Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nuts & Bolts #54 - Board of Maps...


... which is not to say that I am bored of maps.

What I'm saying is that maybe you have a bunch of ready to go maps in your closet that you just never considered. A few examples ...

Clue/Clue Master Detective

 

Take a look at those boards. They have grid based movement, nice artwork, and pre labeled rooms. If you were planning to run a game where you need a big house or a mansion you could probably do worse. Sure, the rooms themselves aren't gridded out, and it's not a huge map, but for a horror game set in the early 20th century it would be a great way to use close quarters to help accentuate the horror. Just make sure you don't let that eldritch thing escape ...

Arkham Horror



Need a place for that early 20th century mansion to exist in? Maybe you are running Call of Cthulhu? This is a more abstract map of the town of Arkham, Massachusetts, but if your style runs toward more "theater of the mind" and you just want the players to have an idea of where they are and where things are happening this might be a good fit. It also comes with monster tokens and character standees, so if you have this you may be able to mine a good bit of the components for your next RPG session. If your investigators fled the house, or the eldritch thing escaped, this could be a good place for your game to expand to...

Firefly: The Game


Wanna run a game in the Firefly 'verse? Wanna have a decent map of the system that even comes with a couple of ready to use decks you can draw from as part of a travel mechanic? Yeah, this game has both of those. Hell, the game itself is good, but it might actually be better as an accessory for the RPG (regardless of the system you use). The travel mechanic is great too, you just draw a card from the appropriate deck for each square you move. You could find smooth sailing out in the black, or maybe you have a run in with some reavers or randomly stumble on a derelict...


Build your own ...

There are games out there that don't use traditional fixed boards. They rely on tiles that may or may not interlock. Descent (and the Star Wars spin off Imperial Assault), Space Hulk, Carcassonne, and House on the Hill, to name a few, all use modular tiles that you build the game board with. Some like Descent you build ahead of time, while others like Carcassonne and House on the Hill are meant to be built as you play. Descent and Imperial Assault both use gridded tiles and could very easily make the jump to full RPG use for your fantasy and Star Wars (or generic sci-fi) gaming needs respectively.


House on the Hill is aimed with a heavy horror theme and may be a better fit than a Clue board if exploration is more in line with your game play. Carcassonne is highly stylized, but it could be used to create surface maps for a fantasy or medieval setting. Treat each square as being a mile or two on a side and figure that cloisters represent small hamlets of less than 100 persons with the city tiles being 100 persons per tile and you can quickly build up a small region for your game's setting with very little effort.

Fringe Benefits

Of course if you enjoy the game in question, so much the better as you get more "bang for your buck." Even if you don't play something like clue anymore it may be possible to find a board at a yard sale for cheap, you can possibly even repurpose the pawns/pieces and the cards and weapons. The meeples in Carcassonne can likewise be used for rough positioning in games where full minis are not in use. Alternately, with some creativity you can turn those meeples into more detailed minis (see below). Some of the more detailed games like Descent and Imperial Assault will provide some very detailed figures that you will no doubt want to use during play.


I hope this got you thinking about possible resources for your games that you may never have realized you had. And please let me know if there are games I didn't mention that you think would make good maps for RPG use.