Supplies, Maps, Cartographer and Pathfinder

The rule for supplies is that they provide a 1D bonus and then are expended.

How does this work for something that, in the fiction, wouldn’t be consumed…like a map.

Pathfinder skill states (pg.140) that “use maps from cartographers as supplies.”

However, the cartographer skill (pg. 137) states “so long as you possess it, have light… travel to said location without taking time or a test.”

So; if you have a map… you don’t need to make Pathfinder checks. So when would maps as a supply to Pathfinder ever come up?

Also; the statement “without taking time” implies that it does not take a turn in the Adventure Phase (aka no Grind). Would this apply even if the party was setting out on a large scale overland expedition? Say the party wishes to cross the endless tracts of the Forest of No Return… 100’s of miles… but they have a map… and assuming some light… it takes no test, and no time?


I would differentiate between maps used as skill supplies and maps generated through careful cartography.

Maps used as skill supplies can be: fragmentary, obscure, written in an unknown language, vague or not detailed enough, and if you’re using Pathfinding they probably lead to a location that the user personally has never been to and toward which there is no clearly-defined path.

Maps made using Cartography, on the other hand, are carefully-crafted, specific, and lay out locations that the user has very likely visited before (probably in the recent past).

So they are useful for two very different things–either trying to get somewhere new when you have incomplete information, or trying to safely and quickly travel somewhere you’ve already been when you have a solid grasp of the route.

That being said, the first kind of map becomes useless once you get where you’re going (+1D and then “consumed”–maybe it’s still around but it’s now worthless) and have the option of making the second kind of map.

I interpret that portion of the rules thus (and please, someone correct me if I’m off-base here as has been done before :)):

If there are obstacles that required Tests to bypass along the route between point A and point B when they were originally encountered, and which took up time (Turns) as such things do, when using a map for that same area you are no longer required to make Tests to navigate “features” and it doesn’t use up Turns (one way of doing things could have been to add up the turns used for originally navigating features, but TB doesn’t do that and thank goodness).

If there are conditions not represented on the Map that could create complications along the planned route, those can interfere and add turns, but the navigation of the mapped features themselves requires no Tests and no Turns. I would use this the same way overland as in the dungeon. Your careful map doesn’t prevent brigands from having set up an ambush along the road since the last time you came through, or a freak storm, or a flash-flood changing a bit of the landscape, etc. If my interpretation is sticky for folks’ general ideas about how this works at BWHQ or elsewhere, an “events while traveling overland using a map” random table might be of some utility.

In general, though, I wouldn’t interpose obstacles to travel between mapped and well-connected (i.e. safe roads or equivalent) overland locations unless it added something interesting to the fiction.

At my table, I ruled that only your own map lets you automatically navigate to locations.

Other people’s maps need to be deciphered, or may contain errors, or assumptions, or even points of reference that might lead you astray. Hence, they are supplies on a Pathfinder test.

That’s a good clarification and addition, and one I’d likely use at my table with the exception, perhaps, of members of the same party using one another’s maps.

While it would be HILARIOUS (from my evil-GM perspective) for the cartographer to die in the bottom of the dungeon, the party recovers his gear (including the maps), and then immediately tries to navigate their way back out while trying to decipher the cartographer’s tiny scrawl and avoid the rampaging denizens of the depths, I think it would feel too mean. Even if they’re not offering “help”, hopefully everyone has been paying some kind of attention as the cartographer wrote and later used the map to navigate.

But but but, it might be too much fun to pass up that kind of opportunity if it arose…

Sometimes you retrieve the body at the bottom of the chasm JUST to get the map supplies.

“The map is not the territory.” That’s what I’d call this rule in the BWHQ fashion of pithy slogans for rules.

When it’s your own map, you know what everything means, and why you chose to mark what you did.

This came up for me in a mission generated by a leaving town plothook. A PC’s catrographer mentor had been captured by illiterate lizard men who were forcing him to teach them to read.

Once they had rescued him, they were able to navigate back to the keep using the cartographer’s knowledge of his own maps, for free. But, then he handed them a map as a reward and went on his merry way. Now they need to use Pathfinder to find their way through areas they’ve never seen before. The map helps, but making a map of a route gives you better knowledge than merely having a map of said route.

I wouldn’t differentiate between maps made by a player and an NPC. You should factor accuracy/quality into the test to acquire it.

These are the ideas of the top of my head for use of maps as “supplies”

  • You have a map of the Barony of Bob, but you’re looking for an old dwarven mine. It’s in the Barony now, but not on the map.
  • On the flip side, you’re navigating some ruins, but you have an ancient map of the city.
  • You’re racing another group to a treasure site (i.e. making a vs test) to stake your claim