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Do You Need a D&D Map? Or a D&D Random Map Generator?
You've read your player's well thought out backgrounds. You've created your NPCs (Like Merlin or King Arthur, perhaps??) You've filled in all your character sheets and arranged all your dice. Your story line is set, all that's left is to sketch out some maps, and you're good to go.
Never underestimate the impact of a good map. Your maps are going to tell the heroes where they've been and where they're going, and they'll also give them ideas on where they would like to go in the future. While it's true that you could probably get by with a rough sketch of the area, if you don't have to, why would you?
You don't have to be an amazing artist to have top notch maps in your campaign.
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It's been said that whatever you want to do, chances are someone else has already done it, so why not borrow from them? There are many resources online where you can obtain maps created by others that you can use. NOTE: Be sure to review any and all copyright information on the site. It should always say whether or not you have permission to use the content on the site. If it's not apparent and you're not sure whether or not it's fair game, it's best move on to another site. Better safe than sorry!
DungeonMastering.com is a site dedicated to helping dungeon masters find all the necessary information they need to boost their game, and offers an extensive library of free maps to use, already to scale.
Dungeons and Dragons Map Generator:
For those of you who do not wish to use maps that you might come across in someone else's campaign while playing Dungeons and Dragons, map generanerators like this one at gozzys.com or these ones at MapMage.com offer the perfect solution. Put in the desired parameters, and you've got yourself a unique map!
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DIY - Make Your Own
Simple pencil and paper is one way to go. If you have some artistic ability, the only thing that's left is scale. If you choose to draw your own map, do yourself a favor and do it on either graph paper, or hex paper to help you judge the scale of what you're drawing. Here's is an online resource for creating different kinds of graph paper.
However, if you're looking to create your own original map, but lack the artistic ability to draw it yourself, there are tools you can find online to help you.
Youtube is a good resource for tutorials on how to create maps in programs like Photoshop.
Of course, while Adobe software would be nice to use, not everyone can afford it. For a cheaper (that is, FREE!) solution, products like AutoRealm might be a better suit.
Whatever you use, you're not limited to a pen and scrap paper. Utilize some or all of these solutions in one of your next campaigns!