Idle Essay RE: Generic Settings

Every game has details. Role playing games have details. It is easy to overwhelm players with information. Even people who have played the game for years do not necessarily have the patience to pour through the volumes of information on the Forgotten Realms. Even new settings, like Golarion, have several tomes that detail the economy of the author's fantasy world. It is all interesting, but it is a lot to ask of people in order to play a game.

A lot of game masters that run a game create a large portion of their world before it starts, and help their players into the world; they usually refer to their setting as being home-brewed. A home-brewed setting can make for a very rich game if the game master put a lot of thought into it and the players are interested and respectful of the game master's work. It could also become a time for the game master to give lectures on make believe anthropology and history, with players begrudgingly stacking dice between "epic" encounters.

When 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons game came out, the Dungeon Master's Guide described a setting it called "Points of Light". This was a setting wherein the world was assumed to be a dangerous, unexplored vast wilderness, which was darkness, punctuated with small pockets of civilization, which were the points of light. Player's characters were the brave, desperate, and adventurous men and women who carried the torch into the night. This "Points of Light" setting was a description of some of the oldest Dungeons & Dragons game's settings.

This concept of a few disparate, disconnected pockets of safety in the vastness of ruins and dungeons creates a lot of opportunity for ad hoc session planning. Right now, in "When the Trees are Teeth", the player's characters are in the town of Drafton. I have town detailed, and the surrounding wilderness, and a large dungeon nearby to explore. I have my next handful of sessions planned, but I do not have any grand agenda as to where the party will end up.

I can make assumptions about the game's setting by drawing on archetypes in the fantasy genre. For example, I know there is a wizard's college somewhere, a thieves guild, a king, foppish nobles, a bard school, and dragons. When I am idle and bored, I may think about who the king is, and how he gets along with the bard's college, but it is not relevant to the game right now. In role playing games, a thing does not exist until that thing becomes relevant to the game.

More interesting about the ad hoc setting is that it provides freedom to give creative license to the players. If a player wants to suggest that he comes from a land similar to the mythic far east, then it fits! An ad hoc setting creates a rich world by player consensus.

How Pathfinder relates to D&D (a brief primer for new players)

According to geek lore, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson got the idea for Dungeons & Dragons from war games. The story is very interesting, and actually filled with a lot of intrigue, duplicity, drama, and arguments about property rights. It is one of those arcane things that is not really clear to anyone who does not dedicate a significant portion of their free time thinking about it, but the entire franchise is an interesting web of politics and copy-write infringement.

There have been quite a few variations of D&D in the last 38 years. The list to the left is not even complete! Gygax and Arneson formed a company called TSR, and eventually had creative license of their property wrested from their hands, though when exactly is contested.

In 1997, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, bought the Dungeons & Dragons license from TSR. They hired game designers to develop a new set of rules, commissioned artists and published a "Third Edition".

The stroke of genius behind Third Edition was the Open Gaming License. It was a public copyright license that made it legal for anyone to use, copy, modify or talk about the rules of their game, which they called "d20". That meant that anyone who wanted to make a game or book for Dungeons & Dragons could do so, with few exceptions. Hundreds of books were published to support Third Edition. High caliber licensed works like The Wheel of Time RPG the pet projects of game design super stars, creative settings like Nyambe, and horrible unlicensed slash-fiction games based on  Naruto or My Little Pony. The market was saturated in these "d20" products "for use with the worlds most famous Role Playing Game".

Thankfully Shadowrun never converted to d20
It was an interesting time to be a fan, but it also made the already anemic market fairly flat. The glut of d20 games overwhelmed other games. White Wolf released a new set of rules for their well known Vampire/Werewolf/Mage series of games, and still have a following today, but games like Feng Shui or Rifts became rare. Dozens of other game companies folded up and got out of the game or switched over to producing shitty d20 supplements.

A biproduct of the market being saturated in quickly produced, shitty supplements was that D&D's parent company felt its share of the shit-pie was being whittled away by the legal-produced knock-offs. Their solution was to release a new edition, this time without a OGL, and begin anew with a whole new set of rules. They hired game designers, commissioned artists, and published their new game.

Problem with their new game was that a lot of their old fans did not like it because it was not Third Edition. They had spent years with Third Edition and the various d20 supplements! Then came Paizo riding in.

