One square equals ten feet: a gentle plea to not do this anymore.


Starfinder Society

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Is that a tremor in the force?

No, it’s the sound of a thousand GMs crying: ‘Nooooooooooo!’

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Dear Thurston, John and other awesome developers:

I have noticed now as a GM that several high-level Starfinder Scenarios employ custom maps with the scale of 'one square equals ten feet.'

This unconventional scaling keeps surprising me in the worst possible way. I had to redraw an entire map (that I had lovingly drawn at home and made pretty) in a fast and furious fashion for an in-person game -- stopping the game for five minutes while I furiously erased my map and started over, creating a serviceable rush job that was the correct scale.

In online, it's even more frustrating, because I do not have the skills to redraw a map to the correct scale, and have to use a printing of the image with 10 feet grids. Please... Please.... Please. Can we talk with the fine folks who are in charge of commissioning or creating the custom maps for scenarios, and ask them to grid for five foot squares?

I think you guys are great. I love Starfinder Scenarios and custom maps. But I need a consistent grid size.

Hugs and happy new year,
Hmm


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Back when I played Pathfinder APs with my IRL group, I often would not pay attention to the scale of the maps and halfway through the dungeon realize that the cramped dungeon delve was actually quite large and very easy to manuveur.

Now that I am GMing SFS... it is a massive pain. Anything that can be done to avoid this, please do it.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There's a new(ish) scenario that has a half-page map of three shipdecks drawn using a ten foot scale. While it is my fault for missing that scale while I was prepping that image for the oversized printer, I don't see any reason why it couldn't have been a full page map drawn using a five foot scale.

I imagine this sort of problem is particularly difficult to overcome during online prep. I was able to hastily draw half the map on a flipmat before game when I caught the error, but I'd require much more time to prep it accurately for PbP.

I'm not against having oversized, large maps. I recognize the desire for sniper-style combats at long range. Thirty foot squares I can understand. But this particular ten foot scale really wasn't needed. I'll be marking it down during my product review accordingly as well.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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[Long Block of Text Incoming!]

This is a really tough situation, especially in Starfinder where ranged combat is fairly critical to our gameplay. One of the earliest comments I heard during the internal playtesting period of the game is that a lot of combats were playing out with PCs sometimes being 90 feet away from one another during ranged combats. (yes, 18 5' squares apart!!!) Shortening our maps is not something I'm particularly keen on doing, so the increased scale is necessary in a lot of cases. I'll give some points as to why...

In Organized Play, one of our goals is to use Flip-Mats and existing Paizo products as much as possible, as it acts as another form of marketing for the company. Generally, when we're putting in custom maps, it's because we tend to need something that doesn't exist, or is very specific. Another, often times forgotten, reason for this is because we also tend to need sizes for maps that go beyond the standard flip-mat / bigger flip-mat scale. Funny story, one of our general guidelines for authors is to avoid creating maps bigger than flip-mats, since we want GMs to be able to use a blank flip-mat to create encounters.

As for 10 ft. = 1 square. I recognize that there are solutions to this that people can think of, but generally those solutions also lead to problems for other people or cause issues internally that people aren't aware of. A good example is that our budget only allows us to commission maps at a certain resolution. You'll note that our internal custom maps are generally different than the quality of our flip-mats. So, 1 square = 10ft. is a way for us to get more out of the resolutions that we order our maps at. Does it create resolution issues when "blowing" these up online or with custom printers? Yes, of course. Not gonna argue that one. However, like any product, we have a budget that we have to work with and want to make sure our cartographers are getting a fair wage for the work they put in.

One other option I hear, is just "use smaller squares" but that's something that comes with its own problems. We're still restricted by a standard paper size to fit these maps on, especially with regards to the unmarked map pages in scenarios. Halving the current squares on a 1sq = 10ft. map causes a lot of the maps to get a very strange look to them, and it becomes harder to identify overall forms of a map. Also, depending on the map, this can really cause a lot of clutter or make it difficult to read positions of traps/markers. Similarly, it's not something we've done in any of our product lines, so such a change would go well beyond affecting just Org Play—and if you'd just want it to affect OP, then that creates yet ANOTHER special process that our staff have to follow, which is another potential hiccup in an already intense process of scenario creation. Simply asking the cartographer to recreate the map with smaller squares then bumps into the previous note about resolution AND it adds another layer of work onto our cartographers to remember while they do their work.

