Maps, and Pathfinder


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Thanks, Krome. I am a longtime user of Poser (since Version 1.0 -7.0) and do use a lot of items for my maps that are rendered in it. I also use a handful of other 3D apps to get the effects I want for the objects and terrain in my maps. PNG object packs might work best for special effects and things to place in other programs or to help designers with an extra oomph to their own maps. Renderocity.com does offer a great selection of "things" and a good base for a price platform for this. I'll do a little more digging to see what would work best financially and creatively; like how many objects for 'x' cost. Keep discussing.


Corey Macourek wrote:


For another project, I am curious if enough gamers or DMs own Photoshop or something similar and would be able to use a package of images (floors, objects, creatures, etc. ) that would enable them to drag and drop things into place. Possible object expansion packs could be available as a layered PSD file, same with effects or creatures. But it depends on the end-user's software. Gimp might be an option for those who do not have Photoshop, but It might have some incompatibilities...more research to be done for sure, but a possibility. Interested? Let me know. Would you buy it? How much should it cost? This is all good info. Thanks. ©

Looking forward to seeing this mystery product.

As for the use of these pictures, yes they would be useful to folks with photoshop, dundjinni, etc. But the most important point is that imagine manipulation software is obsolete for VTT users! I can load your structural map and your objects into maptool and have the players interact with their placement! So in answer to your question, yes, yes a thousand times yes! It is only a matter of time before this becomes the standard for all VTTs.

My dream map bundle would have all of the structures from an AP chapter, and a lot of furniture, objects, etc that I could place as needed. It should also have a flattened "default" for people who just want traditional maps. Add in a "token" image for each relevant NPC and you have a premium map product that can be used as-is with the FREE virtual tabletop maptool.

This would save me the time of searching for each object, of drafting structural maps on my own... it would also result in a consistent visual experience since all objects would have the same illustrator. Having everything I need to run a module in a VTT with full functionality (i.e. separate object placeables) would be so worth it.

$15.99 if you have structural maps, objects, and NPC tokens organized. That's for a full AP chapter or module.

People could print them, load them into VTTs, or make static maps in dundjinni or photoshop.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

VTT gaming has intrigued me for a long time, and I suspect that, far more soon than most gamers expect, it'll replace the actual physical tabletop as the preferred method of gaming—especially in cases where a beloved gaming group would otherwise break up because gamers are moving away and actually physically traveling to a game location becomes impossible.

That said... Paizo is not poised on that forefront of cutting edge technology. We are still primarily a print company for now, and while I hope that we'll make the transition to the eventuality of VTTs gracefully, that time isn't here yet. Which is good news for us, since we don't have the resources to officially roll out full VTT support at this time. I DO expect this to change at some point in the future... I just hope it happens at a time and in a way that doesn't crush us with a flood of new responsibilities and work at our end.


Corey Macourek wrote:
For another project, I am curious if enough gamers or DMs own Photoshop or something similar and would be able to use a package of images (floors, objects, creatures, etc. ) that would enable them to drag and drop things into place.

I would hazard a guess that many don't have Photoshop, as it is a bit expensive to tool around in.

There is a free program available: GIMP. It is supposed to be very similar to Photoshop, I just don't have any experience in Photoshop to compare. I also don't know how many are aware of it...

Good luck on your projects, may they see fruition.


James Jacobs wrote:

VTT gaming has intrigued me for a long time, and I suspect that, far more soon than most gamers expect, it'll replace the actual physical tabletop as the preferred method of gaming—especially in cases where a beloved gaming group would otherwise break up because gamers are moving away and actually physically traveling to a game location becomes impossible.

That said... Paizo is not poised on that forefront of cutting edge technology. We are still primarily a print company for now, and while I hope that we'll make the transition to the eventuality of VTTs gracefully, that time isn't here yet. Which is good news for us, since we don't have the resources to officially roll out full VTT support at this time. I DO expect this to change at some point in the future... I just hope it happens at a time and in a way that doesn't crush us with a flood of new responsibilities and work at our end.

For what it's worth, I hope you recognize that Paizo's role is as "content provider". Don't make the mistake of dabbling in software, just do your best to enable VTT users to access your products.

The plan I have discussed above is not that outlandish. I understand it's a departure from what you do now, but really it is just a matter of providing a library of images that can be used with your product. It's the same model you're adopting with Paper Minis and terrain, just a different medium.

In other words you'll be fine.

Like it or not, Paizo is on the forefront of VTT advances as far as content providers are involved. The art is worth using and available in PDF. For now, that's all you need to corner this market. Keeping it will require innovation, and object manipulation is the obvious next step.

EDIT:

Get a projector in the Paizo office. Get a copy of every successful VTT you can find, and get an intern to learn how to use them all. That way, you'll have someone on staff who can tell you what the future of RPGs is. Worth the investment.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

toyrobots wrote:
For what it's worth, I hope you recognize that Paizo's role is as "content provider". Don't make the mistake of dabbling in software, just do your best to enable VTT users to access your products.

