The Mekhum Temple

Round 2: Create a map

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6

The Mekhum Temple


Decent looking map reference on first glance.

The map has a compass rose and a scale present.

Everything is clearly drawn and labeled.

Good use of page space.


Room details are pretty sparse.

not really the most original location, seems a bit done this before feeling.

I do not recommend this map to progress to round 3

Liberty's Edge Contributor

The Good
This map has a key, a compass, and a scale.

The Bad
I'm not sure what I'm looking at. Are the blue areas underground? Are they flooded? Is it a curse effect? The map is clearly outlined, but not well labelled. I have no idea what any of these rooms are supposed to be, and would need a lot of additional information to turn this into a finished map.

The layout is a lot of rectangles, with no interesting variation besides the massive, perfectly-circular central area and the wobbly room to the far north.

The secret doors seem sprinkled around randomly. What are they there for?

My Judgement
A cookie-cutter location, poorly labelled. I strongly do not recommend this entry for advancement to the next round.

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?
Definitely. This is a large complex, that fills the full space used.

Does The Map Have A Compass Rose and Scale? Are They Used Well?
Yes. Buildings are often oriented with North, so there's no reason not to have N at the top of the map. With 5-foot corridors, a 5-soot to the square scale makes sense.

Is The Map A Place I Want To Adventure?]/b]
Probably not. I'm not sure, as a result of details below. Certainly, there's nothing that excites me about it.

[b]Is the Map Clear?
Not in one very important detail.
Is this flooded?
There are classic swamp icons in the outside, which suggest this is a wetland (but that's not clearly called out). There are two colors of blue in the rooms and corridor (or part of the corridor in the case of the lower left), but no definition for them.
It's possible the lower part of this temple is flooded, which makes it a bit more interesting, but I don't know that. And if so, is it fully flooded, or partially flooded? And is the room at the north that's a lighter blue flooded to a different degree?
This map doesn't tell me, and a cartographer wouldn't know.

Is the Map Detailed?
Not really. There's nothing in any of the rooms except a few altars and
statues. There's no furniture, no elevations, no rubble, no whirlpools or currents. Room shapes is it.

Is the Map Imaginative?
As above, not particularly. Flooded complexes are not particularly innovative on their own, and there's nothing here to set this apart.

This is a workmanlike map. It can house an adventure, but it doesn't do anything to augment that adventure. As a map it's uninspired. It certainly isn't of Superstar quality.

I do not recommend this map for advancement to round 3.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 aka jeffh

Per the judges, I'd call this workmanlike rather than spectacular, though I like it better than some of them appear to. I'd use it if I had an especially interesting/bizarre concept for the altar, or as one of those alternate entrances to a dungeon that I like to add.

My interpretation is that the central area is basically a big hole dug into the ground, and that everything else except the building in the lower left corner is underground and mostly flooded. But this is, as I say, a matter of interpretation the way this map is, which is probably what's going to kill it for this competition.

For me as a GM looking for idea mines, room for interpretation is fine and can even be good. For Owen looking at it as a turn-in from a freelancer he's riding herd over or Rob looking at it in terms of "how would I turn this into a professional map?", they're coming at this from a very different perspective.

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

It just looks like a visitor's center map.

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

I'm assuming this temple is flooded, but I'm not sure. I'd like more details regarding the rooms. As it is, I don't think there's enough here to tell me what kind of place this. The central chamber is pretty neat, though.

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

Reminds me of something from b1-9 back in the day, but not in a good way.

I like the premise - seems like a battle-arena temple or amphitheatric space, but beyond that a little too sparse lacking oomph.

For the record. I now think it is flooded. I didn't until passing my eye quickly over the other judges comments. Which is a nice touch if that is the case, but yes, it needs to be clearly spelled out/indicated..

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

Pretty boring. The lack of details really hurts this submission. Straight lines and a stereotypical amphitheater aren't superstar. I really got hammered for my map last year because it was straight lines and seemed like a lot of other maps that had been done before.

Of course had I known the map was going to play a bigger part in the round, I would have spent more time on it! This year you knew the map was the entire submission and it feels like not enough time was taken on it. It looks like I could have cut and paste this from some other adventure.

