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Synergistic Maps

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When I'm not working on the next upcoming hardback rulebook, or apps, or whatever needs to be done around this place, my mind is on maps. While the talented Jason Engle makes our Flip-Mat and Map Packs gorgeous, I'm the guy who dreams up what goes on those maps and how they work together. And that's a fun job!

For the past year and a half I've been working hard to make these lines as fun and useful as possible. I've worked to make many of our Map Packs more modular, so that you, the GM, can build the kind of complexes and adventure sites that dance around your imagination. I've also been working to create synergies (excuse my use of such an overused and often misused term) among these products whenever possible.

For example, if you have both Map Pack: Marketplace and Map Pack: Rooftops, you'll notice that you can use them to create large and evocative city spaces. I like running urban adventures, and I'm a sucker for mapping aids that will help me illustrate the twisting alleyways that serve as the stage for a chase, gang war, or a run-in with local bravos with more guts than brains. When we put these products on the schedule I wanted to create the product that I always wanted, and that I figured a lot of you would want too.

But there are other types of synergies within current mapping products. Lately we have worked to have some of our maps fit well with some of our Adventure Paths. The latest ship maps provide the layout for the chief vessels the PCs command in the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, and Flip-Mat: Town Square provides two chief encounter locations within the town of Sandpoint for those of you running Rise of the Runelords. The goal of this type of synergy is to give a tool to GMs who are running Adventure Paths, without making the maps so specific that they're hard to use for those GMs who aren't.

The question I pose to you all on this fine autumn Tuesday is, "Are we on the right track?" Do you like the synergies in the mapping products? Have you noticed them? Are we going far enough? Let me know your mind on this matter and help me to create the best products for your Pathfinder game.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland

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Tags: GameMastery Jason Engle
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I like the synergies and the matched sets -- to the extent that they are done now. I think the balance is pretty good.

Speaking as someone who does NOT usually use APs or modules, the maps need to be generic enough to be used by anyone for preferably multiple circumstances. I loved the bandit outpost map, as a non AP user--when I found out it was a scene for a fight in Kingmaker, I thought that was a great job, that it could be used like that for another Paizo product while still giving me ideas for what else I could do with it. So things like that -- great job. So don't fix what ain't broken.

I love the idea of the matching map sets, though am wary sometimes about a map pack being "wasted" on something that really isn't that useful except as a supplement to another map ("requiring" the purchase of both to make one useful). The Rooftops are an example. I think it's a clever concept but -- to make it really work you also want the streets/shops to put it on and... how often is the average group going to have a rooftop chase? Maybe once? Twice? That is not worth the cost of the pack, in my personal opinion. Sure, for the exceptions to the rule, they'll love it, but how many are there going to be? (Of course sales might prove me wrong.) There are so many great ideas out there for map packs and flip mats that could be used so much more often--there's a few threads in the GameMastery subforum that are full of them. I'd much rather see those used than to have a "matching set" that really is not ever going to be used very often.

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