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Map Folios as of late


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Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

OK, I won't beat around the bush - the Map Folios have taken a nosedive recently. First reason is that recently they tend to feature "in character" maps of countries/regions which have no landmark names but instead feature doodles of monsters, NPCs and locations.

They're cute. Obviously, somebody at Paizo HQ is going all giddy when he/she sees one and orders the next one right away. "Oh look, this tiny winy devil on the map of Cheliax, I want to pet him and hug him and call him George."

But there's a problem. They're not very useful in game. A boring plain normal map with city, river and mountain range names is ten times more useful. And a BLOODY DISTANCE SCALE. The Inner Sea Folio and its derivates (like the Shackles map) are AWESOME. Pure gold, maestro. These put the competition to shame. Please go back there.

The second problem is that the folios continue to be a part of the campaign setting subscription. This is illogical and frustrating, as I need to cancel my AP sub for the upcoming Ironfang Folio, as I fear that it will feature the same problem with a "cool in-character map full of tiny soldiers" map that will have me sigh and break out the Inner Sea Map Folio again.


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As I said on another thread, the "cute" maps in the Shattered Stars, Reign of Winter and Iron Gods map folios have seen lots of practical use in my campaigns. I love that style of map. The Shattered Star Varisia map actually hat distances along roads, which was a cool feature which, unfortunately, was not used on later maps.


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The Varisia map is closest to what I want for in-game maps. Major travel roads highlighted (including distances for easy calculation of travel times). Common features/cities/points of interest highlighted, not common places NOT highlighted. Some monsters are fine, although I'd prefer them to become extinct, but any monsters chosen should either be commonly encountered in that area OR be the subject of common folk legend in that area (whether or not said legend is real). As Gorbacz mentions, it is inexplicably missing labels for common features like rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges.

In other words, I don't want things on my in-world style maps to require in depth or esoteric knowledge to know that it exists and where it is located. It takes the wind out of the PCs sails in that regard if they uncover some hidden knowledge only to find that it's already on the map as a decoration. Because of that, maps which contain spoilers locations or decorations are unusable as PC handouts, and an in-world style map which can't be used as a PC handout is not worth the paper it is printed on. I certainly don't need it as a GM because the Inner Sea Map Folio does a much better job of showing things in detail.


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I love the artistically painted maps as they feel like an old map would. Threats such as "here be dragons" would in fact be drawn on the map.

That said I have three problems with these maps as they are currently being released. First the images are too accurate. Having them be vague shadows or suggestions of what the threat is rather than an actual depiction would keep the map from giving away too much information.

Second is the lack of a scale. If you want to use these glorious maps in game, having a scale so that the players can figure out the route they wish to travel and how long it will take is essential.

Finally the lack of labelling just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Now I'm not saying that these maps have to have "the secret lair of the Krell-lord Lazarae" or some such written on them; some information would not be known to a cartographer and should be omitted. But the names of towns, villages, cities, castles, known ruins, etc. could be included without revealing any hidden information. This also applies to city and town maps where having an index with all the popular inns, the town hall, the barracks, etc. would be fine.

It isn't the artwork I have a problem with. It's the usefulness of this line as a game aid.

Grand Lodge

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Zaister wrote:
As I said on another thread, the "cute" maps in the Shattered Stars, Reign of Winter and Iron Gods map folios have seen lots of practical use in my campaigns. I love that style of map. The Shattered Star Varisia map actually hat distances along roads, which was a cool feature which, unfortunately, was not used on later maps.

The Varisia map is by far my favorite they've done.

I find the "cute, in world" maps, when they're done right, hugely useful and can be campaign agnostic. I also like a good, non-spoilery city map when it's applicable to the campaign.

-Skeld


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I like the ink-and-parchment style maps much more than the more traditional maps (which I rarely use), although I do wish they'd have more place names.

