Round 2 is Coming

Saturday, January 17, 2015

As I suggested I might, I'm going to give you the general guidelines for the mysterious "Create a Map" round the Top 32 will face starting Tuesday. This isn't official (the official rules will be posted Tuesday), but it's not a trick either—this is just a casual discussion of what we're looking for, and what we expect.

For Round 2, contestants will be asked to provide a full-page map, or a previously unmapped fantasy-themed location in Golarion. Submissions will need to be sent by email before the deadline. It needs to be 8.5" x 11", and approximately 150 dpi when submitted. Your map may be color, grayscale, or black and white, and may be hand-drawn or computer-generated.

The map itself is the entry, so it is important to make it interesting and creative. Above and beyond all the tips on making your map legible and having enough information for a cartographer to be able to create a publishable map from your entry, it's crucial you make sure you map something that really needs a map. If the map isn't needed to understanding what the area is like and how characters may move around in it, then it's a waste of space that could be used for something else. If the map is boring, no one will care about the location it represents.

No one needs a map of a 20-foot by 20-foot room with a door centered in the north and west walls, or of a forest that's six miles long and three miles deep with a single road and one town in the middle. Your map should be something that sparks the imagination, and leads to interesting encounters. It should also use the 8.5" x 11" space well. A map that clearly ignores half or more of the page will be disqualified.

Your submission need not be something that could be published, but it must be something that could be used by a GM to run a game set in the mapped location, and it must have all the information a cartographer needs to make the final map. Voters are asked to vote not on artistic talent, but on clarity, imagination, and usefulness.

Maps are incredibly important, and they are a skill we simply haven't emphasized enough in the past. A good map can get a GM or players excited about a location before they have read a single word, while a bad map wastes space and may even confuse people. Even very good adventure writers can produce maps that have to be entirely redrawn by our developers or (worse) be so incomprehensible we have to abandon them and rewrite an adventure to use a map we can create ourselves.

Freelancers able to create clear and imaginative maps that don't need us to do anything but send them to a cartographer have a huge advantage over those who can't (and may even get work to create sketches of maps we then hand to adventure writers).

It's a big challenge, but it's also part of what I was talking about when I said if you are a finalist this year, I want you to be confident you have the skills it takes to become a successful RPG freelance adventure writer.

Owen K. C. Stephens
Developer and RPG Superstar Host

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Dedicated Voter Season 8

The size for the map is jarring with my usual sense of metric measurements. It is so very close to a standard A4 page, and yet not there. How much easier sketching would be. I guess I can spend some preparation time adjusting sketching paper sizes.

Can't help thinking of the map as not just a location, but a location in some sort of situation, with something dynamic to the style. Difficult to put in clear 2 dimensional mapping.

How would adding side views or in other ways different perspectives on the same location conform to the contest rules? I can imagine a number of situations where it would substantially increase clarity and several of the published maps does use such techniques.

And how about (if one chooses to add it) the legend for the map (^ = mountain, green circle = tree, etc)? Does that go into the dimensions or separate?

Others have asked about title and brief descriptive text, so I'll just add that I'm curious to see what the rules will say for those points as well.

All in all, interesting round.

Unlike many, who worry about artistic talent being weighed too highly, I kind of worry about getting carried away artistically, to begin adding all manner of touches that would not assist the clarity but only the appearance or realism. Going too far in any direction seems... well, risky.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

I think the map should at least have a title, or an indication as to where the mapped area is located.

Star Voter Season 9

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Wrote a blog thing on this...

Thank you Garrett. I found your blog to be informative, and the link to Joshua Frost's Paizo blog to be invaluable. I know because I took a look at the map I was doodling and instantly realized several ways it could be improved.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka RainyDayNinja

Will there be any space for explanatory text? Like "illumination is provided by barred windows 15 feet up," or "The city's gate is constructed from a single slab of granite," etc.?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

RainyDayNinja wrote:
Will there be any space for explanatory text? Like "illumination is provided by barred windows 15 feet up," or "The city's gate is constructed from a single slab of granite," etc.?

I'm also curious whether you can include some text with it as well.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

Maybe this is a dumb question... but is it better to fill the page to the edge or leave a margin?

