Hexed Pathways to Icerime Peaks

Round 2: Create a map

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Laik

Hexed Pathways to Icerime Peaks

Liberty's Edge Contributor

The Good
I like seeing an overland map rather than just another dungeon/interior building map. Points for taking the more difficult road.

There are a lot of creative names, and it's obvious from reading over the map that there's a larger story going on here, which can be a difficult feat to pull off with a map

There is a compass rose and a scale, though the font choice for the compass rose made me think it was just a flourish at first.

The Bad
"Hexed Pathways" on a hex map? Points off for pun!

My biggest complaint with this map is that it's very difficult to read at a glance, especially in the north where the mountains break up the hex lines. Are the yellow hexes desert or hills? Why does one yell hex have green lines instead of brown; is that significant? Are the different color choices in the labels relevant? What do all the location symbols mean? The map would have benefited a lot from a key, smaller mountains and clearer delineations

My Judgement
As much as I love that I can see a story here, half the criteria was to make a map that a cartographer could turn around with no additional questions, and I have too many questions about how I should proceed. I weakly recommend this not advance to the next round.


Average looking map reference.

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

more memories of gaz for me here… not really needed for this type of map though

This has enough details to make a finished map.

I do not 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?
Does The Map Have A Compass Rose and Scale? Are They Used Well?
Yes, and no.
If you are going to offer Paizo a hex map, it had better be to use our hex exploration rules, which aren’t 6-mile hexes. Otherwise, you’re offering us something we can't use.
Is The Map A Place I Want To Adventure?
Yes! The hexed paths and witch references make it sound like an interesting location.
Is the Map Clear?
Not enough. This has very little but hexes to offer, so the hexes should have no questions at all.
Is the Map Detailed?
The lack of detail here is mostly that everything is done as exactly one hex, with just a few terrain types. That makes sense for the map, but it's still a problem when deciding if we want to take up a page in a product with this.
Is the Map Imaginative?
Yes, the themes and names are. The terrain and presentation, however, are not.
In the end, I'd have to redraw this map from scratch to create something in the style Paizo uses. I do not recommend this for advancement to round 3.

Eight hexes across, yet covering 48 miles of terrain.

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

I applaud you for doing a hex map (I'm a fan of Frog God Games's "Hex Crawl Classics" line). I think not providing a key for the terrain type was a big misstep here.

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

29th map I have seen. Your current rank is 14th.

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: Hex map of a range is actually kind of hard to pull off.
Technique: Feels like a late 90's website, needs a brogrammer.
Utility: You gave me very little fantasy to work with. Toss in a colossus or something.
Overall: F as in a strongly do not recommend it as it is stylistically far from the PAizo style mark

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

Unfortunately, I'm afraid this one's a bit of a mess, starting with the mountain range covering up many of the hexes at the top. Having many of the more southern (or is that technically western? I'm having a little trouble telling which way the compass rose is pointing) hexes each contain a single terrain type in also making for some odd mapping. Looking at Kingmaker's hex maps, the terrain wasn't defined by the hexes.

Beyond that, you've given me a few names and points of interest, but not enough to make me really want to find out more about them. I don't feel like I'd want to send PCs to this location, unfortunately.

I'm sorry, but I won't be voting for this map.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

This map reminds me of settlers of Catan, which I don't think is helping your case.

The terrain on the bottom half of the map seems forced to fit the hex system. But you gave me a lot of locations to players go through.

I am on the fence about this map.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If I had made it to round two this is pretty much the exact area I would have mapped, and I would have done it up as a Hexmap too, to serve a dual purpose as a map for Jade Regent players and as a location for a Lands of the Linnorm Kings Kingmaker style campaign.

I think this map is too crowded, you should have used simpler symbols since this map would be turned over to a cartographer to make it truly beautiful what you needed was legibility.

Kingmaker and the Gamemastery guide gave perfectly good symbols for hexploration that you should have capitalized on. You also need to pick a font color and stick to it.

I really, really wanted to love your hex map but it just fell short in too many areas.

This has a very machine processed look to it. Not my taste at all. F.

BEEP BOOP for more information PLEASE SEE

The Icerime Peaks, which form Brevoy's eastern border; Stoneclimb, a fortress and town of House Medvyed; and the Gronzi Forest, known to locals as "The Forest" and home to Robin Hood Duma the Sly.

Stub found!! Galvo, an aquatic magical beast.

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: I'm intrigued by these hexed paths that cross your map. I want to know why they are hexed and what form this hex takes?

Other things I like: You have some other interestingly named places, Deathmist Pass for example.

My least favorite thing(s): It's a bit of a mess, and ultimately doesn't tell enough of a story. It's also pretty sloppy with its mixed fonts, and you put some trees over the text of the Nightmare Campsite, and that tells me you weren't being careful.

Will I vote for it: I bet there is a cool idea behind this map, but it wasn't communicated well and so I will not be voting for this map.

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

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is a very clear map, at least in what is where. There is so much going on, and little of it evokes a strong response from me. The use of hexes was a mistake; by holding tight to the hexmap style a very unnatural looking landscape was created. Even a rough outline that used the hexes as a guide would have been better.