I don't care about AP spoilers, provided there's lots of similar, extraneous features around on the map so that what you see could be relevant or could just be a red herring. My experience is the players look over the map seeing lots of monsters and things, then when they actually fight one that's on the map (the wendigo on the Varisia map being the most recent example) it's a cool moment.

I don't have the problem of players poring over the map trying to deduce what they're about to fight and then having an anticlimactic battle when it's true (is that what's happening at other people's tables?) I guess if the only features on the map were AP specific events/monsters/places then it might become a fruitful metagame strategy. I haven't had that issue yet - there's too many features on the maps I've used which don't relate to the AP in question.


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Bumping this thread as it seems to have fallen asleep without notice.

*Bump*


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...and then the site went down, making that action pointless.

>:(

So again!

*Bump*


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think Paizo are on to a bit of a looser here. People want very different things form these packs. I have seen people criticising the Kingmaker pack. I cannot imagine playing the AP without them!

Personally I think if it does not have a scale it is a poster not a map!

Originally these packs had large copies of maps in the books. I would like to go back to that but others wanted new maps.

Big maps of the town/village the AP starts in appear to be common, and useful. A map of the nearby city/capital is also common and not so useful to my mind.


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Haldrick wrote:

I think Paizo are on to a bit of a looser here. People want very different things form these packs. I have seen people criticising the Kingmaker pack. I cannot imagine playing the AP without them!

Personally I think if it does not have a scale it is a poster not a map!

Originally these packs had large copies of maps in the books. I would like to go back to that but others wanted new maps.

Big maps of the town/village the AP starts in appear to be common, and useful. A map of the nearby city/capital is also common and not so useful to my mind.

I don't want battlemaps (tactical scale) in these products at all. I can extract and print the maps from the PDFs without issue, and while they aren't the best resolution, they get the job done. Furthermore, I can model the vast majority of them by drawing onto a flip-mat should I need to go that route. Neither of these takes a lot of time (a couple of minutes per map). If I were to get duplicates in this product, especially duplicates without the coating that lets me draw on them and erase it later, that would be completely worthless to me.

What I want out of these maps are things that don't make sense in any of the other product lines. City maps fit this bill, as do old-style country maps suitable for player handouts. It is pretty common for PCs to be unleashed in a city (in my games, at least) with vague directions of "you need go to this specific place eventually, but take your time and take care of any other business you may want to get done first." For this, I find it useful to lay down the city map and have the players move about on it according to the scale on the map. When I need something more granular for an encounter, I shift over to a tactical sized map to run that. The old-style maps I give to PCs as handouts whenever they obtain or purchase a map of the area from someone, so they can plan travel routes, etc.

Another map style I've seen was in the Giantslayer folio (iirc), where it gave an overview of an area the PCs needed to assault. It would not be out of the question to say the PCs climbed up onto a ridge and could look down at that area, allowing that map to also be used as a handout to let the players plan their approach and attack with knowledge of what the area looks like. It's more situational than the above style of maps since it risks being only useful for that AP (whereas city and player handout maps are useful if you're running your own thing set nearby in Golarion as well), but AP-specific stuff is fine in a product marketed as being a supplement for an AP. I'd prefer if all of the maps were at least somewhat usable outside of that AP, however, even if they have AP-specific intentions (like the aforementioned Giantslayer map could be used for planning any arbitrary ambush, or as handout artwork for some generic military camp)

Grand Lodge

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The early folios that included half-page or full page reprints of maps from the AP were not useful.

I'm with Skizzerz on this.

-Skeld

Sovereign Court

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I've given pretty much the same feedback in a couple of different Map Folio reviews. As a GM, I'm looking for something that adds utility and fun to my games when it's blown up big, particularly for the players, because I already have these maps in my copy of the AP.

I'm looking for 3 kinds of maps, which I will describe below. At this point, the product seems to have settled on 3 poster maps per folio, so my preference would probably be 1 of each, but the exact composition could vary depending on the AP.

