D&D Beyond Maps: How to Start Playing Today 

A long-awaited D&D Beyond tool is making its Alpha debut: Maps! The virtual tabletop (VTT) allows Dungeon Masters to bring their players into a single browser-based play space to share interactive maps from their D&D Beyond digital library to host game sessions.

Maps is another step toward our goal of making it easier to jump into the action of Dungeons & Dragons, no matter how you choose to play, whether that’s with pen and paper or on D&D Beyond using a VTT.

We invite DMs with a Master-tier subscription and their players to dive into the Alpha phase of this exciting new tool! A fair warning: This tool is in Alpha, so bugs and performance issues are to be expected!

Below, we dive deeper into what Maps is and offer a tutorial on using the VTT for D&D.

Alpha Testing Phase

Expect bugs and crashes as we put Maps Alpha to the test! We’re starting out slow and steady, focusing on the fundamentals needed for this VTT experience, so bear with us. 

Over the coming months, we’ll refine features as well as add new ones. For the latest update on Maps, keep an eye on the D&D Beyond Changelog and the Maps homepage

New Features

Since this article was released, several exciting new features have been added to Maps, and we would love your feedback on them. We’ve recently added the following features and options:

  • Session ControlsYou can now play, pause, and stop a session, allowing you to control when players see the maps.
  • Expanded Game Log. Improvements have been made to the Game Log to display more useful information about rolls.
  • Game Settings. DMs can now toggle various settings to control what options the players have access to.

You can also get a breakdown of new features in the "What's New" popup, which will appear whenever you first boot up Maps after a new feature has been implemented.

What Is Maps?

Prep less, play more. That’s our guiding star for Maps, a VTT for D&D Beyond. Whether you play online or in person, we want Maps to offer a quick and easy way for DMs to connect with players and launch their adventures on D&D Beyond. 

With Maps, you can pull official maps and monster tokens from your D&D Beyond digital library to play with. You can also upload your own maps, drop in player tokens, and apply a fog of war. When you’re ready to play, you can invite players who have a free or upgraded D&D Beyond account into the shared play space. The Game Log will help you keep track of dice rolls on the fly. 

Maps is in Alpha, so we’ll be adding features and adding more official maps to the tool. The following official adventures are supported in Alpha: 

Although we are setting aggressive goals for ourselves, we have a way to go before we’re ready to officially launch Maps. But we want to give Master-tier subscribers and their players a chance to toy around with this new tool. We're excited to have you on the first step of our journey toward a suite of tools geared toward making D&D more accessible to DMs and the players they journey with.

Accessing Maps

To get started using Maps, you’ll first need a Master-tier subscription. (Not subscribed yet? You can get a one-month free trial to start using Maps today!) 

Once you have the Master-tier subscription, navigate to the Maps homepage to: 

  • Launch Maps 
  • Read the Maps FAQ 
  • View our roadmap 
  • Access the user feedback survey 

To get this tutorial started, let’s choose one of your existing campaigns. From the top of the Maps homepage, you’ll see a dropdown with a red “Go” button next to it. 

From the dropdown, select the campaign you want to set up maps for, and then click “Go.” 

A screenshot of ther D&D Beyond Maps homepage. There's a dropdown to select your game and a red Go button.

Using Maps on Mobile 

While Maps isn’t going to be initially optimized for phone and tablet, you can still use your mobile device to access and use the VTT for your D&D games on the go. You may encounter some areas where the menus or interface don’t quite properly display. Over time, we will work out these kinks and ask for your feedback as we develop this tool.

Adding a Map

You’ll now be loaded into your campaign with a view of the Map Browser and a message saying, "Add a map from a Source to get started."

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Browser on the opening screen of the software.

The first two options on the left are “My Uploaded Maps” (we’ll get to that later, don’t worry) and “Basic Maps.” Basic maps are generic maps that can be used for a variety of scenarios, so we’ll be using these further on in this tutorial. 

You’ll also see “Sourcebooks,” and, after that, “Adventures.” These two categories are where all the premade maps from the books you own on D&D Beyond will live. Future digital and physical products will launch with their maps already configured for use here, and books released previously will be added over time, so expect to see this list grow. 

To start, let’s add a basic map, so click that category. You’ll see the right-hand panel populated with a list of maps. Add the “Grass Field” map by clicking the “+” sign to the right. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Map Browser Modal with the Grass Field under the Basic Map option.

In the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see the message, “Added ‘Grass Fields’ to the map list,” but not much else. This is because while the map has been added to the list, we still need to select that map to view it. Click the “X” in the top right corner to close the Map Browser, then click the down arrow next to “Select Map” to open the dropdown. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Map dropdown with the Grass Field option.

