Labyrinthine Mountain Maps: For Fun and Profit and TPK

April 18, 2011

A memorable part of the Lewis & Clark journals is their tribulations while crossing the Rocky Mountains.  Namely, choosing the correct valley or pass.  A wrong choice can set the expedition back several weeks time, and in a race against changing seasons it becomes a life or death decision.  Experienced guides were hired when possible.  This snippet of the L&C maps illustrates the labyrinthine nature of the valleys and passes of the Rockies.

(View the complete L&C map here, in high resolution)

In RPGs, the arduous nature of mountain travel is usually abstracted into the slow movement rate given to PCs traveling in mountains.  That technique works well for most games, but what if you want to make mountain travel into an adventure itself, with added decision making and resource management considerations for the PCs?

One way to do this is to include paths of clear hexes within mountain hex groups to represent valleys or passes, like on the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth wilderness map:

Or the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun wilderness map:

Or in non-hex map situations, like in Griffin Mountain:

A drawback of the above methods is that it can be difficult to make the map sufficiently complex so as to create meaningful decision points.  Plus, on some maps, the scale or type of map doesn’t lend itself well to indicating valleys and passes in the above ways.

Here is the technique I used on the FitJ wilderness map:

Movement from one mountain hex to another is only possible if that hex side is not “blocked”, as indicated by a thick black hex-side on the map.  Not exactly a revolutionary technique, but simple and effective.

This post is part of the RPG Blog Carnival:  RPG Cartography.

One Response to “Labyrinthine Mountain Maps: For Fun and Profit and TPK”

  1. […] Fire In the Jungle brings us a pattern-based dungeon map of the Tomb of the Monkey God that is absolutely awesome, then a great post about Labyrinthine Mountain Maps. […]

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