Dungeon Master's Guide 5E

(Jeff_L) #1


Mapping Your Campaign

When creating the world where your campaign takes
place, you'll want a map. You can take one of two
approaches with it: top-down or bottom-up. Some DMs
like to start at the top, creating the big picture of the
world at the start of the campaign by having a map
that shows whole continents, and then zooming in on
smaller areas. Other DMs prefer to go the opposite
direction, starting with a small campaign area that is
mapped at a province or kingdom scale, then zooming
out as adventures take the characters into new territory.
Whichever approach you take, hexes work well for
mapping outdoor environments where travel can go
in any direction and calculating distance might be
important. A single sheet of hex paper with 5 hexes to
the inch is ideal for most maps. Use a scale for your map
that's best suited to the level of detail you want. Chapter
7 offers more information about creating and mapping
wilderness areas.

For the most detailed areas of your world, use a
province scale where each hex represents 1 mile. A
full-page map at this scale represents an area that
can be covered in one day's travel in any direction
from the center of the map, assuming clear terrain. As
such, province scale is a useful scale for mapping a
campaign's starting area (see "Creating a Campaign,"
later in this chapter) or any location where you expect
to track the adventurers' movement in hours rather
than days. •
The ground cover of an area this size will include
broad stretches of one predominant terrain type, broken
up by other isolated terrain types.
A settled region mapped at this scale might have one
town and eight to twelve villages or farming hamlets.
A wilder region might have only a single keep, or no
settlements at all. You can also indicate the extent of
the cleared farmland that surrounds each city or town.
On a province-scale map, this will show as a belt a few
hexes wide surrounding each town or village. Even
small villages farm most of the arable land within a
mile or two.


On a kingdom-scale map, each hex represents 6 miles.
A map at this scale covers a large region, about the size
of Great Britain or half the size of the state of California.
That's plenty of room for adventuring.
The first step of mapping a region at this scale is to
sketch out the coastlines and any major bodies of wate r
in the area. Is the region landlocked or on a coast? A
coastal region might include islands offshore, and a
landlocked area might include an inland sea or major
lakes. Alternatively, the region could consist of a single
large island, or an isthmus or peninsula with multiple
Next, sketch in any major mountain ranges. Foothills
form a transition between the mountains and lowlands,
and broad patches of gentle hills might dot the region.
That leaves the rest of your map for relatively fiat
terrain: grasslands, forests, swamps, and the like. Place
these elements as you see fit.
Map out the courses of any rivers that flow through
the area. Rivers are born in mountains or inland areas
that see a lot of rainfall, winding down to the nearest
major body of water that doesn't require the river to
cross over higher elevation. Tributaries join rivers as
they grow larger and move toward a lake or the sea.
Finally, place the major towns and cities of the region.
At this scale, you don't need to worry about small towns
and villages, or about mapping every belt of farmland.
Even so, a settled region this size might easily have
eight to twelve cities or towns to put on the map.

For mapping a whole continent, use a scale where
1 hex represents 60 miles. At this scale, you can't
see more than the shape of coastlines, the biggest
mountain ranges, major rivers, huge lakes, and political
boundaries. A map at this scale is best for showing how
multiple kingdom-scale maps fit together, rather than
tracking the movement of adventurers day by day.
The same process you use for mapping a region at
kingdom scale works for mapping a whole continent.
A continent might have eight to twelve large cities that
deserve a place on the map, most likely major trade
centers and the capitals of kingdoms.

Whichever scale you start with, it's easy to zoom in or
out on your maps. At continent scale, 1 hex represents
the same area as 10 kingdom-scale hexes. Two cities
that are 3 hexes (180 miles) apart on your continent
map would be 30 hexes apart on your kingdom map,
and might define the opposite ends of the region you're
detailing. At kingdom scale, 1 hex equals 6 province-
scale hexes, so it's easy to put the region covered by your
province-scale map into the center of a kingdom-scale
map and create interesting areas around it.
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