Now you’ll see the “Grass Field” map listed, with a trash can icon to the right. You can click this icon to remove a map from your list, but for now, let’s select the map by clicking its name. You will now be looking at your first map! 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with the Grassy Field map.

If you want to add more maps, you can repeat the above steps, and they’ll be added to your map list. You can switch between maps at any time by expanding the map list and clicking the map's name. 

Uploading and Scaling a Map

Even with the massive selection of maps available across the library of official D&D books, you may still want to upload your own. With Maps, this is a simple endeavor!

To do this, select “+ Open Map Browser” to open the Map Browser again. Now, instead of selecting a ready-made map, we’re going to select “My Uploaded Maps.” Because we haven’t uploaded anything yet, click “Upload Map,” which will open the “Add Uploaded Map” dialogue.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond step 1 of the upload a map feature. The modal has fields for a map title and upload field.

First, give your map a title, and then you can either drag your map into the upload area or click the area to open your computer's file browser. Make sure that the map is the right file type, and keep in mind that Maps comes with a 10 GB total storage limit per user. It’s also important to pay attention to the terms of use at the bottom of the dialogue regarding what images you upload. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond step 1 of the upload a map feature filled out. The modal has fields for a map title and upload field.

Once you’ve uploaded your map, click “Next,” and you’ll be taken to the scaling dialogue. Here you set the scale of your map. 

Gif of D&D Beyond Maps software upload functionality's second step. The modal contains a window to align the Maps software's grid with the grid of your uploaded maps.

In the middle of the map preview, you’ll see a white circle surrounded by dotted lines, three smaller circles, and a red arrow. The larger circle represents a Medium-sized token, the lines represent grid lines, and the smaller circles represent the corners of a grid square. You want to align these dotted lines and corner markers with the grid of your map if it has one or adjust the scale of your token to suit the map if it doesn’t have a grid. 

First, click and drag the large white circle so the top left corner marker is aligned with the corner of a square on your grid. 

Then, click and drag the red arrow in the bottom right to rescale the token and the markers. You want to scale it so all the corner and grid line markers line up with the grid on your map.

If you can’t see enough of your map to align things properly, you can click the "-" and "+" icons in the bottom right to zoom in and out. 

Once you have everything aligned to your liking, click the “Save” button. You can also click the “Cancel” or “X” button to exit the process, or the “Back” button to change the map you’re setting up. 

Now we have a map uploaded and scaled correctly, we can click the “+” icon to add it to our map list, from which we can select it for play. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software "My Uploaded Maps" modal with the previously uploaded map now visible.

If at any time you want to remove or edit the map, you can do so from the “My Uploaded Maps” section of the Map Browser. Just click the three vertical dots next to any map to access the “Edit” and “Delete” options. "Delete" will remove it from your library of maps, while "Edit" will allow you to rename the map and adjust any scaling. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software's Upload a Map modal displaying the "Edit" and "Delete" options.

Once you’ve uploaded a few maps, you may want help finding and managing them. In the top right, you can change the sorting order of the maps, while at the bottom of the menu, you can see how much of your storage you’ve used. 

Adding Tokens

So we’ve got a map, but it’s not much use without some tokens, is it? You may notice that once you’re viewing a map in the VTT, three new buttons appear on the left side, below the map dropdown. We want the third button on that list, which is shaped like a figure with a circle around it—the Token Browser. You can access it by clicking it or pressing "V" on your keyboard. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Token Browser modal.

With the Token Browser open, you’ll see three tab options: “Monsters,” “Players,” and “Companions.” First, let’s add a monster. You’ll see a list of monsters with their official art along with their name, size, and creature type. You can even search monsters using the “Search” field. Let’s add some goblins.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Token Browser modal with "Goblin" in the search bar.

To the right of each monster, you’ll see a “+” icon, which you can click to add the token to the map. Let’s add three goblins and a goblin boss (variant). You’ll notice that each time you click the “+” button, a token will appear in an empty space, so you don’t have to worry about them stacking up on each other messily.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps tool with various goblin tokens on the Grass Field maps.

You’ll notice that the monsters display their names and are automatically set to the right size based on the scale of your map. If you add a large creature, say an ogre, it’ll be scaled to 2x2 squares automagically! 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with goblins and ogre tokens on the Grass Field map.

Now that you’ve added some enemies, it’s time to add the player characters. Navigate to the “Players” tab, where you’ll see all the characters currently in the campaign you selected. You’ll see the name of each character as well as the art they have selected on their character sheet.

