Tag Archives: battle map

Hand-Drawn OSR Maps Bring Retro Feels

I love maps. Maps tell a story words can’t. Maps are an invitation to explore, and something to show off.

My first RPG map ever was painstakingly copied from the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play book, and was an underground lair much like two of our recent releases. I still remember the note nailed to the door of the hideout: “Observe the laws of Asylum: Knock and wait.” Good times!


One of my favourite maps is the huge poster map of the Old World from Warhammer. The map was included in the massive 300th edition of White Dwarf, and has the titular dwarf illustrated on the back. Yes, I know, I’m a huge Warhammer FRP fan, it’s true.

The cover of White Dwarf 300. Colossal is true! We won’t show you the actual map, because of copyright, but you’ll find pictures if you Google it.

Kim Frandsen has been producing hand-drawn OSR maps for us, and here are the first nine of them. Each pack contains several versions of the same map, and all are covered under our stock art license, so you can use them in publications as well as in your home campaigns.

You can find all our Elite Design Elements, including the above OSR maps, on Drive Thru RPG, and all our maps and map tiles are also on Drive Thru. (All our Elite Design Elements can be used in commercial products, while our other maps are only intended for personal use. You know how it is.)

Map Tiles

We’ve done a bunch of Print on Demand map tiles, like our Maze Tiles and Sea Tiles.

Raft on Sea Tiles
Ah yes, early product photos.

Maze Tiles Detail 1

We’ve also done clix-sized sewer tiles, which are still some of my favourite POD products we’ve ever done, besides the Madness Cards.

Hero Gridz Sewer

Got a request for a map? Bang it out in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do. There are plenty more maps on the way, so check back often.

Tell Us What You Want!

I’ve been chatting to Bob of Figment Factory — who created our HeroGridz tiles — about doing a second set of sewer tiles. I want to reach out to you to find out what you’d like to see added, what themes you’d like covered and your general thoughts on the new line. Drop a comment here or hit us up on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We’d love to hear from you.

We’ve also made it easier to collect HeroGridz tiles. Now you can buy individually printed tiles from One Bookshelf sites. Need an extra T-Junction? Just buy what you need, without having to buy another core set. We’ll be adding straight sections and junction/entrance tiles later in the month.

You can also check out our 1 inch tile line, I’d love to put more sets of those out if there’s much interest.

Awesome Locations

“Location, location, location.” Where you set your RPG encounter is every bit as important as the monsters that make up your CR budget. Here’s a quick guide to creating awesome locations.

Location Theme

Like a good movie, you want your locations to be interesting, challenging, and above all, memorable. Some good examples are Smaug’s vast Treasure Room under the Lonely Mountain and the sprawling Goblin City in The Hobbit.

First, ask yourself, what kind of location do you want? Is it a dark jungle, vast ice cave or dank swamp? Let your monster choices inspire you.


Location Features

What thematic features does your location have? Can you swing from vines in your jungle, or are the trees incredibly old towers that reach high into the clouds? Make a list of these features. Then, choose one main feature to focus on and two for added detail.

How do these features help or hinder PCs? If you have a river, how wide and how deep is it? Does it lie across the heroes path or do enemies float down it towards them. Are there sharp rocks and how can you avoid them? What other hazards can you think of, and which will add the most to the encounter?

Whatever features you come up with, play them up and make them extraordinary.


Mapping Your Location

Once you have your theme and features, it’s time to sketch your map. Think about where the PCs and monsters start, and how you want to use your features. If your location has multiple levels, draw a side on sketch to help you conceptualize the area.

Paranoia Pyramid
Fake doors, quicksand, slow sand and skeletons with bad aim… oh the horror!

Next, take some time to research rules related to your features, such as falling, lava and ice mechanics. If the giant statue in the centre of the map is going to move, how will PCs interact with it and who will be rolling what, and when?

Now draw your map on paper or a dry erase grid map. Pay special attention to distances, if you want the heroes to be able to jump the chasm, make sure they can. Use different colours and symbols to help your players read the map. For extra points, you can use small pieces of black origami paper to create your own Fog of War.


That’s it, why not leave a comment to tell me what you came up with.

Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Trouble in the Tavern

The local tavern isn’t just a drinking hole, or a place to hear far fetched tales. It’s a home, a meeting place for a group of adventurers who share a common bond, who’ve built their trust in each other through countless battles and exhilarating adventures. While not every adventure starts in the tavern, the best ones always end there, with arguments over loot put to rest when the barman taps a keg.

Click to get the Tavern on Drive Thru RPG.
Click to get the Tavern on Drive Thru RPG.

The Pewter Tankard Tavern Map is an inch grid map, perfect for use with most fantasy role-playing miniatures. This PDF contains 3 versions of the same A4 map and several ideas for including it in your fantasy RPG campaign.


Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com