It isn't terrible, it just isn't very imaginative either.

Dark Archive

Marking what the rooms are and what the blue is would help tremendously. I have to think it was meant to be a largely sunk into the swamp type temple. May be like that one abandoned mall that got filled with rainwater and is now populated by a ton of fish.

After looking into the name... looks like it can be found in fey revisited.... and it is a pretty good representation of what is described, unfortunately from the map alone prior to finding that description, I cannot visualize the description.

The short version, label rooms, what is blue, what is underground, and it would give it a lot more umph.

I found the layout of the place interesting, and there are certain features that incite curiosity (what's in those hollow pillars, for example) but there's a whole lot of empty space, no indication of anything in the rooms. Like some of the other commenters I'm wondering about the levels of the place, whether there's flooding, and the map doesn't really give details to know for sure.

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

Commentary notes:
My favorite maps, regardless of setting or appearance, tell a story. Flatly colored simple maps of old AD&D boxed sets, Judges Guild hexploration packs, in-character world maps that are as inaccurate as they are truthful—I can work or play with any map that inspires adventure.

In my reviews of Round 2, I'm looking very narrowly at the stories each map tells.

Sadly, I don't see a story in this map alone.

The temple's purpose—even its deity—is a mystery even if you've read Fey Revisited, which appears to be one of the only sources that describes the temple and Mekhum. (some info with spoilers on Archives of Nethys)

To the map's credit it seems to fit that book's description of a drowned recessed amphitheater with underground passages, but figuring that much out (even with Google's help) is a bit of a trivia exercise.

BZZT BLARP made a stub article about Mekhum.

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

3rd map I have seen, not as good as the first 2.

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 sadly confusing. By not including a horizontal cutaway to show elevations and not including a colour code for blue and white on the map there is considerable confusion to what this actually is. When you see all of these rather standard rectangular chambers that are unlabelled and seemingly without function no cool imagery comes to mind.

That leaves the central...I'm going to assume pit/amphitheatre, even though I think it would have looked much more cool as a circular step-pyramid rising out of a swamp. At least I assume it's a swamp as the standard swamp icon is used around the edges. Confusion is death to a map and makes it much more difficult for the cartographer to do his job.

I can see that there may have been a really interesting idea here. With a cross-section and a key that explained some of the chambers this could have gone over well. As it is it leaves me wondering what it is exactly. As a result I am not voting for this item into the next round.

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

Hi Charlie, others have already hammered the color/water question, so I'm not going to focus on that.

I really like the central amphitheater. I think that could be a really fun place to have a big climactic fight. I could see the PCs going there directly, but the fight then drawing minions from the surrounding rooms to pile on them if they haven't cleared those rooms out first. That could force the PCs to retreat or quickly ascend to the top of the amphitheater to get out of the water.

That's the main attraction, though, and I don't think it covers up for the other errors. All the other rooms except one are basically rectangular and I'm not sure what their purpose is. Are they bedrooms, originally offices for the temple, something else? And, since this is now the lair of a dangerous fey, per canon (thanks, Garrett, for posting that link!), where does she sleep? Where are the wayward sailors staying?

I'm afraid I don't think I'll be voting for this one. Best of luck, though.

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: A flood temple/amphitheater could be a really cool place to adventure.

Other things I like: I like that you tackled an existing place on Golarion, shows that you did some research and didn't decide to just put some random map wherever.

My least favorite thing(s): You didn't do enough. You needed to somehow communicate some reason for me being here or what has gone on here in the past.

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

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: Buildings are easy.
Technique: Too little I'm sorry to say. A Compass handles most of the work here
Utility: I don't need a reference for this... this temple is a big circle
Overall: F as it has visual appeal but not going to vote or advocate voting for this.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I feel like this is a site that could have been awesome but didn't deliver. A half sunken temple could be an awesome location for a session, but there is nothing that makes me want to adventure in this temple.

The lack of explanation of the colours leaves me confused as to what exactly is going on as does the lack of furniture or damage. An abandoned temple with no furniture has probably been looted and thus damaged.