Brevoy is a very interesting place to build an adventure, but this feels like a regional map filled in with random interest points.

I will not be voting for this entry.

Marathon Voter Season 8

There's a story here, waiting to be told. The names are all very evocative and this is exactly the sort of map where I mull over the names and want to go and find out what's the story behind them. Troll Mirror Pond especially tickles the adventurer in me. The hexed pathways seem interesting as well and I'd imagine unhexing them would be the goal of the adventure, which sounds fine to me. As a whole this has a very good Kingmaker vibe to me with a large area full of encounters ready to be explored. And that's great, I love Kingmaker.

Unfortunately the execution here leaves a lot to be desired. As Browman said, it feels more like Settlers of Catan than Pathfinder, what with the way everything is perfectly hex-shaped and even the cultivated areas are just symbols in the middle of a hex. You're leaving too much in the hands of the cartographers, forcing them to either make up their own shapes or to ask a lot of questions. And that means this doesn't fulfill the expectations of this round. In some places the use of "symbols" works great, like differentiating between two types of forest, but most of the time it makes this look like an early video game.

I'll have to go with maybe for this one. I like the idea and the place you've come up with, but you didn't really think this from the point of view of the rules or what was expected of you and that costs you a lot of points.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

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.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8 aka FaxCelestis


Here is how your map appears to a colorblind end user. Your use of color is largely outside the visible spectrum for a deuteranope and results in the map being largely shades of brown, which is very visually unappealing. Since roughly 10% of the populace is colorblind, this is something you need to keep in mind.

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: D
A pretty basic hex map doesn't appear too special.

Interest Level of Location: B
There are a lot of intriguing names and symbols. This looks like a good region for adventure.

Tactical Depth: NA
I am not rating this category for maps that are not of a tactical scale.

Adventure Potential: A
All the necessary sites to construct a cool adventure are here.

Clarity: C
The hex size and the 3D mountains make this somewhat difficult to follow.

Logic: B
No major problems, but the hex size makes the realism of the terrain difficult to assess.

Overall: B-

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

I liked this more than the judges. It certainly looks like an interesting region to explore. You made my top-16, but missed out on my top-8.

Good Luck

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).

Because I have to say it: AAAARGH MY EYES! And with that out of the way, let's get to the map.

Coolness: C

  • Positive: A manor sits as the last bastion of civilization before the fields give way to forested wilderness and the ruins of former settlements. Fey creatures and witches haunt the woods and foothills and a hag coven guards the mountains themselves… or at least that's my interpretation of the map. And that had some definite coolness to it, particularly to one with a soft spot for non-giggly fey, such as myself.
  • Negative: Bad puns are bad. I'm also not really following the logic behind the 'Hexed Paths' and why they seem to ignore the terrain and go through hills, rather than around them, or how some of the trails interact… or why the map ends with the cloud stairway ascending to nothingness.
  • Verdict: Looking past the eye-rending aesthetics of the presentation and the actual map, there are some solid ideas and hooks for adventure, making this a C for me.

Usability: D

  • Positive: The locations are labeled in a fashion that explains their intent and tells me the theme of the area.
  • Negative: The "block" approach to terrain is clunky and makes it hard to portray convincingly at the table. The lack of legend means I'm left guessing what the different lines mean: whether they're roads and highways, or roads and trails, streams or actual rivers, whether the hills are forested or completely barren. It's very hard to work with.
  • Verdict: Overall a D for usability.

Craftsmanship: E-

  • Positive: Compass and scale are present.
  • Negative: The hex grid is not a standard Pathfinder scale, and frequently misaligned, furthermore applying terrain in 6-mile hex stamps does not produce an immersive environment at this scale, making a lot of work for a cartographer to make it something that would be publishable, and make the GM feel like they're trying to paint with oven mitts on. Furthermore, the key is missing things like rivers, roads, and what the difference is between the tree symbols, and the compass is aligned to north is the left edge, which is neither intuitive nor standard.
  • Verdict: I'm not sure how this was put together, but my sincere recommendation in the future is to go for hand drawn – color isn't even needed if the different terrains are adequately annotated or marked with symbols. For this stage of producing a map, whether it looks good is far less important to whether it is easy to read and conveys the intent to the cartographer. I'm going to have to put an E- here: It's not an F, but it's close.

Overall: D-

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

I actually think this is a very evocative map. Personally, I am not reading into the "hexed" wording as a pun at all. It seems to evoke a rather witchy feel and I assume that the title is referring to a hexed, or cursed area. I like it!

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 others' first:

This is kind of hard to read, you did a good try but it is really busy.

Do the hexes serve a purpose?

Covens, passes, stairways, and off-screen suggestions make for some interesting overland features.

Not really a fan of naming something "Hexed Path" on a Hex map.

Some ruins and different terrain types, but they don't really make sense. The mountains are fine but the desert areas don't. Why are there so many small desert areas, with large bodies of water nearby, especially with the mounatin range to the east. The desert would be on the other side.

Overall, I like it, wouldn't be sad to see it progress, but I don't think I will vote for it. There are a lot of inconsistencies and it is hard to read a bit.

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

This map gives me a headache to look at. I don't see much here to get me excited.

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