Dwarven Brewery

Round 2: Create an encounter map

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 aka Khazrandir

Example encounter:

Shipments of Magmaforge Firestout stopped when a haunting presence claimed this brewery. Driven mad, the surviving dwarves drink heavily and attack intruders with raised mugs.

The haunting presence covets its dwarf playthings, taking actions to hinder outsiders, such as toppling barrels and spouting slippery beer from spigots.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Shane! 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?
Information overload! The basics are there. Compass rose, scale, legend, lots of labeled areas. Good use of color to distinguish things (like lava from water). But, in all honesty, you went a bit nuts with amount of detail in this map. Sometimes less is more, and the sheer length of the legend you provided is eating up real estate in a haphazard way. The cartographer has plenty to go with this map turnover, but he may still have a few questions. I think those are supposed to be tables and chairs (or stools?) up by the tasting area and in front of the shrine to Cayden Cailean. It also appears that there's a 2-foot wide rope bridge (and wooden platforms) 40 feet above the brewery's floor. And the big giant dwarf face in the northwest corner is a decorative bit of sculpture to emit the lava flow? There also looks like some spilled barrels near the 40-foot-high netting. And there's some kind of greenish-stuff in the drunk pit? I'm not even sure I want to know what that is. Bottom line, there's a bunch of detail on this map, and then there's still stuff that I'm not 100% sure of.

Does the map provide a cool setup for a fun encounter?
Yeah, it could be. This is one expansive dwarven brewery with a whole lot of strangeness happening inside it. There are also a lot of different elements at play with the drunk pit, the stairs and ladders going up to the cask storage and brewing area. There's even a river cutting through part of it (but no indication of depth that I can tell). Dwarves may be shorter than humans, but they obviously think big with this map and the 20-ft.-tall casks and dry ingredient storage.

Is the map creative and interesting?
It's creative and has lots of potentially interesting elements to it. Certainly not your average dwarven brewery. You didn't just keep it a flat, run-of-the-mill bar either.

Is the designer's extra 50-word commentary inspiring and useful?
It gives us a very specific encounter setup. So, it's certainly useful in helping to better understand what's going on in this crazy brewery. Knowing there are dwarven patrons that some haunting presence has driven mad...and that they're about to attack you with nothing but their raised mugs...is both frightening and humorous at the same time. But it's the sinister presence that takes poltergeist-like actions to hinder outsiders which is the centerpiece of what you've described and what you've tried to portray with the mapped location.

Final verdict, I wanted to really like this, but it's kind of all over the place in how it's depicted. There's definitely a purpose behind it all, so your vision for a mad dwarf encounter is intact with what you've designed. I'm just not sure it's enough to bring it home for the voters. For me, I'll say I'm ON THE FENCE but leaning towards not recommended because of a few of the clarity issues I raised earlier. I got most of what you're going for, but I think the competition is high and this hasn't fully won me over yet. Regardless, good luck with the voters in seeing if you get to move on to Round 3. And, if you do, raise your game on the next assignment so you can pick up the pace.

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.
This map is very busy and the lines aren't distinct enough to tell detail from feature easily. Is this underground? And why are the dry ingredients kept so close to the lava flow? And ropes above hot air and lava? Sounds like a recipe for ignition to me.

It's a brewery map, and some variations in this arena is good to have, but there are inconsistencies to this map that don't work for me.

Fun Factor
Another dwarven brewery? This doesn't really stand out, and another dwarven map that includes a lava feature is getting pretty worn.

Final Thoughts
This brewery doesn't really stand out from others that I've seen. I do not recommend this map for advancement.

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. Liz calls out that "not another dwarven brewery" though no specific flip-mat exists for a brewery or a space like this in a dwarven city that a few mins of searching found. I could see the map being in the style of the Cave Chambers and/or Mines Map Pack, which personally I'd use to lead up to it. Its a fairly cliche idea, even to the river on one side and magma-lava on the other (if it were I, as "lava" doesn't really make sense where this kind of thing would be) I'd have instead had it be the slag and/or foundry pour off, and the miners were being "clever" and using the wasted heat to boil their beer mash.

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 "haunted brewry" is kind of an silly take on the classic "meeting in a tavern" and I could see this map itself as "fun" to play on, if I suspend my rationale mind getting mad an "underground river" and a "magma flow" are so close together. And it would be exactly the kind of thing I'd see dwarves building off a mine.

So, what do I think of it?

Your map style is simple, but effective. You're not an artist, but that's not your job here. I think the "idea" is neat enough but not exactly stunned by it or anything.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 9

Although a Bit difficult to see the Legend from Submitted size of Maps

I belive I could convert it in CC3 or a Graphics Program Easily.

And Probly Will

I Like it

Silver Crusade

"Somebody mentioned those two special words..."

