Lost Water Gardens of Jalmeray


Round 2: Create a map

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

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Lost Water Gardens of Jalmeray

Liberty's Edge Contributor

The Good
Very legible. I could turn this into a final map without any additional questions of clarification.

Some interesting additional terrain besides the standard stone floors (water pools, stairs, sudden drops).

There is a map compass, as well as a scale (though it too me a while to find).

The Bad
The location idea is very creative, but the map itself is a bit lackluster. Nothing specifically wrong, just a lot of rectangles.

The cutaway map and the Secret Library map do not line up; both show the secret library entrance in a different place. Which is correct?

My Judgement
The map shows promise, despite the problems, and the ability to communicate what you want is a good foundation. I give it a very tenuous pass.

Cartographer

Nice looking map reference upon first glance.

There is a compass rose and scale present on the map.

Good amount of details on this hand drawn map.

Nice use of color.

I think it would make a decent looking finished map.

I do recommend this map to progress to round 3

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

Drawing from my blog on maps, and the rules for the round, I’ll judge the maps on a number of questions.
Is It a Full Page Map?
Yes.
Does The Map Have A Compass Rose and Scale? Are They Used Well?
Yes, and yes.
Is The Map A Place I Want To Adventure?
Yep! This is exactly what I would expect a "water garden" to look like, and it's ripe with adventuring options.
Is the Map Clear?
Yes.
Is the Map Detailed?
Is the pyramid really just a giant hunk of rock with nothing in it? If no, the map is not detailed enough. If yes, that's a lot of the map's real estate to dedicate to a giant paperweight.
Is the Map Imaginative?
The idea for the location is great. The execution is okay, but a bit rigid. It's hard to manage wonder and amazement in a map design, but a "Lost" anything of Jalmeray should be an architectural marvel. This doesn’t lose points, but it doesn’t gain many either.
This is a neat idea, and it's executed well enough to use. I do recommend this map for advancement to Round 3.


It's kind of cool, but I find myself wondering where the hedges are supposed to be passable.


Russ, Russ, I told you in round 1 "Nobody puts baby in the corner"!

Your execution needs to catch up with your imagination. Like ice fang, you have a cool idea, but don't know how to pull it off to make it as awesome as it SHOULD be.

You need to find someone who knows how to make things awesome and knows what needs to be done, but cant come up with any good ideas on their own ;)
As part of a team, you would be great. On your own, I don't see you finishing off the work/adventure, into its final form. Yet?

I like the gardens though. A lot. Great place to host a big bad show down.
Weak keep.

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

The cross section makes this shine. I do like me some different elevations, and water features to splash through and down into while dodging in and out of pillars and cascading water.

I'm split on this - on the one hand visually it positively invites adventure, but on the other hand a part of me just thinks debauched pleasure mansion perhaps? This needs just a little more to indicate what kind of theme for the cartographer to instill into the map. I guess I'm kind of echoing Owen here.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka John Benbo

The side views definitely helped me understand the map with its elevation. Overall, I think the map is well-done and I like the inclusion of secret library. I could use myself using this map.

Grand Lodge

I like the map, and I believe it has a decent amount of detail present. I agree that the pyramid would be a bit of a waste if it is in fact empty.

The only real issue I noticed is the entrance to the secret library is depicted in two different spots. The elevation design shows the entrance on the bottom landing, where as the actual map for the secret library depicts the entrance on the second landing. The map overall is very good, and could be easily fixed, though.


BEEP BOOP for more information PLEASE SEE:

Jalmeray, the Kingdom of the Impossible; Vudra, distant homeland of the Jalmeri.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

4th map I have seen, dynamic location. You currently rank 3rd.

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

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Very interesting and dynamic water garden setting. I am a professional horticulturalist and interesting garden settings appeal to me. I really like the use of waterfalls and fountains grouped with multiple encounter areas. Really great visual imagery here, especially if the view from the 200 ft. outlook is well described.

