10/29/2016

Frugal GM Review: The Cave Hideout

Frugal GM Review: The Cave Hideout
One of the reasons I like to do reviews, aside from adding content to the site, is to make the things I try to create better. Not only can I mine other creator's content for ideas big and small, but I can (hopefully) look at specific details and see what I think works and doesn't work. I think we are all naturally overly critical of our own works, but if you can develop a good critical eye when looking at other's work....maybe you can develop a sense of fairness towards your own things.

Or at least that is one of my goals. I'll try to share some of my "internal" monologue to show what I mean....

Today I saw a free map on DriveThruRPG that caught my eye. It is the only product/item currently available from Filippo onez Vanzo, the artist. Entitled "The Cave Hideout", the product page is quite bare and the full-sized preview doesn't work. I don't know what format the map is in, which could be an issue.

Now I tend to be a bit light on the download page description myself and I wonder if the problem with the full-sized preview is a publisher issue or a OBS issue. Looking at my last item...neither preview seems to work.

The map is in a PDF file format and 24.54" x 34.72" at 72 DPI.

What sized paper is this? Sounds close to A1, but that is 23.4" x 33.1"....I wonder if the map was created on A1 paper, scanned in, and then pushed out to add the title. Changing the DPI to 300 for printing makes it 5.89" x 8.33"....way too small for much in-game use.

The map is presented as an unsecured/locked-down PDF. Unfortunately the map isn't layered so there is no option to remove the numbers & letters.

Well I could open this up in Photoshop, remove what I don't want, and then import to Illustrator so I could get a vector map before bringing it back in to Photoshop and get the size that I want. That is going to be a fair amount of work and some of the details I want to remove are over details I'd rather keep.

The artwork on the map is pretty good. I love the artist's version of hatching and the room detail is good enough to accurately depict what is in each room without being "too much".

That hatching looks like it'd be a pain in the ass to do.....won't do that, but the trees...I think I can do that. That room detail is right out though as I don't have that level of skill drawing.

Frugal GM 2 Star Review: The Cave Hideout
Overall a nice map, but I really wish that the identifying details (room letters & numbers) had been omitted, along with the grid. Getting this map in a larger printable size would have been much more useful. As-is I think it serves as a GM aide that would have to be re-drawn if being used at a gaming table. A lot of work would be required to turn it to something I could use with something player-facing.

Most of my maps that are like this one are secondary copies included in the Tweak & Toss-es. Keep on making the large-scale "clean" map 1st and then mark it up and re-size for the follow-on project. Try out that tree method soon and add some more elevation/motion lines to the tunnels and water bits of your map..if/when you go hand-drawn again.