Looking for a tavern map for your next DnD session? Look on further! Whether you’re looking to run a tavern brawl or to set the scene for your next campaign opener, these are our top five suggestions—and you can also check the artists for more!
Dungeon Fog — Get inspired with their huge library
Dungeon Fog is the one-stop resource to find maps of any kind! Not only that, but if you don’t find the map you’re looking for, you can always make your own. So, whether you’re looking for a map or to make your own, Dungeon Fog will help you not only with their top-tier map creator but also with tons of maps to use as inspiration. Check out their free tavern maps!
I really like this map, with its cold atmosphere and smooth lighting. It’s actually a four-floor building, including a cellar (which is always fun to ambush your players), so it’s full of potential plot hooks and NPCs for your players to meet!
Caeora — Give your players some eye-candy
A map doesn’t need to be beautiful, but if it is, it can make all the difference for immersion! If you want to create a warm and cozy atmosphere, make sure the map includes warm colors too, like red and orange. But if your tavern is full of patrons who hate foreigners, you might want to go for a colder color scheme.
Caeora is well-known for his amazing art, and thanks to his vibrant color schemes, he manages to create an immersive atmosphere that will make your players not want to leave that tavern! Check out his free Howling Deep Tavern map, his take on the famous Yawning Portal Inn from the DnD Forgotten Realms setting. It includes two floors and a winter variant!
Want some mapmaking tips? Check out this post by Caeora!
2-Minute Tabletop — Add points of interest
If you start your session with “You meet in a tavern”, your players might tune out very quickly. Everybody knows what to expect from a tavern: drinks, loud people, rumors, probably a bard, and very likely a bar brawl about to begin. If you immediately introduce an interesting element to the tavern, your players will probably want to know more. For example, the city of Waterdeep, from Dungeons and Dragons, has the Yawning Portal, an inn with a huge open well in the middle that connects with the Undermountain. I don’t know about you, but as soon as I mentioned it, my players wanted to jump in head-first!
The map you see on the right has an aquarium in the middle that is sure to catch your players’ attention. It’s up to you to decide why it’s there and what creatures live inside—but you can’t deny that just the blue lighting creates a very different atmosphere from your usual tavern! This map in particular is pay-what-you-want (or even free), and it includes a second floor and a night variant. But you can also purchase a map pack with other variants to spice up your game! Check out 2-Minute Tabletop if you want to see more of their art!
Cze and Peku — A tavern map with a story
Playing an RPG is all about creating a story collaboratively, so why not use a map as inspiration for the story? This is very similar to the previous point, but instead of your players asking “what is that?”, they’ll ask “why is that here?” This is great because the players will go after the plot without you having to throw them a hook—which, in turn, makes them feel that they have more control over the story! Of course, if you use a map with obvious plot hooks, you have to think about how they relate to the campaign plot. Otherwise, prepare to improvise a full-on sidequest!
In this map by Cze and Peku, there’s an extremely obvious plot hook that your players will see immediately: why is there a giant nest full of blood, bones, and ship remnants? And why is there a tavern next to it? The map has three floors and over ten variants so you can better fit the map with your current campaign plot. You can check it out on their Patreon.
Want more maps? Check out our favorite fantasy map makes!
Venatus Maps — Make your own tavern map!
Ever had a very specific idea and couldn’t find a map that fit it? Me too! If you don’t want to change your idea or use theater of the mind, the only option you have is to either commission a map artist or draw your own map. The easiest way to make a map is using pre-made assets. These asset packs are a bunch of image files that have the individual elements that you’d usually expect from a tavern map. Tables, barrels, places, walls… the only thing you need to do is put them together!
Venatus Maps is a Dungeons & Dragons cartographer that has released some free asset packs, including one for taverns! The pack includes over 130 assets for you to use, which means that your imagination is the limit! For example, the tavern on the right is only using assets from this pack. The great thing about making your own maps is that you’re free to add as many points of interest and story hooks as you want. And if you’re using a map maker like Dungeon Fog, you can also use them as custom assets. So take a look at Venatus Maps’ Patreon to download the free asset pack!
Who’s your favorite tavern map cartographer? Let us know in the comments! We’re running the Tavern Challenge this month with Twisted Taverns, so make sure to check them out too!
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