My Scheme to Draw Dungeon Battle Maps Without Counting Squares

For my game, I like to draw battle maps of key locations in advance. I use gaming paper or easel pads marked with a 1-inch grid. When I copy an adventure map to a big sheet, I hate counting squares, but I’m too fussy to fudge and settle for close enough. My taste for precision makes winding caverns a particular nuisance. Sometimes I print map graphics as battle maps, but that requires more printer ink, cutting, and pasting than I want to lavish on a huge map. See How to print map graphics as battle maps using free software.

After my weekly group managed to end a session by alerting an entire dungeon, the next session promised a running battle spanning the site. I needed a big map. How could I draw it without wasting time counting squares and recreating that underground river? If only I could just trace a 50-by-50-inch map from my computer monitor.

Inspiration struck. I have a projector. And a wall.

Post-it Super Sticky Easel Pad, 25 x 30 Inches, 1-Inch Grid

How to draw adventure maps on 1″ grids without counting squares.

What you need

For this procedure, you need the following items:

On the wall

Steps

  1. Connect the computer to the connector.
  2. Open the map image in the computer.
  3. Project the map image on the wall.
  4. If the map includes a 5-foot-per-square grid, zoom the map image until the squares projected on the wall measure 1-inch across. Otherwise, zoom the map image until 5 feet on the map spans 1 inch on the wall.
  5. Stick a gridded sheet on the wall so the squares on the sheet align with any squares on the projected map. If you want to stick the sheet with a long side up, use removable tape.
  6. Trace.

For me, this method proved far faster and easier than counting squares.

Off the wall

Once I finished the map, I cut it into sections that I could lay out as characters explored. Having pre-drawn maps increased the pace of the next game session. The missing gaps behind doors and around corners seemed to encourage players to scatter and open doors, escalating the mayhem of battle.

I suspect I’ll use this trick often.

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7 Responses to My Scheme to Draw Dungeon Battle Maps Without Counting Squares

  1. Matt says:

    That’s…. huh. Why haven’t I done this? I have the tools… I guess drawing up that big finale map will be a lot easier than I thought!

  2. Stanley Rydzewski says:

    Have you thought about mounting the projector on the ceiling over the table, and just doing away with drawing entirely? Just lay out a nice big sheet of white paper and you’re done.

    • Marty says:

      The room has to be fairly dark for overhead projectors… not great for old eyes trying to read a character sheet, and not portable to conventions.

  3. Marty says:

    The Post It pads are pretty expensive. A cheaper alternative is dollar store wrapping paper that has 1-inch grid cut lines on the back side. Put masking tape at the corners.

    Most are 30 or 40 inches wide and 60 – 72 inches inches long for under a buck.

  4. I create maps in Google Slides then project on a magnetic whiteboard. I print tokens out on cardstock and snip a small piece of magnetic tape on the back. Also for actual terrain where grid is impossible I just have rulers and 1 inch is 5 feet. Works well.

  5. Before I started using roll20 and a TV screen as a map, I drew each room on a different piece of transparency sheet, the ones you could use on an overhead projector in schools. This had a similar effect on the players, didn’t know where the map ended or could progress towards. Map Mystery helps and whenever you can add it to your game you should!

  6. Josh1445 says:

    Great ideas.
    If you dont have a projector, but do have a big TV, you could do the same. Just dont use a permanent marker or anything pointy.

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