Temple of Exquisite Anguish

Round 2: Create an encounter map

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

Temple of Exquisite Anguish

The Derros of Corgunbier perform ritual sacrifice and experimentation on their captives in this temple. They force prisoners through tortures inspired by Cith-V’sug, Demon Lord of Fungus and Andirifkhu, the Razor Princess before leading them either to the laboratory, or to death at the altar.

RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut, Contributor

Mark! 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?
Mostly, yes. The compass rose is kind of lackluster hiding down there in the map key, but you've got one. And you defined the scale for us. Pretty much every symbol is labeled and you've also included some notes beside a few of the rooms to help us understand what's what.

Does the map provide a cool setup for a fun encounter?
It's pretty much a dungeon crawl. Hallways, rooms, probable encounters, adventure! In play elements like the Hall of Pestilence and Hall of Razors hold forth the promise of something cool. And there's a pool of toxic sludge and a giant pit in the two demon shrines which might come into play. But, on the whole, we're looking at regular encounters in a dungeon with a couple of extra effects to punch it up a bit.

Is the map creative and interesting?
You certainly used as much of your real estate as you could to give us rooms and hallways where encounters can take place. As a presumed derro temple in Corgunbier, I feel like there should be even more sadistic elements in here, especially with one of the shrines devoted to Andirifkhu the Razor Princess. The Hall of Razors doesn't feel like enough to do her justice. Cyth-V'sug gets a little more action with the Hall of Pestilence, fungus garden, and pool of toxic sludge. But, in some ways, I think it would've been better to focus on just one of these two demons rather than trying to bring them both into play. That way, you'd be freed up to devote more space to understanding how the derro use this place, and specifically tie more of it to that single demon lord to enhance the overall character of the piece. In fact, there's not a whole lot that screams crazed derro antics to me in this place (though the Hall of Razors comes close). Such an enclave could just as easily be attributed to the drow of House Dolour, which would have given you a stronger opportunity for a trap-laden dungeon maze to map, and I think that would have produced more bang for your buck.

Is the designer's extra 50-word commentary inspiring and useful?
It helps tremendously to know this is a temple in the derro-controlled city of Corgunbier in Nar-Voth. That lets us know the temple itself doesn't necessarily have to include living quarters and all the necessary chambers for eating, etc. that would come along with it. Given that inspiration, though, I think the map doesn't quite live up to the promise of the text here. I'd like to see more variation in this temple...like more than just a single holding cell where they keep prisoners, maybe a stairway up or down hinting at even more horrors, better definition and variation on what awaits in the laboratory, and so on.

Final verdict, I'm not overly enthused with this one, so I'm ON THE FENCE with this map. The mandatory elements are there, but there's not quite enough given here to elevate the piece for me. The idea behind everything is sound, but I feel like there should be more presented for a Superstar location. Regardless, good luck with the voters in seeing if you get to move on to 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.
Red text on black background makes it difficult to read at a glance (especially at a smaller size). The room details are pretty easy to read, though, and easy to convert to a final image.

I'm not sure why these two particular demon lords are sharing the same space: they don't particularly overlap in their focus, so this is a bit confusing (not to mention demon lords aren't particularly known for this "cooperation" thing). Who's the chapel dedicated to? It's an interesting location, but there's some logical weirdness. Why a pit by the Shrine to Andirifkhu? How are prisoners led out of the cell? Are the guards walking through the two Halls with their prisoners? Not sure how much use I would get out of this map because of these issues.

Fun Factor
It's a pretty typical underground location, but unless the shrines figure large in the encounter variety, it's not very exciting.

Final Thoughts
While the text helps in the setting, the map just doesn't inspire me. I do not recommend this map for advancement.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

I feel like this is an interesting location that could have more. There is nowhere for a villain to escape out of to come back for revenge on the players. The two forks in the road essentially lead to the same places so some of the most interesting aspects of the map might never come into play. Where one passageway goes over the other there is no way for effects to move from one to the other, so derro can't drop behind the players, or pour oil on them or anything else fun there.

Dedicated Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Red on black is hurting this map for me.

Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Mark, this map has old-school appeal, and it's clear, but leaves me wanting something more. Like Neil, I'm on the fence.

Sovereign Court Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9

Temple of Exquisite Anguish

A temple that rests in the dark,
tearing up folks like a shark.
'cause two godly dudes
with evil attitudes
get derros to act their remarks.

I like this map, too. And any nitpicks I'd have about it are already covered by to other posters. Most notably, however-and-unfortunately, is that it just doesn't pop out at me.

I do picture kinds of encounters taking place in a joint like this ^.^ Nice going!

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

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I get that red ink on black paper plays Exquisite Anguish with the eyes, but why did it have to be directed at mine ?

Lot of spaces and places which look pretty cool as a place to adventure in, but the whole feels a bit clustered, as if trying to put two or more ecosystems too close to one another just to have them fit within the map's dimensions.

Interesting blurb, though the titles of the entities might not be needed.

Red on black, ugh.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Mark, I need to introduce you to my little friend, contrast. Wow.

That said, I actually really like this map. Sure, its largely a dungeon crawl, but it's an interestingly designed one. There's a way for the derro to sneak behind the party, a secret stash, a crossed tunnel bound to mess up parties of PCs... Lots of good stuff.

On the other hand, while this is a cool dungeon map, you could probably have gone the extra mile and made even the entrance and first junction interesting as well, and your split focus between two demon lords hurts you as much as it helps.

In looking forward to what you do in future rounds.

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, but red text on a black background doesn’t make it easy. I expect you were trying to increase visibility of the rooms by filling in the solid space with black, but just using a thinker line or a light grey fill color would have worked just as well and kept your words more legible.

Are there multiple choices for the PCs to make? If not, does the map present a path for the action to flow in? PCs can pick their way between one of two directions at multiple points in the map. Do we go left, or right? Easy. Evil is never right.

Does the map utilize the space well? There isn’t enough wasted space to cause concern.

Are the elements presented well thought out and make sense for the environment? Some of your rooms are rigid rectangles. Others are freeform and amorphous. Why did the builders create some rooms one way and not the other? The hallways are really bendy, and in places it looks like they were made that way to make room for another room, but wouldn’t the windy bendy caverns be the natural part, forcing the square room to be modified to it? The two temples are very close to one another. Do the clerics performing rituals get in each other’s way?

Is this a map I would like to use more than once? It’s two alters devoted to evil gods. I could probably make an excuse to use one or another from time to time, but I’m not sure I want both at once.

So, back to the initial question: does this map spark the imagination? The tunnels fit well in the context of your encounter description, but just sending PCs down a hallway filled with spikes isn’t the most exciting thing I can think of. Some space for onlookers could have helped. Making the paths wide enough to let a good cartographer go wild with some environmental features may have helped. I want to separate the corridor and the shrine elements so that either could be used separately, and that the trial bits could really shine when needed. As it appears here, I’m more excited by the concept than by the map.

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

Definitely an old-school vibe to this. Torture tunnels and shrines to demon lords!

But it doesn't really stand out from the hundreds of similar places we've all seen previously. This would be fun enough while you're playing it, but nothing you'd be talking about a month or two later.

The challenge with this idea for this contest is interesting. For this particular location to work, the travails of the prisoners need to be more awful than they seem here. But RPGSS voters don't respond well to explicit gore, so you've got to be both more horrible and more subtle about it. Evoke the horrors of the place, don't make them explicit. This map feels a bit too much on the safe side in that regard, just needs more that pokes at the imagination.

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: a bit railroady, but the players will be too worried about hazards to notice much. :)
Vote: Probably

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

I'm not going to do my usual post. Torture porn <link to Urban Dictionary> was never my thing, and this place with its description and the use of derros (whom I love, despite everything), and Corgunbier, which is a neat enough place I'd like to see an adventure, but then specifically calling out Cyth-B'sung, and the fungus and parasites...

It makes perfect sense, and it seems like it'd be fine, but if I wanted to do this adventure, I'd just use any of a number of already existing dungeon maps.

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