Map Design Contest

Due to generous financial backing from Tobias (and likely Tried as well), we are fortunate to be able to fund the art production and printing of a new double-sided map! We have a commitment from the amazing artist Jason Engle, who has vast map making experience. We will be making small maps (22x17) due to lower art costs, lower printing costs, and legal map balance (there are currently 30 legal large maps and only 8 legal small maps).

We intend to have the new maps printed and available before GenCon, and ideally before the World Championship too. Because of the excellent Guild creativity shown during the last contest, we will try another contest for designing a new map! We will be printing Pirate's Cove (or something similar) on one side of the map, and the other side will hopefully be determined by this contest.

Entries will be welcome through Sunday, April 26 at 11:59pm EDT. You may enter as many times as you'd like. Each entry should follow these guidelines:

A) By entering, you give the guild rights to use your contest entry for free.
B) The map is 22x17 and should only use existing terrain types, or possibly create at most 1 new terrain type.
C) The map should be broadly appealing to many types of players, not just DDM players.
D) The map should ideally tile with itself. If a player has 2 copies of the map, it should match up with itself to create a larger map.
E) Include art direction for the artist so he can understand the terrain types and how they should look. Include links to pictures from existing maps or other sources as appropriate.

To actually submit your entry, follow these steps:
1) Go to this link: Map Contest Google Spreadsheet
2) In the bottom left, Right-click on the "Template" sheet and choose Duplicate.
3) A new sheet appears, titled "Copy of Template." Double click to rename it to your own map name, and modify it as you desire.

Since the google spreadsheet is a public document, you might want to save a copy of your work elsewhere. Everyone should obviously only edit their own pages.

Finally, please post a comment in this thread if you intend to participate, and again when you've actually submitted your map. Good luck, and have fun!

Comments

alepulp's picture
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7 July 2011
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19 hours 17 min

Great idea - I've provided my "Pillars of heaven"

Ira's picture
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Great work, Alepulp! I'll try to give design feedback and offer clarifications to anyone who enters, so there is some advantage to submitting sooner rather than later. You can revise your submission as many times as you want prior to the deadline.

So, here is my feedback on Pillars of Heaven:

1) I like the evocative theme, and the link to inspirational art is helpful.

2) I like that the map is asymmetric. That makes the setup first/second decision more interesting.

3) I see 8 squares labeled "V". Presumably those are victory areas, but that isn't listed in the design notes. Feel free to add as many more notes as you need. Also, do you intend those both to be shared victory areas, or is one victory A and the other victory B?

4) There are many white squares on the map, and it seems like your design notes specify that white squares are pit terrain. I'm worried that there are so many pits on this map. Can you explain your design thinking a bit here, and/or would you consider reducing the number of pits?

5) Rock terrain is labeled in a black color, and usually black means impassable. Is it your design intent to make those black squares impassable? If so, that's OK, but combined with all the pits, there aren't many usable squares on the map.

6) There are two pink colors that look very similar to me (this may be related to my monitor and/or potential color blindness). One is labeled Smoke - clouds, pit beneath, and the other is labeled Healing font - Chinese style. I'm guessing the 3x3 area in the lower right is the Healing font and everything else that's pink are smoke clouds, but it might be worthwhile to pick a different color for one of them.

7) For the terrain type "Smoke - clouds, pit beneath," I'm not sure what your design intent is. Do you want it to be both smoke terrain and pit terrain? If it's pit terrain, that's even fewer usable squares on the map, and artistically, that seems hard to convey. Consider revising this, or explaining more what you mean.

8 ) You have a terrain type "Healing font." I assume it's the standard healing font rules, but you might want to include them to ensure everyone knows what you intend (and that you're not creating a new terrain type here).

9) You have a terrain type "steep cliff." I'm assuming you actually mean "steep slope" terrain from Dragondown Grotto, and you're not trying to create a new terrain type here. Assuming it's the same, please rename to match the Dragondown Grotto terrain, and include the specific rules so everyone knows what you intend. (I'm using the Gazetteer for existing terrain types).