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

DeathQuaker wrote:
Maybe this is a dumb question... but is it better to fill the page to the edge or leave a margin?

Visualizing it in my head, I think having a .25" Margins from side to side and .5" margins on the top and bottom would allow for a solid 8 x 10 grid on your paper. You could also use .25" of the bottom margin to add a key or distance gauge.

I think full-bleeding the image would make it look funky and force you to cover some of the map with your legend. But that's just me.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

DQ -- I'd probably want a small margin (by which I mean two or three squares), but I think if you really have to use every single square you've got, you'll be OK.

Garrett -- great blog post. I'd definitely recommend reading it, though there doesn't seem to be anywhere to comment on it that I could tell. I agree location maps are probably going to be the best option, though I think honestly, I'd probably have lumped single-building maps into that category. Your point that that may not be enough for Superstar voters is certainly a concern.

I think I'd be wary of using a more than 5-foot grid. Previous judges have warned to be wary of that, because it makes transferring to a battlemap a little more difficult. It's not verboten -- I think the Reign of Winter map I just finished up in my PBP game had 10-foot squares -- but I'd make sure you really do need it.

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

Brigg wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
Maybe this is a dumb question... but is it better to fill the page to the edge or leave a margin?

Visualizing it in my head, I think having a .25" Margins from side to side and .5" margins on the top and bottom would allow for a solid 8 x 10 grid on your paper. You could also use .25" of the bottom margin to add a key or distance gauge.

I think full-bleeding the image would make it look funky and force you to cover some of the map with your legend. But that's just me.

/puts on semi-pro freelancer hat

(well, rather, I have no Big Name Credits yet, thus I'm still qualified for this contest. Still...)

You absolutely do not want to full bleed. It's bad for cartographers, it's bad for your map (can lead to confusion as to where walls are), in print it can lead to bits of your map getting cut off in production... don't do it unless you literally have no other choice.

Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

If it is a tactical map, I would agree full bleed is a mistake. But if it is a regional map you can get away with it as long as the important locations are well back from the edges.

Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Feros wrote:
If it is a tactical map, I would agree full bleed is a mistake. But if it is a regional map you can get away with it as long as the important locations are well back from the edges.

HYPERBOLE THEATRE PRESENTS: FULL BLEED - A TALE OF MAP-INDUCED DISASTER

"Castle Peri?"

"Sounds innocuous enough. Let's go there. Maybe meet some nice aasimar emberkin."

*screenwipe*

"AUGH! THE PERIL! THIS CASTLE IS SO PERILOUS!"

"I KNOW! THERE AREN'T ANY PERI HERE AT ALL!"

"WHY WASN'T THE MAP FOUR CHARACTERS WIDER!? AUGGGHHHH!!!"

*whining, running, expiring*

*curtain*

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

TealDeer wrote:
Brigg wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
Maybe this is a dumb question... but is it better to fill the page to the edge or leave a margin?

Visualizing it in my head, I think having a .25" Margins from side to side and .5" margins on the top and bottom would allow for a solid 8 x 10 grid on your paper. You could also use .25" of the bottom margin to add a key or distance gauge.

I think full-bleeding the image would make it look funky and force you to cover some of the map with your legend. But that's just me.

/puts on semi-pro freelancer hat

(well, rather, I have no Big Name Credits yet, thus I'm still qualified for this contest. Still...)

You absolutely do not want to full bleed. It's bad for cartographers, it's bad for your map (can lead to confusion as to where walls are), in print it can lead to bits of your map getting cut off in production... don't do it unless you literally have no other choice.

The bits of your map getting cut off in production would be a problem if you were the cartographer (i.e., this is the final production art that is going in the book, not a rough guide for the pro to draw the final). But yes, I had a feeling that would still be desirable--actually, come to think of it, you wouldn't have to make the cartographer adjust to have to make a margin later.

I knew it was a stupid question. But thank you.

Sovereign Court Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

DeathQuaker wrote:
TealDeer wrote:
Brigg wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:
Maybe this is a dumb question... but is it better to fill the page to the edge or leave a margin?