Really well drawn and also dull. D.

Dedicated Voter Season 8

The outer...whatever...reminds me of the Manmolds from the adventure "The Harrowing." There a level of similarity that is striking. It's not an exact duplicate, but I suspect the core concept was lifted.

The Good-

Beautiful, well drawn, and with a an outer section that could present some fun things if trapped.

Great location to choose

The Bad-

Stairs down- how far down?

Outer wall seems heavily inspired by, if not derived from, a published adventure.

Speaking of, in an age of magic, what's the point in the outer structure at all? Without the height given I'll assume it's 15 feet tall, and thus, easily surmounted even without a 2nd level spell. A grappling hook would do the trick nicely.

Confusing use of colors- don't use the same color for doors as you do for the area with pillars.

Overall I'm disappointed as there could be so much going on in this map

Marathon Voter Season 8

This looks less like a map and more like an unfinished schematic for Iron Man's arc reactor.

That being said, I thought it was fairly obvious that the rooms were underwater. If some part of map is painted blue and no other explanation is given, I will assume it's water, especially with the swamp symbols assisting with that association. Though some elevation markers would have been useful to confirm this.

It's the layout in general I have problems with. Everything here seems randomly scattered around. There's no rhyme or reason to why these rooms are arranged like this, why some trap doors are at the end of seemingly empty corridors or what any of these rooms are meant for. There's plenty of space for elaboration, but the designer chose not to use it, which is baffling.

I can see potential, especially in the arena, but as a whole this just doesn't feel professional enough.

Star Voter Season 8

This round was a bit unclear in that it was not evident if you were allowed to indicate possible encounters and such in your map. I think that is why this map is devoid of any such reference. Even so, it looks as if the author did not ask himself: How do I make it exciting, rather than visually pleasing. It is visually pleasing, but that is not enough (etc., see above).
I understand now why they made round two a map challenge: I think the differences between the contestants are far greater than the differences between number one and number 100 in round one.

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

This makes me cry. I really love this map's layout! I might even use it for my campaign. I like the center theater with all the rooms connected to it. But the map just doesn't feel finished. There's absolutely no details in any of the rooms.

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.

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'm critiquing this without having read others': in the round feel.

Looooooooots of pillars. Too bad they're not caryatid columns!

Ooo hollow pillars?! Iiiinteresting.

I'm not 100% clear on what the light bluw parts are...are they water? Is this in a marsh? Is part of this temple sunken?

Some secret doors so maybe those light blue parts on the outside are surrounding walls?

There is only 1 area of interesting shape at the top but I have no idea what it is. Although I do like the concentric circles in the central area.

I like the little grassy parts.

Overall, I'm conflicted. This map leaves me with questions and not necessarily in the "I want to explore here" vein, more in the "I'm not sure what this is" vein. I do like it, and I think there's a story here but I'm not sure what it is. Right now I would vote for this but I'll have to reserve final judgement until I see all the maps.

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: D

  • Positive: A drowned temple based around an open amphitheater has good evocative visuals.
  • Negative: This smacks of being worried about what might be considered "Unnecessary information", but the place needs labels and function. The rooms are empty, and while I can think of uses for them, it would have been MUCH cooler if the map had more info.
  • Verdict: I'm going with a D for coolness, with the caveat that this concept deserved a lot more, if only I had the details to see the author's full vision.

Usability: D

  • Positive: The map is clear, and useful information like doors and secret doors are clearly labeled.
  • Negative: I'm basically creating everything but the basic geometry from scratch, including elevation. Too many guessing games.
  • Verdict: Again, the lack of information hurts this map, which is painful as there is clearly potential. D on usability.

Craftsmanship: B

  • Positive: It's clear, it has the compass rose, it makes good use of paperspace (with caveat) and features are easily understood. Placement of information is reasonably logical.
  • Negative: To quote Dr Evil here, "I NEED THE INFO!". Unfortunately, without some notes explaining what a lot of it means, I'm left playing guessing games.
  • Verdict: Solid B. There is some talent at work here, and it feels to me like the author's simply misunderstood what was required.

