I'm going to run the Pathfinder's Beginners Box scripted adventure that has a dungeon map printed.

This is not only the first time GMing, it's my first time playing an RPG. All of the party are new to RPGs too,

To keep the layout of the dungeon hidden (to keep it mysterious and "unexplored"), I'm going to use crumpled tissue paper to cover rooms of the dungeons until they're explored acting like a fog of war.

If I explain to the players exactly what this tissue paper is for, and lift it as they move through the dungeon, could this have any unintended negative consequences?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome to the site! Best wishes for your first game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Put some extra blank pieces of paper down with the map to obfuscate where it might go :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 12:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ When I do this, I make sure to use post-its to keep the cover directly on the other side of a door from inadvertently getting pushed. Only downside that I've encountered is with secret doors. They have to not me on the map at all, and the path on the other side of it has to be covered. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 18:26

8 Answers 8


Aside from being unwieldly, prone to soda spills, sudden gusts of wind and players taking a peek…?


Personal opinion: As nice as professionally-printed dungeon maps might be, personally I much prefer sketching the current part of the dungeon on scratch paper as the players advance.

This has several advantages:

  • it is clear to everyone that my sketch is only a rough representation of reality (so players still listen to my descriptions and use their imagination instead of looking at a pretty printing);
  • I don't have problems with inadvertently uncovering unexplored parts ("I won't open the door! I can see there's a dragon on the other side!");
  • players can draw their own positions, sketch tactics etc., without me going "Argh! My map!";
  • frequently, ready-made maps contain GM-only information ("If I look into that corner with the little 'four' printed in it, what do I find?");
  • players are unclear about size and overall layout of the dungeon ("There has to be more in that direction, look at how much still-covered map there is!");
  • I get to chose the size of the map (A3, A4, A5, Post-It), adjusted to the size of the playing area;
  • I can change the layout of the dungeon on the fly if the events demand it;
  • since angles are never perfect, and I remove the paper with the current room(s) regularly to draw the next room on a fresh piece of paper, players can actually get a bit lost. They do have their chalk marks, sure, but they can't really put together a "perfect" map of the surroundings, just like they couldn't in reality.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can change the layout of the dungeon on the fly if the events demand it That's nice. \$\endgroup\$
    – StuperUser
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 10:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The group I play with uses a plastic-coated A3 and a white board marker - works incredibly well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wilerson
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StuperUser: Never underestimate the amount of winging you're going to do. In my experience, the best GMs are not those who can think up the most convoluted story arcs, but those who can ad-lib most gracefully if players don't act to plan, and still keep the story going. \$\endgroup\$
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 12:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like a lot the idea of drawing every room on a different piece of paper and only let them know the one they are in... :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pconcepcion: Hint: When you remove a room from the table, mark it with some code in the corner, and keep a "master map" that shows which room is where. ("You leave to the south, and return to... this room.") It's one thing for the players getting lost, it's another for the GM to inadvertently have rooms change position within the dungeon. Then again, having rooms change position deliberately can put a nice twist into things - can't do that with a pre-made map either. (Ain't magic great? ;-) ) \$\endgroup\$
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 7:23

Not that I can think of. Cover-the-dungeon-and-reveal is one good method of revealing floor plans gradually, and works perfectly well (assuming your table is large enough for the full map).

There is a minor possible issue: crumpled tissue paper is light and easily knocked around during play. This depends on your table, weight of paper and players, so it's hard to know if this is a problem for you. If it is, consider using a weightier, dark-coloured paper.


Use old black t-shirts instead of paper. They are heavier, can bend around corners, and can be pushed out of the way little by little.


Paper should be all over the map, not only where rooms are printed - empty spaces should be fogged too.

That way - if they want to escape monsters into uncovered area - they won't have a clue where is a better terrain, be it bigger, or with more turns, or with possible exit near the map's edge.

I also dislike such way because players can judge how BIG the whole dungeon is. How much food to bring, how long time it will take them etc. But that's really an issue with more advanced players worrying about details ;)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can prevent them guessing the dungeon size by making it multi-level. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nah, and print all those levels on paper? Too much work for such a little effect. Pareto principle after all. Better just to use pencil ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 6:55

Fancy maps tend to be more for the DM/GM than the players in my experience. Typically a good party should be taking notes and drawing their own map anyway as you describe things. If layout is critical (like a fight) then a whiteboard or a battlemat with erasable options is the best and you can do rough sketches of the room that way for the temporary fix.


I sometimes create my own maps by using Microsoft PowerPoint template with 1" squares, and applying textures to each square. I print them out and cut out each room separately. As the party navigates the map, I pull out any rooms they witness and tape them onto the rest of the map. Even twisty corridors can be revealed one section at a time.

There is no shape constraint. You can create maps larger than your table. When the map becomes too big, you can detach previously travelled sections. They can't assume that it's a square and their destination is contained within a certain area. It keeps things mysterious.

One of my maps consisted of crossing a lake, then climbing through a ravine to an exposed, underground bunker. Once they reached the bunker, I removed the lake and most of the ravine and started the bunker portion of the map.


Another thought is if you have a computer and large screen available, you could created the map as a layered graphic with the top layer solid black. You could then erase parts of the top layer as the dungeon was explored, displaying the map underneath.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That sounds like a good way of doing it. Have you used rpgwithme or any other software for rpging that could be useful for this? \$\endgroup\$
    – StuperUser
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 9:54

Honestly, the tissue thing is a little unwieldy with winds and what not. Use heavier things instead. I personally use a white t-shirt and tiles from bestiary boxes and other board games.

I would also recommend using a board or a mat that you can write on with white-board markers. There are plastic covered battle boards/mapping boards specifically for made this, though they may be a bit expensive. A decent one may round up to $35-40 each.

Bestiary boxes provide lots of monsters and NPC figurines, in the form of printed cardboard (with plastic bases to stand). It can get pricey pretty fast (anywhere from $25-$50 each) but if you are fairly into D&D its pretty worth it in the long run.


  • Pricey;
  • Not the best if you can't draw fast or get multiple boards;
  • Sometimes you might need a monster that you don't have so look through the bestiary box first.


  • Battles are a lot better and easier to DM and control;
  • Easier to imagine the monsters when you see them;
  • Better way to see players in your dungeons;
  • Allows for less preparation (you don't need to print the map).
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour, it's a useful introduction to the site. I've made a big revision to your post, don't hesitate to correct it if I misinterpreted you :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Luris
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 18:19

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