 10:33 PM
Come on guys, no need for an edition war, we're just talking about map challenge. By the looks of it, it will probably not be one. Point is a "challenge" is supposed to challenge you to create a map that follows a theme or set of rules.

Me, I'm not interested in playing 4e now nor probably ever, but as a challenge to create a map - I'm always game to anything that might get me to think about how to best create such a map, any map.

So in my explorations on what is a 4e map, that's different from any other - this is something I whipped up today before going to dinner for Mother's Day. Several members at RPGNet have mentioned that this map is very much 4e - so I seem to be getting a hang of the idea...

This map was inspired by Avatar (the movie), I just seen it for the first time last night at a friend house who has an HD TV and this was a blu-ray disc version (awesome flick by the way.) This is my version of a slightly more generic Sky Mountains map (the Halleluyah Mountains).

Gidde
05-09-2010, 11:59 PM
Ha, just finished watching that movie + the Rifftrax for it (which I highly recommend btw). GP, the fact that you "whipped that up before dinner" has me in jealous awe. Looks great.

Ascension
05-10-2010, 12:10 AM
That does look nice. I don't know the first thing about 4e rules, haven't played since 84 and used red box then, but I support the idea of following a set of guidelines. What those might be for 4e vs. 3 or whatever I have no idea.

Gamerprinter
05-10-2010, 02:24 AM
@ Ascension, I know that in looking at the above map, you might wonder what's different about it versus any other map, and while on the surface it might seem nothing - read NK's notes and Tilts, as well as mine. First the map area should be big, no tiny chambers and halls a 4e fight needs room to move. Secondly notice how the map has access from several directions: the rope bridge across to whatever is south of this area, the main structure hints at something more off map to the east, and the vine coming from the west. Bad guys in 4e aren't necessarily all in the combat zone at the start of a fight, they come in from all over the place, so a map needs places for combatants to arrive from different directions. Many of my maps don't fit that paradigm, and this one does. Finally you need columns, pitfalls, places for encounters to hide or to allow access from everywhere - that's the requirement for a 4e map.

@ Gidde, regarding my speed at mapping. Several things:

1. I run a graphic arts shop and have been doing this pretty much as a one-man-show. So to get anything done, I need to work at a high rate of speed. I've practiced doing that for 16 years. So in transferring that mentality to maps, I'm just used to working fast, so ideas don't get lost in hours or days of trying to get it done.

2. The same software I use to map, is the primary app in my day business to I'm very familiar with the software, and in my opinion Xara Xtreme allows me to work quickly as the app is fast and easy to use. My familiarity with the app, makes creating stuff to match my design speed. Xara is a vector app, so its a matter of creating a shape, applying a photo texture, then add bevels and drop shadow and I'm done with that element ready to move on to the next. As a vector app, I can always create another layer to place beneath something I created or put something new on top.

3. Once I have a clear idea on what I need to make in my head, I just run with it - the map took me three hours to create. I have created those jungle palm trees a couple years ago, so like map objects I just grab what I need to pepper across the map. While I enjoy doing hand-drawn stuff, that takes much longer, at least 3 to 4 times as long as doing the same as a strictly digital map, as the one above. I often use photo images for my textures, so I'm not painting anything. Its just draw a shape, apply a texture add finishing touches and move to the next element.

Plus having three years experience creating maps - I have a very good idea what techniques to use to create any element. That vine for instance, I've never made such a thing before, but once I conceive what I want, I know what to do to get it done.

So its a combination of practice, knowing what you want ahead time, familiarity with software and working fast. And don't worry your not alone, many here think I'm some kind of machine at the speed that I create things. I'm a busy guy and have lots on my plate - I can't waste hours and days just making a single map. I have to go, go, go. But that's just me - I'm not a patient guy.