Paizo was the company that produced and published the official Dungeons & Dragon's magazine until Wizards of the Coast announced they would be discontinuing the magazine in favor of more "online support" of the new 4th Edition. Paizo's response was to take all their contacts they had developed when dealing with the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons design and production team and make a new book.

That new book was Pathfinder. They tapped a huge community of fans, tweaked some rules, and adopted the Third Edition d20 ruleset as their own. The book is better designed than the original Third Edition Dungeon and Dragons Rulebooks, with clearer rules and more consistent art. Paizo still releases small supplements for Pathfinder and the d20 rule sets, but at a slower pace.

That is it.

New Campaign "When the Trees are Teeth"

I want this to be a game where all the tropes of the genre find a place to live. Treasure chests filled with jewels, undead monstrosities rising from sarcophagi, trapped thrones, sleeping dragons, bound demons, clockwork machinery, and heroes coming back to town with piles of gold tied to the mules. What one person may consider cliché, I consider archetypical. The characters that are appropriate to this campaign are just as archetypal. I want the warrior standing before an approaching horde, his faith in blade and ally. The spell-caster will be wresting the secrets of the gods and the universe from hidden artifacts and moldering tomes. There should be a clever survivor, living day by day on wit, guile, and luck. This campaign needs characters that hearken to the traditions that made D&D.

We will begin at Drafton, a small mountain-town of about 600 people. Most of the residents are self-sufficient trappers, farmers, and goat-herdsmen. There was a road that connected Drafton to the region’s most populace city, King’s Reach, but it was used so rarely that nature reclaimed it. Technically a fief, Drafton is under the vassalage of Sir Ruchard Brines, who has neither visited Drafton nor demanded taxes. The tiny region is simply beneath his attention. The people have carried on in Drafton as they have for decades, uninterrupted by the outside world save for the slow trickle of adventurers who wish to try their luck in the ruins of Yggaril.

Yggaril is an ancient ruin dug into the side of the mountain by a clan of dwarves. The mountainside is pocked with entrances to this dungeon, and horrible creatures are known to crawl out from these hidden places. The most innocuous of these creatures are small, yipping creatures that make frequent excursions into the goat herds. These creatures are little more than pests to the people of Drafton, but everyone knows that more heinous creatures stalk the woods.

Low CR Outsiders

There are not a lot of outsiders that can fill the "goblin niche". Their naturally high Hit Dice, full BAB and resistances means they're simply more dangerous than a regular old Monstrous Humanoid. Nonetheless, while preparing for a low level adventure, I needed a horde of crawling, creeping, sneaking, biting, spitting, screaming devils to come pouring out of an abyssal portal. This is what I came up with;

Krahling    CR 1/2
XP 200
LE small outsider (devil)
Init +1; Senses Darkvision 60-ft.; Perception +4
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+1 size, +1 dex)
hp 8 (1d10-2)
Fort -2, Ref +2, Will +2
Resistance acid/10, cold/10, fire/10
Immunity fire, poison
Weakness: critical hits
Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +1 (1d3), 2 claws -1 (1d4)
Ranged spit +2 (1d4 plus phlegm)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Str 10, Dex 13, Con 7, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 11
Base Atk +1; CMB 10; CMD 12 
Feats Skill Focus (stealth)
Skills Perception +4, Sense Motive +4, Stealth +7, Bluff +4
Languages: Infernal; telepathy 100-ft.
Phlegm (Su): Krahlings spit globules of gross mucas that emits a noxious smell. Creatures hit with this phlegm must succeed on a DC 8 fortitude save or be dazed for 1 round.
See in Darkness (Su): Krahlings can see perfectly in darkness of any kind, even that created by a deeper darkness spell.
Weakness to critical hits (Ex): When an attack against a Krahling is rolled and a natural 20 is the result, the attack kills the Krahling.
Environment: Dungeons
Organization solitary, pair, or mob (3-7)
Treasure none

RPG.SE is great for answering your questions!

I do not know how many role-players are aware of this site, but if you need answers to RPG questions, the RPG Stack Exchange is a great resource. It is not a forum, however, and off-topic conversations and opinions are purposefully kept to a minimum. I suggest that you read their FAQ before posting a question, however, as not every question has a place on the site.

