Though I’ve made another post about alternatives to miniatures, I think this one will also be of value. That is because, even though tokens are a great and cheap alternative to miniatures, they still require the same amount of space on the table (because of the 1″ scale). And that works for smaller maps, but what if you wanted to run a bigger dungeon, with a bigger map (like the final dungeon from LMoP) then it quickly becomes a problem.
Yes, you could split the map up into parts so it fits on your table but in the end that is extra work. This article is for the lazy DMs out there or for those that, like me, have limited table space to work with.
My suggestion? Use small, laminated maps
Yes it’s actually that simple, effective and cheap. To go into a bit more detail, all you need to do is to print out the map on one or two pieces of paper (depending on the level of detail you want). Then you can use either a laminator machine, or self-adhesive laminating paper which is much cheaper.
The next thing you need is some dry-erase markers which you will use to write on your laminated map. What will you write, you ask? Well anything you want, but the idea is to use the markers to note down the position of the monsters and/or NPCs and of your players. You can even color code your notes to represent different monsters, characters or even spell effects. The more colours you have, the more the possibilities.
Gridded combat on the cheap
This method is quite a favourite of mine, especially when I’m running low on ink or paper, or when I know that table space will be limited for that session. It also allows for actual tactical gameplay for those of you who are into that, but with the flexibility of theater of the mind.