Visualizing it in my head, I think having a .25" Margins from side to side and .5" margins on the top and bottom would allow for a solid 8 x 10 grid on your paper. You could also use .25" of the bottom margin to add a key or distance gauge.

I think full-bleeding the image would make it look funky and force you to cover some of the map with your legend. But that's just me.

/puts on semi-pro freelancer hat

(well, rather, I have no Big Name Credits yet, thus I'm still qualified for this contest. Still...)

You absolutely do not want to full bleed. It's bad for cartographers, it's bad for your map (can lead to confusion as to where walls are), in print it can lead to bits of your map getting cut off in production... don't do it unless you literally have no other choice.

The bits of your map getting cut off in production would be a problem if you were the cartographer (i.e., this is the final production art that is going in the book, not a rough guide for the pro to draw the final). But yes, I had a feeling that would still be desirable--actually, come to think of it, you wouldn't have to make the cartographer adjust to have to make a margin later.

I knew it was a stupid question. But thank you.

It’s good design practice to keep your focal point relatively centered, with nothing too important on the outer sides of your map. If you do have something important there, then consider adjusting the rotation of your map.

The cartographer, and possibly someone in layout, would probably add design elements like a title and page number over the final version of the map. This won’t really impact your design, unless you have something important on the edge.

I’m quite excited for this round. Off to explore Golarion.

Lantern Lodge Marathon Voter Season 8

quibblemuch wrote:

HYPERBOLE THEATRE PRESENTS: FULL BLEED - A TALE OF MAP-INDUCED DISASTER

"Castle Peri?"

"Sounds innocuous enough. Let's go there. Maybe meet some nice aasimar emberkin."

*screenwipe*

"AUGH! THE PERIL! THIS CASTLE IS SO PERILOUS!"

"I KNOW! THERE AREN'T ANY PERI HERE AT ALL!"

"WHY WASN'T THE MAP FOUR CHARACTERS WIDER!? AUGGGHHHH!!!"

*whining, running, expiring*

*curtain*

Bravo, bravo, excellent!

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Boxhead

Every map sketch I've turned out has been full bleed. It's possible I'm doing it wrong, but I trust the cartographer and layout team to make the map fit the space.

That being said, I'll also always draw on as big of a sheet as I can and then tag it for full page, half page or whatever, because I am not a professional artist... Just make sure that details won't be lost in translation.

Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I agree location maps are probably going to be the best option, though I think honestly, I'd probably have lumped single-building maps into that category. Your point that that may not be enough for Superstar voters is certainly a concern.

I didn't define a location map, which hurt my point. I think the level of context distinguishes a location map from a single-building map.

A designer can give you a great map of a house on a grid—walls, furniture, a few features, some cool conceit to make it unique—and it could be great freelance turnover, especially if it's in the context of a specific encounter or plot.

Without that context, you just have walls, furniture, cool features, a neat trick—and no story. The map then lives or dies on whatever makes those rooms unique. You can still make great work of this type with some fantastic execution, like in Tim Hitchcock's example, but I'd worry that alone wouldn't be enough to inspire voters.

Maybe I'm reading too much into what Owen's saying when he advises against submitting just a room with a door or just a forest with a path, but I think some of the things that make for good freelance map turnover in the context of an adventure—or even a good map in the context of a Superstar encounter entry—aren't necessarily traits of a good Round 2 entry since Round 2 operates in a relative story vacuum.

A Round 2 map has to provide that context on its own without sacrificing clarity; I'd even argue that it should be capable of laying down the framework of a story from start to finish. I think it's a missed opportunity as a prospective designer to map one well-made floor of a building, label it, put a legend and scale and compass on it, and then stop, even if the result is a good freelance turnover.

(Unless the rules narrow the options or provide context, or a template to fill in, or even require building on a specific Map Pack tile or Flip-Mat, and much of my rambling becomes a little more moot.)

Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I think I'd be wary of using a more than 5-foot grid. Previous judges have warned to be wary of that, because it makes transferring to a battlemap a little more difficult. It's not verboten -- I think the Reign of Winter map I just finished up in my PBP game had 10-foot squares -- but I'd make sure you really do need it.

Agreed. Specifically, I'd stay flexible about larger-scale grids and map viewpoints as long as broader and non-combat maps are options.