10) You have a terrain type "Trees" and give art direction that is "like dragondown grotto," which is great! It's always good to give clear directions like that, though it would be even better if you could include a link to a picture of those trees on Dragondown Grotto, so we all new exactly what you meant, especially if we don't have easy access to that map.

11) You have two different terrain types, one called "Skypillar" and another called "Tree trunks." In the design notes, you specify what I believe is a new rule: Huge creatures must squeeze if not enough room, and burrow creatures cannot burrow.

The "no burrow" rule is clear enough, and I understand it thematically since the creatures are on top of high pillars of rock. The "must squeeze" rule is a little awkward, since there are currently pits all around the skypillars. Non-flying creatures can't move through pits, and even flying creatures can't end their movement on pits. The normal rules say that huge creatures can squeeze pretty much when they want, so this rule seems unnecessary. Squeezing to a 2x2 space is no problem, and doesn't need any extra rules.

That said, there are currently no rules to allow large (or huge) creatures to squeeze to a 1x1 space. Therefore, I would suggest revising the tree trunk terrain to be 2x2 at minimum, and then you won't need any special rules that require squeezing (since the existing rules for huge creatures already handles that).

You can consider having a specific new terrain that prohibits burrow, but honestly I don't think it's worth it. This map with so much pit terrain already hoses burrow creatures pretty badly, since they can't move through pits. And it's not so hard to thematically imagine them burrowing through rock or tree trunks.

12) I notice that there are some edges of the map that have a black border around it, and some edges that don't. I assume that you intend the black borders to mean wall terrain, which is relevant for some powers. The edge of the map isn't automatically wall terrain. You may want to double check your borders to ensure it's working the way you intend.

13) It's hard for me to tell how this map might tile with itself, if I had two copies. You might want to think about that a bit and write a sentence or two in the Design Notes section.

14) It's clear that with so much pit terrain, this map will favor creatures with flying, and creatures with push/pull/slide effects. You might want to discuss your thinking in the Design Notes to clarify why you wanted to make a map that favored those creatures, and/or anything else that inspired you to make this map.

15) If you have made a prototype version of this map and playtested with it already, please comment on that in your Design Notes. Anyone who makes a prototype of their map and playtests with it will have deeper knowledge of their map and will be able to improve their contest entry with that knowledge.

I know I included a lot of comments and feedback above, but hopefully it was helpful to everyone. Obviously we want the best possible results from this contest, and everyone benefits from good maps. If we get multiple good entries now, we can queue more maps for the future. Remember that you can revise your entry as many times as you want before the deadline.

Thanks for a strong first entry, Alepulp, and I hope you'll be able to address some of my comments above before the final deadline.

If anyone has any questions or concerns, please post here. I'll monitor these comments and strive to reply quickly. Have fun, everyone!

alepulp's picture
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3 - yes, shared victory areas.
4 - I had in mind Kung Fu Panda like battles with lots of danger in dropping down huge distances. I also wanted to avoid the problems of two-level battles as per the thieves rooftop map from OE, so that terrain had to be inaccessible
5 - yes, this limited space aspect make the map tough on the gamer, and very strategic. I did add a couple of areas only fliers could get to, but not burrowers. Burrowing is a great power, e.g. Galeb Duhr and Azurion, and it allows for some crazy combos
6) I am also colour blind, but you're right, the area in the cave is a healing font - imagine a Chinese monastery.
7) See above - the idea is that these are clouds obscuring sight between the tops
Cool Yes, you're right, it's a standard one - used twice now IIRC?
9) Steep slope - leads down to a lower level... difficult to get out of, and thus acts as a trap for non-fliers, and non burrowers.
11) I am open to these being 2" wide, the design was intended to create a very tough environment for manouvering, unless you had the right warband. I also wanted to avoid long charges, instead focusing the game more on clever manouvering, and blocking actions. Again, I wanted to avoid the thieves map problems of invisibility at boundaries.
12 - any removals of the black lines on the edge are unintentional
13 - it wasn't designed for a two player game, but I think, with some work to add a connection between the healing cave, by way of a staircase, we can connect one of the start areas, to that map, and similarly with a trunk between the top left sky pillar (which is normal terrain, by the way) it can connect the top and bottom maps.
14 - see above - Kung Fu Panda meets DDM. Yes, it heavily benefits fliers, multi-activation creatures and ranged, but with clever movement that should be possible to close in.
15 - not done any testing, sorry

My idea was simple - lots of the present RE arena maps are balanced towards dice rolls - the only exception is the spider map. They're pretty boring strategically thinking - this one adds a huge extra set of challenges on any warband.