Overall: D+. Though I am left wishing I got to see the author at their best.

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: C
The central, arena-like temple is kind of interesting, but the rest of the map isn't.

Interest Level of Location: C
There isn't enough detail to figure out much more about this place than my initial impression. It appears to be a flooded dungeon, but that doesn't affect my rating.

Tactical Depth: D
Small, rectangular, and submerged rooms don't allow much room for interesting tactical movement.

Adventure Potential: D
It would take me more work than I'd want to do to set an adventure here.

Clarity: C
Needs elevation indicators and a discussion of how the flooding works. Needs other details too.

Logic: C
Without elevation indicators, I can't really tell whether the water distribution makes sense.

Overall: C-

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

I liked this a little better than other people, but most of the criticsms have been said.
You just missed out on my top-16.
Good Luck

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 week. 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...

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: A short succinct name immediately identifying the design is an unusual temple (and not a gladiatorial arena).

Size: Full page use with little wasted white space. This map takes me back (being an old grognard) to the style of the map books from Judges Guild - so that's pretty good from an old school perspective.

Compass Rose: We have one, tucked in the corner and not so large as to dominate the map. Good.

Scale Bar: Scale is present - at this scale, I feel that more dungeon dressings are called for, do any of the submerged areas have floating debris or stank, brackish, and stagnant water? Molds and algae growths anywhere? It feels too clean.

Key: Present, a little squashed, weirdly it doesn't show the colors, or give any indication of water depth.

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, Mekhum is a Rahadoumi settlement found in the areas south of the Napsune Mountains. Weirdly, this area is in the main very arid, but Mekum is known to have a "drowned ghost" inhabiting a nearby ruined temple - nice link for your map there. Very good tie in to lore.

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, my biggest issue with this map, is that without my Golarion knowledge / Google fu, I can't get the full story.

There are areas that make me go "huh?", there is a great sense of an untold or missing history behind this map that is frustrating to me.

My first disjoint with the design was spotting the four tunnels show as flooded at each end with an un-flooded bit in the middle (probably a fill problem with the drawing package).

The biggest thing though is... this is a flooded temple - and ALL of the external areas bar one give the impression they are all below the water line, thus below ground level. If at one time this temple was very well attended (it likely was due to its size and complexity of shape), where are the remains of roads / traffic leading to it - and where would the wagons, horses, carts, tents for visitors be put - would they really run them all into underground areas?

And, being a marsh in an arid land, what happened to make it marsh - I guess the temple was built before the land was marshy but something happened to change the area drastically - and with drastic changes and upheavals of that nature, where are the signs of the event that caused this flooding? I would have expected some of the pillars to have been thrown down by the water's on rush, some of the subterranean rooms to have fallen in with the water pressure, maybe a crack or chasm through the side of the temple walls to indicate the direction the flood came from.

I think it is this lack of detail that most are referring to when they talk of a lack of complete story. The map itself is very functional, allows us to determine rooms, connections, areas for conflict and the like but leaves us without enough history to explain the current situation. My players always look behind the scenes of most encounter areas and they will quickly ascertain there is some untold story here.

The rooms are at times a little on the small side - e.g. at the top is a room above the 15 foot corridor, the room being 15 feet long by 7 and a half feet wide - smaller than my spare single bedroom in my house. Again, this might be okay - say if it were a larder, but I don't have enough "in room" details to help to be sure.

You fell into the old trap I mention elsewhere with lines, shape of paper size and subconsciously following the grid - you have this wonderful circular temple that is then surrounded by rooms that make a square around it. Gah, if only some of those walls and rooms curved with the sides of the temple, it would have broken this up somewhat.

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...

This map appeals to my old school feelings about maps, but in these modern times, they do tell us so much more in story and history. A map is a snapshot in time, but even that snapshot of time would tell us a little more of the history leading up to the current situation. Serviceable, clean, presented well. Short listed for a potential vote.

Well done.

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

Map Fu—the more approachable cousin of Template Fu. :)

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My baby brother who seems better attuned to this round ;)

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