How to Draw a Dungeon with Excel

An example of Excel dungeon maps
You can make attractive, incredibly functional and easy maps using Excel. I will show you the basics here. They may not be the prettiest maps in the world, but they work great for D&D or Pathfinder games played on grids. Read on for more information!

Row Height 21, Column Width 3.43
After opening Excel and selecting a worksheet, the first thing you need to do is resize the cells to a square grid. Make sure you have all the cells of the worksheet highlighted (ctrl+a) and select “Format” from your ribbon. Click on “row height” and change the value to 21. Then select format again, this time selecting “column width” to 3.43. The dimensions are not exact, but this is the value I use.  The important thing is that the cells become a uniform grid.

Start with a simple outline.
Select "Draw Border"
Now you may draw walls along the grid lines by selecting the “draw” tool from the "borders" toolbar, usually located underneath the font drop-down. When you select the draw tool, the mouse pointer will become a pencil. Clicking or dragging your mouse across the edge of a cell will draw a border along that cell. You can select the line thickness, pattern, color and eraser from the “draw borders” menu.

Change the line style to draw doors.
Place Doors in the map by selecting the double-line style and drawing them as you would a wall. Using this method, the door is drawn on the edge of a square, meaning that it does not occupy any square. If you require a door that occupies a specific square, you would have to draw the line by using Excel’s “Shapes” Function.

Add shapes to the map.

Excel is not a drawing program, and so does have limits to what we can do, but with creativity you can stretch the program to cover just about anything you need. We can use the Shape function to place specific objects in the room. Go to the Insert tab at the top of the program, and then select “shapes” for a drop-down list of available schema to insert into your map. I put some circles in several squares to represent pillars for players and monsters to hide behind. I also added a star, which represents a statue. I will key this statue later in this tutorial. You can use the default shapes, or you can import your own.

Highlight cells outside the dungeon.
We have a room with a door and some set dressing, but it does not stand out from the rest of map very well, so I am going to highlight the room by formatting the cells around the room to a darker color. Select the cells outside the room, which would be the solid stone of the dungeon walls. You can add to your selection by holding the CTRL key and highlighting those cells with your mouse. When you have the cells selected, use the “fill” tool next to the “draw border” tool to paint each cell you highlighted the color you selected.

An example of the near finished dungeon.
You can add encounter notes, stat-blocks, and information directly to the map by drawing a text box “shape”. The text box lets you write inside it. Here I have added details about three ghouls who make this dungeon their home, information about a locked door in this dungeon, and a note about a trap!

You can add a key to the map by drawing a square shape, then placing more shapes inside of it. Use the symbols on the map keyed to text boxes with a corresponding description. The “group” function is a good way of keeping your key and other more complicated shapes linked together like a single object. If you need to alter the key you can “un-group” the object to make the changes.

Commenting in the cells is a great way to key the map

Finally, each cell of the map can hold a ridiculous amount of information, so you can add notes relating to the spaces in the map directly to that square. You can select the cell and start writing, but your notes will clutter the map. It may be a better idea to right-click a cell and select “add comment”. A comment box will pop up, which you can type in, re-size, and move around the screen. Right-click the cell again, select “Hide Comment” and it will shrink into the cell until you hold your mouse over it. You can still see that a cell has a comment because the top right corner of the cell has been highlighted red.

Ral Partha Miniatures

Owning a lead alloy figurine of a pre-historic hyena makes you the Bell-o'-the-Ball in my social circle.

Ral Partha is a  miniature company founded in 1975 around then 16 year old Tom Meier. The company has had a tumultuous relationship with Dungeons & Dragons since Hasbro took the reins of the franchise in 1997, but has continued to produce their line of Battletech, Shadowrun and classic fantasy figures in Europe and under the name Iron WindMetals in the US. They are fantastic, varied, inexpensive, and have an old-school feel. 

Many of the Iron Wind Metals and Ral Partha EU minatures are generic fantasy figures, perfect for Pathfinder or your favorite OSRIC rules-set.

Ral Partha's European website does ship to the United States & Canada, but they charge an extra fee for any shipment under 10 Euros.Their prices are reasonable, and with current exchange rates that equals about $13, which I could spend in one fell-swoop. The stateside Iron Winds Metals has most everything the EU does, though, so I would check there first.

Fantasy figurines are a dime a dozen (figuratively), but this Bureau Chief is something unique, and I love how he's holding a bottle of scotch.

