Swamp-Submerged Temple


Round 2: Create an encounter map

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

An ancient temple to a water deity that once sat on pilings over water. It is now submerged in a swamp, an excavated passage allowing entry. Brown area is shallow bog, green is deep, blue is 10' deep water. The lower level "walls" are the muck the structure sunk into.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Brandon! 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?
For the most part, yes. It's a complicated setup with the sunken elements of the temple. I had a hard time grasping the floor that collapses to the lower level as a concealed pit, and then how someone finds their way back up to the top level again. Is the statue and dais accessible from either level? Since it appears on both, I assume so, but if that's the part that sunk, why are there stairs already leading down? Maybe I'm just reading something wrong. And, if I am, it's possible the cartographer could as well. This is probably a map that could benefit from a side-view. Other than that, you've given us the requisite compass rose, scale, and a brief legend. One of my pet-peeves, however, is a compass rose that doesn't make "north" straight up. It's really the standard way of portraying things, and unless there's a driving reason not to have "north" point straight up, that's what you should do.

Does the map provide a cool setup for a fun encounter?
Yes. I think so. There's an excavated entrance, some quicksand to come into play, a broken underwater glass viewing area that's now just a hazardous pool, the sunken temple itself, and the statue on the raised dais. Somewhere amid all of that, there's ample opportunity for a fun encounter (or two).

Is the map creative and interesting?
Yes, but it's a hard one to pull off given that you've got a sunken chamber, a pool, and some quicksand zones. You have to keep track of all of those elements to ensure it makes sense in three dimensions in relation to one another. That last quicksand seems especially close to the sunken temple itself, so I'm actually wondering what keeps it from just running out into the chamber floor rather than staying contained in the upper hallway? Regardless, it's a visually interesting map, and it's a creative way for leading the PCs into an encounter area.

Is the designer's extra 50-word commentary inspiring and useful?
Knowing the temple itself was dedicated to a water deity helps give it a little character, but I'm kind of left wanting to know more. Is it Gozreh? Besmara? Or something more sinister? A bit more would make it truly inspiring. As for usefulness, the explanation of the different colored zones and "walls" of muck in the swamp helps interpret the map a little better. Still, I think you could've used a side-view to help with that and then spent these words on more inspiring insights into the nature of the temple itself with hints towards what kind of creatures lair here, or what kind of lost lore the temple might contain.

Final verdict, it's a visually appealing map, but with a lot of complication which I'm not quite sure you fully conveyed for the cartographer who would have to render it in a way that it made sense at the gaming table. The character of the temple and its current state still inspire, so I'm going to put myself ON THE FENCE for now. I suspect at least a few voters will be swayed by your mapping style and the scenario you chose to portray with the sunken nature of it. Regardless, good luck and I look forward to seeing if you make it into Round 3.

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

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
The map is easy to read at a glance, and the multiple levels are easily identified. This would be straightforward to make a final map from.

Usability
Submerged temples are a handy location to have in your GM toolbox, but aside from the Statue, there's not a whole lot of compelling features to it.

Fun Factor
This map's biggest aid is the how unstable the environment is, and this might make traversing it quite interesting for players.

Final Thoughts
While technically well-executed, it's just not interesting enough of a location. I do not recommend this map for advancement.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

This is somewhere in the middle for me, it is an interesting location. But nothing jumps out at me and says to send my players here.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Brandon, this is a gracefully simple map. It's about one encounter, around that shrine, and that's it.

Ultimately, though, this is a nice map of a decent location... but there's nothing that says this is a Golarion location. Which is part of the challenge. This is just "temple map" as far as I can tell. I mean, the statue isn't even Gozreh, nor is this the Sodden Temple (implying the sodden lands). This is just the swamp temple, and the statue.

Also, I want to halfway disagree with Neil: I also prefer my compass roses to be north-facing, but I don't love the idea that they always have to be 100% north - I think North-east is just fine... though, I like it to be within 30% of up, so there's no "I go east" confusion. After all, most architects probably don't start building with true north in mind.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 9

Great Encounter Map

Bad 24X30 Battlemap, aka Flip MAp.