1) Large-scale regional maps - These come in two flavors: Big, atlas-style maps with borders and cities and landmarks that look like the maps in the Inner Sea World Guide, only more blown-up and detailed. These are great. They remind me of some of the old World of Greyhawk regional maps. What I'd REALLY like with these would be to have them all be the same scale, so that, little by little, I could connect them and build a close-up, interconnected continent map. The other kind of regional map that I find useful are in-world maps that I can imagine the PCs looking at. These aren't so precise (they might even have some minor errors!). They should look look parchmenty or leathery, hand-drawn. Art is great on them... as long as it doesn't give away specific plot points (example - "here be dragons" is fine, with a vague picture of a monster; "here be robots" or "here be bearded devils" is too specific and involves identifications your average mapmaker wouldn't be able to make). Art = good, spoilers = bad. The last few art maps have been way to spoilery for my tastes.

1.5) One other kind of region map I would like to see once in a while are Kingmaker-style hexploration maps. Other than Kingmaker, I think we've only seen 1-2 of these in some of the stand-alone adventures. I get that they are not for everyone, and not every adventure/AP calls for hex-by-hex overland travel, but I so enjoyed Kingmaker that I'd like to get a few more of these once in a while. Maybe even as a separate product, some generic hexploration maps - a forest, mountains, a coastline, a desert.

2) Urban maps - Almost every AP includes at least one visit to a city or town. Often times, the city/town becomes a reoccurring locale or base for PCs. And cities/towns are really hard to work off of with little 8.5 x 11" maps. So urban poster maps are super helpful. But again, AVOID SPOILERS please. If you only label 1 tavern on the whole map, that's a tip to player that then need to stay there. If you only label 1 potion shop, players know they have to go there. Keep it generic. Either label multiple locations, including some red herrings, or just number the buildings and include a legend on the side of the map, maybe with a key like #1-10 = inns and taverns, #11-20 = shops, etc. The other advantage to more generic urban maps is their utility to me extends beyond the AP. Maybe I'm not running the AP, but PCs in my home game end up in Ergorian. If the map has non-AP locations, I can still use it. Note: Some of the folios have included more artistic city maps. I'm thinking of the giant camp map in Giantslayers. Not my favorite, I tend to like the regular top-view city maps, but at least it was something I could lay down on the table and use with my players to discuss their plans and movements.

So far I've suggested regional maps and urban maps. As I mentioned in #2 above, one of the nice things about those is they appeal to anyone interested in Golarion, whether or not she is running an AP campaign. Lots of people are going to want blow-up regional maps or good poster maps of cities in Avistan. That's good for Paizo because it increases the market for the product beyond just AP buyers. My 3rd suggestion is much more niche.

3) AP unique locales - Every AP has some really cool location - a castle, a dungeon, a ship, a demi-plane - usually toward the end, that's really complicated. Having a big pre-made map to share with players would be really useful. In most cases, players have some in-game way of acquiring a general map or plan beforehand, so let's provide them with a large print of it. Again, it doesn't need to include spoilers or secret doors, and maybe it's just a hand-drawn version made by an inside contact, but something to assist play and discussion of how players are going to storm the castle. Maybe my example of the artistic giant camp map from Giantslayers fits better here. It's as much a "you crest the hill top and see THIS!" poster as it is a map, but it facilitates play. This is your "cool" map in each folio. Ideally it would be different version of a map the GM already has in the AP; GM gets a detailed encounter map of the castle in the AP, players get a hand-drawn sketch of the castle and guard locations from an off-duty maid they bribed. Having it be AP-linked but not-otherwise-available makes the Map Folios more of a must-have for Paizo junkies who want to have everything associated with a particular AP.

3.5) What I would REALLY like to see is a key location done in 1" grid to use with minis. All of Paizo's Map Packs and Flip Maps are relatively generic, which is appropriate because they are non-specific role-playing products. APs often incorporate them, which is useful, but only for the most generic locations - forest, ship, town, etc. I would love each Map Folio to include 1 only-in-this-AP battlemap, some really cool, really unique location. Heck, I buy the Pathfinder comics just for the little battlemaps. If each Map Folio came with a cool, flavorful, complicated, hard-to-draw, AP-embedded battlemap... guaranteed buy.

