I remember when I started my first D&D campaign. It was the early days. Those funny dice were nearly impossible to find. Miniatures were made out of lead. And we made up the campaign world as we went along.
The first thing I want to say is that there are many fine maps that are works of art. They’re beautiful and inspiring. I’m not trying to denigrate anyone’s work. But I’ve been thinking. How much does a DM really need that world map?
My first world map was just some random notes. This was to north. That was to the east and so on. Later it turned more into something that looked like a cross between a flow chart and a poorly sketched dungeon. It was simple. The player characters knew (usually) where they were. They knew there was village that way. Some mountains in that direction. And big city over there. They knew roughly how long it would take to their destination. And that was enough. If there was something interesting out there, it would end up in their path. Nothing about “If they had only been walking a few more miles to the east then they would have found something interesting.” As a DM, you’re supposed to know where everything is or might be in the world. But a detailed map isn’t all that necessary. Flying without a map also let’s you throw in those interesting little extras that pop up after the campaign has started.
So discuss away. World maps. Great as art. Optional gaming tool. What?