A few issues came up as I checked over the map. First the secret library and deep well's location in the cross section and on the main map don't line up. That's a pretty important mistake. You also added numbers to mark elevation on the main map, when that would be more appropriate to be indicated on the cross-section cutaway. That way when the main map is labelled there would be no confusion.

Still this ties into Golarion beautifully and is a gorgeous fantasy setting. Well done! I'm voting for this as one of my eight selections.

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

My favorite thing: The waterfalls are neat, and the side view was absolutely vital to understand what was going on.

Other things I like: Varied elevation and terrain would allow for some interesting combats to occur here, and secret room was a nice addition.

My least favorite thing(s): As other have stated, there is confusion as to the location of the entrance to your secret room. More importantly, I don't find the idea of a water garden that interesting, which is entirely personal and on me and not you (sorry about that).

Will I vote for it: This is probably my 12th pick and so it won't be getting my vote. It's actually a good map (probably better than at least 1 map I'm voting for), but the location itself does nothing for me.

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Neat idea, and I could see the cartographer really bringing this one to life. There are problems (I spent a while figuring out where the section in the top left referred to, for example) but overall it's a great location for an epic brawl. Nice work!

Dark Archive

I like that it tries something different, but I don't think it quite works for use. I would find it a tad hard to actually play on this map and given the scale I assume you should be.

It can be hard to make overlapping areas work.

Let's see pyramid has been mentioned, but I'm also looking at the pool house and lovers grove area. If there is a pool house was this like an ancient country club or resort? And who's been keeping the lovers grove trimmed, since the other side just over grew?

Overall there are some cool ideas here and some parts that feel less thought out to me. I tend to like maps that end up on top of each other to be separated by level, just so it is easier to differentiate.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

My criteria:
My Map-fu is weak compared to some of these contestants but I shall endeavor to give feedback. I'll be looking at the following:
Challenge: Is this map difficult to execute? Does it in my opinion demonstrate the characteristics of a Superstar designer?
Technique: Did the designer show some skill and consideration in the choices made on the map. Are the words used in the key wise choices that add to the overall utility of the map?
Utility: Can a GM/cartographer make sense of the map and make immediate use of it?
Overall: I'll rate the Map as an A for strong recommends B for weak recommends C on the bubble D for weak rejects F for Do not recommends

Challenge: You tried to execute a hidden location and convey water movement with a building that's superstar
Technique: Didn't quite pull it off as this often blocky which does not impress
Utility: I could take or leave this as a GM
Overall: +C as in this is on the upper end of the bubble for me. I could totally see it progressing or not based on the fact it's a superstar idea (+A) with serious execution issues (D)

Marathon Voter Season 8

Very nice idea. I can definitely see someone standing on one of the aqueducts, raining death on those below, making this a very dynamic and interesting map to have an encounter in. The scale is also very good, being tight enough to keep the combat hectic while still allowing enough room for maneuvering. Yes, I can definitely see an encounter in this.

But yeah, it's a bit blocky and then there's the library mistake, which I don't as much as it is an easy fix. But I wish the aqueducts and the cliff edges were curved. That would immediately give this a much more interesting visual appeal. The rectangular pools are iconic so I'm not sure I'd change those, especially because they could create some contrast if the walls and cliffs curved. It might also be interesting if the aqueducts were connected with a bridge or a smaller aqueduct.

Very nice details, very understandable and it tells a story. I'm gonna go with weak yes.

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

This is one of the maps I've been coming back to several times as I try to decide what I think about it and it's growing on me. I'd thought of doing some sort of Jalmeray garden as well, so I like what you're thinking. It's tied into Golarion but not a location we've seen a hundred times.

I think your ambition with the multiple levels is definitely Superstar, and I think you mostly pull it off. It's the side view that really sells it for me, especially the water plummeting off the cliff. It's a nice open area with multiple levels, so I think you could have a cool combat here.

That said, it is basically a single "room" location (yes, there's the pool house and the secret library, but I don't think you're going to have the big challenge to the PCs in those rooms after they've gone through the more grandiose outside area), but I think it's a strong enough location that it skates by.