No blindsight, and you lose much of the lines of sight, it still has some forest corner squares though to combat that. At last push and pull become real weapon - not had that on a small map before - only on a few large ones (e.g. Hellspike prison and Eye of the unseeing), harpies will love it.

On one location, auras extend across a pit - between the victory areas - ranges melee also becomes useful, and creatures with huge reach.

Wand Experts now have a problem with their ethereal jaunt...

I see the metagame (in as much as it exists) being messed up by this one Smile And I see that as good!

Ira's picture
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Thanks for all the clarifications, Alepulp! At your convenience, please edit your contest entry to reflect the clarifications you listed here: Map Contest Google Spreadsheet

Thanks!

Reckless's picture
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I have added "Forest Glade". Let me know what you think.

Ira's picture
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Thanks for the contribution, Reckless!

It's easy to read your map, so nice work on the color coding. I understand everything you wrote, I believe.

Here are my comments:

1) I'm a bit worried that there could be stalemates on the map. If one team holds the lower right, what is the strategy for the team trying to get to Victory Area 1? The issue seems somewhat similar for Victory Area 2, though obviously playtesting would make a big difference.

2) On that note, I encourage you to print this out, or use cutouts on an existing map, and see how it plays.

3) Perhaps consider adding a shared victory area?

4) Even for a creature that has Insubstantial (and thus healing is effectively double), would I really spend an attack action to heal 10 HP? Maybe it's OK, but consider increasing to 20 HP healed to make it more worthwhile.

5) The healing font hut (cool idea) seems to only have a 1x1 door, and therefore no large or huge creatures can fit in. That's OK, but I wanted to confirm that was an intentional design choice.

6) Does the camp fire do fire damage, is it difficult terrain, or just normal terrain and that's simply art direction?

7) For the art references, it would be great if you could do a google image search and give us a better idea of what you mean, or ideally look at other existing DDM maps and reference art from previous maps.

8 ) Maybe consider adding a shared victory area?

9) Forest corner squares can be pretty confusing for new players. It's probably OK to include, but I am a little wary with so many on this map. Clearly it's something you included intentionally, so I'm not suggesting you change it all, but it does cross my mind. Maybe the solution is to make the rules around forest corners more clear, instead of avoiding them on all future maps.

10) It's a little strange to me that the stream wouldn't have any effect on movement, and doesn't count as river terrain. This is an issue I see all the time on Monster Lair, which is probably the most widely available small map. New players always think that the stream should count as water terrain. Maybe consider making it river terrain?

11) I like that the map is asymmetric. It seems like the right side might be a bit better to start on, but both seems reasonably balanced.

12) With all the difficult terrain with forests, this map will be good for fliers, phasers, and burrowers, I think. With the ample cover, it could also be nice for some melee bands, anyone with hide, and anyone with line attacks which can effectively ignore line of sight. Perhaps spend a little time discussing what inspired you to make this map, what design goals you had in mind, and what balance or metagame issues you were trying to address.

Thanks again, and remember you can continue to revise as needed until the deadline, or submit more than one entry.

skyscraper's picture
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This is a very interesting idea.

Suggestion: why not have the map be full-sized with a single side being used, instead of half-sized; and then you can use it either in fully deployed condition (for a 200/10 full map Assault game for example) or in folded half-map condition (for a 200/5 half map Arena game for example).

This would avoid having to actually buy two of the same map two use side by side if you want a full-sized map; and it would further avoid the problem, in full-sized side-by-side mode, of the maps moving relative to each other during play.