I also hear a lot of "just don't use a bigger scale" which is fine in theory, but more and more, Starfinder is introducing a scale problem. A party of 6 shobhads takes up a huge chunk of real estate on a map that is only 5 ft. squares. Honestly, it causes problems even in a lot of our 10ft. = 1 square situations, which is probably why you're seeing a bit more use of these increased scaling to help mitigate some of those issues at the table. Seriously, I've had a load of messages talking about how flip-mats aren't viable for Large-sized parties, and how we need more custom maps at a bigger scale.

Why am I writing this long-winded post? Because, I want you to know that this IS something we've discussed internally and that I'm aware of for Starfinder. The game needs to make range as an important element, but we also want to do what we can to make it passable for all our various types of GMs (those who draw on a blank flip-mat, those who print, those who play online) and as with anything where you're catering to multiple parties, it's something that we need to figure out a happy medium on. Honestly, this is something I WANT to tackle, but our current workload doesn't allow us the virtue of "experimenting" too much with different options without putting in more work, which means Thursty gets less weekends ;)

But trust me, I'm aware of this and have been thinking of things we could test. There's a reason Shax's House of Pain is scaled to 1 square = 7.333' (repeating of course).

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

I was not aware of the resolution issue, Thursty. I was thinking that the maps could have tiny squares that we could then enlarge when drawing.

I'm just going to have to figure out some way to warn myself about those ten foot square grids, because it drives me crazy when I miss the scaling and have to redraw. I don't mind large maps, and I'm glad that you use flip-mats whenever possible. I'm just going to give any custom map in Starfinder extra scrutiny from now on...

Hmm

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Nefreet wrote:
I'm not against having oversized, large maps. I recognize the desire for sniper-style combats at long range. Thirty foot squares I can understand. But this particular ten foot scale really wasn't needed. I'll be marking it down during my product review accordingly as well.

While I understand the frustration, this particular map decision was very intentional and made more out of nostalgia for a prior map that it was based on, long before things like VTTs were a concern or professionally printing maps was a thing that was done on a large scale.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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I think we understand the challenges that exist meeting both the needs of the GM (easy to replicate, 5ft squares, etc) vs the creativity of the author. However, if a decision leads to fewer people playing then it should be seriously reconsidered. There is a growing number of GMs who specifically avoid scenarios with maps at 10ft scale. This leads to problems finding volunteers to run games and possible cancellations. The interesting thing is it’s not new or poor quality GMs making this decision, it’s some of our best. They cite wanting to provide the best possible experience for their players and they do not like the quality of their own hand drawn maps. I dunno if this actually affects the sales since they would generally need to acquire the scenario to see the map before choosing to run it, but I suppose if they played it first, they might be familiar with the map.

This is also a complaint I hear why some GMs refuse to run specials. There are either too many preprinted maps required meaning lots of $$$ or custom maps that are either too difficult to reproduce or nonstandard (1”=5ft) scale.

One of the things that has been requested repeatedly in the past and could be a compromise but would create more work for the developers is web enhancements. Meaning providing a separate file with the map formatted and scaled for print. This file would not be constrained by the standard resolution issues for scenarios. If it needs to be 3ftx4ft on the table to represent the scale, so be it. As users we can crop the image or print it in tiles. The primary thing in today’s industry is GMs have come to expect battle/tactical maps for their adventures whenever an actual battle is expected to occur and are disappointed when that does not occur.

This problem, IMO, is actually easier to overcome in Pathfinder. Often the map in question can be simulated using standard forest maps, or urban maps, etc. However, with Starfinder the environment is usually very complicated like the interior of a space ship or an alien environment. Combine that with a much smaller library of available maps and it’s easy to see why GMs are frustrated.

Shadow Lodge ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

I do not mind the scale issue so much, as it's not that much more work for me to fix as part of my printing process.

What annoys me is when the terrain and the grid aren't at the same angle. For instance, the hanger bays in Dead Suns 5. 1 of them is fine, but the other 2 are at an angle to the rest of the grid. Things would be a lot better if the grid was rotated to match them for their areas. Yes, you end up with a weird grid intersection in the little junction rooms, but forethought can deal with that.

HMM, can't you just halve the size of the minis in the PbP when that comes up?

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Halfsquares in the middle of the map.

What on earth is their purpose there?

