Shadde-Quah Shoanti Cliff Dwelling. Calphiak Mountains


Round 2: Create a map

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

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Shadde-Quah Shoanti Cliff Dwelling. Calphiak Mountains

Liberty's Edge Contributor

The Good
It's a town map, which is some good variety.

There's some colorful names here, and some hints at something larger going on through those.

There is a key, a scale, and a compass rose.

The Bad
Terrible font choice on the labels; barely legible in some places and a cartographer is likely to make mistakes trying to translate those.

Even a small town needs thoroughfares or walkways. How do people move through this community? How does anyone get to the buildings on the east side of the river?

The side view does help clear things up, but far too much page real-estate is given over to it, rather than trying to make the main map more legible or creative.

My Judgement
I appreciate the effort to make a story and offer a multi-tiered map, but the layout isn't clear enough and the space is used poorly. I weakly recommend this not move on to the second round.

Cartographer

Ok looking map reference here upon first glance.

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

I am torn on this one it does seem like a cool location that is someone confusingly represented and loosely thought out.

Really this map would a great map to draw in a faux perspective style, iso-metric grid.

text is sort of hard to read as well.

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?
Yes, but that's not how we'd have to use it.
This is a 1/3 page map with a sketch for an art piece to show its side elevation. I got a lot of different opinions on the office on this one, taking it so far as to get Editor-In-Chief Wes Schneider's take on it. If we were to use the lower section at all, it wouldn't be sent to a cartographer. That means 2/3 of the real estate is going to something we wouldn’t use as a map. A side-view is fine, but it needs to be smaller than the map, not twice its size.
This is still designed as a map so it doesn’t get disqualified.
Does The Map Have A Compass Rose and Scale? Are They Used Well?
Yes, and not really. The 5-foot squares result in a tiny hamlet set on the side of a cliff, and none of the buildings have the kind of details I want to see at that scale.
Is The Map A Place I Want To Adventure?
Here, a resounding yes. A cliff dwelling is an awesome place to set an adventure, and I'd love to see this idea taken and further developed.
Is the Map Clear?
No, for all the reasons given by the other judges.
Is the Map Detailed?
Not enough for its scale.
Is the Map Imaginative?
Yes, but its execution falls short of the imagination. It's a great idea, but this map can’t easily be saved. The scale is off, the buildings blocky, the town unnavigable. If I had an adventure that went with this, I'd consider it faster to redraw this map from scratch than to fix it.
As much as I love the idea, I do not recommend this map to advance to Round 3.

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

I keep coming back to this one, so that must be a good thing. It's a bit different than the others (both in theme and presentation) which I like.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 aka jeffh

I'm kind of a sucker for maps that make a location feel three-dimensional. (This is something I also attempted but in a very different way.) Though I'm on board with some of the judges' criticisms, I like what you're trying here enough that there's a strong possibility this will be one of my top 8.

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

Scott, I'm going to start my comments with you.

I know how much it sucks to not get any judge's recommendations, but I like this. Like John, I came back to it quickly after looking through everyone's submissions.

Now, I do have to take some of the judge's comments into consideration, obviously, but as Owen notes, this is a place I'd like to adventure. I could see it being a headquarters for some adventures and once the poop hit the fan in town, it'd be fun to run a nice 3-dimensional combat here.

I was thinking as I was walking the dog this morning that I'd like to be able to do a map that evoked the villages of Cinque Terre and to me this does that. Is the map perfect? No, but I think the location may be enough to carry you through that. Even the blocky buildings evoke the Italian seaside villages, IMO, since with limited space you have to build upward.

I've given everything one look so far, and of the non-encounter-level maps, I think this is my favorite. It's definitely in consideration to be one of my 8 votes at this point.


I'd have preferred a single map in three-quarters view, with grid guides.

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

I don't care what they say! I really "like" this map. Now, that said, I think I like it for taking on an issue in a different way (basically, that issue being towns not built on flat-ground. etc.)

I love that you "went for it" and on that note alone you're entry is my 5th favorite.

As it stands though, I would hope and pray the cartographer could make it look more "interesting" as your building design, etc. is very plain, which makes what might have been a super cool location a little less interesting.

I would say that that is more a lack of your artistic ability than bad idea. I think this map could be done, almost exactly as it is, but all drawn to scale and with exacting detail so that the larger "bottom" and "side-view" map could have been useful as a map as well, possibly even completely replacing the one above.

