9/05/2014

Frugal GM Review: Blood Cult Temple Preview

Frugal GM Review: Blood Cult Temple Preview
This week has been a bit busy with some consulting work and when I had some free time at way-too-early this morning I thought I'd pop over to DriveThruRPG and look for a map I was needing for a potential location I suspect my players are going to visit.

I usually have several dangling threads for the PCs to pull on and I try to have a couple adventure ideas roughed-out, only putting significant efforts into the direction I know the players are going. In my last session the players indicated they may want to return "home" and maybe check out a specific town further down the road from where they first started.

Without going into too many spoilers, I might be needing an evil cult location as a setting, so I wanted to find something that I could use instead of having to devote GM prep time to creating some new maps. While I already have a large collection of maps, I always like to see what new maps are available. My one cult chamber map I have was already used for this group and while I could just reuse it.....I think my players deserve better.

Some of the new efforts from Heroic Maps has been on my radar and right on the main page of DriveThruRPG they have a new free map that is just what I was looking for! At first I was a bit surprised that this map was free and not PWYW, but it eventually dawned on me (remember.....way-too-early....) that this free map was one level of a larger map offering.

Oh that is just tricky...get us hooked on one map for free and then entice us to buy the whole set!

The "real" map is hi-res!
I have to admit I'm pretty impressed by this map offering, even if it is just one level. Honestly, one level is all I need right now, but the potential the map set offers is great. I cannot really speak of the entire set since I haven't purchased it, but it appears there are eight levels and you could easily take out some levels and I see no reason why you couldn't add in levels as well.

Even though I cannot really speak to the set of maps that is the Chambers of the Blood Cult, I will go off of the assumption that this free level is set-up like all the others. I do this for two reasons: 1) Why would you go through the effort of making a different level just for free release? and 2) Publishers probably give out these freebies to entice you to buy more product and making the freebie inconsistent will hurt sales.

The PDF for this level map was quite good. It is four pages long consisting of an overview, the map spread out over two pages for full-scale printing, and an overview of the whole map series. You don't really need any instructions, but if you needed to reach out to the folks at Heroic Maps they went ahead and put some contact information on the page.

Normally this is the part where I'd get ticked off that the PDF is secured, because it is, but this time it is appropriate. The security does not interfere with the ability to use the map as you want because all you need to do is print it out. This is allowed, and normally you'd think "Duh, that is common sense!", but after the King For A Day fiasco I'm convinced common sense is often lacking.

Normally I want to be able to open my PDFs in Photoshop so I can tweak them as needed, like maybe using them with a VTT or stitching them together for large-format printing. With this map I could see me doing either. Of course the PDF is locked down so I cannot do this, but it is no matter because they also included a 300 DPI JPG of the level!

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Blood Cult Temple Preview
This is probably the biggest reason I wanted to do this review. Thank you Heroic Maps! Give your users the ability to actually use the maps how they want/need to! Personally I'm tired of overly-secured PDFs with no way to extract a high-res copy of the map. Sure, some might give you a lower-res graphic for VTT use, but that won't work on a large-format printer worth a damn.

It seems like Heroic Maps "gets it" and I guarantee you that from now on when I need a new map I'm going to be looking to them first. The Chambers of the Blood Cult is already in my wishlist!