So I guess here's my fantasy product - a Map Folio with: 1 atlas-style regional map; 1 in-game regional map for players of the same region; 1 urban map; 1 AP-specific, art-heavy "map" that facilitates a complicated locale; and 1 AP-specific, 1" grid battlemap. I know, that's 5 maps. I've been complaining and reconsidering map Map Folios purchases lately, but if Paizo put THAT pack together for every AP, you'd have me for life. I'd even pay more for it. Or, what's the possibility of producing some 2-sided maps? Regional/regional, urban/locale, and battlemap? Again, cost might increase a little, but utility and value would go through the roof!

* What I don't want are maps with spoilers. What I don't want are maps with GM-only information; can you imagine me unfolding my big GM-only map in the middle of a game and disappearing behind a giant white sheet of paper to look for something while my players wait for me? Not fun. What I don't want are art posters that I can't use in games as game aides. I can imagine another product, a poster for each AP, maybe even chock-full of spoilers and remember-when moments, almost like trophies to hang on the wall once we've finished an AP... but that is not what I want in my Map Folio.

Thanks for starting this thread, and thanks, Paizo and Adam, for asking for more feedback and input on the Map Folios.


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Haldrick wrote:
Originally these packs had large copies of maps in the books. I would like to go back to that but others wanted new maps.

Yeah I liked the original approach - they were extremely unpopular, for some reason. I still prefer running the older APs to the new ones for that reason.

The booklet of maps at the back of the Shackled City compilation was the biggest factor that got me into paizo in the first place.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Of the packs I have

Skulls and Shackles has:
1. A regional map of the Shackles with no settlements or names on it.
2 A players version of the above with some clue/hints in the form of pictures
3 Map of Port Peril
The first is made superfluous by the second and Port Peril only plays a minor part in the AP

Iron Gods:
1. Torch, where you start
2. Star fall
3. A players version of a map of Numeria with settlement and there names shown together with some clue/hints in the form of picture. No scale
The first is useful at the beginning. Star fall does not play a big part and the third is usefull but hurt by no scale.

Jade Regent:
1 The Crown of the world- Very useful to me
2. Tian Xia- why not just a good map of Minkai??
3. Kasai- Of minor use in Book 6

As you can see the inclusion of a city map useful in Book 6 are not my favorite. But other will rank these in the reverse order to me!

As I posted earlier I think Paizo cannot win with these.

Grand Lodge

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Haldrick wrote:
As I posted earlier I think Paizo cannot win with these.

I agree with this.

Opinions on these things are all over the place. One person's "gauranteed buy" is another's "will not buy."

-Skeld

Sovereign Court

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I don't know... if you look at this thread (granted, only a handful of posters), I think there ARE some common themes... in-world maps are good, with art and labels for landmarks is fine, just not too spoilery; city maps are good, labeled with common locations but not specific encounters; even the PC-view art "maps" like Giantslayer work. People like scales on their maps. There mostly just seems to be a different opinions on battlemaps (I may be in the minority there, but it's not likely to happen anyway, so that's fine).

Grand Lodge

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Perhaps there should be a separate map product just for battle maps. I would like to buy that rather than what I'm getting now. z

I can make my own maps, but I don't like the time it takes


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James Jacobs on the economics of battle maps for APs

Liberty's Edge

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I keep waiting for 'rollable displays' / 'electronic paper' to move out of the prototype stage and in to mass production.

Then you could just have a standard flip-mat sized panel on to which you could display any map and/or overlay any scale. Make it a touch screen and you could draw on it and also have it figure out things like distances between points, spread of various AoE spells, line of sight, et cetera.

Then companies like Paizo could produce electronic maps for a fraction of the current price since they wouldn't have any printing or shipping costs. They could still get the same profit per map... while likely selling more of them (even accounting for possible piracy) since they'd be less expensive.