I'm still working my way through the final maps, but I'm leaning toward voting for this one.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

First glance, without reading comments- Terrible.
Second glance, without reading comments- I love the side view and the way this is laid out.

The Good-

Tiered + water + secret library = epic

Extremely creative and bold

The Bad-

First impressions count and the coloration threw me off.

Needs a bit of polishing

Honestly, one of my favorite maps and I really hope you make it so I can see what you come up with!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Snowblossom

I really love this concept so much! What a great idea :)

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

This is an interesting location where I can think of several interesting reasons for the PCs to visit. Unfortunately the technical issues that have been pointed out detract from that.

I am a maybe on voting for this map.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

I am critiquing this without having read anyone else's thoughts yet:

Nice little cross section (takes up some real estate though).

Some of the height markings are a little unclear.

Obsidian Pyramid, while cool, is kind of wasted since we don't get to see inside it. It makes me curious as to why the poolhouse gets an inside view. In fact, why is the poolhouse almost the same size as the pyramid, and why is the pyramid so small?

There's some basic areas, a cliff face, and most of it is not interestingly shaped and doesn't tell much of a story by itself.

Overall, the map looks nice, but is a little boring and you spent a lot of real estate on title, cross section, and map key.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

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Official Round 2 Note: On Map Resolution

We’ve had some comments on legibility of smaller type on the maps, and the contestants are (by the rules of the contest), not allowed to clarify anything, so I want to make a general statement about maps and resolution.

When we required all contestants to present maps at a specific dpi and size, we did so because in past years we’ve had some issues with maps (for the encounter round) being sent to us in different sizes, resolutions, and dpi, making it difficult to give them all a high-quality presentation for the contest. We found that asking for a higher dpi than we’ll use in the end allowed us to create a standard of presentation that kept all images crisp and clean. For encounter-round maps, this has worked well.

Unfortunately, since this round requires all text be provided on the maps themselves, many contestants used the dpi and size standards we required as the basis for making sure their text is clear, and otherwise tried to keep words as small as possible so as to not clutter their maps. This was done in the (reasonable) belief that the maps should look good at the size we asked for, rather than in any different size we might present on our website. When resized for smaller, high-quality images, this can result in words that aren’t clearly legible.

We’ve made a change to rescale everything to the higher end of maximum image size for uploaded images for all maps that were entered this round. This should allow for better legibility for voters when selecting their favorite maps to advance in the contest. It is our fault that this process was not properly communicated to our contestants, so consider this when adjusting or finalizing your selections.

Obviously, we’ll explain what is going to happen to the images of maps, and how to allow for it, more clearly in future rounds (and future contests). My apologies to any contestant with a map that has suffered as a result of how we handled scaling in this round.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Morphemic

Here are my ratings for this map:

First Look: B
The cross section is cool, but comparing the main map is confusing.

Interest Level of Location: B
This is a very cool structure, but it almost seems more like a park than an adventure site.

Tactical Depth: A
Differing elevations, water pools, hedges. This is a surprising good setup for a dynamic combat.

Adventure Potential: B
The secret library tells me that there's something going on here that's adventure worthy. But I can't see this map being more than a small part of an adventure.

Clarity: C
This is actually a pretty confusing map. There are a lot of questions I could ask. I'm not sure you quite pulled off the ambitious design.

Logic: C
I think the location makes sense. But the various view on the map don't quite match up with each other, as Crystal noted.

Overall: B

Star Voter Season 8

First off: Congratulations on making Round 2, and the best of luck in the votes!

How I rate these:

Coolness: Do I look at this, and want to use it in a game? Does it provoke wonder or amazement? Does it hold potential for interesting encounters, adventures or roleplay? How much mileage does this map have in it?

Usability: How usable is this for me as a GM (being that GMs are actually the primary audience of most maps)? Is the legend clear and in logical order for play? Does it give me enough information to easily visualize the parts and wax poetic about the varied locations? Does it have the necessary details for me to run with it on the fly, or will it involve a lot of improvisation? Does it have any glaring oddities that stop me mid-breath to go "what the hell is that?!"?