To much Wasted Space..Continuity Issue with Split Levels..

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

JPSTOD wrote:

Great Encounter Map

Bad 24X30 Battlemap, aka Flip MAp.

To much Wasted Space..Continuity Issue with Split Levels..

Just to clarify (without typing anything that might disqualify me...I hope): This is supposed to be an encounter map (according to round 2 rules), not a flip map. Pointing that out as I'd like to be fairly voted on/judged by my peers based on the contest rules and not on a misinterpretation of what we were supposed to be creating. :)

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

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Brandon Thorne wrote:
Just to clarify (without typing anything that might disqualify me...I hope): This is supposed to be an encounter map (according to round 2 rules), not a flip map. Pointing that out as I'd like to be fairly voted on/judged by my peers based on the contest rules and not on a misinterpretation of what we were supposed to be creating. :)

Brandon! NOooOOoo!

The Contest Rules wrote:
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. This applies to (but is not limited to) interviews, personal blogs, and messageboard posts on paizo.com or elsewhere, including the paizo.com discussion thread for the entry itself. Any such discussion may result in disqualification, in the sole discretion of the judges and/or Paizo.

It doesn't matter if others misinterpret or even misunderstand the rules and vote differently than what they believe the round's assignment called for. You're NOT allowed to comment on your entry to clarify (or correct) others. You have to let the voting public interpret it for themselves. There'll be plenty of others here to correct them or support them or foster further discussion.

Scarab Sages Developer

The tech team and most of the company has gone home, and I need to talk to a couple of people before it's official, but this certainly looks like a disqualification to me.

Spelling out your intent to follow your interpretation of the rules, IS giving out new information about your entry, even (as Neil notes) you are entirely correct.

I'll have to make the final call tomorrow, but since I saw this I wanted to address it now.

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

I'm sorry Brandon, you are very likely going to be DQ'd.

I'll tag my usual review style at the end, but I just complained about the opposite end of your comment in Kim Frandsen's Cabin in the Woods.

The rules for Round 2 were...

Round 2 Rules wrote:
Entry must be a map of a fantasy-themed location on Golarion appropriate for an encounter. You may create a map for an encounter set in a city, wilderness, dungeon, or any other fantasy Golarion location appropriate for an encounter map. You may present a map designed for a specific encounter, or one useful for a variety of encounters.

(emphasis mine)

And some of us might be thinking of the post Owen made before the official rules were announced where Owen called out that this would be a "Flip-Map" (yes, Flip-Mat is the product line, I assume Owen meant Flip-Mat).

If you notice, JPTSOD was very active in that thread and so you can see where he's likely coming from (as am I, but I also see the otherside).

I think some of the problem is that "encounter map" isn't really a technical term in Pathfinder (to the best of my knowledge). It's a term of scale (so "Encounter-scale map") and adventures and modules likely include "encounter maps" in them, but I don't know if they're explicitly called those things.

So judging and voting is a weird mixed bag of people that expected an encounter with map, others expecting flip-mat-style maps, and then other things too.

Sorry if you end up being DQ'd.

*-*-*

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?

Your map suffers from being both generic ("a water diety" -- which one? Both Gozreh and Pharasma can grant the Water domain, and those are just two random ones. There are others like Hanspur that could totally work too!) and being specific (Its a fairly tiny area, and if you compare it to existing "church" flip-mats and Map Packs (like the Cathedral and Monastery, it does "waste space" -- but then the rules said you needed a key, a compass rose, etc. so you're forced to waste at least some space. Then too, I'm guessing this would go next to my Swamp map, but maybe not. I think that Flooded Dungeon would absolutely go along with it, and really, I'd love to have almost seen this specifically made to work WITH that map. Then again, why would I bother with this, as I have a neat little green/swampy map right in the top left corner if I own it already (see image here)?

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?

The old half-submerged (or fully, in your case) church/temple/dungeon is so classic, they did a flip-mat of it, AND that flip-mat includes a "shrine"-like area. I mean, I just helped on a book about Grippli, and I could see a cool frog-folk temple adventure, OR I could see people digging up a temple of a dead god, or giant god, or Cthulhu, or something...?