GP

tilt
05-10-2010, 03:28 AM
@GP, don't think any of the posts are decidedly against 4e and personally I'll play anything as long as I get to play ;) ... and I actually don't think that people in here would start an edition war anyway, they are to nice :)
Very nice map, and yes, I could see that working in a 4e combat. I also feel that you sum up pretty nicely what makes a 4e map special. Space, entries, hazards ... hmmm that could be the "keyfrase". Just want to mention that one could work with small rooms - but you'll have to work with several of them so the combat could flow from room to room and new enemies could arrive from unopened doors and such, and a tight corridor could actually work nicely as a "hazard" if you set up the encouter right. In the group where I am player (10th level swordmage) we are all based much on mobility and when we are pinned down we are prone to loose..

Jaxilon
05-10-2010, 12:57 PM
Seems to me this should be great for making some maps. I'm up for it. Provided I have the time when the challenge gets underway.

I agree with GP about the customer base. That's the reason I would want to make maps for it as well. More folks can benefit from it.

NeonKnight
05-10-2010, 01:47 PM
Yeah, another thing about 4e is all monsters have 'roles'. These roles are loosely define, and monsters tend to fit within one more than others. As example of the roles (and types of monsters that fit in them) are:

ARTILLERY: These monsters normally sit in the back, and lob ranged attacks at the party. Their ranged attacks will be better than melee attacks and their power/abilities will benefit ranged attacks. Think Manticores, goblin snipers, etc.

BRUTES: These big, lumbering monstrosities hit hard, but not often. Think Big Trolls and Ogres. They may be a little slow to hit you (i.e. don't hit often), but when they do hit, it will hurt! They are also easy to hit back, and will have a lot of hit points to reflect their toughness. They will be front line fighters. Examples: Trolls, Ogres, Some Giants, Barbarians

CONTROLLERS: These are similar to artillery, but not quite. A Wizard who throws fireballs around is artillery, but a wizard who throws spells that block paths, creates walls of fire, or freezes a character in place is a Controller. These monsters basically try to controll areas of the battlefield and force characters to travel different routes around the battlefield. Examples: Most Nagas, Wizards, Harpies, Ropers

LURKERS: These monsters like to sneak about and try and 'backstab' for extra damage. They will have abilities that allow them to sneak about (illsuions, invisibility etc) to gain a brief advantage, and allow them to get out of combat quickly as well to start the process all over again. Assassins, thieves, Imps, etc are Lurkers.

SKIRMISHERS: These monsters are middle of the road monsters. They could have a smattering of abilities from the others. They are adept at getting in and hurting their opponents, and can get around easily. Think Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds, wolves, and any other 'generic' type monster.

SOLDIERS: The final role is that of the Soldier. Soldiers have HIGH defenses but lower hit points than Brutes (easier to Kill [Low HP] but harder to hit [HIGH AC]). They hit easily (HIGH Attack scores) but don't do a lot of damage (they 'nickle & dime' you to death). Example: Orc Elite, Knights, Dwarves/Duergar

NeonKnight
05-10-2010, 01:47 PM
Yeah, another thing about 4e is all monsters have 'roles'. These roles are loosely define, and monsters tend to fit within one more than others. As example of the roles (and types of monsters that fit in them) are:

ARTILLERY: These monsters normally sit in the back, and lob ranged attacks at the party. Their ranged attacks will be better than melee attacks and their power/abilities will benefit ranged attacks. Think Manticores, goblin snipers, etc.

BRUTES: These big, lumbering monstrosities hit hard, but not often. Think Big Trolls and Ogres. They may be a little slow to hit you (i.e. don't hit often), but when they do hit, it will hurt! They are also easy to hit back, and will have a lot of hit points to reflect their toughness. They will be front line fighters. Examples: Trolls, Ogres, Some Giants, Barbarians

CONTROLLERS: These are similar to artillery, but not quite. A Wizard who throws fireballs around is artillery, but a wizard who throws spells that block paths, creates walls of fire, or freezes a character in place is a Controller. These monsters basically try to controll areas of the battlefield and force characters to travel different routes around the battlefield. Examples: Most Nagas, Wizards, Harpies, Ropers

LURKERS: These monsters like to sneak about and try and 'backstab' for extra damage. They will have abilities that allow them to sneak about (illsuions, invisibility etc) to gain a brief advantage, and allow them to get out of combat quickly as well to start the process all over again. Assassins, thieves, Imps, etc are Lurkers.

