Brokeferry Bridge

Round 2: Create an encounter map

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka King Tius

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When this once mighty river all but dried up, the steep banks proved too dangerous for passing caravans. Before departing, the displaced Gozrehite ferrymen built Brokeferry Bridge using boat wreckage. Now, the perilous crossing is watched over by the abandoned chapel as well as a young black dragon’s boggard minions.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Jason! Welcome back 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?
Yes. There's a compass rose (though I could do without the artistic element to it), a scale, and a map key to help us interpret the color-coded areas and various objects featured on the map. You've also labeled a lot of the areas to give us insights into the individual encounter areas that are likely to be explored by the PCs. And you've identified a couple of weak points on the ramshackle bridge.

Does the map provide a cool setup for a fun encounter?
Definitely! This isn't your typical bridge. And the surrounding structures promise their own intriguing bits of fun...everything from a haunt to a greenhouse hazard to a boggard village to a dragon's lair. This map can draw upon any of those things to keep the players' attention.

Is the map creative and interesting?
Pretty darn creative and interesting. Instead of a typical river with a ferry, you give us a river that has receded significantly enough that the ferry was repurposed into a bridge made out of various boat parts. That's certainly creative. In the meantime, there are so many other elements at play here...a boggard village...a supposed young black dragon's lair under the waterfall...a mad monk haunt next to a broken temple including a stained glass floor and a neighboring greenhouse infected with brown mold. Pretty cool stuff.

Is the designer's extra 50-word commentary inspiring and useful?
Yes. This round didn't require a full-blown encounter design, but you still gave us hints regarding what this map could be used for by including insights into the ferry's history and current state. Well done!

Final verdict, at its core, this is an outdoor map of man-made structure that's seen significant changes since the river shrank bank from the shoreline. But you've given us a lot of character in the space it occupies and you've rendered it well enough that a cartographer can follow it fairly easily. So, I can readily say that I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this map to advance. Good luck in the voting and I hope to see you in Round 3.

But that's just my two cents,

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.
Very easy to read, and I'm glad that you didn't include textures, as it would have detracted from your turnover. There's a lot going on here, but it all works together: broken chapel to Gozreh, boggard huts, a water lair, a bridge bade of flotsam.
"Gozrehite" is not the correct word to indicate follower of Gozreh (it's Gozren), but that's pretty nit-picky of me (and irrelevant as far as mapmaking goes).

A very specific location, but not terribly reusable outside its first adventure. It would not be quick to recreate on a Flip-Mat, but the details are fluid enough that it doesn't need to be precise.

Fun Factor
I'm not sure that I've seen a map that combines all of these elements together in one: a partially dried up river, shrine, boggard huts, a flotsam bridge. I'm getting a strong Final Fantasy X vibe and I'm not entirely sure why, but I do like it. Lots of fun things to take advantage of here.

Final Thoughts
A combination of interesting map features and a clean turnover that isn't afraid to use some color. I do recommend this map for advancement.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka King Tius

Thank you judges for the insightful feedback and votes of confidence. Fingers crossed for Round 3!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Jason, this map really screamed out to me - I love it. There's a lot going on, and lots of ways to go about doing things.. love it.

I would have loved slightly more if the chapel was worked into the bridge itself rather than kept seperate, tying the two parts of the encounter map area together - as it is, it looks almost like the party could explore here, OR cross the bridge.

Either way, this is a fun place, and an interesting map. I look forward to seeing what you do next round.

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

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 fair "specific" place that is mapped out, so it wouldn't likely work well for the "generic" map lines. I imagine the final product would be made to work with existing river-maps and bridges, etc like the Falls & Rapids and Battlefield which has a bridge over a river. There are a lot of others too, but the "dry riverbed" and the make-shift bridge mean this has been there for a while.

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'm curious where you'd place this? The fact that a) Gozeh priests have built a makeshift bridge imply it's been dry and assumed to remain that way for awhile, but its gotta be in an area that a "better" solution hasn't been built by the local government to continue to aid trade. Is this a River Kingdom's thing? Searching "dry riverbed" on Pathfinder Wiki came up with Algid Wastes and Crowe the iconic bloodrager that is from Storval Plateau. I don't know either location well.

So, what do I think of it?

Your map is pretty. Good use of color, etc. I have design choice questions like "would priests of Gozreh build on a riverbed? I mean, they should plan-for/hope-for/wish-to restore the river right? Or was it's changing and drying out all part of Gozeh's plan. Frog-folk and black dragon... I don't seems interesting enough for a one-off but I'm not sure it all makes sense canonwise with the world and my understanding of that god, etc. <non-expert>

Dedicated Voter Season 9

As the judges said, this is an interesting and visually compelling map that offers a lot to GM and player alike. You've thought about what makes a game interesting from both sides of the table, and it makes your work super fun to read. I want to know what's in that stash: some relics snatched from the abandoned shrine? Castoffs from the dragon's lair? Moreover, what kinds of goodies (or baddies) lurk in that greenhouse?

Jason, you are clearly an imaginative thinker and writer. I'm excited to see what comes next from you.

Scarab Sages Developer

I like this map a lot. I;d enjoy using it as a player or GM.