So, what do I think of it?

Artistically, I like what you did. I don't see the "continuity error" but I like the fact you tried to "hint" in blue dashed lines where the lower-level is on the upper. The straight hallway to Point A and Straight hallway to Point B make this feel like it's just a tiny part of a larger complex, especially since, I don't see how this was once an above ground structure and all interconnects. So, it's been done before but you do already.

Sorry you're going to be DQ'd.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

Neil Spicer wrote:
Brandon Thorne wrote:
Just to clarify (without typing anything that might disqualify me...I hope): This is supposed to be an encounter map (according to round 2 rules), not a flip map. Pointing that out as I'd like to be fairly voted on/judged by my peers based on the contest rules and not on a misinterpretation of what we were supposed to be creating. :)

Brandon! NOooOOoo!

The Contest Rules wrote:
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. This applies to (but is not limited to) interviews, personal blogs, and messageboard posts on paizo.com or elsewhere, including the paizo.com discussion thread for the entry itself. Any such discussion may result in disqualification, in the sole discretion of the judges and/or Paizo.
It doesn't matter if others misinterpret or even misunderstand the rules and vote differently than what they believe the round's assignment called for. You're NOT allowed to comment on your entry to clarify (or correct) others. You have to let the voting public interpret it for themselves. There'll be plenty of others here to correct them or support them or foster further discussion.

My statement was meant to "clarify" the round 2 rules only, not the content of my submission - hence my use of the words "supposed to be" instead of something more explicit. It's obviously a matter of semantics and judicial interpretation, but if the wording of my post had literally been "this is my entry for round 2, not for something else" - which I think contains the same amount of information - I can't imagine that would be a disqualifying statement, would it? (...and I do understand that if the answer is "actually, yes; it would be," that I'm definitely DQ'ed at this point.)


I think this is a good use of a map that depicts a more crowded area. However, I'm really boggled you didn't put the statue in the legend, since it's used twice but only labeled once.

Scarab Sages Developer

Brandon Thorne wrote:
My statement was meant to "clarify" the round 2 rules only, not the content of my submission - hence my use of the words "supposed to be" instead of something more explicit.

Brandon, the problem is you clarified that you felt the rules called for something specific AND that you felt your map met that criteria, AND that some people weren't judging it on that criteria.

That's additional information about in what way you felt you met this challenge, and an effort to sway voters with that new information.

So that really is more than "this is my entry for round 2, not for something else," which I STILL wouldn't recommend a contestant posting.


Putting aside the possible DQ, I'll comment on the entry.

I like that you put water inside the temple. It is "submerged" in a swamp. However, I feel that the whole location should be FILLED with water. The entrance had to be excavated, meaning that the first location is below ground, and it just gets deeper from there. Additionally, I don't know how "deep" the green area is. You just say deep. How deep?

Congrats on making it to this round.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

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Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Brandon, the problem is you clarified that you felt the rules called for something specific AND that you felt your map met that criteria, AND that some people weren't judging it on that criteria.

That's additional information about in what way you felt you met this challenge, and an effort to sway voters with that new information.

So that really is more than "this is my entry for round 2, not for something else," which I STILL wouldn't recommend a contestant posting.

That's where the semantics comes in: I didn't imply any of those "AND"'s in my original post, at least not as you've rephrased them. It was "the rules state that round 2 submissions are for encounter maps, not flip maps; your comment gives the appearance that you didn't know that, and as that's important for any voters to know, here's me correcting that incorrect assumption." Not that it matters - the interpretation of a judge is all that matters - but I still disagree.

Regardless, that last "non-recommendation" alone means that, almost literally, you don't think that any contestants should post anything, period, until after a round of judging is complete...which makes me wonder why contestants are not "banned" from posting on (their) entries to begin with. Not sure that's something currently implemented, but *I* obviously would have benefited from the inability to post; maybe it's something that could be brought up with the site dev team? It just seems counter-intuitive to allow people to inadvertently incriminate themselves, as it were, given the forum-like structure of the contest, especially for something that relies so much on individual interpretation.