For those that prefer half-maps, it would offer two different options, as both half-maps could be used.

This said, I love that the map would be usable for both Arena and Assault, since I don't really play Arena. And I like that it should cater to other games in addition to DDM, since I also use my maps for RPG.

So, this project is cool. It's likely I'll buy a map if it ends up being done, although again I'd love to have to buy only one Smile

Thanks,

Sky

Ira's picture
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Skyscraper, just to be clear, the intention is that side A will match with side A, and side B will match with side B. Therefore, you get two different landscapes, which seems valuable to me from a gameplay and RPG perspective. From a design perspective, I think it's easier to make a small map still work when doubled vs. a large map still work when halved. Another reason to go with the small maps is that we have 30 tournament legal large maps and only 8 small maps, with Spiderhaunt Vale and The High Road particularly hard to get (reverse side of the Demonweb checklist poster). Also, the printing and shipping costs for a smaller map will be less.

All that said, if this contest goes well and we're able to break even on the costs ($800 for art + TBD for printing), then we can certainly consider a large map in the future.

For this contest at least, we'll stick with small map design and see how it goes!

Reckless's picture
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I tweaked a few things.
I added a shared victory area inside of the hut.
I took out some of the forest terrain to open it up a bit and make the tree corners less.
I made the stream difficult terrain and the lake pit terrain.
I noted that the campfire is just decorative not damaging.
I changed the healing font to a "random potion" (Minor action, once per round per creature, random potion. Roll D20; 1-5 creature takes 5 damage; 6-15 creature heals 15 hp; 16-20 creature heals 20 hp and gains +2 attack until end of next turn.) to make it interesting.
As for the art:
The Great big tree would be like a redwood, and the other trees, just trees Smile
As for inspiration for this map, I created 6 11X14 maps with markers and poster boards for arena play and a forest map was my favorite.

skyscraper's picture
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Quote:

Skyscraper, just to be clear, the intention is that side A will match with side A, and side B will match with side B.

Ya, I got that.

Quote:
Therefore, you get two different landscapes, which seems valuable to me from a gameplay and RPG perspective.

This is a good point.

However, when playing in full-map mode (which i get is not your intent with this map), you get twice exactly the same landscape, tile-style, which is underwhelming. And to play full size, you need to buy two of the same map.

So to me, the advantage is underweight compared to the disadvantage.

Quote:
From a design perspective, I think it's easier to make a small map still work when doubled vs. a large map still work when halved.

I'm trying to think this through one way and the other, I really don't see the difference, but I'll trust you that this is the case.

Quote:
Another reason to go with the small maps is that we have 30 tournament legal large maps and only 8 small maps,

The intent is to have the small map be combinable with another to form a large map - which is achieved by both solutions. In other words, in both cases, you have two small maps on the item you're shipping out, but one is stand alone and the other requires duplication of the item in question, to use in large map format.

It seems to me like this should in fact be considered for most new map designs. This means that you'd get 1 new full-sized map and 2 new half-sized maps each time a new map comes out.

Quote:
Also, the printing and shipping costs for a smaller map will be less.

Significantly so?

(Somewhat) Unrelated question: why not simply provide a high quality image that people can download to print it themsleves at a selected nearby store that does large printings? Unless this is a way to get some money for the Guild - which I doubt. I mean, if the Guild needs money for its operations, might as well simply ask for it, I'll send some (and I assume that others would chip in). Making a small profit over maps appears like a lot of trouble for limited results, financially speaking. So, I assume that the intent is really to provide players with a new map. In which case, is the high-res file not a better (or alternate) solution? You don't need to post the map, nor to print it for them, and you don't put a relatively large sum of money on the printing, etc...

Quote:
All that said, if this contest goes well and we're able to break even on the costs ($800 for art + TBD for printing), then we can certainly consider a large map in the future.

For this contest at least, we'll stick with small map design and see how it goes!

Sure. I don't want to rant or critisize, I'm just discussing Smile

It seems to be two equivalent solutions to me (two-sided small size vs. dividable one-side full size), one of which appears preferable.