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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James Anderson wrote:
HMM, can't you just halve the size of the minis in the PbP when that comes up?

This was my solution, as we're on one of those off-scale maps right now. I just really hate it.

I'll admit that I'm a bit of prissy map queen. I like my maps to work right and feel right. As Thurston and others no doubt know, I will happily draw maps that are mini-works of art. But I've been tripped up twice now by unexpectedly off scaling in Starfinder scenarios. I've trained myself to do all sorts of advance prep for scenarios, looking for equipment that might alter a combat, searching for hidden statblocks like creatures a boss monster might summon... yet I miss this from time to time. My issue is that sometimes I draw maps before I do any other prep in a scenario, in order to help myself process the story.

On the other hand, I do want there to be challenging and different encounters with interesting large maps from time to time. One of my favorite maps that I drew was from Beggar's Pearl. That map was HUUUUUGE, but so worth it!

I'm wondering if I just need a scenario tag for off-scale maps. :p

Note, I understand the need for budget constraints. Saving money on the resolution of custom maps might mean that you afford to pay more freelancers to write amazing adventures for us.

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Halfsquares in the middle of the map.

What on earth is their purpose there?

Yeah, sometimes when map packs are reprinted in scenarios, the overlay of their squares is off and it leads to half-squares. That bugs me if I'm running online. Offline, I pull out the map pack and get the middle squares fixed, or I just re-draw it to make it make sense for me.

I just realized that I'm a bit OCD when it comes to maps... But as this thread proves, I am not the only one.

Hmm


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Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:
I'm wondering if I just need a scenario tag for off-scale maps. :p

Given that this could be useful for vehicle inclusive tactical combat, and sniper combat, I actually second the idea of this kind of a tag.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

For online play you could solve a lot of the grarg with the 10 foot maps by putting some markers on the side denoting 5 foot increments. That has to be fairly easy to do with a professional computer program once rather than every geek having to paint shop or print shop or roll20 or autoshop things or to print it out and then break out a T square and a sharpie.

Same thing with chopping off the half squares.

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Halfsquares in the middle of the map.

What on earth is their purpose there?

Yeah, sometimes when map packs are reprinted in scenarios, the overlay of their squares is off and it leads to half-squares. That bugs me if I'm running online. Offline, I pull out the map pack and get the middle squares fixed, or I just re-draw it to make it make sense for me.

I just realized that I'm a bit OCD when it comes to maps... But as this thread proves, I am not...

The starship maps in 1-99 had this too. It was super annoying.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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A few more notes to address some points that have been brought up:

With regards to author creativity, that's something of a double edged sword. Ideally, every map out there would work in perfect 5x5 squares and that would be that. Spoiler alert: while functional, it leads to some REALLY dull looking maps. Of course, this is a discussion of aesthetic vs. functionality. I get that having every wall line up perfectly in a straight 5' line would be great. Similarly, with the concept of "GMs have too much to bring" it's another weird situation: If we have a lot of maps, then GMs get mad having to prep those maps. If we have few maps, then every combat encounter takes place in a tiny box room that can barely fit our 6-PC assumption (gods forbid the PCs are Large). So as always, expect some variance in how we handle these things.

When it comes to losing GMs, that's a community concern. I see a lot of GMs intimidated to run, and when communities have people who only run games with custom printed or recreated maps it's another layer of "oh, I'm expected to do that." Regardless of whether or not that'd valid, it remains a concern. If we could get away with ONLY using flip-mats and map packs for our scenarios, it would be very ideal. But as I summarized above, that's something that has a lot of problems, especially when it comes to limiting the number of stories we can tell. Already, there are posts out there where people call out repeated flip-mats within a short span, and since Starfinder has a limited pool of maps, that would be 100% worse. Come on people, we can only go to "ye olde recreation town" so many times a season! :P

It's no secret that Organized Play tends to run on some tight timelines when it comes to getting our scenarios out. This is exacerbated by convention season. One thing that isn't as apparent to our readers, is that sometimes we might get a turnover where a map ends up getting called upon that's not usable. Be it something that could be replaced with a map-pack, or the use of a map pack that is getting used in another scenario the same month and needs to be change (oh, there's a long list of reasons). Regardless, sometimes we have to make fast changes to maps to get a scenario out to the public. This can result in issues and isn't ideal, but it proves that even when modifying maps to "make things easier on our GMs" we end up creating unintended problems. Often times, this is where half-square issues end up coming from and it's something I'm doing my best to stay on top of in the future.