A lot of details would need to be added in, but it could be worth it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Jrcmarine

Cool idea but bad execution. I had an extremely difficult time reading the legend, so a lot of your cool names slipped by me. The ide view helped clear things up for me, but it isn't a map. It's a drawing of the town which would have been ok if it didn't take up the majority of the map. If you had moved some of the labels to that portion or had different labels on that portion, I think you might have been ok. But as is, it just looks like a picture of the town.

This is the map round. Not the cool idea for a location round. Not the cool names for locations round. It is a map round and while location and naming are important aspects of a map, so is a legible key (yours is not) and the map portion should not be confusing (which your is).

I don't think I can vote for this one even though I love the location.

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

I don't know. I'd argue it is in part the location round. Maybe not as much as Round 4s have been in the past (even though those are often listed as the "encounter" round, not the "location" round), but I think it's important what players chose to map as much as how they mapped it.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8

Scott, while your map is admittedly a little difficult to parse, yours is certainly among the more inventive and ambitious of the Round 2 entries. With more buildings (and the consequent narrow passages between them), this town could make for a very interesting chase scene locale. For future map-making, I would suggest using materials with finer points (archival pens or mechanical pencils, perhaps) as they'll read better once scanned.

Fortunately, while your execution suffered, I'm a sucker for a good idea...!

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

16th map I have seen, your current rank is 7th.

That is some great artwork right there!

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

A cliff-palace dwelling was one of the ideas I'd been tossing around if I'd made it this far, so you got my vote just for that idea alone.

Some of the judge's comments are right on about the map (particularly the idea that the side-view should be the smaller picture and the overhead should be the larger part of the map grid). I'd also have tried making the buildings a bit more "built-in" to the cliffside itself, pueblo style (like you see in locations such as Spruce House or Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde).

Another idea that I think might have merit in developing a map like this would be the difficulties inherent with adventurers approaching or exploring it; cliff dwellings were by their very nature very easily defensible and the pueblo style dwellings would impose interesting (IMO) movement issues on a grid in encounters, something that could be better explored if the larger portion of the map had been used for the overhead view (Owen's comments are in line with my thinking on this point).

All that said, I think the idea is very sound and is not one that has been adequately or realistically explored much (if at all) in anything I've seen.

Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

I really, really like this one! It's definitely more imaginative than many of the others, and while its execution is lacking in places, it's a pretty stirling job overall. I love the captured ship's prows on the headland, and I can really feel what life here would be like. For what it's worth, I totally disagree that the streets are too narrow: it actually reminds me a lot of the village of Kapros in the movie Immortals.

However, I agree 100% with Robert Lazzaretti that this should have been drawn entirely in an isometric angle, without the need for two perspectives. As it is, I find myself looking back and forth too much, which is sadly a problem. Well done overall though!

Dark Archive

Good idea not quite clear enough for the artist or cartographer you need to pass it to.

It is visual nice but this rounds was supposed to be passable even without artwork so inclined to give less points to that.

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: Towns and villages are easy mode and need something special to make them Superstar in my opinion.
Technique: Nice art, scale doesn't work for me and there are plenty of problems people have already cited but really nice visual.
Utility: I would have trouble making use of this as a map in a home game, I'd have to adjust scale in places...
Overall: D for me as in weak reject. I could see it on the bubble but the other maps on the bubble are better at being Maps.

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

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

I love the idea of a town built around the Anasazi pueblo villages and applying it to the Shoanti of Varisia. And the art work you did to portray the map from a different direction was spot on, matching the map exceedingly well. Very well done!

However, the actual map is less than half the page. What should have been a smaller diagram to set heights and show how the area would look like is larger than the actual map! There also appears to be no easy access to the section including the Tower of the Sages from the main community. A 35 foot wide chasm with raging water is not going to be traversed without some sort of bridge, even if it is removable. With all the detail you put in, some sign of this crossing should have shown up somewhere.

I think the saddest part of this is that, while interesting, there isn't much here that is fantastic in nature. It's a cliff-side community with a rather dramatic water feature. So I will not be voting for this entry.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

The game needs more experimentation in 3D encounters, so this and a few other attempts are very welcome. There are some issues with scale that cause concern. For adobe cliff dwellings, 30 feet is a pretty big building and you have several. Also, the map would be better if the flat overhead view was more prominent and included more detail.