But you know what they say: if you want something done your way, do it Smile

In the end, thanks for organizing this, I wont push this any further, I'm just throwing my bottle to the sea.

Above all, I mostly like that somethign is being done Smile

Sky

Ira's picture
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@Reckless: Thanks for the revisions. My additional thoughts:
- For art inspiration, I'd enjoy seeing links to actual images. Either from Google image search, or specific existing DDM maps. Certainly for regular trees that should be possible, and for redwoods, a picture of something would be nice. I can google "redwood trees" as easily as you can, but if you pick specific images, you'll communicate to the artist more clearly.

- It's strange to me that the lake is pit terrain. It won't really look like a pit, and given the layout of the map and victory areas, I'm not sure that anyone will ever go there. Maybe consider a waterfall, keep it as difficult/river terrain, and give some reason someone might want to go up there? Either another shared victory area (and perhaps eliminate 1-2 other victory areas since 4 may be too many), or separate the healing hut from the victory area and put one in the lake and leave the other in the hut?

- I like the random potion as a minor action, but maybe it's too powerful now. On average, a creature will gain ~10 HP per use, and it could spend an attack, a move, and a minor action using it three times, gaining ~30 HP in a turn. I'm also a little wary of a terrain-based effect that must be remembered until the end of a creature's next turn. For example, a creature could start inside, use a minor action, then move out, charge (at +2 attack), then next activation do more attacks at +2. It's certainly not a huge hassle to remember since DDM is a complicated game, but most terrain effects (all?) have a direct effect while on the terrain, and not a lasting effect for an extended period. For balance, I would consider any of these possibilities: separate the Victory area from the healing hut, change the healing hut to be a move action instead of minor action, remove the possibility of a +2 attack from the healing hut, scale back the potion to +10 HP on positive result. (1-5 lose 5 HP, 6+ gain 10 HP, for example) or maybe (1-10: no change, 11+: gain 10 HP)

Overall, this map is quite open. That's OK, but I don't actually think there are many places to hide in the forest successfully.

@Skyscraper: The primary design goal is to create a great small map. A combined large map is nice, but not required, IMO.

Regarding the public release of the digital file, the goal is to recoup costs, not make money. But if release the file for free online, then fewer people will buy the map and it will be harder to recoup the $800 in art costs. Also, from the little research I've done with the other free DDM maps, it's actually quite difficult to get a single copy of a high quality print at a reasonable price. Maybe I didn't search for cheap printing services hard enough, but I recall prices like $20 for a single poster-size color print. If we mass-print as the guild and then sell to individuals, we can offer it for less than $20. If you're talking about printing on 8.5x11 paper and taping that together to make a map, that could be a lot cheaper, but I found that quite unsatisfying from a gameplay perspective. All that said, I'm still willing to consider releasing the image online to DDM guild members who want to print the map themselves, but I'll need to check with Tobias and defer to him (and Tried, of course). We are not trying to make a profit, just recoup costs.

I hope you'll enter the contest! Smile

skyscraper's picture
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Okie dokie.

As for entering the contest, I might well do just that. I have an idea, but time is of the essence right now, as they say. We'll see how it goes.

Moraturi's picture
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Added Gladiator's Arena

Also: for the forest glade, if you move the stream to the center two squares, the map would double on either side.

Ira's picture
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Nice entry, Moraturi! Here is my feedback:

1) This definitely goes easily together to form a larger map!

2) I see that you've chosen something quite symmetrical, but with just a little bit of asymmetry. I think it's OK as-is, but I like more asymmetry because it offers a more interesting decision to the player who can choose to setup first or not. With a symmetric map, you always choose to let your opponent setup first. With an asymmetric map, it can be a less obvious (and more interesting) decision.

3) I like that you specify cut corners on the interior wall squares. Nice attention to detail. I would clarify the phrase "can be cut." That makes it seem like you haven't decided yet. Should they be cut or not?