I do wonder if you actually meant boggards, or boggarts... but that would be easy to check.

Sovereign Court Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I love this map because I can imagine running an encounter here in a number of ways:

  • Cross the bridge.
  • Defend the camp (the bridge is a barricade).
  • Rescue squatters from the rising flood before the dam (bridge) bursts.
  • You could easily split the map to run the top and bottom as two separate locations, I like that very much!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9 aka MillerHero

This is perhaps my favorite map this year.
Great job.

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

Great job, definitely made my top-8.

Can't wait to see more of your work!

Eerily similar to sketches I made last RPG Superstar, in case I went to the next round. You have boggards instead of gripplis, though. Despite this obvious lapse in taste, I have to acknowledge your obvious genius and say, yes, this is exactly what I think a map like this should look like. :)

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Brokeferry Bridge limerick.

The bridge that's comprised of old parts
of ships and some crates and old carts,
makes crossing a river
to cause you to quiver
as you get ambushed by boggarts!


Just, wow! Everything about this map just pops! I would seriously pull the text off this, print it out as-is and use in in my home games. I can't say much else without reiterating what everyone else has already covered.

Excellent, excellent work!

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Lot of space, lot of diversity and yet the map is quite clear and the indications given make it usable as is. Very well done. And the blurb is exactly at the level of description that gives useful info without giving unneeded constraints. This map is on my Keep list :-)

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Unfortunately the water geometry kills my suspension of disbelief. Water rarely travels sideways, and unless the point between the where the waterfall pool separates from the river is made of adamantium it should be very worn away. The volume of water going down river also doesn't seem to be impacted by a 15ft wide waterfall.

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

I like this map. It's got an implied history, with a sense of its inhabitants having made efforts to adapt as their situation changed. In that sense it feels very much alive. That's the kind of thing worldbuilding is made of.

So it's exactly what you want to see in a Superstar map.

Not only that, it's got a number of choices for players, and those choices will definitely affect the flow of whatever encounters take place here. Another huge plus for a Superstar map.

And it's unique enough to stay in your head. If, months later, someone mentioned "Brokeferry Bridge" to the PCs, they'd know exactly where it was.

Yeah, I could make some minor quibbles about the flow of the water, and it might be a bit too encounter dense to seem completely natural, but it's a very good entry into this contest.

Dark Archive

I like this map, but it just doesn't grab me, and I can't put my finger on why. You have everything there, and it's laid out in a clear, well thought-out manner. There are many opportunities for PCs to explore or have encounters. Maybe it's a little too busy for me? I'm not sure; I'll have to think on it. This is definitely in my top 16 though, so I wish you good luck, and hope to see what you bring us in the next round!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

I’ll start by telling you what I think a good map does. It sparks the imagination of the viewer. It whispers stories of events yet to come and invites a GM to spread their toes in a sandbox of creativity. It presents mysteries that need to be solved and beckons players to open every door, delivering on each area’s promise that more adventure awaits ahead. There are some technical elements that can help.

Is it readable? Yes. Choosing white as a text color was smart. It’s not a color used elsewhere on the map (except for the pillows, but you get the idea.)

Are there multiple choices for the PCs to make? If not, does the map present a path for the action to flow in? Regardless of what they’re doing here, the PCs are given a lot of ways to bring their plans to fruition. You took a lot of time making sure there was a lot to do here.

Does the map utilize the space well? Yes. It’s visually engaging, almost at the risk of being a little too cluttered.

Are the elements presented well thought out and make sense for the environment? Boggards have taken up residence opposite a crumbling shrine. That makes sense. The riverbed is drying up, so you manage to explain why the river is so narrow, while also creating a field of different terrain elements to play in. The unstable bridge is sure to be fun. One element that could use a little polishing is the chapel. It’s somewhat confusing as to how the greenhouse and the manse were designed around the other structure. Come to think of it, the chapel was there when the river was wider, but it doesn’t look like a building made to stand on the water.

Is this a map I would like to use more than once? Hard to say. It works nicely as a dwindling muddy river bed. The other elements limit it’s use somewhat, but I look at this and I want to find uses for it again.

So, back to the initial question: does this map spark the imagination? You give us a lot to work with here and ideas for encounters that focus in one each element you’ve included are easy to reach. I’m fairly certain this map will get one of my votes. Well done!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka Cyrad

This map points out that locations change with time and the weather. Man-made structures have to be rebuilt and adapt to these changes. The map embraces it and gains many fantastical elements, such as the makeshift bridge. There's a lot going on here. Many places to explore. I can even see PCs staying here for a bit. There's a lot to love with this map.

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

My first and probably last day to look at maps before voting closes. So here be the short version critique.
++ is awesome, +- good with a few shortcomings, -+ icky but some cool parts, and -- not a fan.
Initial reaction: cool!
understandability: +-
visuals: ++
adventurous: ++
inspired: I can see lots of crossings needing this.
Vote: Probably

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka King Tius

Hey, Top 16! A big thank you to everyone who voted for me and gave me such insightful feedback. All these positive comments are really uplifting and are driving me to do the best I can. Here's hoping you all like my monster as much as you've liked my previous two entries.

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