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ZEITGEIST MAPS - The Biggest (and Best) Problem with Zeitgeist

Siberys

First Post
My biggest complaint with the Zeitgeist Adventure Path is not one of rules support, or of release schedule, or presentation. It is one of cartography. See, I have two BIG problems with the maps. That's one of them - they're HUGE! And the other is that they're positively beautiful. That last one may not seem like much of a problem, but bear with me.

Basically, I have four options when it comes to map presentation, and each has its positives and negatives. Under certain circumstances, I'd have a clear choice, but given the particulars of system and the maps as they exist it isn't clear which option I should go for.

BATTLE MAT
This would, under normal circumstances, be my first choice. I have a wet erase grid I use, I draw out the map, and I'm golden. The problem is it's limited in size, and a fair number of the maps are much too large to fit onto it. Additionally, many maps use irregular or round shapes that I find difficult to draw, especially quickly.

The solution I've devised for this particular set of circumstances is to draw out smaller, self-contained "zones" and create basic rules for moving between them, and to carefully re-map the maps to accomodate the lower "resolution" at which I'd end up drawing them. Redrawing almost every map is a lot of work, though, and this runs into the "pretty" problem - the maps look so nice, and I want to make proper use of them. It's a nice problem to have, but it's still a problem.

DIGITAL
The best way to maintain both existing scales and use the gorgeous artwork that's provided is to use a digital battle map. I have several options, but they trade the issues I'm already complaining about for logisical problems. I prefer to play face-to-face, so using something digital would require that I - and potentially the players - bring our laptops to the table (something that might be difficult to arrange), or that I would have to use my iPad for the battle map, something I'm not keen on doing. I use it as a reference and initiative tracker currently, and I wouldn't be overly fond of passing it around during play.

Additionally, the easiest copies of the maps to get a hold of are the ones in the PDFs themselves. I'm capable of ripping the pictures from the document, but they're too small a resolution to truly look good in a digital map program. I know Ryan Nock has hi-res versions of some of the maps available, but they can be hard to track down and I'm sure it isn't all of them.

PRINTING
This avoids the logistical issues of Digital, but maintains the resolution problem and has monetary costs associated with it. This would be my "last resort" decision.

THEATER OF THE MIND
Finally, there's just imagining the map - I can show players the unscaled picture from the book, and everything will work out. The problem here is one of rules. If I were to run this AP in Fate Core - and I'm actively considering it - then, hey, problem solved. But if I were to choose 4e D&D, and I'm fairly certain I would - TotM would not be acceptable. Any houseruled attempts I've seen to run TotM combat in 4e fall flat by my estimation, and it isn't playing to the system's strengths anyway.

So, here's my question; given the constraints I'd be working under, which of the following options do you think would be the most satisfying?

4e - Hand-draw "zoned" maps
4e - Use a VTT
Fate - Theater of the Mind
 

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Noodle

Explorer
I do some of each in my campaign.

Most maps are transferred to a dry-erase battlemat. However, I'll usually pick one of the prettier or more detailed maps per adventure and print it out (this generally takes 9-15+ sheets of paper .. judicious crops can help here).

In particular, the sea battles lend themselves to printing out the ships, since they can move independently - hard to accomplish on a battlemat. I haven't used a VTT in several years, so I'm not up-to-date on their capabilities. I've always had a dream of scrapping the battlemats and mounting a projector over the kitchen table where we play, though...
 

Elfshire

First Post
I'm guessing it's table space you're limited on, rather than the size of your battle mat. Printing off a 1-inch grid and getting some kind of plastic sheet to lay over top and draw on really isn't too much of a monetary issue, I think? Especially since it's then reusable. If the table/room size is your issue, I'm not sure there's much you can do.

Not sure I have many good suggestions for you. I suppose if you get smaller minis or get a little creative with the rules you could scale down the maps so each square is 10 feet instead of 5, but that could get pretty cluttered relatively quickly.