Craftsmanship: Is it clear, legible and containing all the necessary bits and bobs? Does it make good use of the space? Is the scale appropriate for the detail (and visa versa)?

(I suppose you could also call them "Creativity, Functionality and Skill", but I like my terms better :P).

Coolness: A

  • Positive: Excellent use of 3D space to create an exotic and beautiful location – just visualizing it brought a smile to my face. I want to use this for something, simply for the aesthetic of what you created and the options it gives me for both combat and roleplay scenes.
  • Negative: The obsidian pyramid felt tacked on, and it's not immediately apparent how this 'attaches' to the rest of the world, which makes it a tad less cool.
  • Verdict: Solid A for an evocative and versatile playground for GMs to torment… I mean 'entertain' their players.

Usability: B+

  • Positive: Elevations and terrain features are clear, regions are labeled to let me know their intent without playing guessing games and the extra notes give me the cues I need to wax poetic.
  • Negative: While it's easy to figure out where the secret door is, a marker would be handy. Also, call me pedantic but if there are beds, I want to know where the food is kept, because if it's not included I am guaranteed one of my players will ask.
  • Verdict: Solid B+. Most of the questions are answered, and barring players who like tormenting me with questions on almost superfluous details, it is very usable as is.

Craftsmanship: B

  • Positive: It's clear and easy to read, the key information is present, and the scales are added where needed.
  • Negative: It has a little less on it than I'd like for a full page map, and some of the choices of colors and where/how labels are written could be improved, but the crunch is definitely there. The cartographer might also like a note on what an "Orb of Endless Water" looks like… or at least I would if I was to try (and fail miserably) to draw it.
  • Verdict: B. Solid work, but could use a bit more content given the map size.

Overall: B+

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Good map, interesting location. I was put off by how the map doesn't line up right as others have noted.
This could have been top-8. but came in at #14 for me.

Good Luck!

Dedicated Voter Season 8

this was not ment to be a full page map.
I see this as just one area of.much larger map. i would vote for that map.

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

I like the map. The top down looks a bit confusing. I feel like it could use more, but it's a decent map.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Rusty Ironpants

Thank you everyone for the comments and critiques. Also a huge thanks to anyone who voted for my map.

I'm not sure if I am allowed to comment on my map yet - I am going to wait until after the Top 16 reveal tomorrow to be on the safe side.

Star Voter Season 6

Neat map of a pretty location! :)

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulations on the top 16! I couldn't find it in me to vote for this based on clarity - I am not certain how exactly the place goes together, but I am happy to see it here, as the concept and idea is really one of the cooler ones.


Congratulations on completing and submitting your map on such a tight time-scale. Very well done, you should take pride in that achievement!

Disclaimer: The review of your entry that follows is from a non-official source, I have no formal part of RPG Superstar, and the review thoughts are mine alone and so should be considered carefully bearing this in mind. You can choose to digest or not each part as it seems of best value to yourself.

Note for all: I am spending at least an hour per map in order to be as extensive and thorough as I can, so with other time demands and the like, you will only be getting one or two reviews a day. Sorry, but real life and freelancing work does take precedence when they crop up.

I have already viewed all the maps and chosen my votes, so I am just typing up my notes in more human readable form - If voting closes before I get to your feedback, don't fret that you missed my vote :)

I am starting with map reviews this year while I brush up my knowledge of the different item types used for round 1. So let me begin...

Template
Yes, there is one, even for maps - it is the size, the compass rose, scale bars for each part of the map drawn at different scales, a key box describing the map elements, the map name on the map. The clarity of line and text also pays a part on this. Here is how you did...

Name: Straightforward. Simple. Ties into a Golarion island. I know what to expect here.

Size: Full page use with little wasted white space. A clearly main area with pull out focus points, one of which clearly shows varying elevations.

Compass Rose: Present, large and easy to find in the key box. Nice.

Scale Bar: Scale is present - and the scale of the cutaway does seem to marry up pretty well with the overhead view - very well done there (waterfall to orb is 100 feet in both, from orb to pillar in both is 40 feet) - a good attention to detail.