Clicking the “+” button will add that player's token to the map. Once you’ve invited each player to the map, they’ll be able to control their own tokens and move them around within the VTT.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Token Browser modal on the Players tab

The “Companions” tab is the final option in the Token Browser and is where you’ll see any creatures that your players have added to the Extras section of their character sheet. Grilbek has a draft horse mount called Gallahop, so we’ll add them to the map as well by clicking the “+” icon. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Token Browser modal on the Companion tab

You can close the Token Browser at any time using the “X” button in the top right. 

Navigating the Map

So you’ve got a map with some tokens, the next step is navigating the map. From the list of three buttons, select the Pan feature, the first button with the hand icon. Alternatively, you can press the “H” key on your keyboard. With this feature selected, you can do two things: 

  1. Click and drag to move around the map
  2. Click and drag to move tokens around the map

You can also use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, but this function is accessible regardless of what feature you have selected. Additionally, you’ll find a zoom control in the bottom right that displays a "+" and "-" icon to zoom in and out, respectively, as well as your current zoom level.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with goblins and ogre tokens on the Grass Field map. One has a red outlined border.

Navigating Maps and Moving Tokens on Mobile

Navigating maps on mobile devices works pretty much as you would expect. Press and hold on an area of the map, then move your finger to drag the map around and pinch to zoom in and out. Tokens can be tapped to select them, and then dragged in the same way you can drag the map.

As a reminder, Maps functionality on mobile is still in development, so your experience may not be ideal!

Controlling Tokens

Once you’ve placed tokens on the map, you and your players can begin controlling them. It’s important to note that, currently, anyone viewing a map can move any token on that map, so it is possible for players to move monsters and each other's tokens.

To move a token, make sure you don't have a feature selected, then click on a token so that its border turns red. The token will appear to lift up from the map. You’ll then be able to drag the token around, and the token toolbar will display above that token. Clicking anywhere else on the map will cause the red highlight ring and toolbar to disappear.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with goblins and ogre tokens on the Grass Field map. One has a red outlined border.

The Token Toolbar has four useful features:

  • Hide/Reveal options
  • Rename
  • Border Color options
  • Delete button

Hide/Reveal Options

The Hide/Reveal feature is accessible only by the Dungeon Master. It allows the DM to render a token hidden from the players or reveal that token. Clicking it causes the token to desaturate, and the eye icon displays with a line through it, indicating that the token is hidden. Clicking it again reveals the token.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with goblins and ogre tokens on the Grass Field map. One has a red outlined border.

You can also toggle a token’s hidden/revealed state with the keyboard shortcut “Shift + H.”

Rename

You can rename tokens by selecting the rename icon from the token toolbar. This will bring up a text input field.

A gif showing goblin tokens being renamed in the Maps tool

You can enter names up to 128 character long, but any name longer than 24 characters will be shortened on the map.

A goblin token with a notification that its custom name exceeds the visible character limit
A goblin token with a truncated name

You can remove a custom name from a token by clicking the revert icon.

A gif showing the name being removed from a goblin token

Renaming tokens can be great for giving your boss a custom name.

The token of a goblin boss monster being renamed.

Or making those minions easier to tell apart.

Four goblin tokens being renamed to differentiate them.

Border Color Options

The Border Color feature allows a DM or player to place a colored ring around a token, enabling easier identification of that token. You can use this border color to differentiate between different tokens of the same monster type, conditions, or who controls a given token. To access the color picker for the Border Color feature, click the icon of a circle with a line through it, which indicates that no color has been applied.

This will bring up the color palette of border colors. Selecting any one of them will apply that color to the token.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps with the Border Color tool open, displaying various colors to choose from.

Two vampire spawn tokens in the Maps tool but with different names

To remove a border color, open the picker again and click the circle with a line icon from the top left.

Delete Button

The Delete button adds a new way to remove tokens in addition to the “Delete” and “Backspace” keyboard shortcuts.

Fog of War

As a DM, you may want to limit how much of the map the players can see at any given time. This is where the Fog of War feature comes in. To open the menu for Fog of War, click the cloud icon, or press "F" on your keyboard. As long as this feature is selected, you’ll see six options: "Cover All," "Reveal All," a paint roller icon, an erase icon, your current brush shape, and current brush size.

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Fog of War tool.

The first two options will cover the entire map in fog of war and clear the entire map, respectively. As long as an area is covered by fog of war, your players won’t be able to see that part of the map, but you will. The third icon lets you selectively paint fog of war on an area of the map, and the fourth icon lets you remove it.

