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Thread: How does one use a Battlemap?

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    Guild Member Meridius's Avatar
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    Question How does one use a Battlemap?

    Okay, first of all, this is a pure discussion topic. No maps to be found here. Secondly, I don't know if this is in the correct forum. It's about battlemaps, so it seems right at home in VTT/Battlemap Mapping, but it's purely discussion, and more in depth about roleplaying too, so it might belong some place else.

    I've been cooking up a nice dungeon for a while now, and after mapping a region and a town, perhaps my next project could be to try my hand on a dungeon. Of course as a battle-map for my own D&D 3.5 game.

    However, before the creation of awesome (or less awesome) mappage ensues, I'm quite curious how you people actually use a battlemap. Might sound a bit silly, but I really do wonder.

    I currently employ a vinyl battlemat for simple (and erasable) dungeon presentation. I draw while playing from my previously made 'design plans' on graph paper. It takes a couple more seconds, sometimes even minutes, but it adds a video-game-like element: "the fog of war". Players cannot see beyond the room they are currently in, and sometimes not even around corners.

    Now this works fine when I draw a dungeon on a vinyl mat. But how (if at all) do you guys do this on these awesome pre-drawn/rendered battlemaps I see here on display?

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    perhaps the general forum would have been better for this, but here goes
    I used to use a vinyl battlemap (also used a black board some 15 years ago), now I use maps I print and I love a good battlemap (love making them too). So, the way we "roll" is that we use some scissors and only hand out the parts of the map the players can see - and the DM graciously supply some tape as well
    We do this for the small map (5 mm = 10 feet) and thus eliminate the player mapping process. When we arrive at an encounter we pull out a printed battle map - this could be supplied with cut-outs of traps and secret doors as the players discover those
    hope it helps
    regs tilt
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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    I use a laptop loaded with the VTT MapTool. I run two instances of MT: one GM's view, which I can see on my screen, and one players' view, which I display on my television connected via the HDMI port. This gives me the benefit of being able to use large, full-color maps every session with no printing costs, automatic fog-of-war and line-of-sight tools, and a handy way to show additional visual aides like NPC portraits.

    Of course, this does lose a bit of the tactile interaction of using minis, but I never really used minis to start with so no loss for me there.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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    If I had coffee in my mouth, while reading the last post I would have spit it out. Often I have a hard time justifying spending allot of time making maps since I'm the only one who sees them.

    Generally my battlemap process goes like this: 1. Create map on graphpaper/GIMP. 2. Draw dumbed down version of map on Paizo flip-mat. 3. Fight! 4. Erase map. 5. Repeat steps 2-3 until it becomes needed to start back at 1

    These days I'm doing less with paper and more with my Laptop. I've got Obsidian Portal for my Campaign, a Dropbox for my sessions/encounter and Gimp for my maps. I'm going to look into a connector for my Mini-DVI port to the TV. That way I can show them the detailed view as well. I don't think we'll stop using mini's.

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    Guild Member Meridius's Avatar
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    @tilt
    Sheesh, I'm feeling like some sort of idiot now... Why didn't I think of making the dungeon in a different scales? One for dungeon-exploration, and one for the actual encounter... That was amazing one-dimensional thinking on my part... Thanks for the tip!

    @Midgardsormr
    If I ask my players to abandon their minis some of them will probably want my head for such blasphemy. Also, I care much for the analog approach to gaming... I'm seeing enough computer screens as it is. But it sounds awesome!

    @Scorpius
    I do not quite understand the reason for the spitting of coffee in your case, but when I read tilt's reply I had a similar reaction, even though I don't drink coffee. Justification for time spent making a battlemap is actually the reason for this topic. And the topic seems to function well, as some sense was beaten into me, some digital revelations where made, and some coffee was figuratively spewed around

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    Yes I should clarify.

    For the longest time I've wanted a small projector, to hook up to my laptop, so that I could project my nice maps onto a blank blank table, from above. So far, I have not been able to justify the cost. The fact that I may be in possession of everything needed to at least put my maps onto a larger screen surprised me, mostly because I have never thought of something that, in retrospect, seems simple.

    I have since procured coffee, so I would appreciate less shocking revelations.

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Laugh. Glad I could help. The projector route does at least offer the ability to continue using minis, but I tend to play without a table, anyway. Everybody just sets up on TV trays so they can lounge around in comfortable chairs in the living room.

    I do use more physical aides for most other things. I still use notecards for combat tracking, for instance, and I definitely prefer to have a paper character sheet. The convenience of that HDTV, though, just demands its use during my games. Plus, it keeps people off the Wii during game time.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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    Wii? We only allow TV during the playoffs, without the volume. I can't imagine how distracted a Wii would be.

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    never allow tv while playing, thought about banning iphones as well, but the novelty has worn off now ... that doesn't mean that people don't talk about computer games, but that mostly stops when we begin playing. I do however love playing with a physical battlemap, we don't use miniatures but just 1x1 inch counters, that gives us the advantage of being able to print all monsters with the right look, whereas when we used miniatures it was,.. ok.. these orcs are now drows .. next encounter, now these orcs are trolls.. so they take up more squares.. with printed counters we get the size right and the players can see what they are up against
    I'd love a digital map, but it should be lighted from below (like that Micro$oft table), so we still could use our counters. And dice rolling is a must too - physical ones!
    regs tilt
    :: My art on Deviant Art :: My mapping blog tilts fantasy maps :: My work Catapult - Perry & Gehrke - EasyTruckIT ::
    :: Finished Maps :: WIP Cartographia - Breakwater -Market -Lands of Twilight -Battle City :: Competion maps Iron Giant ::
    :: FREE Tiles - Compasses :: Other Taking a commision - Copyright & Creative Commons ::
    Works under CC licence unless mentioned otherwise

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    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Here a couple you might want to look at if you want to still use Mini's - I don't own all the stuff to do this and I play so seldom these days I'm not sure I will but I want to:
    http://www.rpgenome.com/digitalmap.html
    and
    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1339130

    I also suppose if you were to place your TV in a box facing up (if it were flat screen) you could just use the setup Mid mentioned although I have no idea how bad it would be for your players to set minis on. I imagine it would NOT be good for the screen but perhaps if the minis were made out of nerf it would be ok

    And one last little thing Torstan might enjoy - I found this shot of a VTT being used by someone at En world. The user has a few shots of his own set up as well.

    edit: Oh, and people who watch TV or play around with their phones too much - I just kill them off so they can go home, screw that.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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