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I've been roleplaying and written short stories since my teens and always felt that maps were an excellent way to convey the lay of the land and a good feel for a story. THese days I sometimes draw up a map of some special place when we roleplay or write stories, using physical mediums rather than the computer, since I get terribly bored playing with and fine tuning filters and getting some crazy perfect results.
I prefer my own maps to have those little details that show you that they are real maps, using home made paper if possible, stained and worn from actual use and not just a filter.
That being said, and to avoid everyone here who uses a computer to make maps, those maps often turn out way more spectacular than my own. I just dont feel like going that path myself. ;)