Oh, I absolutely recognize this. My concern is more that many of our customers DON'T recognize this. Part of the reason we're able to get so much quality content out in print is because we're all working really heard here to get said products out, so I just get a little nervous and sensitive when the topic of "why doesn't Paizo do things this way instead?" comes up... :-)

The suggestion of getting a projector, getting copies of every VTT, and then having someone learn how to use them all and track the information is a perfect example of something that'd be neat but also something that we just can't do with our resources at this time, of course.


James Jacobs wrote:


The suggestion of getting a projector, getting copies of every VTT, and then having someone learn how to use them all and track the information is a perfect example of something that'd be neat but also something that we just can't do with our resources at this time, of course.

I plan on moving to the Seattle area in the near future. I own a projector ;)

No seriously, it is just good that you are listening. Stop listening, and you can expect to fall behind.

of course, as long as the other companies fall behind FASTER, you're still leading right?

Keep PDFs cheap and useful, that should help with the VTT crowd for some time.

Grand Lodge

Tbot I downloaded that VTT and I find it VERY interesting.

Some of our group are vehemently anti-computer at the game table, while some of us prefer everything on the laptop.

I keep my character sheet on my laptop which drives one guy nuts (or did). I like digital dice rollers too (saves a LOT of money on dice- one dice roller sucks you start using a different one! and you don't have to buy more dice!).

I keep d20srd.org up and ready... so for me VTT is a blessing! I need to play some more but like what I see so far.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Corey Macourek wrote:
Possible object expansion packs could be available as a layered PSD file, same with effects or creatures. But it depends on the end-user's software.

Yes, yes and YES!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
... I just hope it happens at a time and in a way that doesn't crush us with a flood of new responsibilities and work at our end.

Reminds me of some other "scuttlejet", its cooming, we sure can tell you! Bahooey, we have a button on the internet that will work soon. Don't worry, we are experts at this. Here we go, who knows where it will lead us! Don't pay attention to that man behind the curtains!

If anyone can do it James, Paizo could. If you all do, perhaps you should go about it in a modular way. Promise something that is virtually nothing, and expand on it solidly. No promises. Just a little simple proggy that does something real simple but better than anyone else. After that, another little proggy.

I am sure you guys will go about it like that anyway. Everything that Paizo has done has been solid steps with careful precision.


Krome wrote:


I keep d20srd.org up and ready... so for me VTT is a blessing! I need to play some more but like what I see so far.

I've set maptool up so that spells and effects that appear in chat link to directly to the SRD. Lookup time is zero. I look forward to changing it over to the Pathfinder "SRD" when it is robust enough.

That's another way Paizo can keep the VTT edge they had dropped in their lap by WotC: don't screw up the SRD. Do the same thing d20srd.org does, as closely as you can copy it. It is a damn near perfect reference site.


I might have a test CD of Map-building tools (PSDs with tiles, accents, "things") for PaizoCon to test the market to see if this is material that is usable. There are important steps that need to happen before breaking this out, but this looks optimistic.

Grand Lodge

Corey Macourek wrote:
I might have a test CD of Map-building tools (PSDs with tiles, accents, "things") for PaizoCon to test the market to see if this is material that is usable. There are important steps that need to happen before breaking this out, but this looks optimistic.

Do you have ANY idea how cool that is? It is a map addict's wet dream!

That is really really a sad statement *sigh*


Corey Macourek wrote:
I might have a test CD of Map-building tools (PSDs with tiles, accents, "things") for PaizoCon to test the market to see if this is material that is usable. There are important steps that need to happen before breaking this out, but this looks optimistic.

I think there's more of a market for this than you realize. As I said before, you'll have Dundjinni/Photoshop map builders, straight up VTT users, and people who like to print maps.

I suggest you organize the product into a core set, with a lot of "must haves" like windows and common furniture, and then branch out into "theme" sets. For example, all of the spooky Drow stuff should be together.

In that format, I would say a fair price would be from 5 to 10 dollars per theme, depending on the size of the collection.

Really, metadata is the thing that an object collection needs. I need to be able to search for a spooky spider altar by searching for any of those three terms. So try to get a really robust tagging system if that is possible.


I'd like to chip in my few pence. I started mapping for maptool as a hobby and now map professionally for the gaming industry. Due to that background I try to keep an eye on keeping my maps useful for VTT use, and equally for home battlemat use. Some here my know me as Torstan from the Cartographer's Guild and the RPTools forums.

I do what many here are requesting. I create all my maps - whether they be for Kobold Quarterly, Open Design or Rite Publishing - at 100px=5' so that they print out at 100dpi so that 1 grid prints out as a 1 inch square. I get a small bonus to my rates for this service. Sometimes this means the original file is much larger than the eventual print scale, but that is actually very rare.

If the print scale of a map is full page then the pixel dimensions will be 3300 by 2550. At 100dpi that's 33 squares by 25 which is a decent size. If you are willing to drop the resolution to 50px (fine for VTTs, but not really reasonable for print) then you'd get 66 by 51 - which really is a good sized dungeon. If you need more squares than that, then James is dead right and you'd be talking about commissioning a different map image entirely for it to look decent, and that is expensive and time consuming.

