Hein (fub) wrote,

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Dungeon Crawl Classics & me

So during a World Cup game that the Netherlands played in, I ran a game of Dungeon Crawl Classics (that I wrote about here) for a group of friends. I bought a module to run: the 0-level funnel scenario 'Sailors on the Starless Sea'.

All the modules that Goodman Games publish come with gorgeously illustrated maps. However, these maps are all exclusively for use by the GM: they are marked with area numbers and the secrets (of which any good dungeon crawl has a few) are also clearly shown.
I wanted to share the map with my players during the adventure, so I set to work!

I did the following:

  • Using PDFtk, I exported the pages with the maps to their own one-page PDFs;

  • Using The Gimp, I opened the map PDFs. I used a resolution of 600x600 dpi, to get good-quality images;

  • I now had the maps as digital images. Using the various tools at my disposal, I edited out the following:

    • The letters designating the various areas;

    • Any secret areas -- don't want those to be immediately apparent!

    • Any secret doors, for the same reason.

    I mainly copied things from one part of the map over the things I wanted to keep hidden. After this step, I had a complete map without numbers or secrets.

  • I saved those maps back to their PDF files and printed them out on A3 size paper (I'm lucky to work at an office equipped with an A3 printer, and they don't mind the occasional print for personal use. Showing it to our systems administrator and explaining helped too.)

  • Using a pen knife, I cut up the map into sections, so that I could gradually reveal the map as the characters discovered the different areas;

  • In this particular adventure, the characters know the basic layout of the keep -- they have to choose how to approach. So I left the outlines of the keep intact, and cut out everything inside the walls;

  • I glued the outline of the keep onto a blank sheet of A3. Using a glue stick, I could then glue sections of the map in as they were discovered.

The starting map: the outline of the keep.

The different sections of the inside of the keep

The sections of the second map.

(For the second map, there is no 'outline' like there is in the first map. I put the different parts on a blank sheet of A3, and drew a line with pencil on the spots where the 'entry sections' should be.)
It was a great success. I used a red pen to draw little crosses where PCs had died, with their names -- it's a funnel scenario after all. And one of my players, who is now running us through the first four ODM modules, is now using this technique for the maps from those modules!

Next time I do this, I will make two versions of the maps: one without secrets, and one with. That way, I can put the whole map down even if my players don't find any secrets -- empty spots arouse suspicion! The secrets can then simply be pasted over the non-secret version when they get discovered. Still, it served its purpose and really drew in the players into the atmosphere of the location.
But the next time will not be for Dungeon Crawl Classics. There is an undercurrent of antagonism in the modules (though others would call it "impartiality"): everything is relentlessly hostile to the characters. I found it a rather tiring game to run, so I think it will be only this once.
Tags: rpg, tools

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