The classic old school look to maps is a great starting point. Playing a low-rules, easy-improv game gets hamstrung by the requirement to have everything laid out in professionally produced battletiles. And yet there are a few improvements that I'd find real useful when looking at the map in actual play.
Improvement number one is showing which way hinges swing on doors.
|Door fight ... roll init!|
Huh? It's lost in the blogosphere now, but before I started my current campaign I saw someone's dungeon map that had that detail, and scoffed. How picayune can you get!
Then I got DMing. And my players wanted to know which way doors swung.
It's actually pretty important if you treat door opening as a major event fraught with danger ... as you should. Whether the door swings in or out will determine what method you use to open a difficult door: push or pry. This has real consequences if you're trying to combine many man-strengths into one, following my "feats of strength" method. It's easier to get multiple people to push than to operate a crowbar. Where's that ten-foot jimmy when you need it?
And then when you open the door, you're not just going to swing it all the way open. It creaks open ... you peep in and see ... which half of the room? And monsters could be lurking this side or that.
So okay, I could just wing it, say "right" or "left." Or roll d6, evens or odds. But it seems like the kind of persistent detail I really should have put down, graphically, on a map. Especially because it can make the difference between opening a tough door and having to hack it down.
It can even give some clues about the defensive architecture of the dungeon. Were the builders worried about invaders from the topside? Then the doors push in, as explorers progress, because the opening side is more easily barred. What if the doors have to be pulled open? Then the concern was more about barricading whatever could be rising up from some place in front of the party's line of march. Then again, if the door gives on a 10' x 10' broom closet (yep, I think an adult green dragon could fit in there), it's probably going to open out into the more spacious room or hallway.
Anyway, I modified the traditional door icon with a slanty-topped "Elvis hairdo" rectangle from the Powerpoint flowchart shapes set.* The slanty top would show how the door opens. And because that was kind of hard to see, I added a line across the shape, to make it clearer that the shape was a swinging triangle stacked on a traditional door icon. Results to the left. I'm not taking chances, anyway. My dungeon.ppt file also has some classic, flat-topped door icons, and I resort to those when I need a slab, sliding door, or other hingeless apparatus.
The Elvis door works fine on my maps, and keeps my players happy. But I have to know, is this the kind of thing you find useful?
*You know, a pompadoor.