4) Similar comment on the art for chariot track and broken weapons on the floor. Should those be there, or not? If they should, ideally give reference art. Google image links are good, and/or references other maps (since I know you have all of them and can compare!) Jason Engel probably did the art, so he can easily take guidance from previous maps.

5) A 2x2 shared victory area seems a bit small. Maybe that's OK, and one strategy on this map would be to get a large creature in that area and prevent your opponent from scoring any VPs. Maybe share your design thinking here?

6) The secret door terrain is effective at preventing alpha strikes, which seems like a good design goal. It reminds me a bit of Dwarven Halls with sheltered start areas, but obviously a much more open interior. Perhaps comment on your design goals for an open map like this, since it's fun to hear design considerations. This map also reminds me of Crossroads, since it's quite open once you're out of the secret doors.

7) I see that you specified a new rule for a "Contested Victory Area," where neither player gets points instead of both players getting points when they share it. My inclination is that this relatively minor difference isn't worth a new rule that's specific to this map. Can you discuss your design intent with it? Perhaps that's a rule that can be implemented at the tournament level (all shared victory areas are considered "contested'), instead of at the map-level. Also, I like victory areas because they break stalemates and let the game reach a conclusion.

8 ) On the note of stalemates, I'm actually a bit worried that this map could have some stalemates, given the safety of the secret doors and the openness of the middle of the map. I might be tempted to bring a ranged warband on this map, and then hide on my side until the opposing team tries to cross. Anyone sitting in the victory area could be easily attacked. Of course it's not perfect, but I wonder if you could add some additional ways to break a stalemate. Maybe something interesting in the F15, F16, G15, G16 area and/or S10, S11, T10, T11? Maybe that interferes with the track art. I don't have any definite idea, except perhaps more victory areas, but I'm sure you can come up with plenty of other ideas too (or just leave it as-is).

9) I'm a little worried that Rockfire Dreadnought x2 could pin in an entire warband, without them being able to do much about it, given the constraints of the start area. That can happen a bit on Dwarven Halls, but at least there are plenty of start area choices. Perhaps extend the start areas all the way up to row 8 or 9?

10) Ideally give some art direction for what the wall terrain should look like. There is a good bit of it on this map, so having some reference will help the artist.

Thanks!

Ira's picture
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@Reckless, I'd love to see the finished version of Castle Keep! I think it has a lot of potential appeal.

Reckless's picture
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I'm still working on castle keep...

As for Forest Glade, I was able to playtest it with a friend.
The description for "random potion" was on two different places, as you may have missed the "minor action, once per creature per round". I have decided to change the die roll out comes:
1-5 creature takes 5 damage.
6-15 creature heals 10 hit points.
16-20 creature gets +2 attack and +5 damage until end of round.
During play testing I was able to heal to much against my opponent with the original die rolls. On the second game it was much closer, he may have won if he hadn't brought his champion so far up Wink . We both liked how the map played.
I changed the lake to just river terrain to make it easier.
I should be able to post some links to images tomorrow for art.

Ira's picture
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@Reckless, it's great that you were able to do some playtesting! Did anyone go up to the lake? It seems like everyone would just avoid it, because there's no reason to move over there. Any consideration for moving either the healing hut abilities up there (magical waterfall?) or the shared victory area up there? At least people would have some reason to go there, then. That said, I'm also a bit worried that Forest Glade is too similar to Pirate's Cove, and ideally we'll offer players two significantly different maps. Artistically, a cove is different from a glade, but from a play perspective, it feels a little similar to me. Therefore, I also encourage you to get an entry with Castle Keep, since I think we have many fewer castle interior maps (which would be useful for RPG purposes too). From a design perspective, I like an interior space because we have a map like crossroads that vastly favors ranged attacks. It would be nice to have a map that strongly favors melee attacks, I think. We have some of that already with partially open maps like Monsters Lair and Windswept Precipice, but it would be interesting to see what a significantly closed map would offer for warband building options.