Key: I like that you have pulled out the key into its own box, with clear background. You collected much of the permanent information here, but you could have had the main map scale here as it took me a while to find it on the overhead view and well view.

Golarion Tie-In
Everyone has their take on Golarion, guided by the products and supplements. This therefore is a scoring based on how I felt you had tied the Golarion world to your map, it's flavor, the feel of the map, is it generic or obviously. This is therefore a very personal view and evaluation of your entry and should be considered as such. Onwards my brave contestant...

Ok, Jalmeray is a large island in the Obari Ocean, off the coast of Nex. I did wonder why the garden had become lost, but this is likely part of the background for a module such a map might appear in - I suspect it has something to do with assault on the island by the marid army of the Vudrani.

Using just a place name is kind of tenuous for Golarion tie in, but the theme of the map in this case can be aligned with the area selected. A lot of classic adventure fare was built here over the history of the island, so you have chosen a good, interesting and flavorful location and served a map that very well could fit the theme of that chosen area. Well done.

A good solid tie-in to Golarion inspiring the map.

Possible Areas of Improvement
Again, this is a personal evaluation of what, if anything, I think would improve the map and suggestions on things you could have done differently or added to the map. These are totally personal suggestions, but you might find something useful to consider herein...

OK, I wasn't keen on colouring in the areas around each map with that color, but that's personal color taste.

Overhead main map, are those benches around the fire pit? Top left, is that a table with 3 chairs or some sort of tri-fluted column/chimney.

I found having beds in a pool house a bit odd, I would have expected derelict tools for taking leaves and debris from the pools in winter, that sort of thing (or changing rooms if the pools were meant for swimming). Maybe some sort of controls in here for the fountains too.

I couldn't see how water could get into the sphinx fountain, the others are obvious side spills as the cataract flows along to the falls, but the sphinx feed mechanism isn't obvious, maybe an underground pipe from the lily ponds? Same for central fountain - how do they connect?

I then noticed the garden on the left is overgrown but not the one on the right? Interesting thoughts from this mismatch as a GM, but looking at the overgrowth in the first, it is a radial overgrowth dead centre of the garden and still give the appearance of neatly trimmed hedges. Hmmm, I would have expected more haphazard tendrils from the hedging reaching across the garden towards more sunlight sort of overgrowth.

If the garden has been untended and overgrown like this, I would have expected the orchids to have spread a little and not remain in a straight planeted line. When designing any overgrown area, think about the overgrown gardens you have seen, how the planets have reached into the garden from an original planting, how they all lean towards the light and so on.

One intriguing area for me was the obsidian pyramid. On this map, it is a 25 foot square pyramid, so, is it the top of a larger structure that is buried? What is it's purpose? Is there an entryway somewhere? It feels a bit like a space filler than a conscious design placement. Similarly, a library, secret or not, does seem out of place for a water based encounter area, it just felt out of place to me.

The only other thing I wondered about was the "deep well". Is there water at a certain depth far down the shaft or is it empty and dry? Is there water near the top and it is the water that is deep? When you have a word on your map that is a description of distance in some way, it is a big clue that you need to consider adding a number, something like 200ft maybe. As there is no blue centre, I am assuming it's a dry well.

You fell into the old trap I mention elsewhere with lines, shape of paper size and subconsciously following the grid - everyone is guilty of this to some extent, so its no biggie. Just try to make natural things more natural, rivers go around raised areas, plants do not replant themselves uniformly, and so on. Don't let the page alignment rule your thoughts when designing your maps.

Summary
I summarise my reactions to your submission here, stating if you are a definite vote winner, a potential vote winner or not. I am not "scoring" the entries this year as I always struggle to maintain consistency in scoring, so I am now trying a more "gut instinct" summary. Here goes...

Ok, so we have a three tier area for an encounter, which might include some sort of water hazards or creatures. A map with distinct possibilities for encounter design. You have made my vote short-list. Well done.

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