One of my earliest childhood memories is my pouring over the maps in the Hobbit. I loved tracing Bilbo’s journey across the Misty Mountains, through Mirkwood, and finally to the Lonely Mountain. Even more I enjoyed the map of the Misty Mountain, the same map that Thorin and company possessed, with moonletters and all (though mine showed up even by the light of day). This made me feel connected to the story. I saw the same thing the characters did.
I still love of maps even as I’ve grown older, constantly flipping back and forth between map and stories as I read series like Song of Ice and Fire or Stormlight Archive. I firmly believe that every fantasy novel should include a map at the start, and of course so should every RPG setting.
This may be one reason I love the hex-crawl so much. We start with a map and go forth to explore what’s out there. These maps often contain hints of adventures we might uncover. When I played in the Runewild playtest, Bill gave us a map that had not only the major settlements outside the Runewild, with which out characters were well familiar, but also names of mysterious places like Deepdoom Hall and Cankerworm Keep. Our heroes knew nothing more of these places than there name and location, and there was only one way to find out more.