5/29/2015

Frugal GM Review: Don't Wake Dretchlor Player Map from Gamer Printshop (PWYW)

Frugal GM Review: Don't Wake Dretchlor Player Map from Gamer Printshop (PWYW)
This review is a last-minute substitution because the item I was reviewing....well I'm not done playing with it yet.

Yesterday I realized I'd be short on this week's review and headed over to DriveThruRPG to buy something else to look at. In the "hottest" category was this map from Gamer Printshop.

I've been meaning to check out one of their offerings since I first heard about them a year or two ago. These guys do some large-scale printing I've heard good things about. Their few items on DriveThruRPG look pretty cool as well, but I hadn't pulled the trigger until now.

My 1st impression was it looked alright, but quickly I determined this Don't Wake Dretchlor adventure map didn't seem up to snuff with their other maps. This might explain why it was PWYW.

Unnecessary pages
The download consists of three files: a 31 page PDF and two 100dpi jpgs of each level. The PDF isn't secured (yeah!) and is oddly sized at 7.5" x 9.98". I'm sure they did this to get their "slicing" right, but the pages still came out a bit weird. Fully 16% of the pages didn't need to be printed out at all and there was an unnecessary background to the map itself. Nothing I enjoy more than wasting toner printing off stuff I don't need and have to work to remove after printing. A couple pages had this odd line that didn't need to be there and another had a grid that wasn't even used on that level.

mismatched grid
Speaking of a grid, I have no clue why one was used in this product as it detracts from the overall usefulness. If you are using a VTT you'll have a grid you can lay down. If you need a grid on your map, then you'd need a grid on both maps. Ideally there would be no grid on either of the 100 dpi jpgs and there would be a select-able grid layer on the PDF.

Since I did have a grid on the 1st level I went ahead and counted out the squares and the scale is off. On a map with standard grids, you'd expect that the map is 1" wide for every 5' depicted on the map. It doesn't matter if the map is 72 dpi or 300 dpi. This map's scale was off because the map is actually smaller than you'd expect. I didn't bother to do the math....a simple counting of squares was enough.

What is up with these seams?
Stairs don't line up, which is only a minor issueUpon closer inspection two things stuck out. Now one I kind of had to dig for so it wasn't a huge deal, but the other....really huge deal. 1st either the scale is off between the VTT maps or the underlying artwork is off because the two sets of stairs between the levels just don't match up. Odds are this wouldn't be noticed in regular play, but to me it just means that this map wasn't shown enough care. Coupling this with the fact that there are HUGE seams in the floor on the 1st level and I'm of the opinion this might have been a rush job.....definitely not comparable with what I've seen of previous work from Gamer Printshop.

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Don't Wake Dretchlor Player Map from Gamer Printshop (PWYW)
Now I know I'm being quite harsh here, but this isn't a terrible map. 1st of all, it is PWYW, and the suggested price is $1, so if you don't think it is worth a buck, don't give them one. I think I can get $1 of use out of this and don't regret the purchase a bit. If anything I'm worked up more because with such a small list of DriveThruRPG offerings with an average price of over $6, this new PWYW piece is going to be used as an example of Gamer Printshop's work, whether they want it to be or not, and I don't think it is indicative of what I've heard. The next cheapest map of theirs is "only" $3 and it does look impressive, but if I had to make a purchasing decision based on this PWYW map......

......I'd probably pass and save the $3. Now I'm not trying to be a dick about it, but approaching it from the perspective of an average gamer who has a limited budget for buying maps. If I get a bit of surplus in my account I'm not above picking up something else from Gamer Printshop for a second review.