Ennoblement Abbey

Round 2: Create a map

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 8 aka Angry Wiggles

Ennoblement Abbey

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:
There's a fair amount of unused space here, and the map key si a good deal bigger than it needs to be. This would be difficult to rework to be a half-page map, but it's still got more empty space than I want to see.

Does The Map Have A Compass Rose and Scale? Are They Used Well?

Yes, and yes. It's reasonable for a building to be oriented with the compass, and the compass is pointing up. I prefer that unless there's a good reason not to do it.

Is The Map A Place I Want To Adventure?

There's nothing *wrong* with this as an adventuring site. It has space for characters to move around in, a secret door, things like furniture and some basic outdoor elements.
But there's also nothing particularly memorable about it.

Is the Map Clear?

The distinction between doors and windows isn't as clear as I'd like.
In the secret underground chamber there's a ladder that doesn't seem to go anywhere.
These are fairly minor issues, but they are also things that should have been easy to fix before sending it in.

Is the Map Detailed?
Within the scope of its concept, yet. I wish the walls had some depth (big structures often have walls much more than a pen-nib wide), and some elements that don't feel like they could have been created by rolling on a random Adventuring Church table, but I do know where everything is.
The outside is the blankest section. No trees. No hills. Just a flat empty area apparently devoid of anything worth noting on a map.

Is the Map Imaginative?
Here's the biggest problem. It really isn't. It's a fairly well done by-the-numbers adventuring location. A great adventure might make the events that happened here memorable, but the location itself, and this representation of it, are not.

This map is serviceable, but it's not Superstar. As a run of the mill and typical sketch, it would get me a run-of-the-mill and typical map from a cartographer. Combined with this like a ladder to nowhere, a lack of any interest outside (what plant life exists is likely not enough to make for an interesting encounter, and exists in neat rows).

I DO NOT recommend this map to progress to Round 3.


At my first glance this looks to be a serviceable map reference, everything is fairly clear and rendered to scale.

There are plenty of interior furnishing details.

It has a compass rose and a scale.


Wall thickness is a problem as well as doors and window symbol look identical.

The sparseness of the exterior makes me feel a bit empty

Also the key does seem to take up an abnormally large amount of space.

I feel as if I have drawn a few hundred of these type of maps, nothing really new or exciting here.

I do not recommend this map to progress to round 3

Liberty's Edge Contributor

The Good
The map is clean and mostly well-labelled (doors and windows look the same, though). I could mostly make a final map from this without asking additional questions.

There is a scale, compass, and key.

The room shapes offer some interesting variety beyond the standard dungeon rectangles.

The Bad
The location is a bit dull and flat, and could easily have just been a half-page map. It's not bad for a mid-adventure speedbump, but it doesn't feel spectacular.

I can't tell the doors apart from the windows.

My Judgement
Well-communicated, but a lackluster location. I weakly do not recommend this for advancement to the next round.

It's a nice map, but I can't identify a single thing that distinguishes this abbey from any other abbey. It's not something I would consider a Superstar entry.

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

A usable map but lacking the hook necessary for this competition. Not sure what the abbey is built from but the walls seem very thin.

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

There is nothing here that would interest any of my characters, which is too bad. When I saw an Abbey I was excited and thought it was a good location choice. Too bad this location is dull.

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

32nd map I have seen, your current rank is 29th.

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: It's a relatively believable and serviceable abbey.

Other things I like: I like your varied room shapes

My least favorite thing(s): I see no reason to come to this abbey or have an adventure here. On some level your map needs to sell me on this location and you didn't. I'm also not a huge fan of the name.

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

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: A solitary building is not hard mode unless it fulfills a unique purpose or interacts with a land feature in an interesting way.
Technique: Looks very basic...
Utility: Nope I'd never see myself using this one.
Overall: F as this is in the 24-32nd rank for em.

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've looked at this map a few times trying to decide how I feel about it.

On one hand, it has a lot of things I do like. It's not comprised of rectangular spaces, it has different elevations (though minimally), places are big enough for a fight.

But on the other, it's just not exciting me that much. Perhaps partly because of the lack of details in the name, but I'm not getting any sense of adventure out of this. I look at a couple other maps and think, "Oh yeah, this is what's there and why the PCs are going to go here," but this doesn't manage to pull that off. It's just an abbey, and even that I know mostly from the name. Looking closer, I'm guessing it's some sort of martial order, as they've got training dummies, that teachers younger students, who use the classroom and the bunk beds.

I think it just fails to be fantastic enough. Like a tavern, it's a somewhat mundane location that adventurers might go to, but it's not likely to be the centerpiece of an adventure.

I don't think I'll be voting for this one. If you do advance, though, I'd really encourage you to swing for the fences with your monster. Your staff also felt very utilitarian to me, and while there's certainly a lot of demand for that, it's a dangerous path to tread in Superstar. Think big!

