Though I can’t find a post to link to, I know Delta has mentioned in the past that one of the best parts about mapping dungeons is the physical artifacts of the game it leaves behind. One thing I do when playing is make sure I know which player character is actually drawing those maps in-game, so I know if/when I have to take them away (such as if that player falls in a well).
One particularly enjoyable bit of DMing magic happened for me recently: a long while back the players found the secret entrance to Stone Hell and sold a map of it to a local sage. I insisted the players actually draw the thing and hung onto it. Several months later the game moved location and we had a big shift in player base, and the remaining players decided to create new characters so we’d start with a whole new party. It’s the same world though, and now almost a year later the new characters wanted to find Stone Hell and discovered a sage who had a map to sell them. Imagine the look on my players’ faces when I handed them back the same poorly drawn piece of paper they gave me almost a year ago. I bet they wished they had taken more care when drawing that map.
One other bit of fun physical artifact came up just recently. For a long while BigFella was in my campaign, and he kept a running journal of the campaign on his blog (starts here). When one of our players moved off to the west coast, I printed out the year of entries we had so far and bound them in a book for him as a going away present, titled “The Chronicles of Deacon Silver”. Well, the current crop of players have found this blog and I’ve decided to simply rule that “The Chronicles of Deacon Silver” is an actual book in game (the Deacon Silver character was still somewhere in the world, why not write his memoirs?)
This has put a really cool spin on the game, especially now as the new group starts exploring Stone Hell, a dungeon the previous group explored a very little bit before seeking adventure elsewhere. The best part is that BigFella’s memory isn’t always super accurate and sometimes his descriptions are a bit vague. This means the group has access to a lot of flavor and background in the world, but it has yet to actually aid them tactically.
It’s just very gratifying to see these tie-ins from the old stuff making their way into the new content. I at least really enjoy it, and I figured it was worth posting about so BigFella could share in the grins. I suppose this is just a sign that my campaign is reaching a certain state of maturity, and I’m super-pleased about it.