I am actually writing this article more ahead of time than I normally do. Typically, I write one supplementary planning article and one session recap a week, but as I mentioned previously, the lack of planning needed in many modern multi-session adventures might impact this schedule.
In this case, I actually decided to skip ahead a week and share something that I have been working on. Online Tabletop Roleplaying often requires a lot of map making in advance, as it’s a lot harder to sketch a quick map mid-game when the players decide to do something random (or for that random encounter in the wilderness some adventures like to use). As such, practice drawing maps can often be worthwhile, as it allows you to learn new techniques and experiment with new ideas.
As such, I have spent some time over the past few weeks drawing maps. More specifically, recreating the maps from modules B1 – In Search of the Unknown and B2 – The Keep on the Borderlands.
Both of these modules are classic adventures from basic Dungeons and Dragons, which although initially generic, were later adapted for the D&D Known World in an adventure compilation B1-9 – In Search of Adventure.
Both modules have the priviledge of having been bundled with various editions of Basic D&D – B1 with the BX edition of the Basic D&D Rulebook released in 1981, and B2 with the BECMI edition of the Basic D&D Rulebook released in 1983. These two rulebooks would serve as the foundation of the rulebook released with the New Easy to Master (Black Box) Edition of Revised D&D, released in 1991. The only difference between Basic D&D and Revised D&D would be that Basic D&D covered levels 1 to 3, and Revised D&D covered the levels 1 to 5.
Because of this unique fact, B1 and B2 are probably among the best known modules in D&D history for anyone who has been playing for more than 25 years. B2 was so popular, in fact, that it would see a revised version for D&D’s silver anniversary in 1999 with Return to Keep on the Borderlands.
If you don’t know, I am a fan of Inkwell Ideas’ Hexographer and Dungeongrapher software, which are ideal for creating simple maps. It has a great feature to allow you import a map for tracing, and when you are done, you have the option to export the results in PNG format, which makes them suitable for most online tabletops, such as Roll20.
But enough from me, I want to share these maps with you. They aren’t magnificent works of art, but they do have a certain charm, and are ultimately practical rather than artistic.
First, the Caves of Quasqueton – Level 1, from B1 – In Search of the Unknown:
Next, the Caves of Quasqueton – Level 2, also from B1 – In Search of the Unknown:
For comparison, here’s the original map in module B1 that I used to trace for the second level map, as those caverns were an absolute pain to map:
That’s B1 – Search For the Unknown covered, let’s move on to the maps for B2 – Keep on the Borderlands. Firstly, the Keep itself:
Next, the area map for Keep on the Borderlands, followed by the map I used to trace the wilderness:
Finally, we have two maps of the Caves of Chaos. The first is the overground map of the area. Here, I used the letter O to mark cave entrances on the map, although these can be hidden if used in a game:
Next, we have the map of the underground. Here, the yellow lines represent the cave entrances:
And to put the last two maps into context, here’s the original map that I used to trace the Caves of Chaos. In the module, both the overground and underground maps of the Caves of Chaos were combined into a single map:
So there you have it, my version of the maps, and the original version for those maps that I decided to trace for some reason. Those maps I didn’t trace directly, I created by measuring the distances on the original map from the reference material.