Another thing I want to bring up from a development perspective, is the emphasis of ranged combat. As above, if we constrict ourselves to flip-mats, we quickly end up invalidating a lot of Feats and builds, because close quarters is the defacto assumption. Similarly, we run into the problem of one encounter maps (burden on GMs) vs. every combat in a tiny room. It also incredibly hampers the stories that we can tell, because we suddenly have to build in all these map assumptions into the guidelines to our freelance authors and pray that they don't get ignored. Based on several map turnovers I've seen in my time, that's a lot of wishful thinking.

Again, I want this discussion to continue. I am not saying "NOPE! LIVE WITH YOUR 10ft SQUARES FOREVER!" But I want to bring up these points so ya'll get a view of our side of things (which isn't often fully on display) and how developers need to balance these considerations.

-Thursty
(totally not working on a weekend...)

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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How hard is it to put the lines on the map, and how hard would it be to have a full page version in the back of the scenario with the non scaled up lines on it?

I do not understand the idea of page count on a PDF only product.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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I guess that part that most don’t seem to understand is the grid. The map is what it it. Could be huge, could be small. Whatever is needed to show the detail while maintaining the necessary resolution. In many cases, the grid overlay is independent of the map image. It doesn’t matter if the grid is larger or smaller. If the map is supposed to represent a ten foot corridor why does it matter if the grid is one square wide or two? It may not be universally true, but in most cases if the map remained the same and you simply overlaid a 5ft square grid rather than a 10ft, people would accept it.

BTW, it is for issues like this that I’ve been a supporter of eliminating grids from our system and simply using real measurements. It would virtually emilinate all the fuss and it would have the benefit of greater flexibility. No more issues with calculating how half speed resulting in half squares is evaluated. Or the weirdness created by diagonal movement vs straight line. It would also allow for the easy use of 3D terrain that is historically nearly impossible to use with a system dependent on squares for tactical distance. But that is a design fundamental and not applicable to OP

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Thank you for your detailed posts, Thursty. I appreciate the insight into the process and the challenges.

One thing that struck me reading this thread, while there may not be an immediate solution that makes everyone happy, stays within budget, meets all the other requirements, it does sound like more obvious and aggressive labelling of non-standard (5ft squares) maps would really help avoid errors and last minute changes.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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Thurston Hillman wrote:
When it comes to losing GMs, that's a community concern.

Realized this could have come off as dismissive (thanks Bahb! <3). That's not the intent.

By this statement, I meant that I recognize it's a concern of the community, which is very important for development to consider. My remaining posts on this topic are intended to illustrate that there's not a one-fit solution to these issues. I've heard people suggest that we only use flip-mats and map packs for scenarios to prevent the stress of people having to create their own maps, while also hearing from our most dedicated volunteers that they'd like to see more complex maps in Society for 3d-terrain projects.

So when I say "community concern" I mean it entirely as me recognizing the validity of it, but not having the absolute 100% best solution to it at this time. As always, it's something we have to experiment with and see what works / doesn't work!

Shadow Lodge ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

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Somewhat related - for my map printing, I use a program that extracts all images from the pdf, then I weed through to find the maps. Thank you for the changes in how the pdf is assembled in Starfinder scenarios. Pathfinder scenarios and all the books are a mess inside - tons of tiny graphics on every page. But the Starfinder scenarios are incredibly clean and well put together, making things much easier to work with. I don't know how you did it, but it's SO much better.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, New Zealand—Dunedin aka dinketry

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I love constructive conversations like this.

Huzzah to you all and Happy New Year's Eve (well, at least here in NZ)!

**** Venture-Agent, Maryland—Hagerstown aka Z...D...

I recently ran in on line scenario that had this obstacle. We just zoomed in and cropped what was needed. If that was too difficult, we could just shrink the tokens down. As for not wanting to edit in line. I just told everyone to stick to a corner and went from there.

As for IRL, Two options
1) use smaller minis mini minis? or other smaller tokens. I have used mini dice for this, a number constitutes a different party member. Second set are enemies. while drawing/printing what is exactly shown in scenario.
2) Draw the portions which you know are going to be used or most likely to be used.

For the 10ft maps that I have came across, I draw on gaming paper and keep it with the scenario. Reusable and not too pricey. Only downside to gaming paper that I notice is wet erase does not work, if you get it wet, it could get ruined.

