Dynamic Environment Mapping
Mapping is a posh name for "making it up as you go along". Specifically,
it means drawing the map as the players explore, rather than drawing the
map beforehand. This is useful because it means you don't have to
do so much preparation before a mission. It's also useful if your
players decide to go and do something totally unexpected instead of what
you had planned.
Another benefit of
this system is that once the players have explored an area, you can keep
the map you generated and use it again later.
This system was originally
invented for the autocar chase described at the end of this page, but it
can be adapted for most exploration - corridors, ventilation ducts, transit
tubes, etc. Much of Alpha Complex is based on a grid pattern, so
the same system can be used with minimal modification.
What you will need
Graph paper (big squares
The first thing you
need to do is mark out the boundary of your map. Any area explored
by the players will be of finite size, so you should start by drawing a
box to show the outer walls of the area. This box doesn't have to
be a regular shape, it's really up to you.
Having decided on
the shape of the area, you should next mark out the start point (where
the Troubleshooters enter the area) and any other important places.
If they are trying to navigate through the area, you should mark their
exit point. If they are trying to find something, mark where it is.
You can also mark out some interesting encounters which they may or may
not go anywhere near, some corridors, some rooms. It's really up
to you how much or how little you put on the map at this stage. It's
probably a good idea to have a few encounters lined up beforehand.
Having marked these
points, draw corridors into each of these features, which will link up
with corridors the players discover as they explore. These lines
should only go HALFWAY along the side of a square, since at present they're
not linked to anything that has been discovered.
Letting the players
Now you're ready to
let the players loose. They'll wander up the corridor and reach an
which isn't currently mapped. Roll a D20 and use the lookup table
below to determine what directions the intersection allows:
Draw the corridors as
indicated, but only draw the lines halfway along the side of each
square. Once again, this is because they haven't linked up to anything
||Forward, left and
||Forward and left
||Forward and right
||Left and right
As you get further
in to the map you will find that sometimes the die roll indicates an invalid
direction (either to an area outside the bounds of the map, or it points
towards an intersection which you've already shown doesn't have a corresponding
corridor). In these cases, the result is left to the GM. As
a rule of thumb, ignore the corridor if it heads towards an external wall,
and modify the roll if the corridor heads towards an intersection that
can't link up.
For example, the dice
shows forward and left, but you can't go left because the intersection
to the left has already been mapped and has no corresponding corridor.
You could modify this to forward and right instead.
Feel free to modify
dice rolls if you need to. Sometimes it's unavoidable because the
players are going to run out of corridors. (A worst-case scenario
would be if the first roll of the area was a Dead End). Sometimes
you may have to modify a roll because the map is about to cut off the last
remaining way into the target area.
If the players want
to know what lies down a corridor, just do a few rolls to work it out.
It's a good idea to decide beforehand how far the players can see in any
one direction. (For example, two intersections while in the sewers).
Draw what you've rolled on the map, but don't forget where the players
are (since they've only looked down the corridor, not actually walked down
I probably haven't explained
all that very well, so here is a small example which should hopefully explain
things a bit better.
||This is the map to
start with. The thick black line around the outside represents the
boundary of the map. The blue line at the bottom represents the corridor
where the players will enter the area. The red marker represents
the target the players are aiming for and the two blue lines protruding
from it are two corridors.
||The GM rolls a 10,
which means the corridors go forward and left. These two corridors
are drawn on the map, but only halfway towards the next intersection (since
they currently don't connect to anything).
||The players continue
going north. The GM rolls a 12 (forward and left) followed
by a 20 (dead end). The players decide they want to backtrack
and take the upper west-facing corridor.
||Now the GM rolls
a 16 (left and right). Remember that the players are currently
facing west, so the resulting corridor runs north/south. At this
point the corridor heading south has not been linked up with the lower
one. That's because the GM hasn't yet determined whether the next
intersection southwards also has an exit to the west. (If that intersection
was in the corner you could draw it in now, since there wouldn't be any
other ways out).
||The players decide
to head north again. The GM rolls a 13 (forward and right).
But according to his map the corridor can't go right, because there's a
dead end there. So instead he modifies the roll into forward and
||This is an example
of an instance where you would want to modify a dice roll. The players
have reached the position indicated by the yellow marker, and the GM rolled
a 19 (right only). This would leave them with no way of reaching
the target (since the map has determined that the west-facing corridor
from the target is a dead end).
Using Dynamic Mapping
Here are a few examples
of how you can use dynmaic mapping:
have to catch some clones in an autocar. The PC's car is faster than
the NPC's car, but only just. The only way the NPCs can hope to lose
the players is by driving at speed around the streets of Alpha Complex.
Reroll any Dead
End rolls (since you want to keep the pace fast). Make Autocar
Op rolls whenever the NPCs or players have to make a sharp turn - these
become harder for the PC driver as they get closer to the NPCs (but not
for the NPC driver, since he's the one who intiates the turn). If
the driver fails the roll slightly, he loses a bit of distance (and perhaps
damages the autocar too). If the driver fails the roll badly, either
the autocar crashes or he misses the turn.
In the end they'll
either catch up with the NPCs and ram them off the road, or crash their
own autocar, or the NPCs will get far enough in front that they lose the
Or the sewage system.
Limited visibilty and space. Ask the players what order they are
marching in. Ask them this a lot - let them all try to be the one
in the middle. ("I've seen that vidtape - it's always the one at
the back who gets picked off first, so the team doesn't know they're under
attack"). Who knows what might be lurking in all those pipes?
You can turn this into a classic dungeon crawl if you so wish.
R&D Tracking System
Issue the Troubleshooters
with a tracking device. This can either tell them the distance to
the target, or the direction of the target. (Telling them both
would make things a bit too easy). The target can be anything you
like. Of course there's no guarantee that the unit works, or the
target is stationary, or the readout is of any use (eg. distances measured
in hundredths of a furlong), or that it's even the right target.
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