A couple of weeks ago I drew three maps for a 5th edition D&D game. The first map was of a dungeon of sorts. The second was of an island stronghold. The third was the floor plan of one of the buildings of that island stronghold. It was a lot of fun to design these things on graph paper. I flipped through the 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide and The Book of Lairs for inspiration before getting started.
The process reminded me that in the good ole days I used to draw a map for each adventure undertaken by my friends. My binder filled with old school D&D material from the 1990s still contains all those hand-drawn maps.
The above image shows about 25% of the map I drew for the “4th adventure”. It took the characters 23 days to complete the quest, which took place in the “winter”. (I always labelled the map afterward with the game time duration and the season during which it took place.) My maps never had a scale. Distance was never discussed from what I remember. In fact, I remember much later realizing that terrain should affect the amount of distance traveled in a day. Characters would travel as quickly across mountains as they would across plains or forest!
The maps also never contained a legend. I did use rather common iconography– triangles for mountains, tall tufts for plains, short tufts for swamp, and great blotches with bumpy edges to represent forest. Rivers were lines. The “railroad” looking lines are roads. The dashes show the route taken by the characters. I should mention all the shading on the map was provided by a player. Chris was in D&D for the fighting. During the storytelling moments he would shade the adventure’s map.
Since this was an ancient time before Internet was common in homes, I used fantasy novels for inspiration for my maps. I don’t ever remember copying maps completely from source material, but certain segments and place names look like those from novels I was reading at the time, including Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and numerous D&D and Forgotten Realms novels. I recognize two things from this map. The first is “Castle de Caela”. The second is “Moat House”. Castle de Caela is obviously inspired by Castle di Caela, which was featured in the D&D novel Weasel’s Luck. Moat House is also from that novel. It was the home of Galen Pathwarden. Agion (a centaur) and Sir Bayard Brightblade were also characters in that novel. My D&D players would encounter Galen Sath, a centaur named Agion, and a knight named Bayard in one of their adventures– most likely this 4th adventure because of the mention of Castle di Caela and Moat House. The path of the characters as marked on this map seems to suggest that the quest began at Moat House.
I do remember the adventure in which Galen, Agion and Bayard were introduced was not a successful one. I seem to recall the straight-laced NPC Sir Bayard made all the decisions– that the players were basically “along for the ride”. I don’t remember if one of the players said something or if I could just read the table well enough to sense the frustration and / or boredom, but I do know I ended up killing Sir Bayard in a shocking twist. (He was found pinned to a wall by multiple swords and I remember one of the players [Jason] finding that particularly harsh. Jason might not have liked the character but he felt Sir Bayard did not deserve such a death.) A list of the players’ accomplishments organized by adventure has no listing for the 4th adventure, which I think strongly suggests this map is for that lackluster quest.
Galen and Agion were player characters for a period of time. I do believe Galen became an adopted son of sorts for Roger Gustoff and his female companion Zarine. I know Galen wasn’t used on all adventures. Neither was Zarine. (I’m sure there is more information in the binder about these two.) I can’t recall what happened to Agion. I feel like he was “retired”.