Now, with that said, I like to play on larger maps, more open area means more tactics. Personally, I did make a sniper and close quarters are not really fun for him. I know I can still use the rifle close quarters, but damn it, I built him for long range

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

My biggest issue with this is that I print the maps out from a 36" plotter, which has never had a problem with 5' scale maps. There are a couple of Dead Suns maps, though, that would be difficult to expand and wouldn't fit on our play table even if I did. I have been forced to print them at 1" equals 10 feet scale so the map would fit on the table, but then we have to use tiny dice to represent minis and can no longer use our nice hand painted minis.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

Bill Baldwin wrote:
My biggest issue with this is that I print the maps out from a 36" plotter, which has never had a problem with 5' scale maps. There are a couple of Dead Suns maps, though, that would be difficult to expand and wouldn't fit on our play table even if I did. I have been forced to print them at 1" equals 10 feet scale so the map would fit on the table, but then we have to use tiny dice to represent minis and can no longer use our nice hand painted minis.

To cite this comment, I'm curious on how you'd like to see this resolved from scenario production's end.

Is there a preference that all combat areas should fit on a 5ft=1 square grid that (at most) matches the size of a Flip-Mat so it can be recreated on a plotter? This is already something we strive for, but complex (space dungeon) maps can cause some issues with that, as we tend to include several encounter areas on a single map. Is this a process people out there want to see changed?

For us to get closer to having every map work on a 5ft=1 square, that could mean instructing our freelancers to break down their maps into larger "encounter areas" instead of including multiple rooms on a map (so area A1 and area A2 might be separate maps if size necessitates). If we go this route, it would mean us spending more art budget on maps and less on character/creature illustrations for our scenarios. What are everyone's thoughts on that?

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Thurston Hillman wrote:
Bill Baldwin wrote:
My biggest issue with this is that I print the maps out from a 36" plotter, which has never had a problem with 5' scale maps. There are a couple of Dead Suns maps, though, that would be difficult to expand and wouldn't fit on our play table even if I did. I have been forced to print them at 1" equals 10 feet scale so the map would fit on the table, but then we have to use tiny dice to represent minis and can no longer use our nice hand painted minis.

To cite this comment, I'm curious on how you'd like to see this resolved from scenario production's end.

Is there a preference that all combat areas should fit on a 5ft=1 square grid that (at most) matches the size of a Flip-Mat so it can be recreated on a plotter? This is already something we strive for, but complex (space dungeon) maps can cause some issues with that, as we tend to include several encounter areas on a single map. Is this a process people out there want to see changed?

For us to get closer to having every map work on a 5ft=1 square, that could mean instructing our freelancers to break down their maps into larger "encounter areas" instead of including multiple rooms on a map (so area A1 and area A2 might be separate maps if size necessitates). If we go this route, it would mean us spending more art budget on maps and less on character/creature illustrations for our scenarios. What are everyone's thoughts on that?

Any way you could at least breakdown the embedded PDFs of the maps to they could be printed more easily as multiple parts on a standard 36" plotter?

Also, you could have the cartographers do a primary grid of 1"=10' with a faded subgrid of 1/2"=5'. This would be of some help to me, but even more help to people who use a projector or inlayed table screen.

As a note, I do like occasional long range combats in SFS. A recent one that involved a very long range sniper battle I found very entertaining and a different sort of challenge as players tried to maneuver with cover to close on the enemy position.

*

Would it be possible to split larger maps into two .pdf at the back of a scenario and not put grids on the internal to scenario map?

That way, GMs could see what is meant while also making it easier to print?

⦵⦵

From the perspective of a primarily Roll20 gm, id like to advocate that if you really need a huge map that you cant fit in 5ft squares, go to 15ft rather then 10. Its way easier to transfer and align to the grid

***** ⦵⦵

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Say what you will, but doing a full colour print of the King Xeros map looked amazing when it was laid out on a table at the correct size.

It came out at 3 x 3 A3 sheets - 4.5' long and about 3' wide.

People shopping at the FLGS came over to take a look.

Also, it was pretty easy to put minis in the square sand keep the game going, even though the squares were 2"x2".

The Exchange ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

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I will just say that any time a scenario has called for an enormous single piece map, my PCs have ended up with many smaller maps as a matter of table space conservation.

