The Slime Vaults


Round 2: Create an encounter map

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Abandoned Arts

The Slime Vaults are research facilities within Ecanus’ renowned fleshforges, where monsters are studied in slimy cells. Each ‘vault’ marked with an “S” contains a single creature of Gargantuan size or smaller in temporal stasis, as the spell. Exposure to fire or daylight destroys a slime cell in 1d4 rounds.

Community Manager , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Hello there! I'll be one of the judges for this round, and I'll be looking at a couple of key points for your map: readability, usability, and how fun this would be to run as GM. For some background, I helped found the Wayfinder fanzine before I started working for Paizo, and have done work as a freelance cartographer.
Readability
This map is very easy to read and would be very straightforward to make into a final map.

Usability
This location would be easy to recreate on a Flip-Mat for play, and easy to re-use in other adventures.

Fun Factor
I like the premise behind the map, but the location itself is not that exciting.

Final Thoughts
The idea behind the Slime Vaults are more interesting than the map itself. I do not recommend this map for advancement.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Daron! Welcome to the mapping round! It's everybody's favorite skill to put to the test, right? I can hear groaning from somewhere, I'm sure. Before I get into assessing your work this round, I'm making it a point to highlight for the voting public what they should be looking for in these map submissions. While some competitors will likely have access to snazzy computer software to produce a map that's almost ready for publication from the get-go, this isn't Cartography Superstar (though it'd be cool if that was ever thing, too, right?). Instead, the goal here is for a designer (someone usually more focused on writing) to pair his vision for adventure and encounter design with the rendering of a map which an actual cartographer can turn into a final map for publication.

That means, the designer needs to get enough into his or her map turnover that the cartographer can make sweet, sweet magic with it. And, believe me, there's nothing more amazing than envisioning a cool encounter in your head, writing it up, and then seeing a cartographer produce an amazing piece of mapping art to go alongside it. To make sure the cartographer can do that, you have to be clear with what you've drawn so they can interpret it correctly. If you're not clear, that makes your developer's job harder, as they have to go back in and correct things...consult with you on what those squiggles are meant to represent so they can inform the cartographer...or, in the worst of cases, completely redraw something if what you've given them is unusable or uninspired.

So, voters! Listen up! Please assess the maps these designers have provided as "first drafts" which a cartographer would then turn into a final map. Look for whether or not all the information is there to inform the encounter or location the designer has given us. Determine if the location would make for cool play at the game table. Rate the creativity behind it all. And, lastly, consider how well the designer used his or her 50 words of additional text to inspire or refine what they've given us. That's what I'll be trying to do in the feedback that follows.

Does the map provide enough information?
No. Although there's the requisite compass rose, I don't see a scale indicated whereby each square is 5 feet, and that's an important element. The rest of the information is fairly clear, though. We get a map key and brief legend to help explain the labels for the rooms. I don't know about anyone else, but I had trouble reading the acompanying text in the map key. I got each symbol's title, but the rest of it was pretty blurry no matter what resolution I tried zooming in at.

Does the map provide a cool setup for a fun encounter?
Maybe. Slime-covered creatures in temporal stasisi imply that big things could be unleashed on any PC who visit here, and the green slime present in the vault could create a hazard, as well. That's probably about as far as the dynamic gameplay goes here, though. It's a dungeon crawl with a slime theme and the occupying monsters/villains are what will carry the piece rather than the map itself proving memorable on its own.

Is the map creative and interesting?
Not especially. It's primarily rooms with wooden doors, lots of slime, some kind of observation chamber and who knows what in temporal stasis inside the slime. It could be anything from Gargantuan-sized on down, so this could be a high-level adventuring location or a low-level one. Either way, it's not overly inspired beyond whatever hazards the slime presents.

Is the designer's extra 50-word commentary inspiring and useful?
Again, not especially. It lets us know we're dealing with fleshforges and that fire or sunlight will wipe out a slime stasis cell pretty quickly. Okay. But that might be useful information, but it still doesn't do much to elevate the piece or inspire me.

Final verdict, the core idea behind this location is missing a few beats, but technical execution of the map is fundamentally okay even if it doesn't evoke any special kind of inspiration. Because of some of these missteps and missed opportunities, I'm unfortunately going to have to say that I DO NOT RECOMMEND this map to advance. Regardless, good luck in the voting, and we'll see if the voters disagree and carry you forward to Round 3.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Abandoned Arts

Liz and Neil; thank you for your critiques.

I hadn't thought about it this way before now, but I suppose I am counting on the temporal slime ideas to sell the map - which isn't ideal. Still, it's an idea I like and one I'll stand by (with my fingers tightly crossed).

Thanks in advance to all the Slime Vaults supporters and voters, and to everyone who's worked on, worked for, voted on, or participated in this year's contest. I wish my competition the best of luck (well, maybe the second best), and may the best maps win.

Scarab Sages Developer

Daron Woodson wrote:
I hadn't thought about it this way before now, but I suppose I am counting on the temporal slime ideas to sell the map - which isn't ideal. Still, it's an idea I like and one I'll stand by (with my fingers tightly crossed).

Daron, please be really careful on your comments about your own entry. I don't think you crossed the line, but you came real close to violating rule #5 of the entire contest. "During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion that could be considered as adding to, expanding upon, or clarifying the content of their current submissions."