Behemoth: Biggest Born of Earth

"Behemoth biggest born of Earth upheav'd
His vastness: Fleec't the Flocks and bleating rose

-Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 7
Behemoth from the 1863 edition of Dictionnaire Infernal

The word behemoth is taken from the Hebrew “b’hemah”, which means “beast”. The book of Job uses the plural (which was a way to denote importance) and Latinate version of the word to describe an awesomely powerful animal that no man could hope to catch or domesticate. Some scholars have said that this was a reference to a river-animal, probably a hippopotamus. The apocryphal Book of Enoch describes the behemoth as one of two creatures who would be slaughtered and fed to the righteous at the end of the world. An 1818 occultist work, the Dictionnaire Infernal, lists Behemoth as a demon, patron of gluttony and either serves Satan or is Satan himself.

Here is a Pathfinder RPG monster inspired by the Behemoth.

B'hemah CR8

XP 3,200
CE Large outsider (demon)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60-ft.; Perception +11


AC 20, touch 10, flat-footed 19 (+6 natural, +4 hide armor, +1 dex, –1 size)
hp 70 (7d10 +35)
Fort +9, Ref +1, Will +8
Defensive Abilities: DR 10/magic; Resistance acid/10, cold/10, fire/10 Immunity Electricity, poison
Weaknesses vulnerability to sonic (attacks that deal sonic damage inflict 50% damage again)


Speed 30 ft.
Melee gore +14[+12*] (2d6+10[+16*]), 2 claws +9[+7*] (1d8+7 [+10*])
*adjusted for Power Attack
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Power Attack
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th)
  •  at will-detect magic
  • 1/day-summon (40% chance of summoning 1 b'hemeh)


Str 24, Dex 9, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk 7; CMB +14; CMD 23
Feats Power Attack, Toughness, Iron Will, Improved Natural Armor
Skills Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (geography) +11, Perception +11, Sense Motive +11, Survival +11, Swim +18*
Racial Modifiers +4 swim skill
*-3 armor adjustment
Languages: Abyssal, Common; telepathy 100-ft.


Graze (Su): Once per turn as a free action a B'hemah within reach of a creature's corpse may use its trunk to graze on that corpse. The b'hemah gains 1d8+1 hit points, up to its maximum. In addition gains +2 circumstance bonus on intimidate checks to demoralize a creature who can see the b'hemah graze that turn. A corpse being grazed on must belong to a humanoid or monstrous humanoid with an inteligence score higher than 3 for the b'hemah to gain hit points. A corpse can be grazed on a number of times equal to half the creature's original hit dice, minimum once.


Environment rivers, submerged dungeons, the Abyss  
Organization solitary, pair, or platoon (3-7)
Treasure standard, large hide armor

B’hemah are foul, bloated beings obsessed with undermining good manners. They look like bipedal elephants, but their sharpened tusks are black and their hand-like forelimbs end in stubby clawed fingers. They belch, scream, burble, warble, and secrete anytime they are not shoving too much food in their mouth, which they often are. Like all demons, they do not need to eat to sustain themselves, but for pleasure. While they certainly have a broad idea of what constitutes food, especially enjoying the flesh of intelligent creatures garnished with rotting foliage, they are pickier than many demons. They will not eat the flesh of undead, animals, or inorganic matter.


If a post mentions a hippopotamus, I mention the Giff. This is simply fact.

Bleet, Ant-Covered Familiar CR 2

XP 600
LE Medium devil
Init +2; Senses dark-vision 60 ft.; Perception +2


AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+2 dexterity, +4 natural)
hp 30 (3d10+15)
Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +3
immunity fire and poison
resistance acid 10; cold 10


Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
Melee 2 claws +6 (1d8+3) and bite +4 (1d6+3 plus filth fever)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Filth Fever (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 15, onset 1d3 days, frequency 1 day, effect 1d3 Con damage, cure 2 consecutive saves


Str 16, Dex 14, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 20
Feats weapon focus (bite), improved natural armor
Skills Bluff +9, Climb +8, Fly +11, Knowledge (the Planes) +8, Perception +8, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +9, Stealth +9
Languages Common, Infernal, Draconic, Telepathy 100 ft.