I know (and am supremely grateful) that a designer's turnover isn't judged on its artistic merits. However, there are some details in your map that would concern me as a developer before I sent it to a publisher or cartographer. The first version of the map might contain buildings set in the center of squares, or with roughly drawn lines that make the buildings' dimensions difficult to pin down, but after you draft the map, it doesn't take as long to redraw the whole thing before coloring and better define those lines, dimensions, and details.

Congratulations on being a Top 32 contestant. As you work on your monster in anticipation of the next round, force yourself to be detail oriented and turn over you entry as if you were submitting to a publisher.

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: You gambled on a different style of map, and it was a gutsy move.

Other things I like: I like cliff side towns and the art on the bottom half is nice.

My least favorite thing(s): The top half of the map is not as clear, and a lot of the buildings are pretty samey. The top half needed to be the focus since the bottom half is just a reference and can't really be used for play purposes.

Will I vote for it: I will not be voting for this map.

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

BigBad wrote:
However, I agree 100% with Robert Lazzaretti that this should have been drawn entirely in an isometric angle, without the need for two perspectives. As it is, I find myself looking back and forth too much, which is sadly a problem. Well done overall though!

That actually would be a kind of cool way to try and draw it. I think the chief concern (and possibly why it was mapped this way, and why I would have been inclined to do the same) would be losing the overhang of the cliff if mapping entirely overhead, but doing it isometrically would rectify that issue.

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

I'm curious, for the cartographers (or Owen): If someone gave a turnover along these lines and said he/she wanted to see it as isometric, would that be acceptable? I know that's something I wouldn't really be able to do artistically myself, but I might know it's what I want to see in the finished product. Or would that be asking too much in a turnover?


BEEP BOOP for more information PLEASE SEE:

The Shoanti, for information on the Shadde-Quah, also known as the Axe Clan; and the Calphiak Mountains, one of Golarion's youngest mountain ranges.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

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Jacob W. Michaels wrote:
I'm curious, for the cartographers (or Owen): If someone gave a turnover along these lines and said he/she wanted to see it as isometric, would that be acceptable? I know that's something I wouldn't really be able to do artistically myself, but I might know it's what I want to see in the finished product. Or would that be asking too much in a turnover?

That's a conversation that would need to happen long before we got to the turnover stage. basically anytime a freelancer wants to do something they think we might not do, that conversation should happen ASAP.

I believe we're had one, or maybe two, isometric maps in the whole run of Pathfinder products, and each of those was a special exception allowed for specific design reasons. I'd be willing to have that conversation with a freelancer, but in the end it's really the editor-In-Chief's call, since he watches over the entire print product line.

Some fans hate isometric maps, which is one reason we don't use them a lot. And with the growth in digital projectors and virtual tabletops, I think some fans hate them because they are harder to use as a direct projected battlemap.

In the end I suspect we'd find a different solution to this potential problem than going that route.

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

When you say growth in digital projectors, are there people projecting published maps on to tabletops and walls during actual gaming sessions? This is a trend I'm not at all aware of, but it's a very cool change if that's what's happening.

Scarab Sages Modules Overlord

R D Ramsey wrote:
When you say growth in digital projectors, are there people projecting published maps on to tabletops and walls during actual gaming sessions?

Yep.

Dark Archive

At first sight, the map presents a believable, living, active town, but the longer I look at it, the worse it gets. for example, wouldn't Shoanti be clever enough not to build a city at the bottom of a cliff? Gravity would make a cheap weapon. And I'd expect more natural borders around the town to make it more secretive.

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

EH, I like this ma. It's not terribly exciting in the slightest to me, but I could at a pinch envision a fairly climatic and cinematic battle here given judicious application of water/flooding; fire; dragons or other assorted aerial assailants/wingriders and post-festival drugged out Shoanti struggling to put-on their loincloths while wo/manfully attempting to sling spears at wing riders, put out fires, save their armed babies from floods or choose just which earth breaker to break out and use most creatively given the above situation.

I have absolutely no trouble reading the font. I agree it is not the best choice, but that is a small consideration. A simple "use a clear font and resubmit" would suffice.

I really like the naming conventions - adds greatly to the verisimilitude and the logical thought the designer had regarding just what constitutes this location materially, logistically and spiritually.