However, if you can structure the maps to fit those kind of dimensions then it's not a lot of extra work. I have done this for all the maps for Rite Publishing. I created the map packs myself and sell them through Rite on RPGNow. Paizo's cartographers' could certainly do this. I also sell them through Gamer Printshop for those that don't want to print them out themselves.

The maps for sale are exactly the same maps that I created for the print products.

This is also true for the Kobold Quarterly Map of Fantasy. That link shows the iso map that went into the print version. I also created a top down version solely for people to printo out at home or for VTT use. The 50px image can be seen here (the original is 100px to a grid, but I won't post it as its on sale at koboldquarterly.com for $1). For that you get a printable pdf booklet with both a colour and a greyscale version. These don't have the labels on it so they can be used at the table. I also have versions available with no grid and with no contents with the contents placeable separately in maptool. This took around 30 mins to do after the map was created because I knew that would be the requirement at the end of the day. I know work that way for all the maps I do for Wolfgang (KQ and Open Design) and also for Rite Publishing. If anyone (this goes to all reading this thread) ever needs a different version of one of my maps then contact me and I will always be willing to send it over if I have it and have the right to do so.

As for assets - there's lots of free stuff out there. Just check out the Dunjinni forums. I also created the tileset that will ship with the next stable release of maptool - you can find it here:

[url]http://www.fantasticmaps.com/Downloads.html[/url]

It can be used with any VTT and most paint programs, and you are welcome to use it for free. I've used it for the top two levels of Monte's Dungeon a Day and others have used it for the maps from H2 and others. I intend to keep it updated. For example it now contains the objects from the Bandit's Lair maps - including the cat.

So to summarise, it's certainly possible to create maps that fit the need expressed by people here. As long as the maps for the print version are large enough (around 1/3 inch to a grid size) then it is trivial to provide a 100dpi map for people to use at the gametable or in online play. If the original scale is much smaller than that, then it becomes a more difficult problem.

I might as well add that I am more than happy to put in the extra time to work up larger scale maps if I were employed by Paizo :) My rates are still cheap as well, as I'm still pretty new to this game. I even believe that James has a personal reference for me from Wolfgang.....

Anyway, enough hustling. I'll let this thread get back on track.


I would encourage Paizo to have a test run a VTT Map pack for sale on a future product, as we have done with a our patronage projects.

I realize that +30 minutes for every map you put out would not be something you would want to start out doing, but if you planned ahead as Jonathan Roberts suggests and with the idea that it was a test producct (a bundle of maps or even a single map). You could learn if this is a viable enough market for paizo to invest resources in.

Or you could just hire Jonathan Roberts to do it :)

Just my two ooppers.

Steve Russell
Rite Publishing

Grand Lodge

Honestly, the more I think about this, and believe me I am thinking about it WAY too much, I think Paizo needs to stay out of it. Let Paizo do what Paizo does best.

Instead, Paizo can talk to their cartographers about preparing maps as we have discussed here. Also allow other cartographers to prepare maps for sale, as we have discussed.

Then just allow those maps to be sold on the Paizo store. It doesn't make one iota difference to me whether Paizo is the one actually making (commissioning) the maps. Instead, if we have 3-5 cartographers providing content on a regular basis we are all set.

They can each do their own work and sell their own maps however they want, that works best for them (though I encourage communications with each other and customers to limit duplication and provide useful material- a guild sort of).

All Paizo has to do is provide a storefront and just focus on what Paizo does best.

Grand Lodge

Question for cartographers...

What resolution is good for maps at print quality? For photography, 240 ppi is about the bottom. I usually print mine at 300 ppi and they are just fine. Is 100 ppi really all that is needed for maps?


There's certainly a value to that, but it raises the question of quality control. If Paizo allow people to take their intellectual property and sell independent maps of those encounters then they are relinquishing a level of control. I'm not sure if Paizo really wants to do that. I'm sure there's a middle ground between the two extremes and I'd be interested to hear Paizo's view on the question. Trust me, if there were a licence that allowed me to create scale battlemaps for Paizo adventure paths and sell them myself, I would.


Krome wrote:

Honestly, the more I think about this, and believe me I am thinking about it WAY too much, I think Paizo needs to stay out of it. Let Paizo do what Paizo does best.

Well, it's all here for posterity anyway.

For me, the fun in this conversation is thinking about the direction VTTs are moving. No company I can see has made VTT-friendly adventures yet. By VTT friendly, I don't mean game that is in any sponsoring or integrated with a VTT, just a traditional module or AP product that is distributed in a way that makes VTT use easy.

Some companies are actively going in the opposite direction, trying to compete with online tools, or getting mired in making their own!

There are some pretty clear signs for the road ahead.


100dpi is low and you certainly won't get photo quality from it. However you're also not getting photo detail from your maps. Remember that these things are being spread over a table, so you're not examining ever detail in a 5' square. Think how much detail there is in an inch of photo. Now think about how detailed you really want the flagstones in your dungeon to be. You can manage pretty well at 100dpi, and it gives the best chance for a map for a printed module to be able to be translated to a 1 inch grid battlemap without redrawing the whole thing.