Let’s apply some fog of war to the Cragmaw Hideout map we uploaded previously. As the players enter, they can only see the tunnel straight ahead of them. First, I use the “Cover All” button to fill in the whole map and save me some time. Then, I select the erase icon and reveal what I think the character should be able to initially see. 

When the players move so they can see another room, I can use the eraser to reveal more areas of the map for my players to see, or the paint roller to obscure more areas should they lose line of sight. 

Gif of D&D Beyond Maps Fog of War tool. As players move, the DM can erase the fog of war to reveal areas that they couldn't see initially.

The last two options allow you to adjust the shape and size of the Fog of War brush to suit the area you want to conceal or reveal.

The shape feature allows you to select between a circular and square brush; the circular brush is great for fine detail while the square brush is perfect for grid-based maps.

Fog of war brush shape options in the D&D Beyond Maps tool

The final option controls the size from tiny to gargantuan. These sizes conveniently correspond to size categories as described in the rules. So for example, if you want to reveal the length of a 5-foot corridor, the medium size option will be perfect.

Screenshot showing the various brush sizes for the fog of war tool

Using Fog of War on Mobile

When using the Fog of War feature on mobile, you can’t move the map around while you have the paint or erase features selected, so you’ll need to switch back to the Pan feature in order to zoom or pan the map. However, with the paint or erase feature active, you can simply draw with your finger where you want to add or remove fog of war. 

Ruler, Point, and Ping

Ruler Feature

If you or your players want to measure the distance between two spaces on the map, you can do so with the Ruler. Either click the ruler icon in the toolbar or press “R” on your keyboard, and you’ll be able to measure distances on the map.

To measure, click and drag from your starting point to the point you’d like to measure to, and the straight line length will be displayed in feet. This distance is automatically scaled based on the map. The ruler is only visible to the person using it, so don’t worry, it won’t give things away when you’re measuring to see if that red dragon's Breath Weapon will reach your paladin!

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps software with a line being measured between a vampire spawn token and a player's token.

In addition to being able to measure distances in the VTT, players and DMs can also draw attention to things using the Point and Ping features. When you select the "Point & Ping" icon from the menu or click "X," you will be able to select between the Point feature and the Ping feature.

Point Feature

When selected, your cursor will change to a white dot with a red outline.

Screenshot of the Point tool in use in D&D Beyond MapsWith this selected, the DM or any player can draw on the map to create a trailing highlight visible to everyone else. This highlight is also visible over areas hidden by fog of war, which is useful if a DM wants to draw the player's eye to something mysterious happening beyond their view.

Gif showing the Point tool in action in D&D Beyond Maps

Ping Feature

Need to warn your party where you're about to drop a Fireball or point out a trap? The Ping feature drops a highly visible ping on the map for other players to see:

A gif showing the D&D Beyond Maps ping tool.

Draw

The draw feature allows Dungeon Masters to mark the map using a variety of colors and brush sizes, as well as erase some or all of those same marks. This is a very useful feature for marking points of interest, special details, or game effects.

You can find the draw feature in the toolbar, the third icon down of a pen with a circular line around it.

Screenshot of the Draw feature in use in D&D Beyond Maps

The draw feature has five options from top to bottom:

  • Draw: This sets your brush to draw in the selected color and brush size.
  • Erase: With this mode selected, the feature will erase any markings at the selected brush size.
  • Size: You can select from five different brush sizes ranging from tiny to gargantuan.
  • Color: From this menu, you can select from twelve different line colors.
  • Clear All: This removes all marks from your current map.

Screenshot of the Draw feature options in D&D Beyond Maps

Only Dungeon Masters can use the draw feature, but all players can see marks made using it. Drawings made will persist on a map even after you switch away from the map or they are hidden by fog of war.

Inviting Players to View the Map

You’ve got a map, you’ve got tokens, and maybe you’ve even got some fog of war. But you haven’t got the most important part of any D&D game yet, your players! In the bottom right of the map screen, you’ll see two icons, a speech bubble and an “i” in a circle. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps Game Log and Information icon

Click the “i” icon, and you’ll see the “Invite Link” and “Map Link” options. Invite Link copies the campaign invite URL if you want to quickly add new players to your campaign. However, the player we’re adding to the map is already in the campaign, so we’ll click the Map Link button. This will copy the URL for this map to your clipboard so you can share it with your players.

If a player follows this URL, they’ll be brought to this campaign's map within the VTT, where they’ll see the selected map and any tokens, and will also be able to control any tokens associated with their character sheet, including companions.

