View Full Version : Help for map of underground complex

07-10-2012, 09:20 AM
I'm making a player map for my D&D campaign (we are about to enter Thunderspire Labyrinth). I want the map to be mysterious yet helpful. This is the current version of the map, which I sneakily did this morning at work.

Questions: is it clear enough? I intentionally left out scale and north, not sure why really. Are the symbols relatively obvious? They are supposed to indicate: mine!; reservoir!; dwarves!, and underdark! (its ok that the latter is a bit obscure). Is it obvious that the map displays passages cut into rock, and that the paler areas are better known? Thanks for any advice.


07-10-2012, 10:21 AM
Your map is quite nice. However, if its going to be a pc map, is it one that they will have bought or found? If so, I would go for a parchment or pen and paper look that resembles something like these two maps of dwarven complexes: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?18715-May-2012-Entry-Lost-Dwarven-Civilization/page3&highlight=mines and http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?16925-The-Lost-Mines-of-Odo-Ironheart&highlight=mines. As for the symbols, I thought they were pretty good, however what is the symbol at the top of the map supposed to be? Also, I drew a blank on the dwarven symbol until I actually read your description of what it was supposed to be--the other three symbols are pretty obvious (although I immediately think "Drow be here" when I look at your underdark symbol). Also, you may want to change the colors you are using to make the symbols stand out or pop a bit. The color scheme isn't bad, but it is a bit drab. What is the difference between the white passages and the more darkly colored passages? Also, you don't want to overlabel, but you have clearly delineated areas on the map that are not marked. For instance, what is the hammer hall at the top of the map? You may want to either clearly mark those areas or blur them out as you have done with other passages. In any event, the map holds a lot of promise. I hope your players have a great time.

07-10-2012, 10:49 AM
Thanks thebax. Those maps you linked to are wonderful. I had intended this map to be the first map fo the complex, but as PCs explore the blank areas get labelled little by little and new passageways start to emerge, especially those leading through the lower levels - as a result it might get very complicated, so I have intentionally tried to keep things extrememly simple at this point. Perhaps the drabness is a result of this.

The symol at the top of the map was supposed to be a dwarven shield - to indicate dwarves. The one at the bottom right was supposed to be a mysterious horned helm, which may or may not indicate dwarfs. Obviously I have to redo the shield. The underdark is supposed to look like a drow symbol - so that's good if you got it. I don't want the symbols to pop out - I want PCs not to quite be able to work them out - yet.

What is the difference between the white passages and the more darkly colored passages?

Ok so its clear my map does not work - I was trying to differentiate between well-kown and well-travelled areas, and more dangerous areas with my use of lightness and darkness. I'll need to rethink this completely.

07-10-2012, 12:21 PM
Attempt 2 - changed colours and symbols a little. Even more drab?


EDIT: fixed a couple of minor errors and added external shading:


07-11-2012, 04:58 PM
I like what you've done with the graying out of the passages, coupled with a good dm description as the adventurers go through them, sharp pc's will pick up that the passages are less traveled. However, the symbols are now so faint that they are hard to read. If thats what you want great, but the effect would look much better on a "worn" parchment/paper style map found by the pcs. Also, while I think the satellite image you picked for the outside looks spectacular, it really clashes with and does not go well with the rest of the map. Maps (at least to me) look best when they have one unified style and are not a pastiche. Keep the outlines of the canyon, but trace over the river and major features with your program and then eliminate the image. You'll still have the outlines of the canyons features, but will have a unified overall look to the map.

07-11-2012, 05:44 PM
Great advice thebax2k. How about this:


07-11-2012, 09:28 PM
That really looks better Jack! Well done.

07-12-2012, 07:47 AM
That makes a tremendous improvement.