As for VTT play - screens are 72 or 96 dpi so 100dpi maps are pretty much perfect.

Also, I posted my rather long response and missed Toyrobot's post. I wanted to ask a couple of questions of those interested in tiles and assets. Would you prefer a set of pregen rooms that slot together or something more freeform? The maptool set has floor textures, separate walls and corners and separate items. This lets you build any dungeon you like (more or less) but it takes a little longer than a set with prebuilt rooms. Prebuilt rooms limit your options to those rooms that you have, but they are much quicker to lay down. Thoughts?


JonathanRoberts wrote:


Also, I posted my rather long response and missed Toyrobot's post. I wanted to ask a couple of questions of those interested in tiles and assets. Would you prefer a set of pregen rooms that slot together or something more freeform? The maptool set has floor textures, separate walls and corners and separate items. This lets you build any dungeon you like (more or less) but it takes a little longer than a set with prebuilt rooms. Prebuilt rooms limit your options to those rooms that you have, but they are much quicker to lay down. Thoughts?

Textures are preferable for maptool because they have a low resource cost. If you only use a few textures to paint with, you can create some astonishingly large maps (think Kilometers).

However, just textures may limit the utility of an art pack for non-maptool users. Having both would be quite nice.

A tile system is a decent compromise, since a stamp is just a resource reference in Maptool. The more different tiles you use, the less efficient your map will be.

I can find textures with relative ease, I think the added value of an art pack is to provide things I can't do easily: colorful, varied maps. Structural maps of distinct locations in the world would be the best value, I think.


Hey guys, Good chats.

I make all of my maps at 300 dpi, regardless of size. This gives me a good amount of pixels to fill with details...lots of details. I really enjoy texture. You can get away with 200-240 if you need the HD space or if your CPU is running high. This will generally give you a good print from a Kinko's or upper level Epson printer. Online use ranges from 72-100 dpi in my experience.

I AM researching the original map accessory idea. <read as heaviliy thinking about building something> All bases need to be covered with this. Legal, cost, time, distribution. I'm on it.

We'll see if something is ready by PaizoCon.


@Toyrobots: Something like the pack I have put together for maptool then but for more exotic locales? Here's an example room built with the tileset. I was thinking of putting together a set for an ice castle tile set with walls, floor textures, crevasses, ice furniture, icicles and so on. Does that sound like a good example of the kind of thing you were after, ideally with a few preconstructed rooms and passages made with the set and included?

@Corey: It sounds like we're thinking along similar lines. I'd be very interested to see what you come up with. If you want to chat through the details of this kind of project off thread I'd be interested to talk.

Grand Lodge

Okay, THREADJACK TIME!

I have a few cartographers here! Awesome! I do a slightly above amateur level of map work (Photoshop and Poser). It is okay, but not pro level by any means. I would like to improve my skills (which are so very different from those used in photography). Is there a website, or webgroup you guys know of that I could join to become better?

Here are two links to a couple of small maps I made for an adventure I am writing. Sanctuary, and Hallway.


I am quite interested in a higher-res digital map option to go with Paizo products. I would pay money for such a thing.


Well at least you are honest in your threadjacking :)

Join the Cartographer's Guild: www.cartographersguild.com It's the best place on the net for learning about cartography. Seriously, I wouldn't be doing what I do if it weren't for the guys on there. There are tutorials for everything. You should check out threads by Gamerprinter as he does a lot of 3D work for his maps. They also run monthly contests and there's a pretty busy mapmaking requests forum that has both industry and private commissions posted in it. As far as I know it's the largest fantasy mapping forum on the web and has even survived being linked to by Penny Arcade (Gabe uses Neonknights Thunderspore maps).

Those maps are great - certainly a solid foundation to build from.

Now back to our previously scheduled programming.


Corey Macourek wrote:
I might have a test CD of Map-building tools (PSDs with tiles, accents, "things") for PaizoCon to test the market to see if this is material that is usable. There are important steps that need to happen before breaking this out, but this looks optimistic.

I would certainly buy an object library just to make my pbp mapping easier. psd, png... whatever, it's all usable to me.

Grand Lodge

JonathanRoberts wrote:

Well at least you are honest in your threadjacking :)

Join the Cartographer's Guild: www.cartographersguild.com It's the best place on the net for learning about cartography. Seriously, I wouldn't be doing what I do if it weren't for the guys on there. There are tutorials for everything. You should check out threads by Gamerprinter as he does a lot of 3D work for his maps. They also run monthly contests and there's a pretty busy mapmaking requests forum that has both industry and private commissions posted in it. As far as I know it's the largest fantasy mapping forum on the web and has even survived being linked to by Penny Arcade (Gabe uses Neonknights Thunderspore maps).

Those maps are great - certainly a solid foundation to build from.

Now back to our previously scheduled programming.

Well apparently already a member! Funny don't remember it before! lol

Thanks, I have spent all night looking at some tutorials and already a HUGE improvement on my overland maps!