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Shane, this map is a bit too busy. That's not to say there's top much going on because you can have lots of things and still have a good map, but there seem to be too many different things going on, all in what basically amounts to one room.

Sure, there are some separations; there's a ledge and a rope bridge and a river, but mostly, this is a massive empty room. A GM could get by with randomly drawing a handful of chairs and barrels on a blank page, and it would give half the experience of this area. Which is a problem.

Another problem, is that this doesn't feel like an unmapped area on Golarion. It feels like a generic map. I may have missed it, but you didn't give an explanation as to where in the world your carme- er, your map should be. So you end up with it being ONLY a generic map, and not a map for something specific that could be reused for a lot of things.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 9

Plenty of UnMapped Dwarven Areas on Golarion.

Honestly I have not seen hardly any Maps that can be used for a Lot of things...

If you Know about Historical Brewing..you would know that there was no need for a Heated Brew Kettle..but because evryone thinks Brewing has been done the same way it is done now, everyone thinks it has to have a Fancy Copper Brew Kettle, but who can not say that Maybe in a Fantasy world they did no have heated brew Kettles...And A Captured White Dragons chilling down the Lagers :)

... Lava flow?

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The blurb is good, but the map feels haphazard to me.

I wanted to like this. Dwarves, good. Brewery, better. However, I'm not digging (pun intended) the layout.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Dwarven Brewery limerick.

The haunted brewery stands nigh
Encounter ideas run dry.
A black market sale,
and some guys drunk on ale,
are all I can think of to try.

I don't know what it is, but alcoholic-themed anything tends to fall flat with me. Breweries, distilleries, and oddly enough, even pub encounters just kind of fade into the background for me.

My personal preferences are not your fault, though. To me, this map seems pretty decent. But in many ways, it doesn't offer much that is *new*.

Nice job, though!

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I feel like lava is unnecessary here, too many maps of dwarven areas go straight for lava even when it isn't necessary

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Dwarven bootmaker - powered by lava!

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

Feels pretty school. Maybe even a little cliche, with the dwarven brewery and lava flow being pretty common elements in such places.

I sort of like the idea of a haunted dwarven beerhall with mad drunken dwarfs attacking you with beermugs. That was probably the place to focus.

Some things seem a little off to me, logic-wise. Not sure why there's a rope bridge at all. Change the layout slightly and there's no need for it. But even if there is, why not build a sturdier bridge? Dwarfs, after all.

And do they really toss drunks 20 ft. down into a pit? That's a rough neighborhood!

Mostly what I think this needs is a tighter focus on the core idea, which does hold some promise.

"You know what this brewpub needs? Quiz games. Also, a live lava flow. Some gaseous arsenic will really liven this place up."

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: alright
understandability: +-
visuals: +-
adventurous: -+
inspired: a bar fight can happen anywhere, the dressing seem to be stationary except for water & boiling, but it is hard to say for sure what they are.
Vote: Probably not

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. I appreciate the yellow highlight of the elevations. They’re key in understanding the map, and are often easy to miss.

Are there multiple choices for the PCs to make? If not, does the map present a path for the action to flow in? There’s so much going on in this map, that it’s a little hard to discern everything easily. It definitely makes it seem like a busy place, and players will not want for options here.

Does the map utilize the space well? You’ve made sure to include many believable elements, but putting them all into one room makes it seem like you could have spent a little more time on the layout.

Are the elements presented well thought out and make sense for the environment? I appreciate the attention to detail here. You included elements like dry ingredients, empty barrel storage, a tasting area, and even a recipe vault. These kinds of features don’t make it onto maps all that often (to my recollection) and they really add to the environment here. I still question having everything in one giant room, but it’s not too much of a stretch to view it as a cavernous factory floor with a lot of product on the move. Nice work! One feature that seems out of place is the dwarven face the lava is pouring out of. The open-mouth face that is spewing liquid or gas is an old trope, and can work. But this is a brewery, and I keep thinking that it’s a dwarf that got sick and is ejecting his ale all over the floor. Worse, he got into a barfight and is spitting up a mouth full of bleeding, broken teeth. Also, I keep thinking his beard is about to start on fire.

Is this a map I would like to use more than once? It’s not often my PCs find themselves in a brewery. A tavern sure, but not a brewery. Another advantage to separating the areas a little more means a GM could easily cover up some portions to re-use as a warehouse, tavern, meeting hall, etc.

So, back to the initial question: does this map spark the imagination? You’ve included enough on this map to get me thinking about how to use them all. I know players would have fun here, and the GM could get a kick out of describing some carnage in the area. Overall, I quite like this map and the ideas that went into it, but I do think they could have been organized a little more.

Dark Archive

This is not a bad map, but it's a little too busy for me, without any division for multiple encounters. Anything that happens on this map would devolve into one giant fight, which would get very tedious with everything going on in the background. You had a good concept, I just wish it was executed a little better. I wish you luck!

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