I love isometric maps. That fans don't like them is fair enough, but adding one to a regular map is not difficult to achieve, and the editorial decisions not to include such speaks more to the profit driven/capitalist nature of our hobby which is a deep shame.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

R D Ramsey wrote:
When you say growth in digital projectors, are there people projecting published maps on to tabletops and walls during actual gaming sessions? This is a trend I'm not at all aware of, but it's a very cool change if that's what's happening.

I've even played with a really cool DM who lays out a big flat screen TV flat on the gaming table, and we put the minis directly on the screen. Very nice.

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

increddibelly wrote:

At first sight, the map presents a believable, living, active town, but the longer I look at it, the worse it gets. for example, wouldn't Shoanti be clever enough not to build a city at the bottom of a cliff? Gravity would make a cheap weapon. And I'd expect more natural borders around the town to make it more secretive.

Except if you're going to be a sea-faring people -- and the captured ships' prows indicate these are as much as anything -- you don't want to constantly trudge up and down cliffs to get to the water.

You could argue the top of the map should be more mountains than plains it looks like, but I think the location makes sense.

Marathon Voter Season 8

Killer idea and definitely something I'd want to use as a major location in a campaign. The names are also evocative and keeping with the Shoanti theme, telling a story of their own.

That being said, the scale is weird. Now it seems that most buildings are just about the size of a small dorm room, which is tiny even by medieval tribe standards. Sure there are multiple floors, but that just means that they have to make room for stairs. And speaking of stairs, I don't see any means to get to the top of the hill. There are some winches to the cliffside houses, but none to the highest guard tower. Are the stairs or paths merely outside the picture, or within the cliff itself? Also, why have a net curtain there and not at the top of the waterfall as well?

There's a lot of potential here, but more time should have been spent on the logistics of a village like this. With some development this could be awesome, but as it is, it feels like a work unfinished. I'll go with maybe.

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

Jaragil wrote:
That being said, the scale is weird. Now it seems that most buildings are just about the size of a small dorm room, which is tiny even by medieval tribe standards.

It is tiny, but it's actually perfectly in keeping with the real world inspiration behind the map. Pueblo style dwellings were small- incredibly small, and packed together. A single family would live in that dorm room style room. If you ever get the opportunity to do so, go and visit some of the pueblo ruins in the Four Corners area. They're amazing- but when I was there just a few months ago, I remember thinking just how crazy it would be for a modern day guy like me to even contemplate living in. My less than 400 square foot studio apartment is a palace in comparison, and I live here on my own.

Quote:
Sure there are multiple floors, but that just means that they have to make room for stairs. And speaking of stairs, I don't see any means to get to the top of the hill. There are some winches to the cliffside houses, but none to the highest guard tower. Are the stairs or paths merely outside the picture, or within the cliff itself? Also, why have a net curtain there and not at the top of the waterfall as well?

Again, there weren't stairs in real life pueblos; the used wooden ladders to get from one level to another. Heck, even the doorways were not like you and I would consider doorways, but they were small, often cross-shaped cutouts in the walls which would require very careful and awkward movement (another thing that I think would be awesome in a map like this- you can't just easily take your full movement or even a 5-foot step to move between rooms; it really would make this an interesting tactical arrangement).

That said, I'm not entirely sure that pueblo style buildings is what is being reached for on this map, and it is something that could be made more clear. For one thing, these appear to be a lot of separate buildings, rather than many buildings with conjoined chambers. And the way the map is currently presented, you can't even get a sense of the interiors and their multiple levels (which would be another good reason to decrease the size of the side-view, to allow more room on the page to map out multiple stories, like was done on some other maps, such as Firebrand's Redoubt).

There should be a better definition of the pathways and in particular- as you note- the means of getting to the far side of the waterfall.

Star Voter Season 6

This is a really cool piece of art, Scott! (I know we're not voting based on artistic skill, but still ... nicely done!)

The location is imaginative, and I personally like the page layout, but it is definitely a problem if it doesn't work for what Paizo is looking for. You took a risk by branching out from traditional Pathfinder map pages, and it looks like that risk didn't work for the judges. I, however, would argue that the side view is also a type of map, and that the contest rules didn't specify that it had to be an overhead map, if I remember correctly. I suppose we'll have to wait and see what the voters think.

I have some questions about scale and how the inhabitants get around, but these might be answered by an accompanying story or more information on cliff-dwellers, as Cthulhudrew discussed above.