[/threadjack]

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Krome wrote:

Question for cartographers...

What resolution is good for maps at print quality? For photography, 240 ppi is about the bottom. I usually print mine at 300 ppi and they are just fine. Is 100 ppi really all that is needed for maps?

I use 300 DPI for anything I print. Anything else is reduced quality in print. Generally, I do not understand what the worries are for 300 dpi files for working quality. I would not work in anything else, because you can always go down, but never back up.

That is why I believe that the maps Paizo has in their APs was 300 DPI and then downsized. It would be ludicrious to make it at anything less. Time and again, when I go below 300DPI, I get asked to blow it up and cut off stuff. If the quality isn't there when you blow it up, then it won't look pretty enough for "print quality". Everything has to be redone. Therefore, if I was working for anything in the printing business, I would go 600 DPI to be on the safe side. The file might be heavy, but you can make amendments and size adjustments without worry.

Rule of thumb, you can always go down in quality, but you can't go up in quality if you did it in a lesser dpi.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Corey Macourek wrote:

Hey guys, Good chats.

I AM researching the original map accessory idea. <read as heaviliy thinking about building something> All bases need to be covered with this. Legal, cost, time, distribution. I'm on it.

We'll see if something is ready by PaizoCon.

Go get'em Corey! You are part of this world! Save it! Save it!

Funny, I had this exact intention when I created this post for Object Packs.


@Zuxius: Absolutely. I always work at 300dpi or above. The point is that these are created at 300dpi for a full page print, not 300dpi for a floor sized battlemat. A 300dpi full page AP map might still only give you 50 pixels per grid square because the grids are designed to print at a size where the whole dungeon fits on a page. I'm certain all the Paizo maps are created at 300dpi or above. It's the pixels per grid that is the question at hand.

@Krome: I'm glad you're finding it useful. Let me know your user name over there and I'll drop by and say hi. I'd be interested in seeing the maps you've made as a result.


JonathanRoberts wrote:
@Toyrobots: Something like the pack I have put together for maptool then but for more exotic locales? Here's an example room built with the tileset.

This looks really good! I'm excited about this prospect. How did you go about assembling this in maptool? Did you use the painting tools and snap-to-grid? Or did you make stamp objects of the various tile types?

One potential hurdle is that I think the maptool license might prohibit you from selling .cmpgn files. But that's fine, since art collections are generalizable to other VTTs and to static mapmakers.

I am very glad to see things moving in this direction! Now, the most useful thing of all would be to have them run alongside an AP — with object tokens for the relevant treasure, traps etc. That plus ready-to-go character tokens would make it an ideal product, just point maptool and your favorite framework at the directory and play.

It seems to me that with a little planning, the tabletop map and object products could pull double-duty in PDF form for VTT players.


No cmpgn file required. The tile pack is a zip.

As for creating these in maptool, there's a thread on it in the maptool forums:

http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=7418

I was asked to create the map tile pack by the RPTools team - so yes, I am happy assembling this in maptool! The subject got so popular that the threads on tilepack creation got their own forum.

The first one (dungeon basics) is free and will be part of the core download of maptool when it goes stable. Future packs will be cheap and I plan to sell them through RPGNow and other online stores. They will all be done in the same modular hand drawn style.

Tying in with the AP is a good idea. Obviously if you also had objects for the individual treasures then you'd be able to give your players the token - with all the details of the magic item contained in the player and GM notes! That would rule... Hmmm, will certainly have to think a little more about that.


JonathanRoberts wrote:

No cmpgn file required. The tile pack is a zip.

As for creating these in maptool, there's a thread on it in the maptool forums:

http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=7418

I was asked to create the map tile pack by the RPTools team - so yes, I am happy assembling this in maptool! The subject got so popular that the threads on tilepack creation got their own forum.

The first one (dungeon basics) is free and will be part of the core download of maptool when it goes stable. Future packs will be cheap and I plan to sell them through RPGNow and other online stores. They will all be done in the same modular hand drawn style.

Tying in with the AP is a good idea. Obviously if you also had objects for the individual treasures then you'd be able to give your players the token - with all the details of the magic item contained in the player and GM notes! That would rule... Hmmm, will certainly have to think a little more about that.

This just goes to prove something I've long believed: maptool is amazing. I can look it over for months and months and still find new features that are insanely useful.

Thanks for making this and bringing it to my attention. I'd love to see some more crossover love between Paizo and RPTools.

EDIT: This is a very impressive creation! Bravo! Right into my resource directory.


Krome wrote:


...I can't show the players the map in the book because it has the key and shows secret doors and stuff. So I have to hand draw that map on a battlemap. What we use in game is still the same crap art we have used for 20 years.

A quick hand drawn sketch is just as useful as those gorgeous maps. Because neither one will ever be used in an actual game.

BUT if I had a product that allowed me to actually USE those maps in game play... WOW!

Bingo! Ubiquitous digital technology offers truly amazing potential that has yet to be realized by anyone. (Though not for lack of trying *cough* DDI *cough*). Instead, people are out there doing it for themselves.

