1) Does the map ‘fit’
The key here is making the map itself interesting? There are really a few basic kinds of maps I suspect – some sort of morphology that could be laid together like geomorphs (caves, temple, tower etc.) but that's not what I'm aiming at here. Here I’m comparing, a traditional free for all of rooms and corridors and more ‘realistic’ maps that have internal logic. Nothing wrong with a classic style map, but I tend toward a more organic map designed with a visable logic. To me it’s easier to write a place if the rooms are laid out sensibly with a use in mind. This is what I mean by fit. Does a room work with the rest of the map? Is the kitchen near the barracks? Is the armory? Is there a random room full of unhinged horrors between the guards and the food stores (because if so the guards aren’t eating much). This isn’t just a matter of taste and GM seeking ‘realism’ (which is more trouble than it’s worth) – it’s a way to allow the players a game of “what should be near here”. Like if the party wants to find the temple, finding some acolyte quarters, and meditation rooms should be a sign they are on the right track – the temple is not right after the rotgrub filled trash compactor (unless it’s a very special temple).
Consider the maps below. Both are good maps – the first is one of the levels of the Temple of Elemental Evil (map 1) the second some kind of buried factory in Drakelow England for WWII production. The dungeon map has bizarre shaped rooms, and weird corridors going off in odd directions. It’s designed as if it was drawn from above by someone trying to confuse a mapper. Yet, the map of Drakelow(map 2) is boring and repetitive, predictable because it’s room after room of barracks and factories designed with real world construction and ergonomic limitations. So the question isn’t “which kind of map to use” it’s “How far towards weird can I push my dungeon map and still retain internal logic”.
|Map 2 - Bunker Complex|