Jim’s Blog – Mapping Without Maps

Step 1 on my journey of creating an Accessible Mega-Dungeon where Roleplaying is the focus will be to remove the need for maps.

I’ve had to make a lot of considerations in planning the design of this Mega-Dungeon’s document. I’ll cover many of these considerations in future blogs, but today I wanted to share my considerations for Heading Structure and Document Coordinates.

Heading Structure

This Dungeon will be an Abandoned City with 12 Districts, each District will have 4 to 6 Locations and each Location will have 3 to 7 Rooms. Now let’s make those into Screen Reader-friendly Headings.

  • The City will be Heading Level 1.
  • Districts are Heading Level 2.
  • Locations are Heading Level 3.
  • Rooms are Heading a level 4.

I picked a City as I can theme the Districts for greater retention with Players. A traditional Dungeon uses Levels and who can differentiate Level 3 and Level 8? While in a City the Dockside District and the Entertainment District are thematically different. These descriptive markers will help folks not using a map to quickly orient themselves and understand their environment.

Document Coordinates

District names will be alphabetised with letters A through L (the first 12 letters of the alphabet). This will help orientation within the document understanding that if you are in the Guild District (letter G) you know that the Bazaar District (letter B) is five Headings back in the document.

Locations within Districts will be organised using the District letter followed by a number from 1 and up. For example: B1, will be followed by B2 and so on. Location names will be placed after the letter and number identifier.

Rooms within each Location will be numbered in the order in which they would be navigable to Players. The number will follow the District letter and Location number, separated by a comma. For example: D1, 1 will be followed by D1, 2.

I want someone with no functional vision running this game to be able to read a Room number with a Screen Reader and know exactly where they are in the document after learning the document structure through the Mega-Dungeon’s introduction.

Next Blog

For Accessibility the City also had to be Abandoned.

My goal is to design the dungeon so that Visually Impaired Game Masters can run it straight from the document with no prep and the City being Abandoned is important for that.

Next time I’ll discuss why the City being Abandomed is important.

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