Paizo has show that they are a well run, customer-friendly organization that "gets it" (think PDFs), but they've also stated they are resource-constrained and the books always come first. Here's the thing, though: It wouldn't take all that much:
* License an existing character builder (HeroLab?)
* License a VTT
* Create a product with tabletop quality maps with the DM info scrubbed (mostly reformatting!)

WorldWorks has shown that there are companies out there, doing top quality work, that would love to partner with Paizo.

Sooner or later, someone is going to get this right. There is a huge opportunity here, and I don't think it is out of Paizo's reach to seize it.

Here's to hoping.


Corey Macourek wrote:
Thanks for the feedback and boost. Thinking has turned into fervent digital research. Wheels are turning, discussions have begun. Stay tuned. I do read these boards, so please give me feedback to what content would be appealing. Thanks!

Hey Corey,

I have been wanting to give you (and Paizo) some intelligent feedback on maps.. and frankly I don't have much to say that hasn't been said better already by Krome, ToyRobots, and Jonathan Roberts and others...

But then the thought occured to me to share one of my experiences with a Paizo product.

And then how it might have been made simpler.

I'll put this behind a spoiler tag because it is about an AP, and just to keep this from being a wall of text.

Spoiler:

On Page 10 of Chapter 3, in Rise of the Runelords, there is a wilderness map of the Varisian countryside. It's a nice overview of the wilderness and the various trading communities that the PCs might go through on the way to the adventuring sites.

It also has all the monster lairs, and adventuring spots spelled out clearly.

I could have really have used the map before the players had ever heard of "Skulls Crossing", the "Graul Homestead", or "Hook Mountain Clanhold". I could have used this map at the very beginning of the adventure.

What I actually did, was get Photoshop. Spent a couple hours with a friend to figure out how it worked. Spent about an hour failing to lift the specific tags off of the map, and then painted over them with a color/texture/whatever, so they couldn't be read and the map still looked basically pretty like it originally was.

But with prep time now considered a premium, that was hours of unnecessary work, just so I could have a pretty map of the countryside- with no spoilers. Hours of time, which I didn't have to do, but felt like I wanted to do simply because I felt like an idiot showing anybody a countryside map with monster locations on it before those story elements had been introduced.

I found out later, by reading the message boards, then I could have copied the map from the PDF with Acrobat Reader 8, and all of the tags would have been gone. Which would not have been ideal either.

But you see my point? I need to read the message boards carefully to find that tip. And what about all the tags I don't want to have removed like "Turtleback Ferry" which is the destination the PCs are heading to at the beginning of the adventure? I wanted that to be still on the map!

So let's consider the map that Paizo gave me. An attractive map with GM only information, that I have to spend time to alter or reproduce (or just give in and show to the players).

Now I run the risk of seeming like I am criticizing Paizo. Despite the impression, I'm not. I didn't when the adventure was published. This is how the industry works. This is nothing new and nothing that everybody else doesn't also do. This is how the products are made, and always have been.

The synergy I'm trying to play off of Toyrobots and Krome's posts.. it doesn't have to stay this way! Their ideas are far more reaching that my simple suggestion of having layers that can be turned on and off..

But I guess the crux of my post is.. there are ways to making using these adventure tools easier that people don't even know that they need or want yet.. because they've never had them before!

But once upon time, microwave ovens and PCs were luxury items for the privileged. Eventually they became indispensable.

I hope this has been helpful, and again, this was not an attack on Paizo.

If you had selectable layers, and the other golly gee whiz ideas like moveable objects.. I would certainly buy it.


I don't think Paizo should license a specific VTT.

I won't ever pay for a VTT service as long as I feel the free version is better (and I think it is). I think art collections are the way to go, since they support all VTTs equally, and carry essentially no risk for a content provider (Paizo). In a lot of cases, Paizo is actually already doing what we've asked! It's just a matter of presenting the material in a way that saves us time.

Make it easy for us to play modules beautifully with our software of choice. The art will sell, and it will advertise the modules, which will sell in PDF to people who are playing remotely anyway. There is no need to throw in with one VTT over any other, because they all include the ability to import images.

Grand Lodge

"JonathanRoberts wrote:
"@Krome: I'm glad you're finding it useful. Let me know your user name over there and I'll drop by and say hi. I'd be interested in seeing the maps you've made as a result.

Krome there as well. :) I know a fountain of originality.

This "map" has absolutely no point of what-so-ever. It was just sitting playing with some overland map tutorials. Sort of an experiment and play just to see what happens.

Test Map

Now I need to sit down and make a map for real!

Grand Lodge

Hey, Tbot! Question for ya.

I am still playing with the VTT you linked up, so all of this may be in there, I just have not seen it yet.

What I would like to see is a program similar to PCGen, that allows me to create characters using specific and alterable rules, then, like Dundjinni, I can create encounters, plots, maps and such that I need to run the game (essentially, the adventure text).

Throw in a cool VTT for my displaying maps and can handle PCs and monster movement, dice bag, and quick links to d20SRD.org for spells and such (or PathfinderSRD.whatever when it appears).

In essence a one stop shop.

Does anything do all of that?