I don't know about you, but I typically game with a space that has juuuust about enough room for a larger flipmat, but not much larger.

this issue of scale may be a Starfinder problem. One of the scenarios in question

Scenario Spoilers for Blackmoon Survey:
That suuuuper long sniper nest was one of the more dull combat encounters I have ever run. The scale canyon contributed very little other than adding length to a fight and ended up mostly being skipped over

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I'll echo the bit about table space being an issue. Regular flipmats generally fit fine, but the larger flipmats are already challenging when you're running in a kitchen table setting.

Really large-scale encounters
I do like the idea of extreme-range encounters being a thing, with both vehicle combat and long-range guns coming into play. Starfinder challenges our character-building in thinking beyond indoors close quarters combat (or at most, a forest clearing) that we're conditioned to in Pathfinder. But it can also be worth a rethink of whether gridmaps are still the best tool to use in such large-scale encounters.

We're already using more abstract "zones" for vehicle combat, in which exact to-the-foot distance is ignored in favor of "things in the same zone are closer than things a zone over". You have to be in the same zone to engage in melee or small arms fire because of the distances described between zones (the next zone is 200ft away in vehicle combat). Zones have so far not been put on a drawn map, and that's not strictly necessary because these encounters have so far been rather linear; a vehicle race is going from point A to point B, with nobody splitting off to go to C instead. So essentially 1D encounters.

But in the future you might want to do 2D encounters, like a big battlefield, or a race to collect the most MacGuffins scattered throughout a wider area. At that point you want to grid or tile the area. I was going to say that this is where SFS should be innovating, trying out a couple of things and eventually Paizo might want to turn the most succesful one into a product. See for example the Influence mechanic maturing over several PFS scenarios and making it into Ultimate Intrigue. But actually PFS has already worked with tiling in the past. Hexagonal tiles for outdoor areas feature in Champion's Chalice and of course in Kingmaker -> Ultimate Campaign. And a certain season 5 scenario features cutout maze tiles :P

My ideal take on map tiles would be hexagonal tiles, a couple inches across (similar to Colonists of Catan or Twilight Imperium; showing not just sheep and brick lands but also blasted alien hellscapes) that should be able to fit the PCs' pawns reasonably well. Anyone on the same tile is considered in small arms/Close range spell distance. One tile over is Medium spell range. Three tiles over is Long spell range.

You should be able to put 3-4 on a Letter/A4 page at full size. When featured in a scenario, there should be one overview map showing how to place the tiles, and several pages with some tiles each. Although providing those on separate pages is a bit of a pain during production, it makes GM lives easier. As I understand Paizo's intellectual property policy, it would not be kosher for someone to process everything to print-friendly format and put it on PFSPREP, so it's important that this is already done in the scenario.

Obviously, if the system gains traction, and the initial bugs are worked out, it could be published as a map pack for people who like better production values.

Just somewhat chunky maps
Meanwhile, at the CQC dungeon map level, I would say try to stick to the standard flipmat size format. That's a size that people can comfortably print, it fits on a typical gridded flipover page, and it fits on tables.

Also, stick with 1" = 5' if possible. Not necessarily to 5' corridors, as starship builders with a cosmopolitan clientele would want to accomodate shobhad mercenary troops, sarcesian vagrants, uplifted bear cuddling teams, dragonkin skyfire legionnaires and whatnot. Also, because 5' corridor hell is awful with a 6-player party to play in :P

This does mean that some maps wouldn't fit on a single sheet. Especially in buildings constructed by large races like the izalguun. There are options for that:

* Actually use multiple sheets as needed. This is the fallback option if you really need your encounter areas connected on-map. It can get a bit crazy (compare The Beggar's Pearl or Glories of the Past 3). It's also dubious whether this is really needed all the time. It may seem "realistic" at first to "show everything", but if you look closely, where are the toilets and broom closets? And in the rush to push everything on a map, are we putting encounters uncomfortably close so they might overflow?

* Separate maps for separate encounters. An abandoned modernish military facility is so big, there's just a lot of areas where nothing particularly interesting is happening anyway, so why clutter the map with it? This approach is taken in quite a few scenarios, such as Betrayal in the Bones or Yesteryear's Sorrow. It does mean commissioning more maps unless good flipmats and map packs are available. (If the new snazzy numbered map tiles are used, please put the numbers in the scenario too for quick assembly :))

* Put everything on one map, but abstract away most of the intervening space between encounter areas. All we need is the rooms where something happens, and a bit of corridor to set up our march order before we kick in the door. Labyrinth of Hungry Ghosts used this technique and it looks awesome. (Even awesomer when my printer ran out of some colors and the whole thing came out in a bordello magenta shade :P) But consider making the backdrop mostly white because the black backdrop of Labyrinth was not very toner-friendly.

