Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tactile Maps II

I wanted to play around with tactile maps a little more.  So, using the system of notification here, I made a treasure map for module B1 In Search of the Unknown.  I used the small image of the tactile map from Greenland as a source, so the resolution is pretty crappy.  Anyway, a shifty fellow in a tavern sells you this:
Where would it lead you on here:
I think your best bet in using these in your own game would be to get some thick, corrugated cardboard, cut the actual map into it, and hand it to the players so they can feel it. 

Oh, and put it inside a bag, so they can only feel it if they are supposedly using it in the dark in-game.


  1. Thanks, your smart system made it possible.

  2. Okay, let's see..

    Start at the entrance. 60 feet ahead, through the door, and then another 120 feet.
    Turn left (at the intersection) and then another left. Down the corridor 120 ft, then turn left and right.
    (shifting to other side of key)
    Pass through the door, move forwards (30 ft), turn right, forward again (30 ft) and pass through the door on you right. Turn right.

    I'm assuming this means that we are supposed to end in room 21 since the last symbol is Pass Through Portal. But the next two symbols don't quite fit the standard held until now.

    Hook (not found in the notation) and Turn Left. The last one makes sense, but shouldn't it have a "Move up to 60'" on each side?

  3. You got to the treasure! Hey, I can't help it if the old man who carved it had the shakes.

    Seriously though, the "hook" was just me trying to vary up the "left turn" notch so the map wouldn't look completely cloned. I did have some uncertainty on how to do straight runs. Is any distance 60' and below supposed to be marked between turns? Some of the turns are almost immediate so I fudged on the fewer notches side.

  4. Well, the straight runs are difficult. I just wasn't sure what you meant. But if part of the definition is "distances less than 30 feet aren't carved", then its fine :)

    But it's gotten me to thinking about how the map is used. It's supposed to be used when you can only feel, so maybe one could tailor it for that design. The following nomenclature assumes that the user of the map is going to have one hand on a wall, and use only that tactile sensation, and the tactile map, to navigate. Included is this nomenclature's version of the map to room 21.

  5. This is a beautiful thing and I wouldn't want to mess with it. It also occurs to me though that if you were to develop some kind of maze-runner's notation and assume that they cling to the right hand wall until they have to change in order to get into an island in the maze, then I bet you could get really sophisticated about marking traps and long straights/non-branching bits.

    You're also making me think about verbal directions in a new way: if you wanted to make the players engage with the history of a dungeon you could give them directions like "left past gowan's bedroom and turn right after the dragon pens. Under the deathtrap and then up into the alchemist's library" and the players would have to infer from minimal surviving clues on the ground what all that meant.

  6. Thanks Rubberduck, that looks great. What I like most about these ideas we share, lick with the lockpicking stuff too, is that we can all make them our own.

    I think I would try to hack something out of cardboard before using it in game, to see what I might actually be able to tell apart tactically and not need to be an artist to achieve.

    @richard: Those verbal directions sound like what we do when players go back through a well-travelled part of some dungeon. You're right, a verbal, landmark map would be cool to give players, especially if parts were cryptic. And it would add to drama if part of it was a trap: "There's supposed to be a trap around here somewhere . . ."