Potential spoiler for Iron Gods/The Divinity Drive:
The map of the Unity is the most recent example of effectively mapping something that hasn't been ruled out as a Round 2 option, tells a story, and has a large scale, unusual viewpoint, and little combat relevance.

As long as the grid's necessary, the scale's clearly noted and a multiple of 5 feet, and granular location tracking isn't a priority, a larger-scale grid might be worth the risk to keep the map clean and readable at that size and resolution.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

Now I really want to see that map from Divinity Drive, but I can't buy the PDF for a week.

The map idea I'm sketching out right now would require a grid larger than 5 because the area is at least 200-400 feet long. It's definitely more of a location with multiple encounter areas which I'm not mapping out in fine detail. It's more similar to the Glimmerhold map than Foxglove manner in terms of scale, although it's not a side view, and would probably use 10 or 20 foot squares instead of 50.

If I wanted to do ~400 feet, and used 5 foot squares, that would give me squares that are slightly larger than 1/8 of an inch (or almost exactly 3.5 mm). Is that too small of a square? I feel like all those lines would clutter up the image, and I would be better served with a larger grid. Or perhaps my idea just isn't right for this round (but I don't think I can get it out of my head at this point).

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Mark D Griffin

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Looking at the map of Thistletop, it's about the size I need, and it's not too cluttered. So perhaps 5 foot squares isn't so bad.

Star Voter Season 8 aka TealDeer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Also in regards to the earlier post complaining that "but I don't know Golarion!"

I don't know Golarion either. I've played in that setting a grand total of once -- some kind of snake temple, I was a half-orc savage skald from some northish icy place or other, I had to bail everyone out bc somehow this party kept getting killed.

But, as a budding freelance editor, layout designer, and writer, I can tell you that one of the things you HAVE to do as a freelancer is very quickly adapt to the home campaign setting of whoever you're working for. As an editor, you have to know the proper spellings of blah blah continent and whosiwatsy the Grand Poobah. As a writer you MUST know that THIS place is the vaguely middle eastern themed desert land and THAT ONE is the German gothic spot. You COULD put a German Gothic castle in the desert land but by god you need a kickass reason (The more I think about it the more weirdly cool that juxtaposition is but man you'd better have a good reason)

That goes beyond tabletop RPGs and into... I mean basically everything you do. Every company you work for, even if you're not working with their IP, is going to have different practices, different styles, different expectations on turnaround time. Some companies give you a bunch of material to read and a nice long month (of... not getting paid >>; ) to do it in. Others go "Kk I need you to edit 100 pages by tomorrow, sound good?" and you gotta figure out, on your own, that this character is in fact female and that the author accidentally using the wrong pronouns is just them being bad at grammar (TRUE STORY. Could NOT figure out character's gender till page 3 on a novel editing job, realized that it was bc author just was bad at using pronouns in general & this wasn't a genderqueer character or a magical gender-changing character).

So yeah. Tight deadlines, abrupt changes in what the author wants ("hey I know you just spent 12 hours working at what came out to $4 an hour on this print layout but I forgot to tell you that we need a hyperlinked digital version too can you do that?"), suddenly needing to absorb vast amounts of information... that's just freelancing.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

TealDeer wrote:
a very well articulated statement

Perfectly said. This contest is 20% making quality material, and 80% making quality material under inconvenient circumstances... because that's just how the industry is.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Official Round 2 Rules are up.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Is it just me, or is anyone else not able to get the round 2 rules to load? I've tried Owen's link as well as the one on the main RPG Superstar page.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka dien

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Joel: they've been sort of hiccupy for me, but I did get them to load eventually. In case anyone else is having trouble seeing them:

The Rules:

The Rules wrote:

Entry Requirements

Entry must be of a fantasy-themed location on Golarion. You may create a map for a city, wilderness, dungeon, or any other fantasy Golarion location appropriate for a full-page map.
Only the title of the map (which must be 8 or fewer words) and the map itself may be submitted. Any notes about what various symbols, lines, or shaded areas mean, or what each area on the map represents, must be presented on the map itself. The map need not be ready-to-publish, but a cartographer given nothing but the map should be able to create an accurate, useful, interesting publishable final map without any other information.
Entry must be 8.5" x 11".
Your map must be 150 dpi when submitted.
Your map must be in .jpg format when submitted.
Your map may be color, grayscale, or black and white.
Your map may be hand-drawn or computer-generated.
Your map must have a compass rose indicating north and a scale (such as "one square = 5 feet").
Artistic merit of the map is not a factor, but your maps should be a place you would want to adventure. Make sure your map is clear, detailed, and imaginative.
Submitted maps must be legible, neat, and contain all of the necessary information from which a cartographer could create a professional map illustration for a published adventure. If your handwriting is hard to read, consider using the text tool on an image-manipulating program to create the text on your map. Alternatively, you could print out the text on a separate page, cut out the text into small sections, tape it to the map, and create a scan of the tagged map.
Before submitting your map, if it is being scanned, check the brightness/contrast settings on your scanner because of the above requirement. If your map is too dark or blown out, it makes it difficult for voters and judges to see the features you're trying to present in your map. Maps will not be adjusted for brightness/contrast issues after submission, so what you submit is what people will see.
If your map has features that aren't immediately recognizable, consider adding a map key (• = pillar, o = barrel, and so on). The map key must fit within the 8.5" x 11" area of the map. Other than the title of the map, NO other material may be presented beyond what is on the 8.5" x 11". If you add too much information, your map may appear cluttered and disorganized. Be judicious and use the space well.
Maps must be emailed to contest@paizo.com with the subject line "RPG Superstar Round 2 Submission" no later than 2:00 PM Pacific time on January 23, 2015. Please include the title of your map in the body of the email. You do not need to use the Submission Tool. Entries will not be adjusted after your email has been received, so double check before hitting "Send." You will receive a confirmation email once your entry has been received.

Submissions will be revealed and voting begins on January 27, 2015, and voting ends at 2:00 PM Pacific time on February 2, 2015. Judges will announce the Top 16 entries on February 4, 2014.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

They loaded for me from Owen's link above. There's some FAQ stuff at the top, then the full rules a bit further down.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Hodge Podge

Argh, Friday. Jeebus. D:

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

It's a tight, tight, tight deadline for people who inevitably have things like jobs, social commitments, and all the distractions of life.
That's intentional.
I am really excited to see what we get from folks!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Hodge Podge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

On the off chance I got into the top 32, I decided to purchase a secret weapon this year.

The Exchange

I'm really looking forward to all the maps! Those un-keyed maps were a favorite feature when I used to read "Dungeon" magazine. Good luck, you top 32ers!

Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm not a judge in this round, obviously (a voter, but not a judge), but I'll tell you what I'm personally looking for- I'm looking for something off the wall. Just based on my pre-planning in case I somehow made it to the next round, I know there are a ton of interesting places on Golarion that are mentioned in the various products that would make for some cool locations to map, but some of the most interesting and bizarre ideas I had are things that I haven't ever seen tackled before, period (okay, really just two ideas I had, one a holdover from last year), but if someone were to do something like that- that would be my top pick for sure.

I would be very surprised if at least one of the places I was considering didn't get picked up by someone in the top 32+4 though. I'd actually be almost disappointed if it didn't.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Honestly, I have absolutely no clue what I'm looking for in a map just on it's own. It's quite possible that I won't vote for anything, since just a map doesn't resonate with me very well.

That being said, I won't be shocked if a few of the entries surprise me and I vote for them.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

Quote:
a previously unmapped fantasy-themed location in Golarion
Jensen Toperzer wrote:
So as someone who is only a casual visitor to Golarion, what HAS been mapped already?

Because I master the [redacted] adventure path, I have the softcover books at home. It was simple to compare the Guide to [redacted] locations with the actual softcover books of the AP in order to see if my Golarion-specific location had been used as an encounter in the adventure path.

It wasn't, so I used the location's (brief) description to orient my map making session.

Yes, you kinda need the content books in order to make sure that what you're mapping hasn't already been done if you want to go along with the restrictions. For instance, I firmly believe that mapping Rise of the Runelords' Sandpoint or Thistletop would be folly and grounds for disqualification.

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