Paizo Employee Developer

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I wanted to thank those of you that have commented on this subject. I've put together a number of these map folios, and I'm always striving to do a better job. It's tough to do sometimes because people like different things and use the maps in different ways, but knowing what people like and dislike is always helpful.


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I have to say that I disagree with the OP. I find the in character maps to be very useful.


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Adam Daigle wrote:
I wanted to thank those of you that have commented on this subject. I've put together a number of these map folios, and I'm always striving to do a better job. It's tough to do sometimes because people like different things and use the maps in different ways, but knowing what people like and dislike is always helpful.

As far as I can tell the only issue that doesn't get votes each way is whether to include a scale.

Since comments like that never invite challenge on the internet.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I certainly used the heck out of the Skirgaard map from the Giantslayer folio. My players loved the perspective view of what they were doing and where they were going. Since the AP itself included a top-down view with scale, the two together drove all of their scheming.

Sczarni

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Haldrick wrote:

Of the packs I have

Skulls and Shackles has:
1. A regional map of the Shackles with no settlements or names on it.
2 A players version of the above with some clue/hints in the form of pictures
3 Map of Port Peril
The first is made superfluous by the second and Port Peril only plays a minor part in the AP

As a Gm for this AP especially having both 1&2 was a godsend. #2 was given to the players to plot thier course from. #1 was kept with me to plot where the various events/ships/etc were at any given time

Grand Lodge

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Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Haldrick wrote:

Of the packs I have

Skulls and Shackles has:
1. A regional map of the Shackles with no settlements or names on it.
2 A players version of the above with some clue/hints in the form of pictures
3 Map of Port Peril
The first is made superfluous by the second and Port Peril only plays a minor part in the AP

As a Gm for this AP especially having both 1&2 was a godsend. #2 was given to the players to plot thier course from. #1 was kept with me to plot where the various events/ships/etc were at any given time

I also give my players a lot of #2.

:D

-Skeld


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The artistic maps are the best thing in the map folios. There's a couple of cases where they're a little too spoilery, sure, but I still give them to the players. The Varisia map for Shattered Star has some CotCT spoilers on it, but I still plan to give it to my players in that campaign. The monsters in question are certainly important enough to the region that there'd be rumours or legends about them, so it's not infeasible that they're depicted.


Arguably, people want two different types of map: those for the GM (with everything labelled clearly and accurately, fancy IC artwork optional) and those for the players (no spoilers, mistakes and omissions permitted, IC artwork preferable).

The level of detail on the player map should (IMHO) be what you'd get on a DC15-20 Knowledge-Geography check, ie what an educated native would know or what he could find in a library.

I guess you could combine them somehow with one map and two keys but that would be clunky.


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Brother Fen wrote:
I have to say that I disagree with the OP. I find the in character maps to be very useful.

Agreed. The "in character" maps are, quite literally, the only maps from the Folios that I've ever found use for. Love them!


Adam Daigle wrote:
I wanted to thank those of you that have commented on this subject. I've put together a number of these map folios, and I'm always striving to do a better job. It's tough to do sometimes because people like different things and use the maps in different ways, but knowing what people like and dislike is always helpful.

Excellent constructive post. This is the type of communication as a customer I like to see from Paizo.

Sovereign Court

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Joseph Wilson wrote:
Brother Fen wrote:
I have to say that I disagree with the OP. I find the in character maps to be very useful.
Agreed. The "in character" maps are, quite literally, the only maps from the Folios that I've ever found use for. Love them!

I don't think most folk have objections to the "in character" maps - I actually think if I'm going to get a poster, something I can share with the players is a really useful. But a lot of us seem to feel that the last few "in character" maps have gone too far and had spoilers, almost like GM maps art-ed up to look like player maps... but they're not. I totally agree that a DC 15-20, educated cartographer, PCs can learn a little something from it, is just about right. I just don't want them to look at it and say, "Oh, this castle has bearded devils living there," or "look, a forest full of ettercaps."


