The Gazetteer, Volume I, Issue IV
Welcome back to the four die of “Map Week,” here at Diehard GameFAN. If this is your first time tuning in, each day we are reviewing three maps from across the myriad of tabletop games out there. If you want to take a look at what you’ve missed, here’s a list:
Today we’re looking at maps from Project Zero Games, Black Falcon Games LLC and GRAmel. Two are for modern campaign settings (but can easily be tweaked) and one if for a very specific (and brand new) fantasy setting. Are any of them worth picking up? Time to find out.
Publisher: Project Zero Games
Page Count: 9
Release Date: 7/22/2011
Get it Here: RPGNow.com
I’ll admit, I was shocked at how big this map was. 21 MB for only nine pages of content? I’ve played some video games that are bigger than that! I’m still not sure WHY City Apartment is that big as I have other full color maps that I have reviewed which are thirty plus pages and still smaller than that. Just a head’s up on the bandwidth this thing will take up.
Only six of the nine pages of the PDF are actually parts of the map. The first and last page make up the front and back cover and the second page shows how to put all three levels of the maps (first floor, second floor, and rooftop) together. As always, there’s a plus for any map that shows how to put things together. Remember, little kids or first time gamers might purchase your maps.
City Apartment is clearly meant for a modern campaign. You could use it in anything from Call of Cthulhu to the old TSR FASERIP Marvel Super Heroes game (which I miss dearly). The map has a lot of detail to it, from the hardwood floors of the apartment to all the furnishings any apartment would have (and then some) The rugs, stoves, beds, etc all have a lot of detail to them and everything looks great. I was really impressed with the design here. The map is in full colour and is grid based, which makes it perfect for miniature usage if your campaign uses them. This means as long as you are playing in a modern campaign, you can find a use for this map.
My three complaints about the map are minor ones. The first is that the apartment isn’t very realistic. It’s bigger than most houses and very few apartments have two floors. This is more like a house or townhome than an apartment. The second is that the cost of the map is three dollars which is kind of pricey for such small content compared to other maps we’ve looked at previously. Still, considering I used to game in the second edition AD&D era, four dollars is cheap compared to what we paid for maps when I was but a lad. Hell, I remember playing fifteen or so dollars for a D&D Minis map, but that also came with an adventure, was printed on high quality foldable paper and was nicely done. So checks and balances.
The map is a bit big and pricey, but it will fit any modern campaign perfectly. It’s still worth considering picking this one up if you are playing things like Chill, a modern era d20 campaign or the like.
Publisher: Black Falcon Games LLC
Page Count: 12
Release Date: 7/24/2011
Get it Here: DrivethruRPG.com
This is one of those maps that obviously has a niche usage, but what a great idea for a location. Pool halls are everywhere and as they are stereotyped as a location for ne’er do wells to hand out, this is a great thematic map that your players can go to an encounter squealers, con men, brawls and more. I love the idea behind a pool hall map and it can fit nicely into a modern era campaign, but also something set in the 1920s, the Victorian Era and even a fantasy campaign with a tiny bit of tweaking.
Black Falcon Games has included printing instructions, a full page legend for things on the map, and a full page DM reference for what the map should look like once it is fully assembled. The map itself consists of four printable pages and then four pieces of paper each showing where the previous piece should go. These four pieces are a definite waste of paper, especially since you already have a guide showing how the completed map should look. There’s no way to avoid print these four pieces out unless you print each of the four pages of the pool hall out individually, so you either get wasted ink and paper, or you have to do things pretty slowly.
The map itself is in black and white and it looks like it was quickly slapped together on graph paper like we used to do back in middle school and high school. There’s not a lot of detail to the map and without the legend, it’s hard to make out what is what, so it’s a bit non-user friendly, especially to novice gamers. Still, it is only a buck and a half and it is a pretty original location. You can always color in the map yourself if you want, or really rely on the imagination of your players. It’s definitely not something I can all aesthetically pleasing and a good DM can come up with a map on his or her own for less. I guess if you really want a pool hall and you’re not very good at map making, this is an okay option. Just remember in this day and age you can get prettier and bigger maps for roughly the same cost – just not with this specific location.
Beasts & Barbarians: Dread Sea Dominions Map
Page Count: 1
Release Date: 7/25/2011
Get it Here: RPGNow.com
So this is an odd map. Beast and Barbarians is a campaign setting for the Savage World rules system. This map of a specific region in the Beast and Barbarians world. It’s not for use with miniatures as the area it covers is far too large and it’s not something that can be used outside this very specific campaign setting. That means, unless you are using Beasts and Barbarians, this map is fundamentally useless to you. This is primarily geared for DMs running a B&B campaign and who want to hand this map out to players. This is about as niche as a map can get, especially since it’s already available in the main B&B book. However, it’s a free download which means GRAmel realizes the limited audience has and it is always nice to see a publisher helping out their audience with free handouts. Sure it might be useless to you or I, but to those playing B&B, this is a nice touch to show the creators care about the DMs and their players.
The map is a single page black and white artist etching of what the area around the Dread Sea would look like. It shows different regions and countries, but also feels like something true cartographers a thousand years ago would have done, by having little illustrations here and there to capture the flavor of specific areas. For example, you have an Eastern Dragon around the city of clouds and what appears to be a giraffe by Caldeia. It’s where cute and I really love how thematic the map is, even if it can’t be used by everyone.
Since it’s free, it can’t hurt to check this map out. However the map really can’t tell you anything about the campaign setting of Beasts and Barbarians and in that respect, it doesn’t sell the game to newcomers very well. Still, the only way to know if you’ll like B&B or not is to pick up the Player’s Guide, so perhaps we’ll be reviewing that on its own down the road.
So there we go. One more day to go. I hope you’ve been enjoying the first volume of the Gazetteer features and please let us know if a theme week like this is something you want to see again.