Krome wrote:

Hey, Tbot! Question for ya.

Woot! Threadjack!

Spoiler:

I'm sure there's some proprietary software that covers all these bases. However, I'm cheap, and nerdy, so my preferred solution is to use Maptool for everything.

If you check out the "User Created" forum on the RPTools messageboard, you'll see that a guy name iMarkus has put together a pretty impressive Pathfinder/3.5 framework. I like to build things myself though, so I'm not sure about the exact status of that project.

It is possible to create a character builder in maptool if you're prepared to learn the eccentric scripting language that has evolved around it. As a coder the syntax somewhat irritates me since it all has to go through a chat window (lots of brackets) but it is also insanely flexible for what it is. Because the program is RP system agnostic, it can take a lot of effort to make it fully automate your game, unless someone has already done some of the work for you.

When I build a module for my Runelords/Maptool campaign, I use the "Notes" panel of the token menu a lot. Anything written in that panel will display text when a Player clicks on it, so it is perfect for descriptions of rooms and such. You can also use a transparent PNG for appending these notes to less interactive maps (like the ones from Runelords).

There are only a few things left that you cannot do with Maptool Macros, and I am convinced these will be possible soon. HTML character sheet generated from token variables? Sure! Character Generation? That's sort of easy, depending on how deep you want to go (3.5 is inherently quirky). Area description text built in? Try doing what I do and pinning descriptions on everything — then don't allow a passive search roll to find traps. Your players will spend a few minutes reading all the text before they dare set foot in a room! Macros can track hit points quite easily, and with a little bit of effort can manage and entire attack roll with whatever modifiers and states you need.

So basically the answer is: nearly anything is possible in Maptool. There are some decent existing 3.5 and Pathfinder frameworks that some folks collaborate on, you can check those out and see if it is to your liking. But if you want all the features done your way, you can achieve that by learning the macro script and coding it up the way you like it.

My school quarter is over in 2 days, when I plan on sitting down and making a complete Pathfinder framework for maptool myself. You can be I'll post the results here!

PS - still playing with that tileset. WANT MORE.


@Krome (I'll behave and stick this in spoiler tags too):

Spoiler:

Hmm, did a search under Krome and didn't turn anything up. I like the overland map - I see you found Pasis' mountains tutorial. You should stick it up in the WIP sections. You'll certainly get some useful feedback.

And as for the unified tool of everything - well I think that is unlikely to ever exist. More details:

Spoiler:

Maptool has lots of flexibility with the macro system and the pseudo-scripting language. That is likely to change in 1.4 when proper scripting is implemented - but for now an awful lot of the mechanics of a game can be automated - so it certainly covers a lot of the bases of a game manager and has certainly moved beyond the level of being just a virtual map viewer.

It does handle modular map creation well too, so if you import items (say from the dunjinni forums, or a separate tile pack) then o can create your encounter maps in program, as well as overland maps and so on. As long as your tags and labels are separate objects, then you can reveal those as your players discover them - a nice solution to the problem mentioned earlier in the thread about having either all the labels or none.

Now as for campaign scale management? That's probably still best done outside in another program. People like to keep notes intheir own formats, and track experience. I guess it could be done in maptool, but I haven't seen any examples of this yet. I think some of the non-free tools like Fantasy Grounds have a little more of the campaign structure built in.

The Character Generation is really the issue. It would be daft for a VTT company to really go into creating character generation software. There are already great tools out there that are dedicated to this - Hero Lab, PCGen. The best bet is for Maptool users to create a translation library to allow PCGen to export a maptool character token that can be dropped into maptool and have all the right properties in the right places. I believe something like this is underway, and I know the guys at Hero Lab (one of them's a friend of mine from school) have thought a bit about this. Before this really takes off though, there would need to be one standard framework for each of the systems so that any Character generation tool could output to a standard xml format and have maptool understand it.

All of these things are possible, and they are all getting much closer. It's just not there yet. I'd say that the next year will see a lot more interoperability between the softwares that will bring the goal of a unified gaming framework closer to reality.

@Toyrobots: I'm glad you're enjoying the tileset. I'm still taking requests for items that you feel are missing. Coffins are the most requested element that aren't in so far and will be appearing soon. I'd be interested to see the results of your playing around.


Good feedback, guys. While I am not planning a VTT option standalone, I am taking ALL of this feedback, as well as from some posts from the cartographersguild.com about what the GMs and gamer want; unique visual resources for existing VTT products. This is possible, very possible. If a system works, don't break it, right?

So, officially (after I cleared any legal boundaries), I WILL be designing sets of tile textures, objects, and effects for download. I'm looking into eCommerce options and can create the first product hopefully before PaizoCon...and it will be available on CD there, too...with a yet-to-be-determined bonus.

Now comes the great part! You guys get to come up with the content for the first pack. I want to have the packs contain 30 tiles/objects/effects for around $10. Is that fair? These would not be limited to 10 different grass, stone, and dirt textures. C'mon, even I can get this stuff from online, but the focus will be on more realistic looking locales; grungy dungeons, broken marble, mossy and cracked earth. Also, stains, runed stones, treasure objects, and plenty of skulls and bones. All of the legal-schmegal will apply and will be included with the download.