Session Controls

In the bottom right of the screen, you’ll see a large red "Start Session" button.

Until you click this button, your players won’t see any maps and instead will be shown the message “Please wait for your DM to start the game session.”

Once you click that button, your players will be able to see the currently active map. The button will then change to a pause icon and a submenu.

A gif showing the D&D Beyond Maps game session tools.

From here, you can either pause the session or end it. Both options will hide the currently active map, but will display a different message to your players:

  • Pause. “Your DM has paused the game session.”
  • End Session. “Your DM has ended the game session.”

You can resume a paused session using the "Resume Session" button, or end the game whilst paused by using the submenu.

Using these options, you can prevent your players from seeing maps until you’re ready, which is especially useful when switching between maps.

Connected Players Menu

If you select the “i” in the bottom right, you’ll be shown the Connected Players menu. This lists each player that currently has Maps launched from your campaign and what character they’ve connected with.
Screenshot of the Connected Players popup in D&D Beyond Maps

Additionally, if you click a character’s name, you’ll be taken to their character sheet.

This view is accessible by DMs and players, allowing everyone to quickly see who’s connected to the Maps session.

Game Settings

Selecting the Game Info option in the bottom right will open the game information menu, where you’ll find the Settings option.

D&D Beyond Maps game settings panel

 

Clicking this will open the Settings menu which allows the Dungeon Master to toggle the following features on or off for players.

  • Access and interact with monster tokens
  • Draw on the map
  • Use the pointer
  • Ping the map

D&D Beyond Maps game settings panel

These options grant DMs a little more control over how players use the map, which can be useful when you have slightly more rambunctious or mischievous players.

Spectator View

Spectator view allows the Dungeon Master to open a new window that displays the map as the players will see it, including fog of war, pings, and drawings. This is very useful if you use maps on a projector or digital tabletop setup.

To access the spectator view, click the “i” in the bottom right, then select the three vertical dots in the bottom right. From this submenu, you’ll see a "Spectator View” option.
Screenshot of the Spectator View popup in D&D Beyond Maps

Selecting this option will open a new browser tab on the same map page. In spectator view, your view will be slightly different as there'll be no map browser or fog of war tool. However,  you can still access the token and draw tools. 
Comparison between the menu bar from the Spectator View and Dungeon Master View screens in D&D Beyond Maps

Spectator view behaves a lot like the player view. When you change maps, the spectator view will be moved to that map, and any hidden tokens or terrain behind the fog of war will be hidden in spectator view.

Gif showing a comparison between the Spectator View and Dungeon Master View screens in D&D Beyond Maps

You can drag the spectator view to another screen and use it to display your maps in person without giving away details you don't want your players to see.

Game Log

By selecting the speech bubble icon in the bottom right, you can open the Game Log for your currently selected campaign. Here rolls made from the following locations can be seen all in one place:

  • Character sheets via browser
  • Character sheets via the D&D Beyond app
  • Discord via Avrea
  • Encounter builder
  • Combat tracker

If you select a roll, it’ll expand giving you more information about the roll.

You can close the Game Log at any time by clicking the "X" in the top right corner or the speech bubble in the bottom right corner of the screen.

A gif of D&D Beyond Maps VTT. The expanded dice rolls in the Game Log show additional information about the rolls and can be collapsed.

Safety and Feedback Features

The last feature is by no means the least important, and that’s the reporting and feedback features. These can be accessed by clicking the “i” icon, and then selecting the three vertical dots. From there, you’ll see two options; “Report Image” and “User Feedback”. 

Screenshot of D&D Beyond Maps' Safety and Feedback tools.

User Feedback takes you to the feedback portal for Maps Alpha, but Report Image is an important tool for ensuring your safety. If at any point you encounter inappropriate images in the VTT, either as a map itself or a token, you can use this option to access our support portal. From here, you can report the issue and help make sure that D&D is a safe and welcoming space for everyone. 

Drop in a Map and Start Playing!

So there you have it, the Alpha version of D&D Beyond Maps! While these are all the key elements you need to get started running combat using battle maps, there’s still more to come for this new VTT for D&D. Some exciting features you can look forward to in the future can be found in the “Our Roadmap” section of the Maps homepage! As a reminder, you can also see major updates to Maps in the D&D Beyond Changelog

This article was updated February 27, 2024.

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Davyd is a moderator for D&D Beyond. A Dungeon Master of over fifteen years, he enjoys Marvel movies, writing, and of course running D&D for his friends and family, including his daughter Willow (well, one day). The three of them live with their two cats Asker and Khatleesi in south of England.

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