Reckless's picture
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Here is what I can find for a redwood:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=picture+looking+down+on+a+redwood+tree&view=detailv2&&&id=8EF89C080D7D81D9BC9E7CA6E08C0A13B1CD7260&selectedIndex=30&ccid=gPgKx%2f8I&simid=607991864410833510&thid=JN.HVaksQi7x6mauRUg8NhKTg
and:http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=arial+view+redwood+tree&view=detailv2&&&id=D312FF2CBCFED29BBA8A50FBB8DDF1F2B66FC4CB&selectedIndex=3&ccid=XFNz0cpy&simid=608015503902769481&thid=JN.HK49f5kHHGs%2fVFor%2fxee7A

Oddly there are hardly any pictures of individual trees from above...
As for the rest of the art:
I like the style of river, normal forest, and grass in the Caves of Chaos map.

The inside of the hut I am picturing a small table with potions, a small cot in the corner, and a chair near the table, all near the edges of the walls, not difficult terrain.

During the play testing, most of the fighting occurred near the hut and in the copses of trees on both sides.

Although the lake does not seem to be an asset currently, I think that in a doubled up map its central location would see more use.

Reckless's picture
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I completed the Castle Keep.

Moraturi's picture
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Overall, I wanted an open map (with protected start areas) that replicated a gladiatorial field. Two forces enter and fight it out in the middle. Both would try to get to the VA and control it. Any ranged attackers or spellcasters would circle the perimeter, but be in range of attacks (charges). The map ideally could be used with an Arena format (in an arena). I really think that ranged based warbands (like Elf Arcane Archer builds) would not be able to wait before the other warband was able to get into their start areas. Haven't playtested it. I have playtested the Paizo Flip map Arena using arena rules (both 500 and 200) and it makes an interesting game. I also think that this map would be very good for either 100 or 200 point Gladiator formats (it is almost designed for it), and lower point formats (like 50) on the half-map.

1. no comment needed.
2. I wanted the symmetry, both for an equal tactical field (like Dwarven Halls) and for the Arena theme. Note that from either start area, it is exactly 12 spaces to get on the VA (speed 6, medium base), but using a 6 move, whoever gets there 2nd would take an AoO, from the creature already there. It sets up some strategic choices.
3. having corners that can be cut should make the artwork better if there is a "chariot track" around the perimeter. With only cut corners, creatures could still use the nooks to hide.
4. I'll see if I can find some links, but the Paizo Flip Map Arena was the inspiration. Also, I have playtested the Paizo map using only the center area of the arena, for suprizingly enough, arena formats and the center area is about the size of a half map. It works pretty well. We played start areas off map and enetered through the doors at each end.
5. The 2x2 victory area was purposely small (it would be 2x4 doubled). So yes, a large figure could control it, if you could get there and stay on it. I like the idea of a "king of the hill" type of scenario where both forces are fighting over one central area and trying to knock the other off of it.
6. I wanted the start areas protected from alpha strikes. The exta wall spaces between them should prevent one side from running a blasting figure through both sets of doors, but any warband that could do that could do it on any map anyway.
7. See my answer to 5.
8. If you hide in your start area, the other warband can close through the closest doors (and also prevent you from easily getting to the VA at that point)
9. That is why I made 3 doors and large start areas, so that you can't easily block all three, notice that one set of doors is right next to the start area, and the other two are in different directions. I also created the areas so that Huge creatures can still be played, and only have to squeeze through the doors (which I like thematically, as the huge creatures would enter the arena, by squeezing and then unsqueezing in the main battle field).
10. Walls could be either straight black walls representing the lower levels of the arena, or they could be more like stadium seating (like the Paizo arena I mentioned above), or some combination of the two.

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@Moraturi and Reckless: For your art references, please ensure you include links on the Google Doc itself. That's what we'll send to Jason Engel. Also, if you have an example of a Paizo Flip Map, that's great too. Jason probably did that art! So include a link to it and specify which squares you want to use to guide him.

Regarding Castle Keep, a creature uses an attack action to activate the fire trap, and then the whole shared victory area (plus a little more) gets bathed in fire. Is that your design intent, Reckless?

Also, you mention that the creature activating the fire trap is Dazed. Do you intend for the Dazed to last just that turn? That's totally fine, but I wanted to understand what you were suggesting.