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

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A professionally done version of this map would probably be good in a map pack for when you need a random Abbey. Unfortunately a map like that doesn't feel very superstar to me. There is nothing special here that makes me want to go to the Abbey.

BZZT BLORP no Golarion-specific data found!!

BEEP for related information PLEASE SEE other monasteries and abbeys of Golarion.

Dark Archive

Wow, Browman summed it up perfectly. There's nothing here that makes me want to go in. Why is there no secret door leading to the enslaved inbreds? Where would the monks train? Why was the abbey built *here* specifically? I don't think this is a superstar 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, properly marked and leaving no doubt as to what is where and how it looks. The design is a bit odd with rounded corners and a lack of overall symmetry.

There really isn't anything exciting here. It lacks story and cool visuals. One of the secret places on the map is just a small triangle. Why would someone build it in that shape? It is one of the most inefficient shapes for storage or any other use.

In the end there just isn't anything to interest the PCs apparent on the map. I will not be voting for this entry.

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

This is a very competently created map. One should note that locations like this in existing modules are either A) isolated adventures like Hangman's Noose or B) ruins made interesting by unusual features, like the temple in the first volume of Legacy of Fire. This is just a very vanilla location.

The competent mapmaking tells me the designer knows what they're doing. That might be enough to get a vote from me.

Marathon Voter Season 8

I actually like the shape this has. Gives us a break from squares and crosses these kinds of buildings usually utilize. Does it make absolute sense? No, but then again neither does building a house into a glacier, or a village in the middle of quicksand swamp, yet we've seen those and weirder stuff in our gaming careers. Style over function, to a point, I say.

That being said, it is rather mundane in its execution. I'd definitely use this if I needed an abbey that wasn't painfully clichéd, but I don't see anything in it I'd be interested in exploring. This is the kind of building you make interesting through the people that inhabit it. And while that is utilitarian, it's not exactly good map making, though it is not bad either.

Still, I do appreciate that this has given a lot of thought to living arrangements and actual functionality of the place. There's even outhouses. Sure the outside could have used a bit of work, but the inside seems well thought out.

A weak maybe from me, as there just isn't a lot of creativity to be seen.

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 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 competent abbey, but a boring one.

Interest Level of Location: D
On further inspection, the detail doesn't add much. It's still nothing special.

Tactical Depth: D
There are a few rooms where the furniture might impact a battle, but otherwise any combat here would be the same as what I could get from any other building map.

Adventure Potential: D
Other than a secret room in the basement, there's nothing here that makes me think of adventuring at all.

Clarity: B
This map is easy to interpret but the walls are too thin.

Logic: A
The details here make this a realistic abbey.

Overall: C

Star Voter Season 8

Two out of three secret doors serve no purpose. Traps present, but not in interesting places. Not really thought out, in my opinion.

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

There were so many good entries this round, that this one just didn't hold up. The map was decent, but the location a little dull.

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).

Coolness: E+

  • Positive: It's an abbey.
  • Negative: It's an abbey of ennoblement…. The original meaning (and in a feudal society, the most relevant one) of "Ennoblement" is the elevation of a commoner to nobility, and that makes the choice of the word not ideal (the more modern usage is derived from this process). Otherwise it's an abbey in a field with fifteen occupants and a chapel to seat 30 spaciously, or 60 in standard seating arrangements. It's… just not inspiring.
  • Verdict: E. I have been given no reason to use this, sadly.

Usability: C

  • Positive: It's clearly drawn, and the key lists all the various bits and bobs on the map...
  • Negative: But I still need to reverse engineer the purpose of the chambers from their contents; labeling a room "High priest's quarters" is not unnecessary information! Why are there secret doors that serve no purpose? Why are the hallways all 10ft wide, when only 15 people live there? Why is the chapel huge in comparison to the rest of the building? Where do they store supplies and materials? Where do they wash clothes? Where do they wash themselves (or do they not)?
  • Verdict: This one is middling for me; It's a fairly standard locale, but missing a lot of information and some basic necessities one would expect.

Craftsmanship: B-

  • Positive: It's well presented, clear and makes good use of the scale.
  • Negative: Using blue/green to distinguish doors and windows is a bad idea, because it's hard to tell them apart (especially scanned). The key is actually excessive, and occupies more of the page than it needs, which could have been used for some exterior details; as it stands the map doesn't use as much of the page as it could. Labels for room purposes are necessary, and usually listed in the key.
  • Verdict: B-

Overall: D+

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:

That's a large key!

Multi-level is always good, and I am glad that the shape of the abbey isn't a square or rectangle. Good angles in a lot of these rooms.

Basement to a secret area!

To be honest I don't have that much critique!

Overall, I like this map a lot. It is simple, it is a cliche, but it just works really well, is layed out pretty naturally, and it has endeared itself to me. That said, I probably won't vote for it because there are 8 other maps that are really interesting and different.

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