Dataphiles **** ⦵⦵

While I, as a GM and player, understand the 'difficulties' that people face with maps. I disagree with the 'change it' sentiment. Creative and inventive have a price. GMing is not all sunshine and rainbows. I GM because it needs to be done and I accept the work required regardless. As for those for whom these 'difficulties' endanger their potential to even play, I say "good riddance". People who want to be catered to that extent are not people whom I desire to play with. It is exhausting. There is a line between personality and habit, and this is in the habit section. I would like to thank Thurston and the OP team for everything that they do and will do. Y'alls time is valuable.

Now you may find what I have said as unnecessarily harsh, or mean. I do not write this out of malice, but out of frustration. The OP team are not amorphous blobs whose sole purpose in existence is to cater to our every whim or desire. They are people for whom this is their job and they only have so much time in a day to work with/on things. I would much rather they spend their time coming up with something unique and interesting than spending extra time on the sizing of maps (as I assume the maps take a significant amount of time anyway). I will happily jump through a few extra hoops for this cause.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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I don't think anyone here wants to make signifcant amounts of extra work for the design team. We just want GMing to have a reasonable entry point. I've had to tell people that they do not need to own every flipmat to GM. They can borrow flip mats from me if I get advance notice, or they can do what I did in the beginning and draw everything. Maps don't need to be works of art -- I do all the details because it is a zen thing that relaxes me. I like drawing, and then erasing them afterwards. But drawn maps can be a lot more basic with just major terrain noted!

I'm glad that I started this conversation as it has sparked a lot of ideas. Even if my main takeaway from it is: "Don't draw maps until you check the scaling, Hilary!"

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver aka roll4initiative

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Hilary,

Regarding your awesomely hand-drawn maps, how did you get the watercolor effect for the water & greenish slime in hallways? Smeared the vis-a-vis ink with a brush and some water? I must know your technique!

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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A slightly damp paper towel -- too damp and it erases -- but with a just barely damp towel you can paint. And yes, that's vis-a-vis ink. How could you tell? I think that a paint brush might also work, but you have to keep it from getting too damp.

I used the same technique to create shadows and sometimes flame, animal fur, or rugs. You can also blend two colors together doing this. I don't do it with every map, but it's a zen thing for me to color them in.

Hmm

The Exchange ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

I do sometimes feel the pressure, not from people like hmm but from the various streamed/video podcasted roleplaying things that are becoming people's entryway into the hobby really setting such a high standard for new players and having to feel like I am making some sort of effort to be anywhere near that level but without having the time and resources to do 26-52 sets of poster-printed maps each year.

The flipmats, map tiles, and map packs really go a long way to making it possible for me to present a polished looking product on a budget but I completely understand Thursty's comment on that being a tad....stifling

***** ⦵⦵

I really liked the map that when printed out is 18.5' long - that's so pleasant to see.

Ranged combat was previously more CQB, so it was a really refreshing change.

*

Shifty wrote:

I really liked the map that when printed out is 18.5' long - that's so pleasant to see.

Ranged combat was previously more CQB, so it was a really refreshing change.

The reason I've avoided running that one was prohibitively costly and trying to transport it as well.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver aka roll4initiative

Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

A slightly damp paper towel -- too damp and it erases -- but with a just barely damp towel you can paint. And yes, that's vis-a-vis ink. How could you tell? I think that a paint brush might also work, but you have to keep it from getting too damp.

I used the same technique to create shadows and sometimes flame, animal fur, or rugs. You can also blend two colors together doing this. I don't do it with every map, but it's a zen thing for me to color them in.

Hmm

Great to know. Thanks!

Water-based Vis-a-vis are the only markers I know of that work on vinyl battlemats. Well, they're the only kind I have used since the mid 80's.

Now that I think about it, I'm going to test out a bit of diluted watercolor paint on a corner of an old battlemat and see how it works out. I kinda think the paint might stain the mat, but, we will see.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Crayola washables work fairly well on battlemats. There's always one color that won't erase though (it used to be brown. Now its orange. Orange is the new brown?)

