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Make Them Draw

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    Nik Vinter

Why should you make your players draw their maps

One core principle in my games is that I insist on making my players draw their own maps with me just describing them. Am I a sadist? Probably, but that's besides the point. Map drawing should be present in every game and here's why:

It adds 5 layers of depth to the gameplay that you would otherwise miss.

  1. Item management: Paper is fragile and gets wet, you can lose your map, you can lose your ink. Drawing maps forces your players to care about stuff like this. Crossing a river is now more of a challenge because you don't want to ruin your drawings.

  2. Decision management: If you're running you're not mapping, if you're fighting you're not mapping. Being able to make decisions like that is just a plus that adds more variety to the game. Do you run into an unmapped corridor while running from monsters or do you go back into a safe zone you've already explored?

  3. Being lost is fun: When your players will run into a room where a wall was supposed to be on their map they'll freak out, and then they'll laugh and have fun. That also brings us to the next point:

  4. More rewards: Finally an NPC that can reveal some rooms or draw a map becomes more useful tham ever. I remember playing a session where our map was so fucked up that we were basically begging everyone to give us a real and complete map. Fun times.

  5. Engagement: If a player is drawing he's paying attention to the game, simple as.

So I hope I convinced you at least to try implementing this mechanic in your games, I promise you won't regret it.