Even just rewording the rules to something like this would have made a HUGE difference, as it leaves no room for a contestant to be "suckered into a DQ":

Quote:
During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion (...*snip*...) relating to their current submissions. This applies to (but is not limited to) interviews, personal blogs, and messageboard posts on paizo.com or elsewhere, including the paizo.com discussion thread for the entry itself. Any such discussion may result in disqualification, in the sole discretion of the judges and/or Paizo.

Scarab Sages Developer

I absolutely understand your frustration.
When you say "This is supposed to be... " in reference to your own entry, you are clarifying your submission. There's simply no way to not see that statement as a clarification on what you intended to do with your turnover.

Scarab Sages Developer

And I would hate to create a universal ban that could DQ someone for saying "Thank You" to judges, which is been a staple of many contestants for the life of this contest. In this case, we draw the line further away than that.

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The map is overall interesting for a small exploration, but I feel that much space is not used to its full potential here.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
And I would hate to create a universal ban that could DQ someone for saying "Thank You" to judges, which is been a staple of many contestants for the life of this contest. In this case, we draw the line further away than that.

What about the rules rewording I proposed, then? "During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion relating to their current submissions." Saying "thank you" obviously falls outside of that (large) container, but I don't think the line you've drawn is more than a couple inches away from "any discussion relating to your submission" given that you actually suggest a contestant avoid saying something as objectively simple and true as "this is my entry for round 2, not for something else".

(Just to be clear, since the DQ has already happened I have no reason to continue discussing this for my own benefit. I'm just assuming that I'm not the only "new arrival" to this contest, so if I can get caught by this broadly defined rule then I'm going to go the route of RPG Rules Lawyer and call it out as the "game mechanics issue" it is. :) )

Scarab Sages Developer

Saying "this is my entry for round 2, not for something else" would be RIGHT on the line in the current rules, because you are talking about your intent for your entry. Thankfully no one has ever decided to try exactly that.

Saying "I thank the judges." or even "I thank the judges for their feedback on my submission." is currently clearly and entirely safe. However if the rules was your proposed "During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion relating to their current submissions." then thanking the judges WOULD be "any public discussion relating to their current submission." It's not thanking the judges for someone else's submission, so it would be a discussion *relating* to yours, and your proposed rule forbids that.

I don't want to draw the line there, and I think that would create more confusion and DQs, not less.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Drahkan

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

aying "I thank the judges." or even "I thank the judges for their feedback on my submission." is currently clearly and entirely safe. However if the rules was your proposed "During public voting rounds, contestants are prohibited from any public discussion relating to their current submissions." then thanking the judges WOULD be "any public discussion relating to their current submission." It's not thanking the judges for someone else's submission, so it would be a discussion *relating* to yours, and your proposed rule forbids that.

I don't want to draw the line there, and I think that would create more confusion and DQs, not less.

*Head reels*

Hrm. Perhaps so, but if that's the case, then would making the "thank you's" wait until after the round was over be an issue? For round 1 I didn't say anything until after the voting was done, but only because I was caught up with other Real Life stuff for the entire voting time so didn't realize it was even over until getting the email. :) However, if I *had* thought about it, I could see how difficult it might have been to read one of the many comments and make an off-the-cuff statement that didn't seem like a rules violation but in fact was. (Which, most likely, would just have meant that someone else had my place in the 2nd round, as that's most likely what would have happened.)

One of the many problems of running these sorts of contests, I guess. The forum here is filled with sub-forums and topics that are all about critiquing each others' work, engaging in conversation about Game Rule ABC and Doesn't Work Because of Historical Game Canon XYZ...and then suddenly you have to wait with bated breath to say anything you wouldn't be confident in telling an adult while sitting at the kid's table during Thanksgiving dinner.

Ah, well. Thanks for running the contest to begin with; it's been 2 decades since I had anything published, let alone been able to play an RPG anytime recently (stupid Daily Life), so was good to know that I haven't lost my touch entirely. Top 32 is, well...still Top 32, eh?

Scarab Sages Developer

Brandon Thorne wrote:
Top 32 is, well...still Top 32, eh?

Absolutely it is!

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