DM of the Rings Remaster XVIII: Cartographer’s Lament

By Bay Posted Sunday May 7, 2023

Filed under: DM of the Rings Remaster 13 comments

Nothing adds excitement to a campaign like hours of detailing room dimensions and doorway placements. Remember, if you can’t keep them engaged, you can at least keep them busy. Well, one of them, anyway.

(As an aside, in our campaigns we use a a dry-erase board for this sort of thing.)

–  Shamus, Wednesday Oct 18, 2006

Oh man, you cannot imagine my excitement about that dry-erase board link.

Firstly, that is a picture of how ‘the office’ (what we called my dad’s computer room) looked every single weekend in his D&D days. I can smell those card tables, I can feel those card tables. Hell, I can taste those card tables (oh, neurodivergent children, why do you lick the furniture). The first week I was allowed to help move those tables was a rite of passage, I was strong enough to lift those metal fold-outs from the nineties, I was an adult.

Secondly, that picture from two weeks ago I put up of me and my brothers playing D&D on our own? That piece of poster board in the center? Yeah, that was dad’s dry-erase board for D&D. Upon realizing that the ‘dry erase’ portion of that board didn’t erase permanent marker, we flipped it over and used dry-erase marker on the paper side. That was the day we ruined dad’s D&D board in every way imaginable, and everyone was too excited to see us playing our own game to notice. The crime wasn’t discovered till weeks later when the board was actually needed. Oops.

Love seeing a picture of it before the massacre, though! Just like I remember it.



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13 thoughts on “DM of the Rings Remaster XVIII: Cartographer’s Lament

  1. MrGuy says:

    Fun fact. You can remove permanent marker from a dry erase board by writing over the permanent marker stains with dry erase marker, then erasing normally.

    It works (as I understand it) because the volatile solvents in the inks are similar, so the permanent marker pigments re-dissolve, and then bind to the dry erase pigments, so can be removed with them.

    In my many years of consulting, I’ve saved literally dozens of “wrong marker!” failures on client-owned whiteboards this way.

    1. Algeh says:

      Bonus whiteboard fact: Crayola washable markers will come off dry erase boards if washed with water, but NOT if overwritten with dry erase marker. (I learned this when some afterschool program was using my classroom and didn’t supervise the kids properly, leading to assorted property damage of my classroom and materials.) This means that you can use Crayola washable markers for a “permanent” layer on a whiteboard that you can easily remove later (in a classroom, useful for sectioning off part of it for each class to list homework/classwork/etc., in a D&D-exclusive whiteboard probably more useful if you have certain trackers you always want to use and just fill in blanks for), and that the second thing I try to get Mystery Ink off a whiteboard after I try coloring over it is to try water.

    2. Comic Sans Seraphim says:

      Hand sanitiser can also be used to remove permanent marker

      1. irvitzer says:

        Any alcohol-based liquid or gel, in fact. Now there are a lot of hand sanitizers on hand, naturally, but I did knew one DM who cleans his map pad with beer.

  2. Zaxares says:

    I recognize that grid map too! It actually comes as part of the DMG in D&D 3rd Edition. My group took that poster, laminated it (on BOTH sides), and then used dry-erase markers as a battle grid map for our tabletop sessions too. :D

  3. King Marth says:

    Mapping has lots of potential for adventures. Key here is not needing to be exact (though this was in many cases the intended way to find secret doors and hidden rooms – we’ve filled in all around this mysterious gap, what’s in there?) and having some sort of landmark to tell rooms apart. People gave up on mapping because of graph paper dungeons made of empty square rooms where no one enforced knowing where to go anyway.

    When mapping isn’t a role, no one bothers knowing where they are and there’s no expectation to know. If some hazard or major threat chases you through a few rooms in panic (by the way, there can be fights that aren’t mathematically balanced to be winnable by default), then how do you get back on track?

  4. evileeyore says:

    ‘oh, neurodivergent children, why do you lick the furniture”

    Neuro-normal(?) kids do that to. They just grow out of it ‘sooner’ due to being able to process the cues of shame and peer pressure easier.

    I’m a “normie” passing adult and I occasionally ‘taste things’ that aren’t food/meant to be tasted. It’s one of the six classic senses for a reason.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      The term I usually see is neurotypical, or allistic (as opposed to autistic).

    2. Lucithana says:

      Kids lick things because the tongue actually generally has more sensitive touch than fingers, so you’re not just getting taste, but increased touch as well, making it an even better way to examine the world around you.

  5. M says:

    When you really want to make the mapper tear his hair out, run an adventure in a Klein bottle (with something to keep visibility down of course).
    Of course this will also cause you problems tracking where they are, but it might be worth it if someone in the party actually clues in.

  6. Drew says:

    For extra speed and flexibility, I bought a bunch of overhead projector transparencies, and I’d draw out the maps on those, then place them on top of a dry erase board that had grid dots. Traveling from room to room was never faster. Just drop another transparency down and keep moving. And you could always move a room from one side of the board to another as the group progressed without needing to redraw anything. If you’re a DM who likes to have stuff built out ahead of time, it works great.

  7. Jay Y says:

    I can’t read too many of these in a row. It’s making me tear up. I can feel your memories. I have my own fond memories of reading this comic and listening to your Dad talking and reading his work. I’m going to have to work through this re-work of the comic more slowly.

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