In Pale Mountain's Shadow pg. 24 Playtest Question


Doomsday Dawn Game Master Feedback


IPMS wrote:


Testing this format for presenting relatively minor
encounters on the way to a primary adventure site
that is mapped (the Tomb of Tular Seft) is also an
experimental part of the playtest process. Make sure
to let us know in your feedback for this chapter how
this worked out at your table. Did you enjoy the
opportunity to build battlefields on the fly for your
encounters, or do you prefer having published maps
to accompany every fight in the adventure, even if it
means fewer encounters are included?

To answer that prematurely (we haven't played that section yet), because I have been in that position before, personally I don't mind it much, if I know that's the case and have enough time on my hands to prepare maps before the session. My photoshop skills are solid enough to produce a battle map close enough to what I have in mind* and to print it out in A3 format is, while not exactly cheap if I have to do lots of them, not really an issue since I'd have to print out the published maps anyway.

However, if I have not enough preperation time and really have to do it on the fly during the session, usually - and that is the case in every system, not only PF, so it stands to reason this will be a problem in PF2 too - it takes time away from the actual game play, yes, I could draw on blank flip mats, but while I still use them sometimes, all of them are too large for our gaming table to leave room for the notes, dices and char sheets of the players, so personally I find them a littlte bit unpractical when it comes to larger areas, but totally usefull for small houses or minidungeons, where you can just fold the mats to a more suitable size.

So, with the time taken away from gameplay or time taken away from preperation of running the adventure, that's not a big deal for one encounter or two every couple of sessions, but it becomes a pain in the behind if I have to do on-the-fly encounter maps every third encounter or so.

If I understand the question correctly, paizo's goal seems to be to publish less maps themselves and have more of those on-the-fly encounters that I'd either have to prepare or, if not enough time beforehand to do it right, cobble something together during the session which is using the precious time my group and I have together a little bit inefficiently. please keep that in mind when publishing further adventures.

For the sake of playtesting, I'll not prepare them beforehand but at the table, to see how much time we lose during that process and give a more exact feedback when we have played through that scene in question.

*but that's just me. I know GMs who have less skills in the graphic area or simply lack the tools to produce maps. so I look forward to other GM's opinions on that issue

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The goal is not to publish less maps ourselves, but to explore options for when we do adventures that would normally require a lot of different maps. It's easy enough to fit a dozen encounter areas in one dungeon, or even a spread-out dungeon, on a page. But it's a lot harder to do the same for a bunch of entirely different and often quite sizable locations, like you see with Pale Mountain's Shadow, without making the maps cramped or having to sacrifice wordcount too deeply.

If folks DO like having specific maps, that does also mean that on the production side we're going to have to step up the "If you write us an adventure you HAVE to give us maps" requirement. Because that's one of the tougher things to sometimes get authors to do.

This playtest adventure just seemed to me to be a good time to get a lot of feedback on various options, be they maps for every location (as we did for five of the chapters), reprinting flip mats (like in chapter 5), or draw your own maps to our descriptions (like in this chapter).


James Jacobs wrote:

If folks DO like having specific maps, that does also mean that on the production side we're going to have to step up the "If you write us an adventure you HAVE to give us maps" requirement. Because that's one of the tougher things to sometimes get authors to do.

Honest question, because I really don't know: Do the authors hand you a finished map or do they provide sketches that the Art Departement or a freelancer uses to create the final product?

Because if it is the latter, I think (or maybe I'm too ignorant of something) it shouldn't be hard to give the same descriptions you would give the GM to produce battlemaps on the fly to whoever creats your finished maps. It's the same process after all, just less time consuming for the GM and probably more expensive for Paizo. As for the page count, I was under the impression that interactive Map Packs exist as pdfs. Is it financially completely unsound to exclude those maps from the AP/module pages but include them in the map pack instead?

Also, thank you for your response

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Hythlodeus wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

If folks DO like having specific maps, that does also mean that on the production side we're going to have to step up the "If you write us an adventure you HAVE to give us maps" requirement. Because that's one of the tougher things to sometimes get authors to do.

Honest question, because I really don't know: Do the authors hand you a finished map or do they provide sketches that the Art Departement or a freelancer uses to create the final product?

Because if it is the latter, I think (or maybe I'm too ignorant of something) it shouldn't be hard to give the same descriptions you would give the GM to produce battlemaps on the fly to whoever creats your finished maps. It's the same process after all, just less time consuming for the GM and probably more expensive for Paizo. As for the page count, I was under the impression that interactive Map Packs exist as pdfs. Is it financially completely unsound to exclude those maps from the AP/module pages but include them in the map pack instead?

Also, thank you for your response

Authors are supposed to, but sometimes they don't and more often their maps are not that great and I or whoever's developing the adventure has to re-draw them. It varies from project to project. The final sketches are then given to Art and they send them to a professional cartographer to create the finished maps the world sees in print.


I look forward to tossing together these maps because as loose as they are, they're straightforward to make. They have minimal negative impact and add more freedom w/ storytelling & setting options.

I may be biased because it's pretty much what I already did for single-encounter maps. Unless it's an epic battle, they aren't worth the bother in prep or the time drawing in game, especially if they're talking and may or may not battle. Heck, in some game venues getting everybody to clear off their gear so we change maps can take effort.
It's much easier to have a plain battlemat down and toss token terrain in the middle of it.

What I plan on doing is using 2D cardboard set pieces from the 3.x era (early 4th?) box sets they released for DnD. I could see a lot of utility in Paizo releasing similar sets. Then you could have things like:
1 Giant Tree (central)
7 Medium Trees (scattered)
1 Medium Pond (north edge)
1 Small Shack (under Giant Tree)
Add various copses & bushes (scattered away from shack)

The same could be done w/ various dungeon rooms perhaps?
Hard to tell, but it did feel strange once having a brutal fight about 20' away around a corner from the aggressive BBEG's room, but he doesn't bother to send anybody to check it out (and due to danger level, mustn't).
That was a stock issue map whose room particulars suited the encounters very well (and were very distinct), but the overall layout jarred w/ the flow of events so much a Venture Captain vowed to issue a formal complaint.
Then there could be some maps in the scenarios that people could print out if they wanted or assemble with the constituent pieces.

While on the topic, I'm reminded of a Starfinder valley, by which I mean niche, which held a ridiculous number of unrelated monsters & NPCs as well as pivotal places to search. Smaller than a football field, but squeezed in so all the separate encounters wouldn't require maps.
"Why are they hunting us when that prey nests (!) less than 100' away?"
That series of eyerolls, I mean encounters, would likely have best been served by spreading them out.

Cheers.

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