Mansions are a great staple of horror and noir games. When you want to use a mansion for your role-playing game session, you need a good map. When I think of a mansion, I think of a monstrous, sprawling edifice, with dozens of rooms, spread over multiple wings and at least two stories high with a basement. It should be huge and labyrinthine.
There’s two types of maps that I like to have available, location maps (just showing what’s where) and map tiles (with 1″ squares for combat).
Especially in horror games, I often don’t bother with map tiles because I rarely can find exactly what I need and for the players, not knowing exactly where your character is in a building can add to the terror.
In these cases, location maps help me as the GM to understand where the PCs are and how far they are from the place they want to go. Sometimes I share them with the players, but more often they’re reference guides for myself.
Here are some of my favourites from the web:
Biltmore Estate. This is the biggest mansion (178,926 square feet!) and this page features beautiful photographs of it and most importantly, maps showing all the various rooms and sections and floors of the mansion. This is my favourite mansion, not only because it is huge, but because you could easily get lost in it’s monstrous maze of corridors. It will definitely feature in a future horror adventure. It even has it’s own Halloween room!
Whitemarsh Hall. Another huge mansion (100,000 square feet), it is perfect for a ballroom dance, with a massive ballroom and huge terrace overlooking the gardens. I decided to use this as the setting for my latest Trail of Cthulhu adventure, adapting the Tatterdemalion adventure from the Call of Cthulhu adventure book Fatal Experiments. It is elegant and large enough that you can still get lost in it’s rooms.
Oheka Castle. This is your classic mansion out of a horror movie and it’s huge as well at 109,000 square feet! I like it’s look and the link has the ground floor plan. I had to search a bit for maps of the remaining floors and include them here.
When it comes to map tiles, there are a number of good options available that work as map tiles, notably:
The Deadlands Noir Manor battle map (admittedly not a mansion, but close). This map covers the entirety of the building and although very large (covering the entire battle map), it is only about 15 or so rooms and only shows the first floor. It’s a decent manor, but I would not use for a mansion.
The Gamemastery Map Pack: Haunted Mansion features a number of key rooms in a mansion, which makes more sense if you’re trying to cover a very large mansion (which is what I want). The biggest downside is that because it’s a “haunted” mansion, everything is in disrepair and falling apart. Not a problem if that’s what you’re looking for, but limiting its use if you want to use it for a non-haunted mansion. Still, it’s very nice.
Urban Fantasies 1: Modular Mansion 1 is pretty good. It has a number of rooms to make a big mansion like I’m looking for, and is attractive enough, but it is entirely fantasy oriented. I bought it for fantasy use, so that shouldn’t be a strike against it, but in any modern or horror game it will feel out of place. I really like the range of rooms and the modular nature of it. If there were a modern version of it, I think this would pretty much be a go-to product for me for mansions.
Heroic Maps – Storeys: Haunted Mansion is another great product, I love the atmosphere to it, but it’s definitely fantasy oriented. Other problems include that it is small for a mansion and it is “haunted”, so otherwise doesn’t work for unhaunted situations. But, it looks great and if you need a haunted mansion for a fantasy adventure (like if you wanted a different lay-out for the Secret of Saltmarsh adventure), I would recommend it.
Finally, the Modern Floorplans: Victorian Style Mansion is pretty good and closest to what I’m looking for, but still not as big as I’d like. It is, being a 20,000 square foot mansion, big and being map tiles, excellent. Unfortunately, it is black and white, which I’ve tried to move away from as much as possible (just for aesthetic reasons, nothing functionally wrong with it).
If I were to imagine my ideal map tiles for a mansion, they would include an overall map showing an immense mansion (over 75,000 square feet ) with large and luxurious map tiles of key rooms. The kind of rooms/areas I could see some action happening in, including the entrance, ball room, theatre, study, gardens, guest rooms wing, master bedroom, servant’s quarters, dining room and, of course, the library.
I hope though that some of these resources can be helpful to you and help you find the best mansion for your game.