Overall, I like this map, and I want to explore this village. As far as I'm concerned, this could be considered superstar. :)

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

I think I went through the same process as others here. At first, I really disliked the map, but after realizing the top part is a top-down view and that the bottom is a side-view, the whole thing made sense. It is actually a neat map. It's got a cool layout, and I like that building suspended near the waterfall. I'm not sure if this is enough to get a vote, but there's creativity here.

And please, don't use fancy fonts for stuff people have to read. Stick to Arial.

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

http://i.imgur.com/0suJR5d.jpg

Here is how your map appears to a colorblind end user. Your use of color is practically unchanged, but since roughly 10% of the populace is colorblind, this is something you need to keep in mind.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I Hope this map will make the top 16, but I won't be voting for it. The side view is just too big leaving the top down view small and cramped.

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: A Shoanti village built along and into a cliff, which makes heavy use of vertical space? This is a good start. It's then backed up with a well thought out layout; ships beached on the shore, only a storage shed on the beach and important buildings placed on the upper shelves. The small (and more historically accurate, really) buildings and lack of streets convey the tribal feel of the Shoanti, and the waterfall shrine is great final addition. With the front view, I get a better idea of the village (120ish people by rough estimate).
  • Negative: Where oh where is my water crossing? How do people get to buildings 9 and 10? Otherwise the main detractor is the size; I don't get lot of village =/
  • Verdict: A. I want to see this place.

Usability: B+

  • Positive: Even though it's a small village it's laden with details which clearly broadcast the character of the place. The scale is immediately usable and the front view answers most of the remaining questions.
  • Negative: It's missing elevations for the different shelves, which makes things awkward as I'll need to try and scale it from the front view, which isn't ideal. Some of the gaps between buildings are really small, to the point of almost needing Escape Artist checks to get past, which seems to a result of trying to cram the map into too small an area.
  • Verdict: It needs some finagling on my part, but is basically usable as is.

Craftsmanship: C

  • Positive: The map portion is compact, comes with compass and scale, and it's evident that significant thought and research into the Shoanti culture has gone into the layout.
  • Negative: The map is too compact, and is half the size of the front view. This should have been reversed; the top-down view filling the left 2/3 of the page, with the right 1/3 of the page dedicated to a side or front view and key. The compass is present, but the cliff being exactly East-West appears a little contrived.
  • Verdict: Definite C for a good, thought-through concept but flawed execution.

Overall: B+

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 side view is cool. But the overhead view doesn't look like a very good map (or a very big one). Even for a cliff face map, the overhead view is important.

Interest Level of Location: B
The cliff is cool. The town is ok. The map has some interesting names, but doesn't really tell me why I would adventure in this town.

Tactical Depth: B
Maneuvering here would be very tight when fighting on a grid, but all of the elevation and buildings could make a fun vertical battle.

Adventure Potential: B
Useful both as a home base town and as an adventure site in itself, but too small to serve as either for very long.

Clarity: B
I can figure everything out by comparing the two map views. But I shouldn't have to. I wouldn't attempt to map a location like this unless I had mastered isometric drawing. This was too ambitious.

Logic: B
I'm a little confused about how some of the buildings are reached.

Overall: B

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

I happened to like this map. The location is interesting, but could use a bit more excitement.
I had you ranked #15, hope to see you in round 3, good luck!

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:

Whoa! A kind of isometric cliff town! That's different and fun.

The colors are a bit much, making this somewhat hard to read.

Some of the buildings on the cliff look like they are floating.

The text needs to be less stylized...the final edit will do this to be in line with font used in the rest of whatever book this would be published in.

Do the Shoanti have dwellings like this?

Looks like they are aquatic Shoanti!

Overall, I do like this map, and the view, but I don't know what exactly to make of it. There's a place of trials, captured enemy ship prows, and other fun things...so I think you made this place interesting. Not sure yet if I'll vote for it, but it would be teetering on the cusp of yes/no.

Star Voter Season 6

Life is still crazy, but internet is finally working well again, so here's some feedback:

Cliff Dwelling - creative, intriguing settlement, neat presentation, I want to adventure there!
....
Great job! This map got my vote. :)
Thank you for inspiring adventures in my mind!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ok, now that we're green-lit to talk about our maps...

