Last Friday I needed to whip up some quick dungeon maps for my Saturday night Dungeons and Dragons game. I was planning on bringing my players into the Shadowfell for the first time and their first stop through the portal was an ancient, derelict subway station. And wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have any graph paper.
I decided to toss the idea out to my Twitter followers and see if they had any suggestions. There are plenty of sites that let you print out blank graph paper, but I wanted one better: the ability to draw lines and shapes on the graph paper in order to create a ready-to-print map for my encounters. Thanks to the intrepid NewbieDM, proprietor of the eponymous NewbieDM blog, I found exactly what I was looking for: Ye Olde Map Maker.
It’s pretty intuitive. There are two virtual sheets of gridded paper and a toolbar of various lines, doors and other objects. You click and paint your map. If you create an account, you can save your maps for later. The cool part: other people can load them, too. There’s a burgeoning supply of pre-made maps ripe for the taking. The only problem is the lack of communication between cartographers. If the mysterious proprietors of Ye Olde Map Maker turned this thing into a community, I can see it becoming extremely popular.
You can print your maps out, of course. Each virtual sheet corresponds to a physical sheet, once printed. The squares aren’t precisely 1″, but they’re close enough. There’s a lot of cool designs you can make with the simple drawing tools, but they’re black and white, so don’t expect vibrant, realistic colors.
All in all, it’s a great site for generating quick maps for your games. While it’s true that there’s nothing quite as fun as curling up with a tablet of graph paper and a #2 pencil, Ye Olde Map Maker comes damn close.
Wired: Free, easy to use, large store of pre-made maps by other users, prints out ready-to-use tactical maps for your role-playing games.
Tired: Black and white, lack of communication between users.