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Abandoned Arts

I chose my words carefully so as not to address any content, but I understand what you're saying. Thanks, Owen.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Best rule of thumb: Stay out of your submission thread until the voting is over. You'll have plenty of time to come back and thank folks, explain your thought process, etc. But, during this time, it's actually very important that your work stand alone. Think of it like your work just got published and it's in a book that hits the shelves of your favorite local gaming store. You don't get to travel a circuit to all those locations, thanking people, indicating which ideas you really liked and still choose to stand by, etc. Instead, it's important that you sit and watch and not speak at all during this time. The education you'll receive just by reading everyone's reactions to what you designed...without being able to guide that conversation at all...will be truly eye-opening for you in terms of what resonates and what falls flat with the voting public. It's going to be the same way when you eventually become a freelancer. So, start practicing the skill of being a fly-on-the-wall now. It'll serve you well later on. And, at least in the here and now, it'll make sure you don't get DQ'ed.

Also, if you can't follow these instructions and keep quiet now, how do you expect a publisher to trust you to keep silent when you've been entrusted with Secret Project X? It may seem unnecessary for the RPG Superstar competition, but in reality, this is part of your test. The competition is designed to help Paizo identify future freelancers they can work with professionally. So, be as professional as you can about the gag order here in the contest, and that should give everyone an idea of how you could handle an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in the future.

But that's just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Abandoned Arts

Will do, Neil.

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

I normally like oozes. However, this map seems underwhelming to me.
I really, really loved your item, though, so I'm willing to give you another chance (and a vote). However, if your third round entry isn't significantly better, you'll probably lose my vote in future rounds.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

A map of great visual quality. I dearly wish to know what you used to create it. (You can always tell us after the voting is finished ;-) )

Most space is available for adventuring which is a good point IMO, but much of it has no special features.

The idea of slime "cages" is intriguing but the whole makes me feel as if your map is disjointed (for lack of a better word) : as if you were trying to convey through your map something that is not on it.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 9

Great Job..
Shame that the Legend takes up to much Space.

Without Labels Would be nicer...I could easily understand the Concept without the Cliffnotes

Love Dundjinni for Maps...Wish I could get mine Working on Windows 8...
So Much more Fan Art than Campaign Cartographer

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

I thought having the scale was a "must", but maybe not.

The tiles on the floor in areas A and B make it hard to know where the gridlines are.

Having north point diagonally isn't necessary.

Still, I thought this was a top 16 effort, but not quite enough to make my top-8.

Good Luck!

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Grumpus wrote:
I thought having the scale was a "must", but maybe not.

Correct.

The Round 2 Rules wrote:
•Your map must have a compass rose indicating north, and a scale ("one square = 5 feet").

I'll bring this up to Owen.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Daron, your map is pretty... Until you go in closer. The pixelly edges suggest that you had a smaller image to start with, and fprce-scaled it up? It can work sometimes, but not for everything.

Outside of some technical issues, your map has an interesting premise, but ultimately boils down to two big rooms. There could be some interesting fights here, sure, but critically, I could replicate it without a specific map by drawing a few squiggles on a piece of blank paper. Then, fip the page over and repeat for the next room. That, to me, says you under-reached a little.

Scarab Sages Developer

Neil Spicer wrote:
Grumpus wrote:
I thought having the scale was a "must", but maybe not.

Correct.

The Round 2 Rules wrote:
•Your map must have a compass rose indicating north, and a scale ("one square = 5 feet").
I'll bring this up to Owen.

Thanks Grumpus. Thanks Neil.

This obviously flew under our radar, but since the rules section for Round 2 titled "Entry Requirements" says you MUST include the scale, failure to do so is a clear DQ.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Abandoned Arts

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Slim as my chances seemed for this round, that's still a bummer. I understand, though - I think I misread the rules as something like "the scale must be 5 feet to a square;" I must have missed that it had to be printed there.

C'est la vie, I feel confident that this won't be my last RPG Superstar appearance; I learned a lot this year in terms of what kind of item makes the top 32. Thanks again to all the Superstar judges and to all my supporters!

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

Man, crazy that there's another DQ -- sorry Daron.

Will do my critique anyways:

I don't have a long blog-post to connect to for my map round comments, so I'm shooting off the cuff here.

But going to try to comment in three areas for each map. These are totally my opinions, and like with the Item critiques I offered, I think you should feel free to defend your design (AFTER THE ROUND ENDS, DON'T DQ YOURSELF!):

Would it make a good Flip-Mat or Map Pack product?
In a post about Round 2, Owen called these out to be "flip-maps" which in my mind says it could (doesn't need to be) a generic map in either the Flip-Mat or Map Pack lines from Paizo. Would yours?

This is a fairly "specific" place that is mapped out, so it wouldn't likely work well for the "generic" map lines. It could be designed as such, and it would likely work well with existing Dungeons, and Sewers.

Is it interesting enough place that I want to play?
Even if it weren't a "generic" map, but also if it is -- is it most importantly a map of a place I would care to play in?

I've never been a big fan of all-things-oozy and slime covered. I mean, it works, it's fun, the first time a player has to deal with like green slime it's fun, but its also likely so memorable, everyone metagames how to deal with it. Also, its such a generic thing as presented, it could be anywhere, but it also could be anything.

So, what do I think of it?

It looks rendered using a program for map creation. Maybe it isn't but it's also a fairly uninteresting and uninspiring place. That's not a knock on the artistic merits either, as the map "looks" like a map should other than being very plain. It's just not... exciting in the least to me and I, personally, wouldn't be using it as a GM and I'm unlikely to care about it as a space as a player as-is. Exciting adventures could happen here though, so that's nice!

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

Well darn, I was looking forwards to your round three entry. Oh well, that's how the game works I guess.

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