Dreams Over Zero

A Gaming Map, of Which I Am Quite Proud

I love D&D. I’ve been playing since 1986, and I still play 2nd Edition. The pandemic has been horrible, but one silver lining for me was that I discovered online D&D. I’ve been designing graphic assets for my homebrew games for a year and a half now, and here’s one that I’m pretty happy with.

My group uses Roll20. They have this thing called “Fog of War” that lets the DM hide certain areas of the board from the players, but it’s pretty ugly: all it does is make big black spots over the whole thing (yes, I know how to use dynamic lighting). For my latest campaign, I’m sending the players into a ruined town in a beautiful forest in autumn. The buildings they haven’t found yet are hidden by trees–not big black spots. So I decided to make my own “Forest of War.”

First I drew the buildings, and Photoshopped a colorful forest around them.

Map of ruined town in the woods

Then I created small groups of trees that could be moved around, and put them over the buildings.

Map of ruined town in the woods, mostly hidden by trees

You can tell which trees can be moved here because the background hadn’t finished loading in on Roll20 yet when I took this screen shot. Fortuitous!

So when it’s all together, there’s no way the players can tell where the buildings are–until they get close enough to one and I move the trees!Map of ruined town in the woods, mostly hidden by trees

You can see they’ve already discovered one of the buildings. I did a fun thing with those, too. I didn’t want to make a separate map for each building: changing maps would be a pain, and I wanted them to always have the expanded overview of the area. I decided to make removable roofs, and just move those over to show the interiors when the players declare that they’ll enter a building.

Once the whole thing is in Roll20, I fill it with props, the characters wander in, and HA! They get attacked by a couple of giant spiders hiding in the woodpile. HOURS OF FUN!

Ruined building filled with props and PCs' positions inside


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