SKIRMISHERS: These monsters are middle of the road monsters. They could have a smattering of abilities from the others. They are adept at getting in and hurting their opponents, and can get around easily. Think Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds, wolves, and any other 'generic' type monster.

SOLDIERS: The final role is that of the Soldier. Soldiers have HIGH defenses but lower hit points than Brutes (easier to Kill [Low HP] but harder to hit [HIGH AC]). They hit easily (HIGH Attack scores) but don't do a lot of damage (they 'nickle & dime' you to death). Example: Orc Elite, Knights, Dwarves/Duergar

tilt
05-10-2010, 02:37 PM
and while your at it, one of the great "inventions" in 4e is minions. They are fully functional monsters that can only take one hit - thus giving the opportunity to have some great battle scenes where 20-30 enemies storm at your party only to be cut down by the dozen - but they might damage you hard first if you're unlucky :)

Gamerprinter
05-11-2010, 03:12 PM
The day before I created the map above, I created this map, which really needs the island to the south in a more complete form, but I only made a 24 x 36 map, using Xara again, and in about 3 hours as well. Its not as well done as the previous, but I thought I'd post it as well. Follows the same paradigm as well. This a bridge from the shore to an island. Whether this is a lake or the calm sea, I don't know, just wanted a waterside map.

GP

tilt
05-11-2010, 03:56 PM
super - looking good - like the water details a lot :)

Ascension
05-11-2010, 05:13 PM
I'm really liking your color on these, GP. Nice work.

caradoc
03-17-2012, 10:58 PM
anyone have river battle maps with a net or cable blocking the boat traffic?

caradoc
03-17-2012, 11:05 PM
I am insterested in finding somoe battle maps for use in 4e encounters

Simon33600
03-18-2012, 08:58 PM
I personally LOVE 4th Edition. I really like the tactical aspect it now brings to the fights, and the fact that they have "fixed" magic users, that, I felt, in previous editions, only stood back most of the game just to unleash their full fury in just a few rounds...

Anyway, I agree with what have been stated here, that 4th Edition, being more tactical, tend to favour more spaced combats, especially considering how many of the powers have to do with movements in some way...


Another thing I thought the DMG was quite insistent about is to make each encounter as memorable as possible.

For example, here, for illustration purpose, is a quick map I quickly produced to illustrate my point (please, pay no attention to how ugly and quickly thrown together it is):

43185


Here, the players arrive to some kind of foundry. A river of lava is detourned to heat up large metal bowl, in order to make metal that is then cast into some molds...
Maybe the players were investigating some kind of weapon trafick, maybe the foundry is on another plane, or "just" on the flank of a volcanoe...

Anyway, when the players arrive, the rain start falling, hissing as it meets the lava, clouding the surround in a light mist. If the players get too close from the casting, the creatures working them, violently empty the bowls of burning metal into the channels, splashing and burning the players nearby (if the players take control of the bowls, either by killing the surrounding creatures or wrestling the bowls out of their hands by sheer strenght, they return the favour...).
Meanwhile, on top of the pyramid, archer are pelting arrows to the enemy combatants, and, because of their higher ground and of the steep steps, they have the combat advantage against the climbing enemies...


Anyway, this quickly thrown together map, that carries a few tactical elements and a vague outline of story still feels pretty unique and I think a player going through it would remember it for a long time...
I think that this kind of feel, that makes the players reminisce about it months after the game "he, you remember when we fought these fire giants on the volcano pyramid, by the lava river? And the balrog that woke up at the end of the fight?" is what WOC is trying to achieve...

Simon33600
03-18-2012, 08:59 PM
Hurm, I just noticed that I should have added a bridge over the lava river...