[NAME / 9P] Map Design Acrostic

edited March 2014 in Game Design Help
I would appreciate feedback about a map design acrostic I recently created for my fantasy RPG.

The only example I have typed up so far is here. A bit more about the acrostic is here.

Is this clear to read and easy use?

How would you change it but still for use in a fantasy RPG? Are there classic elements of fantasy RPG dungeons I have neglected?

I have no plans to design a similar acrostic for modern, science fiction, or other genres, but perhaps someone here might want to.

Thanks for your feedback!

Credit to some of the features of old-school dungeons belongs to this blog post.


  • That's very interesting. The main use of this seems to me to help the GM anticipate spillover effects, such as guards running from nearby rooms. (Exotic items won't generally do this!)
  • Fuseboy, would you mind elaborating? Your claim is not something I readily picture in action. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean? Or perhaps you have noticed a quality of the acrostic plan that I have not realized?
  • Hi David,

    It seems to me that some of the terms exist only to fill in the acrostic rather than provide a meaningful description. For example, 'Deadly or Fragile Foe' overlaps strangely with 'Monster' and 'NPC'. 'Broken Science' is very vague, whereas 'Heights' and 'Quick Heal' are very specific. On the other hand, 'Objective' and 'Key' would be very useful notations - particularly with your Key numbering system.

    I would abandon the acrostic conceit but keep the idea of robust labels using letters. Some years back Ry suggested 'TRAPS': Threat, Resource, Asset, Problem and Scenery. A Threat is something that endangers you, a Problem is something that may endanger you if things go badly, an Asset is something that benefits you and a Resource is something that may benefit you if things go well. Scenery is colour.

    Maybe you could get more mileage out of the system if you used double letters. For example, I can imagine knowing that a MS (Monster Sentry) is one room away would be very useful if the party is making a lot of noise. If a PC glances down the corridor, a quick look at the map tells the GM whether it's a HM (Hidden Monster) that they might see or a GM (Giant Monster). You could then number the MW (Magic Weapon) #6 if it is the secret weakness of GM #6.

    Anyway, it's an interesting idea - thanks for the read.
  • Hi, Sanglorian,

    I realized that I "advertised" the acrostic inaccurately. Yes, it helps me skim an adventure's map. But more important has been how it helps me design adventures.

    I can look at a map and ponder where to put each type of map element (or more accurately most but not all of them). By the time I am finished I have a nice short adventure.

    Often I start with the "Complicated Combo Combat", since that prompts me to consider at least two kinds of creatures and some interesting terrain.

    Using the acrostic for adventure design is also why, in my mind, there is not overlap between a generic "Monster" to fight, an intelligent "NPC" to talk to, and an encounter with an especially "Deadly/Fragile Foe". All three add something unique as I plan the adventure.

    I do appreciate the TRAPS idea for make a map easy to skim, but it would not generate the same variety of ideas as I create adventures.

    More clearly marking the "big deal" monsters and puzzles might be worthwhile. I could use double letters for that, or perhaps an accent or asterisk or dagger symbol after the letter.
  • The acrostic has been updated.

    More feedback would be welcome!

    (And I do need something for the letter P.)
  • P is for ... (Nine) Powers.

    Or Plot/Campaign Hook.
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