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Mosaic wrote:
I don't think most folk have objections to the "in character" maps - I actually think if I'm going to get a poster, something I can share with the players is a really useful. But a lot of us seem to feel that the last few "in character" maps have gone too far and had spoilers, almost like GM maps art-ed up to look like player maps... but they're not. I totally agree that a DC 15-20, educated cartographer, PCs can learn a little something from it, is just about right. I just don't want them to look at it and say, "Oh, this castle has bearded devils living there," or "look, a forest full of ettercaps."

You could also argue that this is exactly the kind of thing that a cartographer would want to include on their map. If travellers have reported a tower full of devils, or there have been multiple encounters with Ettercaps in a particular forest, the cartographer would show this on the map as a warning.

Of course, if the characters/monsters shown are directly related to the AP and only move into the area as part of that plot, then they shouldn't be present.

Liberty's Edge

Would love to see an "Interactive Atlas" similar to you know who's from yester years.

Myself..Nice Big Quality Poster sized travel maps..to be framed later

Quality smaller player travel maps...

Scaled Battle Maps are always a +

Dark Archive

@ Adam Daigle: Your main issue with map folios is expectations. Are these wall art or PC handouts or GM time-savers?

@ Haldrick: While the AP does go to Port Peril several times, I can't think of a major city more important to the AP.

@ Mosaic: I mostly agree with your major post on types of map included.

@ Shadram: Your point on context is really good. A cartographer would certainly canvas reports and try to increase "intel" provided, and therefore either cost or utility of those maps.

I disagree with one major point; the 1" grid map. There is no way to make map folios that battle-mat every AP encounter. Also, there are lots of other ways to cover that need (print-outs, projectors, battle-mats, flip-maps, imagination), so strike that from the list.

I do like the idea of a birds-eye-view of a strategically significant location. That's also extremely useful to the group, as they (at some point) could reasonably be expected to do a flying reconnaissance of a significant encounter location.

I really like the in-character old-world maps. However, in many ways these duplicate the same effect of an atlas-style realistic map, just with different ink. The proportions and major features are unchanged, just the imaginary lens changes perspective. Two maps of the same region in different styles is a wasted opportunity. When only 3 maps are companions to an entire AP, redundancy is very, very frustrating.

I also really like the grand scale city maps. I think Mosaic hits the nail on the head, that in general the APs suggest a base of operations. A map of that intended location would be exceptionally useful!

Here's my personal request list for an optimal 3-map Folio:

1) Regional overview map; atlas-stlye OR old-world style; scale preferred

2) Major city or civilization of relevance to PCs; place to buy gear, have down-time, develop character interests; legend preferred

3) Major strategic or conclusion location; significant planning or scouting required; avoid spoilers!

Finally, a description of the maps to manage expectations: This map folio includes a (1), (2), (3), to portray (X), (Y), (Z). Lack of description leads to unreasonable expectations.

My personal experience: I use the maps as wall art in my gaming room. I realize there may be some spoilers, but for Skull & Shackles it was great to just zap the Isle of Empty Eyes with a laser pointer. I have the 4X inner sea map folio on one wall by itself, so relation to other nations is quite easy.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I enjoy the "pen & ink"-style maps, but dislike having two maps of the same location in a 3 map folio. Especially when neither are labelled (ex Skull & Shackles).

The doodles are okay with me, but fewer of them than in Hell's Rebels would be my preference.

The two I mentioned above were my most recent Folio purchases. As specific examples of what I would have preferred....

Skull and Shackletons:
I probably would've been okay with the doubling up on the Shackles maps if the standard one had been labelled. As it is, a map of the Island of Empty Eyes would'be been much more useful. And a scale and a couple of basic place names (Port Peril, Bloodcove, Quent) on the art map would improve it.

Hell's Rebels:
A few less pictures on the art map. And a larger region map would be better than two of Kintargo. Cheliax is covered in the evil folio, but even a map of Ravounel would be an improvement over a duplicate.

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