So, let's get cracking. Please email me here to submit ideas <cmacourek@aol.com> I will making a short list by the end of the week and get cracking on making the content. I hope the store will be up sooner than later as well. Fun times ahead.


Corey Macourek wrote:

Good feedback, guys. While I am not planning a VTT option standalone, I am taking ALL of this feedback, as well as from some posts from the cartographersguild.com about what the GMs and gamer want; unique visual resources for existing VTT products. This is possible, very possible. If a system works, don't break it, right?

So, officially (after I cleared any legal boundaries), I WILL be designing sets of tile textures, objects, and effects for download. I'm looking into eCommerce options and can create the first product hopefully before PaizoCon...and it will be available on CD there, too...with a yet-to-be-determined bonus.

Now comes the great part! You guys get to come up with the content for the first pack. I want to have the packs contain 30 tiles/objects/effects for around $10. Is that fair? These would not be limited to 10 different grass, stone, and dirt textures. C'mon, even I can get this stuff from online, but the focus will be on more realistic looking locales; grungy dungeons, broken marble, mossy and cracked earth. Also, stains, runed stones, treasure objects, and plenty of skulls and bones. All of the legal-schmegal will apply and will be included with the download.

So, let's get cracking. Please email me here to submit ideas <cmacourek@aol.com> I will making a short list by the end of the week and get cracking on making the content. I hope the store will be up sooner than later as well. Fun times ahead.

Really, you said it all right there. I can get a lot of stuff online. If I was you, and I had Paizo's blessing, I would focus on providing those things that were uniquely Paizo: runelords-specific rune decorations, tiles players can use to replicate some of the distinctive maps from the APs, modules, etc. That's something we can't get online.


Thanks Toy.

Paizo's "blessing" to create content for those items is specific to their intellectual property and would entail some legal hurdles, not to mention the business aspects; management, art direction, budget, marketing for product tie-in. That said, it isn't a "no", but it isn't what I have discussed with Paizo at this time to work on something outside of the products they produce.

Talks have begun on things, that is all I can say. Nothing like a surprise announcement of D&D 5.0 or the My Little Pony RPG. Pixel development is far easier than coding development. Period.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Well, it does no good to throw it all on Corey's shoulders. I imagine the sources we provide will allow him time to manipulate the "colors" for the products he has through Paizo (and elsewhere). Its important that they match his work so they are doable on his map packs and flipmaps. I can see the demo at PaizoCon now. Printed objects and map morphing stickers.

Colors would be slightly different in PDFs, so that would have to be touched up as well.

It would be nice if some kind of color/texture standard came out of all this, so the objects go even further.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Hmm, come to think of it. Plastic objects for RPGs would be buyable too. Nice to have a tavern with real tables to kick around. You could even go so far to say that 3D Paper Object Minis would fit the bill.


JonathanRoberts wrote:
All of these things are possible, and they are all getting much closer. It's just not there yet. I'd say that the next year will see a lot more interoperability between the softwares that will bring the goal of a unified gaming framework closer to reality.

More Maptool musings:

Spoiler:

I'm convinced that the biggest obstacle to a fully featured campaign framework using Pathfinder is the lack of a final version. Once we have an SRD equivalent that can be implemented without concern of copyright infringement, very high quality Pathfinder frameworks will appear.

The biggest uncertainty for me is whether the Pathfinder open source reference site will copy d20srd.org closely enough to be of real use. I have reason to believe this is so, but can't be certain.

As soon as the final is out and the SRD equivalent is available, I suggest that some Paizoans band together and try to make the best possible Maptool offering to support Pathfinder. It would be very nice if that "electronic versions" clause of the OGL could be somehow nullified, at least for a freely distributed framework. I'm not sure if that's even an issue these days...


Corey Macourek wrote:

Thanks Toy.

Paizo's "blessing" to create content for those items is specific to their intellectual property and would entail some legal hurdles, not to mention the business aspects; management, art direction, budget, marketing for product tie-in. That said, it isn't a "no", but it isn't what I have discussed with Paizo at this time to work on something outside of the products they produce.

Talks have begun on things, that is all I can say. Nothing like a surprise announcement of D&D 5.0 or the My Little Pony RPG. Pixel development is far easier than coding development. Period.

Awesome, it is great to see that you have an open ear to suggestions. Just don't listen to me to much. :)

That said, I think it is still a good idea to try and provide unique products, even if they just skirt the limits of the IP. If you're selling the art here (on Paizo.com), you have a good idea of the maps people might want, with the adventure path as a guide to Pathfinder material. I would start there, and release bundles accordingly. LoF is running right now, might be a good time for some desert themed art sets. When Council of Thieves launches, it might be ideal to have some diabolical themed feudalism, and so on.

As far as pixel vs. code — as far as I'm concerned, I'm begging for art. Granted, it is a specialized form of art that fills a niche (VTTs), but all I ask for is the art, and organization. The code will write itself, strangely.

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