Let me start by saying how grateful I am for people's appreciation and support. When the maps first went public, and the very first posts underneath it were rejections from the judges....Well, I'm pretty thick-skinned, and I can totally see where they were coming from, but that was pretty dispiriting. I basically just said, well, that's that! But the voters' comments that followed have helped me feel a lot better about the map itself, and about my chances in the contest; I've been living in hope all week that I might sneak into Round 3, and even that hope wouldn't have been possible without people's encouragement. So sincerely, thanks.

That said, let me emphasize that I also understand why the judges gave the verdict that they did, and why some voters were also not thrilled with the map. It was an ambitious project that I probably shouldn't have tried at this stage (and with such time pressure), but I decided I wanted to go big or go home, and there you go. So, some notes to explain how the map came to be in the shape you see before you:

-- The original inspiration was to do something vertical. I've always thought there should be more "vertical adventure" in 3.x gaming, and that it would be nice if there were more maps to support that. (I'd even like to see a Cliffside flipmat, but I don't know if that would ever happen.) So I knew I wanted to do a cliff, and then went looking for a good place in Golarion to set it. A search of the wiki turned up the Shadde-Quah tribe, and that seemed to provide a really evocative set of materials for a location, so that's where things started.
-- Once I knew I was dealing with the Shoanti, I thought to myself that nobody (to my knowledge) has ever done anything in PF or D&D using the Pueblo cliff-dwellings as an inspiration, and those are such beautiful and unusual structures, I figured they'd help set an interesting look. I largely used the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde as my focus, and tried to imagine how such a space might change if it were set on the seaside. So the folks who made the connection, you were right on, and I was pleased that my map was close enough to push those buttons. (Jacob, for me it was pure bonus that the village conjured up Cinque Terre for you; I hadn't been thinking of that site, though it would also be a great inspiration for a city.)
-- As for some of the problems with the map, for me the original map was supposed to be the big side view that dominates my submission. I made that first, intending that to *be* the map, and then realized that it would be easier to interpret if it was accompanied by a top down view. So my map is a case of the tail coming to wag the dog. I see now that I should have expected that, but I guess it was so firmly the other way around in my head that I didn't see it coming until it was too late.
-- Lots of people commented on the fact that there's no obvious way to get to the buildings to the right of the waterfall. My intention was that it would be a sort of test of new initiates to the tribe's upper ranks to get from the left side to the Cave of the Dripping Spirit, and then from there to the ledge on the other side, and I tried to signal something like that with the "Place of Trial". But in retrospect, it would have been a lot smarter to just put in a retractable rope bridge.
-- People also commented a lot on the small size of the buildings and their essential sameness, but again, I was going for the Pueblo style, and that's how they look (though they would have been plastered in different colors, which I tried to capture.) Cthulhudrew, you really nailed what I was after, and I was grateful for your commentary.
-- A couple people noticed that the buildings higher up the cliffside look like they're hanging in space a bit; that's because they were a late addition that weren't drawn on the map with everything else; I drew them separately, scanned them, and then added them in digitally (which obviously is not my strength :-P ) I was actually more worried that people were going to say that there was no obvious way to access them, since I didn't draw in routes inside the cliff with broken lines or anything.

So, to sum up, I know it has warts, and I'd certainly have done it differently if I were doing it again. But I'm deeply grateful for the support I've received, and glad that some of you found it an exciting location to explore.

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

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
R D Ramsey wrote:
When you say growth in digital projectors, are there people projecting published maps on to tabletops and walls during actual gaming sessions?
Yep.

Just published article on projecting RPG maps onto gaming tables.

Definitely going to improve the gameplay/table use of maps... The fog of war stuff alone looks nice...

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Now that the results are in, I just wanted to say to everyone who voted for me:
Thank you for the timely breath of life!
I thought I was dead and buried when I saw the judges' comments, and didn't think I had a prayer at moving on. Thanks for keeping me alive, and I'll try to make my monster worthy of the opportunity!

*runs off to think monster thoughts*

Star Voter Season 6

Huzzah! :)

Dedicated Voter Season 8

Congratulations on making it!

I will admit to not voting for this map - I simply could not figure it out and no matter how much I wanted to like it, I would be downright terrified of presenting something like it to my players as a GM.

Still the idea is both novel and interesting, so I am please to see it in the top 16, even if it wasn't in my personal top 8. I kind of wish the execution had made more sense to me, but I'm just too unclear on a few to many things.

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