I'm quite worried that creatures in Start Area 1 could be entirely trapped in by a huge or even large creature on the first turn of the game. Consider making an alternate route out of that start area, or adding an entirely different start area, which is the solution that Dwarven Halls uses.

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Fire trap, yes bathing the whole victory area in fire, that's why I went with a low 10 damage. The activator is dazed until end of turn.

I added a teleporter for start area 1, however, a huge creature would take at least 2 rounds to get there and block the exit, which I don't think would be a problem. I have not play tested this map though.

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The teleporter is an interesting solution. I had been considering a map with more teleports too. I'm not sure if anyone plays the iPhone game Hero Academy, but they have a teleporter level that is interesting.

Regarding trapping, it's quite possible for some huge creatures to block the way on round 1, especially with Darkmage Disguise and/or other movement buffs. And a large creature could do it just as easily, such as Hill Giant Barbarian.

Cool design ideas!

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I added Chasm Crossing, which was inspired by a lot of the ideas here.

The protected start areas (from walls, secret doors, and smoke) are inspired by Moraturi's design. It seems like generally good design to give players the ability to avoid alpha strikes. With blindsight or ways to get around smoke terrain, some alpha strikes might still be possible, but it's tricky. And because the start areas are spread out and there are some secret doors, it should be possible to avoid major problems. If desired, we could remove the walls/doors entirely, and just have that whole area covered in smoke.

The teleporters are inspired by that Hero Academy level, with the motivation provided by the teleporter in Reckless's Castle Keep. Note that teleporters go to the nearest unoccupied spot, so if Player A occupies the middle teleporter, then the top and the bottom teleporters on side A are 14 squares away from each other, while the teleporters on side B across the chasm are only 13 squares away. That is intentional - it's relatively easy to get across if you want, and there can be some interesting teleporter blocking/unblocking tactics.

The significant pit terrain is inspired by Alepulp's Pillars of Heaven entry. I liked the idea of a map that offers a nice reward for push, pull, and fliers. Chasm Crossing isn't quite as extreme as Pillars of Heaven, but it still will significantly reward battlefield control effects.

Feedback and thoughts welcome!

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I like the map, however ranged parties seem to have a huge advantage here especially when the map is doubled.

And with the scenario you said above, using 2 creatures, you could block your opponent in their start area. Perhaps all smoke instead of walls.

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Reckless, I'm not sure if your comments are regarding Chasm Crossing or a different map. Assuming Chasm Crossing, thanks for taking a look and sharing your thoughts!

Ranged attacks will be reasonably good, but the ranged attackers will need to be protected. Since ranged attackers can't see out of the smoke terrain (unless they have blindsight), they'll need to move out of it to make their attacks. And then they can be counter-attacked by other ranged attackers, or charged by melee attackers.

Also, melee attackers can potentially teleport into melee attack range quickly, so that actually favors melee over ranged in some ways.

Your comment about blocking opponents in the start area made me think you might be talking about a different map than Chasm Crossing, or misunderstood my design intent because I might have labeled it poorly. On Chasm Crossing, the start areas are very large, the two leftmost columns and the two rightmost columns. There should be no way to get your warband trapped at all unless you decided to put everyone in a corner (and you just wouldn't do that if they had a way of trapping you).

I'm not sure if my response above addresses your concerns, or if you were even talking about Chasm Crossing!

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I was talking about Chasm Crossing, but I was mistaken on the start areas. The comment about blocking an opponent would only occur if they started in the corners. The ranged advantage would only really occur if the map was doubled, as it would take longer to teleport to the opposite end, and only if one party was a melee band. Which many a map has been leaned towards ranged advantage, so nothing new.

What's up with the Gateway map?

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Regarding the Gateway map, Tried was doing some development work on your castle keep, to see where it might go. Note that development is the phase after design, when the ideas get refined and improved, usually by someone other than the designer.

I hope to have something to announce with the map contest in the next week or two, with the eventual goal of getting art from Jason and then printed maps before GenCon!

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Any word on when these maps will be available?

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