For the third day running, we here at Diehard GameFAN are continuing our week of short map reviews from across all forms of tabletop gaming. Today we are looking at products from Crooked Staff, D20 Cartographer and Rite Publishing. If you missed the previous two features you can find part one here and part two here. Now, let’s see what we have to look at today.
Battle-Maps 6 to 9
Publisher: Crooked Staff Publishing
Page Count: 108
Release Date: 07/18/2011
Get it Here: DrivethruRPG.com
You’re getting four maps for roughly two dollars here, which is a good deal no matt how you slice it. These maps have been reprinted from Crooked Staff Publishing’s The Little Book of Dungeons and resized/reformatted so that they can be printed out for use with miniatures. These maps aren’t high resolution, but they are big and fifty cents each, which makes them a great deal. Due to the size of all four maps, this arrives in a .zip file, so you’ll want an extraction program to use them.
All four maps are in grayscale. They are all of generic barren dungeons without any decoration or detail. They all have a single feature that makes them stand out from each other. Six is obviously meant to be underground and mostly natural as opposed to man-made, seven is a straight stereotypical dungeon from below a castle or other manmade location, eight has a big pit or crevasse and nine has a lot of curved passageways and triangle shaped rooms. One thing that each map could use is a guide on how to put them together. All you have is the cover page that shows what the final product looks like, but for younger or less experienced gamers, a guide might really help them.
To be honest, these look a lot like the dungeons I would have made when I was in sixth through eighth grade. There is no real rhyme or reason to the layout, there isn’t any detail or texture and they are big yet shallow at the same time. A DM with a good imagination can make use of these, but these maps are probably best left to people who are just learning to run a game and with players of likewise limited gaming experience. That way the lack of detail and defining features won’t come into play. You are getting four maps for fifty cents each, and in that sense you’re not only getting what you pay for, but you are getting 108 printed pages of generic dungeons that you could link together for one giant hack and slash or Monty Haul style campaign. I can’t say that I personally would have a use for these maps as I tend not to use sprawling dungeon crawls in my campaigns, but as I did used to play D&D Miniatures heavily back in the day, I might try these for a skirmish game once or twice. That’s about it.
Again, you are getting four maps for two dollars, each consisting of twenty-seven printed pages. That’s pretty impressed for the price tag. Sure the maps are grayscale and not very detailed, but for what you are paying, this is still a good deal if you and your players just like to hack and slash your way through generic dungeons. It’s not something I could really use, but I know a lot of gamers who would really enjoy these.
Townscapes: River Crossing Map
Publisher: D20 Cartographer
Page Count: 4(x8)
Release Date: 7/18/2011
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
I was really impressed with the first D20 Cartographer package I reviewed (One Dollar Dungeons: Warlord’s Watchtower) on Monday. It was a very detailed and intricate map for only a dollar, how could I not love that? This is a similar package in terms of what you are getting, except it’s a little pricier, the map looks like it was done with computer graphics instead of being hand drawn and it’s a much smaller map. It’s kind of odd that you’re getting less for a higher cost, but it’s still a pretty intricate package for the price tag – just one that’s not as good as the One Dollar Dungeon series.
For your $1.50, you’re getting SEVEN versions of the same map. You get PDF versions of the map in full color and grayscale that are scaled to A4 paper size. You get PDF versions of the map in full color and grayscale that fit letter sized paper as well. You also get three versions of the map in jpeg format – a black and white grid based map and two full color maps, one with a grid and one without. That’s pretty impressive that there are seven version of the map as this way any DM can print this off in exactly the format they want.
The purchase of River Crossing also comes with a tool for the MapTools free program that will let a DM fiddle with the map. It comes with the map and object layers preset, so if there is something you feel the seven versions of the map are missing, you can edit it to your heart’s content. That’s something that can be quite handy if you use Maptools and this alone makes the price tag for River Crossing worthwhile.
So now, let’s talk about the map itself. It comes in four pieces: the bridge with the stream under it, a section of river, a dirt road and a field. Besides the bridge part itself, you can print off the other three sections multiple times to make a much larger map if you want/need to. A river crossing is also a great place for a lot of dramatic confrontations, such as defending a bridge, needing to destroy it before an enemy’s reinforcements can arrive, or needing to get across for whatever reason. The map is really easy to put together and it’s a nice little idea that can fit into any campaign. The downside of the map is that again, it’s sort of small and it’s not a s good looking as other products I’ve seen from D20 Cartographer. You’re still getting a great deal for your buck and a half, it’s just not AS great a deal as other products this company offers. River Crossing is a versatile map that can fit into any campaign and the price is right, so if you’ve been looking for something like this, you might as well snatch it up.
Evocative City Sites: Eiffelmacher Estates
Publisher: Rite Publishing
Page Count: 39
Release Date: 7/18/2011
Get it Here: DriveThruRpg.com
Eiffelmacher Estate is one of the most impressive map packs I’ve ever seen. Although it is geared for the Pathfinder setting, the map and much of the contents can be used in various other games. Remember how much I praised Red Vampire Way’s Inn for having a story hook and background details for the map? Well, Eiffelmacher Estates has all that and more. This thirty-nine page booklet contains not only a twenty four page grayscale gridded map of the entire estate but twelve pages of full color tiny DM reference maps and backstory for the location. This means that the DM can make notes of things on his or her reference maps that the players and their miniatures won’t be exposed to unless you want them to. I love it when packages include these options, so awesome job by Rite Publishing here.
The map itself is made for miniatures and is in grayscale as I have said. There isn’t a legend to the estate, and the art isn’t very detailed in terms of texture or visual aesthetics, but it more than makes up for that by actually laying out everything that would actual be in the house. It shows the locations of statues, fireplaces, beds, toilets and more! I can’t tell you how happy attention to little details like this makes me and because of this, I absolutely well in love with the Eiffelmacher Estate map, even if it’s not the most visually appealing product out there. The game comes with the map in a pdf with the adventure hooks, background and characters, but it also comes in five separate PDFs as well, in case you only want to print off a specific section or if you want to see exactly what pieces of the map go where. Another excellent touch.
With the backstory, you get a narrative about the location which is a lot of fun to read. It also gives you a few adventure hooks, the stats of some antagonists and NPCs and over half a dozen “haunts” that can affect a team exploring the estate. There’s a lot of really nice content here and this map basically writes an adventure (or even a series of adventures) for the DM on its own. That’s pretty impressive. My only real complaint is that the chief antagonist designed for this map is a bit too min/max power gamey for my tastes. He’s a bit too powerful for his challenge rating and his stats are a bit…out there (Three stats with 18, nothing less than 13? Ouch). Still, a DM can always edit this rogue du jour down to a more acceptable level for their campaign.
All in all, this is a great package. For only three dollars, you are getting maps, adventure hooks, enemies, a guide to spooky little haunting and more. What’s not to love here? With a little fine tuning this can be easily used in non Pathfinder campaigns. Off the top of my head I could easily retool this for a 2nd or 3rd edition Ravenloft, Chill, Call of Cthulhu or Castles and Crusades campaign. This is a fun little package in all respects and well worth picking up.
So there we go. All three map packs get s mild to extreme recommendation from me this time around. There’s two more weekdays left though, and that means two more Gazetteers and six more map reviews. Check back tomorrow to see what we look at next. See you then.