Silver Crusade ***

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I always draw my maps. We have both the blank flipmats and a couple of the Chessex vinyl maps. For the latter, I have found that Staedtler Lumocolor non-permanent markers work the best. The red can stain if left on for days, but all of them do wash away with a damp cloth or paper towel if wiped the same day. Dunno if they're sold in the US, though.

The "sometimes 10 feet squares" is a good heads-up, now I know to look out for it. One thing that might help is making it extra clear that the map is on different scale than usual. Like just make the text on the page that says 10 feet squares a bit larger than before. It might still annoy people that these maps exist, but would lessen the chance of someone mistaking it for the standard 5 foot square map.

Scarab Sages ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Netherlands aka CptJames

I extract the pictures out of the pdf, use GIMP and a cutting application to size them to A4, print them and then cut and sticky tape all my custom maps together.

It takes me a while (luckily I have time in my life for this) but I always prefer to have the actual map when GMing.

I also echo the sentiments here, the resolution when it gets to that size really hurts, but when taking something that is half an A4, into 25 A4 pages...that is just something to deal with.

Having said that...Reclaiming the Time Lost Tear #1-17...that was a total mission...2 HUGE maps...very frustrating to transport...but totally worth it to see the player's faces when I unravelled them all.

I agree with the others...just a tag or a note about 10ft squares would be much much appreciated please!

***** Venture-Captain, New Hampshire aka D_GENNEXT

I don't necessarily mind the 1" = 10' scale, but can we not do the 1" = 30+' scales.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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As a note for everyone, I did bring this up in a recent OrgPlay meeting that included our art department and reps from other teams. I don't want to get into all the specifics here, but we're going to test out some new things on future "large scale maps."

There's one coming up in a future scenario, which is happening because the freelancer submitting a map that would be way too crowded at the presented scale, but works incredibly well when doubled by increasing square size. Given that there wasn't time to redraw the entire map (yet another reason these scales of maps are sometimes necessary), this seemed like a good time to test out new mapping options. We'll be reviewing them internally, and if they work and are something presentable, you can expect to see some of these tests in future scenarios. I don't want to 100% guarantee you'll see these in an upcoming scenario, but if these map tests are something we think is presentable, you can expect it in the pipeline.

Anyways, I just wanted y'all to know, like always, I'm here and listening!

Wayfinders ***** ⦵⦵⦵

We love you, Star Daddy! Thank you for listening!

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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Thurston Hillman wrote:

As a note for everyone, I did bring this up in a recent OrgPlay meeting that included our art department and reps from other teams. I don't want to get into all the specifics here, but we're going to test out some new things on future "large scale maps."

There's one coming up in a future scenario, which is happening because the freelancer submitting a map that would be way too crowded at the presented scale, but works incredibly well when doubled by increasing square size. Given that there wasn't time to redraw the entire map (yet another reason these scales of maps are sometimes necessary), this seemed like a good time to test out new mapping options. We'll be reviewing them internally, and if they work and are something presentable, you can expect to see some of these tests in future scenarios. I don't want to 100% guarantee you'll see these in an upcoming scenario, but if these map tests are something we think is presentable, you can expect it in the pipeline.

Anyways, I just wanted y'all to know, like always, I'm here and listening!

Cool!

I think it's good that you keep experimenting. Not all experiments have results that you want to replicate of course, and people can be a bit grouchy when they get new stuff dumped in their lap. But this is still a new game that upsets several deeply ingrained Pathfinder assumptions (you will be medium and you will walk on the ground and if you didn't build an archer you're hopeless at range). We need new map "technology" to match a new game.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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MINOR scenario map-related spoiler for unreleased product:
As a heads up, I'd like to direct our GMs to this month's release for Starfinder Society #1–33: Data Breach. After bringing this topic up in a prior OrgPlay meeting, we're going to test adding in a secondary version of the map to this scenario, which required the use of 1 square = 10ft. as a scale. I don't know if this is something we'll keep doing or not, but it's something we're going to try out in this scenario and gauge the reaction to.

*Slinks back into the development shadows*

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Might be a good idea to add a gridless version of maps, it makes adding maps to VTT that already have their own grids a lot easier.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Might be a good idea to add a gridless version of maps, it makes adding maps to VTT that already have their own grids a lot easier.

One step (and additional item we need to keep track of) at a time.

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