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Battle Map Bonanza
Design & Development
By Christopher Perkins

T his month, we're releasing the first in a series of Map Pack accessories designed to provide DMs with new foldout battle maps as well as keep some of our older maps in circulation. So far, we have three such products planned:

  • Map Pack: Haunted Temples (January 2012)
  • Map Pack: Vaults of the Underdark (July 2012)
  • Map Pack: Shattered Keeps (December 2012)

Each pack contains three double-sided 21" x 30" battle maps—six encounter locations in all. Four of the encounter locations are picked up from out-of-print sources, and two are brand new. The new locations always tie closely to the product's theme. However, we also tried to match the reprinted maps to the theme whenever possible.

Designing Map Pack: Haunted Temples

I love making maps, so rather than assign someone else the task of creating the new maps for Haunted Temples, I tackled the project myself. I made a cathedral and a chapel (with an adjoining graveyard) because I felt both maps would have excellent replay value. DMs are always looking for maps of interesting buildings that can be dropped into virtually any setting. At least, I hope that's the case. I also tried to make them architecturally interesting, with lots of nooks and crannies and places for characters and monsters to hide. While I don't have any former architectural training, these places feel like they could exist in any D&D world.

I sketched both maps in a single evening, and here are my original sketches:

At Wizards, we have a not-so-secret rule governing diagonal lines on tactical maps: A diagonal line can never pass through the middle of a grid square, because that raises questions about whether a character can occupy that space or not. So, instead of running from one corner of a square to the opposite corner, a diagonal line must pass through the midpoints of a square's sides, as shown below:

The diagonal-line rule makes it easy for DMs and players to determine whether a space is "legal" or not, making tactical encounters run a bit smoother. For just that reason, we also urge our adventure writers to follow this diagonal-line rule when creating map sketches for their adventures.

To give the Map Pack: Haunted Temples product a consistent look and feel, we asked Jason Engle, who did the cartography for the reprinted maps, to render the new maps as well. The end results speak for themselves:

Chris Perkins is the D&D Senior Producer at Wizards of the Coast LLC. He recently had some cartilage in his lower spine replaced, so anyone who had reason to fear him in the past can take comfort in the fact that he's now part shark.

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