1/09/2016

Frugal GM Review: Small Dungeon Maps

Frugal GM Review: Small Dungeon Maps
This week's review is a bit different because it is on a set of related maps for sale at DTRPG instead of a single map/product. This week I'm looking at the Small Dungeon Maps series from Jean Francois Senay.

These maps were originally commissioned from a successful Kickstarter campaign and the two releases currently available (the Dwarven Crypt Dungeon and the Goblin's Den Dungeon) are on sale over at DTRPG.

On-deck for release but not available as of the time of this post are the Thieves' Hideout and Merchant's Cave.

Two rooms from the Goblin's Den
Goblin's Den
The downloads consist of a pretty cool description of the map set, with a layout of the tiles and a detailed description of room contents. In the case of....well I won't ruin it....one of the sets, a non-specific trap is listed and the description reads, "A trap is activated if a player steps on this box. Players can detect the trap if they notice...." Now obviously the artist/author means "Player Characters", but I like the idea that the player themselves have to notice a distinguishing feature of said block to notice the trap.

OK, getting a bit ahead of myself there....personally I wasn't planning on using the generic stat-less dungeon encounters listed in the description PDF, but I will probably use the layout provided.

In addition to the descriptive PDF you get another PDF with the tiles themselves. The dungeon tiles are a little "cartoony", but not too much so in my opinion, and have a bit of a 3D perspective to them. They remind me of the Blue Boxer Rebellion's maps. The Dwarven Crypt Dungeon is much smaller than the Goblin's Den Dungeon and looks a little "cruder", more like it was an earlier attempt. It is a fine dungeon though and worth the couple bucks it sells for.

Room from the Dwarven Crypt
Dwarven Crypt
I only have one criticism for these maps, and I'm not quite sure how much this bugs me.....I wish that the PDFs were layered such that the room contents could be switched on and off via the PDF layers. I'd get a ton more mileage out of these sets if I could use them as "plain" rooms. This criticism is almost enough for me to drop the rating one star, but I knew exactly what I was getting when I purchased these maps. I also wish that the color scheme and artistic style was a little more streamlined so I could use rooms from the different sets together a bit more smoothly, but again....I knew all this when I made my purchase.

I realize that these map tiles are made for printing out and using physically, but what drew them to me was the potential for use with a Virtual Table Top (VTT). These tiles look great, but if you aren't sitting  at the "bottom" of the assembled map set, some/all of the perspective will probably be lost on you. When I first saw these maps on the Kickstarter I realized that usually with a VTT all the players and the GM would get the benefit of the perspective (assuming the game is online for everyone).

I'll probably end up going through these and tweaking them for my own VTT use. I did notice that the rooms are not sequentially numbered, which was a nice touch. My players would notice if they went from room 10 into room 12. They'd spend a lot of time searching for what they'd assume was secret room #11. I actually didn't like the numbers on these tiles at all when I first starting looking at them, but it didn't take long to realize they are a necessity for larger sets like the Goblin's Den.

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Small Dungeon MapsOverall I'm quite pleased with my Small Dungeon Maps purchases and can't wait to add the upcoming sets, hopefully the beginning of much more, to my collection.