See in Darkness (Su): Bleet can see perfectly in darkness of any kind, even that created by a deeper darkness spell.
Ants (Ex): Bleet is covered in ants, which crawl over and bite anyone who nears. Creatures who are within 10-ft. when Bleet starts its turn are swarmed by the ants and nauseated for 1 round; Fortitude save (DC 15) negates. The save DC is charisma based.

How to Design A Wilderness with Mind Maps

An example of a Mind Map wilderness.
Mind maps are diagrams used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. When using a mind map to design a wilderness, the various locations are arranged as separate ideas and connections are drawn between these locations to represent physical pathways. 

Designing a wilderness as a mind map is an organizational technique for game masters. It is used to design wilderness adventures with substance and make it easy to manage that substance at the game table. Players benefit by having a well-written adventure, but this post is primarily for game masters.

Mind maps can be thought of as being similar to a dungeon; each room of the dungeon is an idea, and doors are the lines which connect two ideas together. We will use this terminology when describing the wilderness mind map. A scene in a forest may be one of a waterfall falling into a deep stone basin of green water, but we will call it a room. A small pathway carved into the side of a mountain will be called a door.

The party’s motivation needs to be considered before beginning a mind map wilderness. The hook or hooks for enticing your players toward adventure should influence the design of your dungeon. If nothing comes to mind at the start, hooks can develop during the design process. Move forward in the process and be prepared write down any ideas for hooks that come along. Game masters will need something to write with and several pieces of paper to design their wilderness adventure.

The three main elements to your mind map wilderness are rooms, doors, and in-betweens.

Rooms represent the major scenes in your adventure. All the encounters and challenges are organized into rooms. A room in a wilderness mind map is depicted as a bubble. Players enter and exit scenes in your adventure by following paths in and out of these rooms.

The first step in drawing a mind map wilderness is drawing a bubble to represent the first room. If the bubble is too small to write a few sentences in, key that location to another sheet of paper. Each room needs a short description to be read as the party encounters it.

A room’s description should be enough to give the players a clear image of the area and to set the area apart from any others they may encounter. The description should be short and simple.

Trees here cast a lot of shade, and it’s comfortably cool. The grass is tall, dry, sharp, pulls at the hems of your cloaks and scuffs the leather of your boots. A creek overgrown with weeds is small enough to step over and flows from the east to the west.

The example above uses the creek as a door by encouraging the party to follow it up or downstream. Game masters cannot take for granted that the party will decide to follow the stream, but he can discourage the party from moving in certain directions by describing hazardous terrain.

Trees here cast a heavy shade, and it’s comfortably cool. The grass is tall, dry, sharp, pulls at the hems of your cloaks and scuffs the leather of your boots. A creek overgrown with weeds is small enough to step over and flows from the east to the west. A copse of thorn bushes to the north is wide and dense. Moving in that direction will be difficult.

The copse of thorn bushes is an obstacle the party would avoid if they are able. The party could still walk around or through the obstacle, but they have given a reason to avoid that direction. Ultimately, the players should decide if they are going to avoid a hazard.

Some terrains are relatively safe, and others are practically impassible. A copse of thorn bushes should be a moderate hazard to the party. It should be unpleasant for those unused to the trials of the wild and those who do not have abilities like woodland stride, but a concerted effort to pass should yield results. A sheer cliff face is practically impassible for everyone without significant climbing experience. It should represent a significant danger to those who seek to scale it. Game masters should not completely disallow the party from attempting pass a hazard beyond their ability, but they should make the dangers apparent.

For organization, encounters occur exclusively in rooms. They should be prepared ahead of time and be of an appropriate challenge level. Combat encounters should make use of the varied terrain in the wilderness. Fallen logs, shallow pools of mud, thick bushes and large boulders are appropriate for encounters in a forest. Loose gravel, sharp rocks, and dangerous fauna are compelling features of an encounter set in the desert.

Doors are transitional scenes between rooms. Doors are represented on the mind map by lines drawn between rooms corresponding to directions the party may travel. A deer path, a creek, a river, or a copse of bushes could be a door.

