Players are unpredictable bastards. You have a nice adventure planned out, have some sweet maps ready to go, and then BAM, they go off the rails and are doing something unexpected. Now, fine, the art of DMing is the art of Improvisation if nothing else. The problem is, of course, that instead of using a nice, pre-drawn map I am instead drawing things in dry-erase markers like a sucker.
Why is that a problem? Well:
- I can’t draw maps by hand worth crap.
- It’s pretty obvious that this wasn’t an encounter I planned all along.
- Player: “Is that a… portal? Or a some sort of diabolical trap? Or… a fire?” Me: “It’s a tree.” Player: “Is the tree on fire?” Me: “No.”
- I like drawing maps for real.
Mainly #2 is what I am worried about. So I’m in the process of building a stockpile of pre-drawn maps that I can whip out whenever needed. Now the players will never suspect that everything is not all part of my carefully constructed plan!
So, I don’t have any plan for this bridge map, but I did create a nice dark/night version as well:
This could be the classic battle on a stormy bridge, or something else.
As part of my plan to draw more stock maps, I made a post on the Wizards of the Coast forums, looking for ideas. The bridge was inspired by a comment from hirou, and they suggest that bridges can actually be not that interesting (players just cut the bridge and go around if things look dicey), but I think you can avoid that with the proper setup. Either some sort of time pressure, or flying creatures, or an attack from behind so the goal BECOMES cutting the bridge, but only once the party gets across.
But we’ll see! I have no plan! Maybe it will be an awesome climactic battle! Maybe the party will just walk across and nothing will happen! Maybe I’ll never even use it.
Maybe you will. Let me know if you do.