Each door has some descriptive text as segue to the next room. The description should be brief, mentioning the approximate time traveled and the general terrain, and not go into details about landmarks. If the door’s description is too long or too interesting it would work better as a room. The remarkable events of the party’s journeys are handled primarily in rooms. The game master needs to usher the party through the door quickly and introduce the next room before the party gets distracted. Doors need to represent enough distance to contain an in-between and obscure the exact dimensions of the mind map wilderness. The time it takes the party to travel from one room to another needs to be long enough to contain an in-between and obscure the exact dimensions of the mind map wilderness. An hour per door (roughly 4 miles) makes for a very large wilderness, while 10-minutes per door (less than a mile) will make a relatively small wilderness.  Doors in a wilderness dungeon differ from doors in an actual dungeon in that the party cannot peek into the room or listen at the door before deciding to enter. By the point that the party can see what is in a room they have already passed through the door and have effectively entered the room.

When the party moves through a door, they contend with the environment and risk becoming lost. The scout leading the party may use his Survival skill to avoid becoming lost. One character may make a survival skill check each time the party moves through a door. The base DC for this skill check is 15, but the DC can be influenced by the terrain and environment. Success means that the scout has shown the party the right direction, and they arrive in the next room without significant delay. If the survival check fails by four or less the group takes twice as long to get to their destination, in addition they must make constitution checks with a DC equal to the failed survival check to avoid becoming fatigued by the terrain. Characters that are already fatigued instead become exhausted. A survival check that fails by five or more means that the group becomes so lost they double back to a room they’ve already been.

A dungeon has walls, but the wild has hazards. In the wilderness, the party has more freedom and can move in any direction they like, but they must make their own trail. The game master encourages the party to go in certain directions with hooks and obstacles, but it is only a matter of time before the party goes a place he has not detailed. Role-playing games are improvisational, but game masters can have a plan by creating several modular rooms in advance. These rooms are called “in-betweens” because they can be sewn between two rooms as they are needed.

In-betweens are easy to place, but they take just as much time and effort to design as any other room. Encounters with monsters or hostile animals can encourage the players to stay on the beaten path, but every encounter in an in-between does not need to be a random encounter. An in-between containing a cave can be placed in reserve so that game master is able to place it when the party is in need of a secure place to rest and recover. If the players are losing interest in exploring the wilderness, the game master can place an in-between containing a fight to renew the player’s interest. In-betweens containing undiscovered ruins or natural wonders can create a sense of discovery.

An in-between is placed by drawing a line from the room that the players are leaving and a room that the players will ultimately enter, and label the line as a specific in-between. Game masters can also label a door that already exist as an in-between so that they can place modular elements to the map as they are needed. Once the game master has placed an in-between he can begin describing the room as though it were there all along. When the party returns to an in-between it behaves as any other room.

The party may want to deviate from a pathway or an in-between before arriving at a room. Game masters can place in-betweens the same way as placing an in-between from any other room. A line is drawn and connected to the nearest room and labeled as an in-between.

A game master has the discretion as to whether or not to place an in-between. If the party deviates from prepared paths and it seems too early or an inappropriate to inject a mind map, an ad-hoc door can be drawn between the room that the party is leaving and an adjacent room. This ad-hoc door behaves like any other door; he gives a brief description of the transition and quickly introduces the next room.

Landmarks and Maps
The party often backtracks to places they’ve already been, and they should find those locations in the same place they left them. Landmarks which can be seen from anywhere in the dungeon, like mountains towering in the distance, should always be in one direction. These landmarks can be used as a point of reference when navigating the wild.

A mind map wilderness is not a fully illustrated map with each distance and each rock placed in proper order, but the general dimensions of the forest can be detailed with the mind map. The exact barring of a room on the mind map does not directly correspond to the barring of the location it relates to on a map, but a compass rose can be used on a mind map to indicate what directions the rooms are relative to one another. For example, if the compass rose indicates that north is toward the header of the page, a room closer to the top of the mind map is farther north than those beneath it.  A room to the right of same mind map is more eastern than a room to the left. This is an abstraction, however. A room drawn on the mind map two inches farther left and a little higher than the party’s location is not necessarily several miles west and a few degrees north.

An in-game or prop map with exact coordinates will be an obstacle to a game master managing a mind map wilderness. Grid wilderness is discussed in the next chapter, and works very well with detailed maps. If the party has a map at their disposal it should provide a circumstance bonus on survival checks to avoid getting lost, but even with a map navigating the wilderness is a matter of overcoming obstacles and circumnavigating the many impassible terrains.