Yet another idea would be to just straight-up only draw the most important section of the map. I don't know about you, but my group has two high-mobility characters capable of moving 9 squares in a single action without penalty, and they almost never use it. I draw a HUGE map for them to play around in, and they often bottleneck down to a single quadrant anyway.

I gotta say, drawing DnD maps has become much more fun and easy since I bought a battlemat the size of a pingpong table and three 20x26 acrylic sheets which I can draw on and leave sit for months without worrying about staining. Now I just draw all the maps weeks in advance. (I know, not helpful, but if you're planning on being a 4e DM for a long time, trust me, this will save you so many headaches).
 

Siberys

First Post
Yeah, a giant battle mat and acrylic sheets would be great, but is a bit outside my means at the moment. That said, the "focusing down" suggestion is what I meant by "zoned" maps. Identify the area(s) where things will happen, say it takes X move to move between these two zones, and run.

FWIW, when I say printing, I mean printing out scaled, full-color maps. A simple grid would be cheap; THAT would get expensive fast.
[MENTION=6676731]Noodle[/MENTION]; Sea battles are one of the situations where I'd definitely go for printing. But, yes, the VTT I'd use does allow for large "miniatures" like the boats.

Unless the players I tap for this want me to run it in Fate, I'll probably opt for zoned battle maps or printed ships as the module demands.
 

Shilubi

First Post
Maps are beautiful. I just print them. Beats hand drawing and VTT imho.

Players like them a lot...
So afterwards, they are often donated to one of them, as they plan to use them for their own groups.

BTW, an idea for Ryan&Morrus:
A file depository with all maps, high-res, for player use (no room numbers, no red-herring), neatly listed.
 

al_fredo

First Post
I go digital. I use Maptool, with my laptop connected to a TV (either by HDMI cord or WIDI) all the players can see. My players DON'T use laptops - they are still using sheets. My view is the "DM" view, and theirs is the players views. For me, this FAR surpasses any other system I've tried. Maptool allows for fog of war, and easy condition tracking (like dazed, stun, etc). When not in battles, I can show artwork or portraits. Since I'm connected audio as well, I can control soundtrack for battle/explore music.

Sure, there is some work importing - and I don't go crazy with all the features in Maptool or even putting in the stats for the PC/NPCs. But I feel like I'm always prepped, I have better control over battles and condition tracking, showing art and playing music is great...and I still get the benefit of face-to-face playing....so I typically show a map of Flint or some other art when we are wandering around town and stuff.

As for resolution..yeah...copying from the PDF doesn't quite get the resolution that I prefer. Man...I'd love Hi-res maps somewhere on this site. Even better...it would be great if people donated their maptool files so that the next person has a jump. Still...I think the pros far outweigh the cons.
 

Siberys

First Post
I have all of the equipment needed to hook up my iPad to a flatscreen... Except a flatscreen. And it's a monitor out, too, so it has to be a flatscreen. Or a computer monitor.
 

al_fredo

First Post
Laptop to a TV won't work? I guess it depends where you play. We play in a living room, so it's there.

The other advantage is large maps. Any Naval Battle are helpful because of the scale. I always felt that D&D battle always happened in 12x12 square space. What happened to long ranges archers? There might be some cheap used flat monitors you can find around. Even one of those, but up close would work.
 

Siberys

First Post
Yeah, I'm looking into a cheap computer monitor right now, actually. So the question becomes do I use Roll20 or the iPad app I have?

I'm more familiar with the app, but Roll20 would let me continue to use the iPad for non-map purposes - initiative tracking, frex.
 

hirou

Explorer
The best option I've heard about, not actually tried, is projecting the map to a table surface, this combines best of the "printing" and "digital" worlds, but requires expensive projector... For now I'm using battlemaps and printed maps, usually not up to full scale. I'm not sure if there's a solution to this problem on developers' side, but I'm all for adding high-res versions of all maps as additional archive.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The best option I've heard about, not actually tried, is projecting the map to a table surface, this combines best of the "printing" and "digital" worlds, but requires expensive projector... For now I'm using battlemaps and printed maps, usually not up to full scale. I'm not sure if there's a solution to this problem on developers' side, but I'm all for adding high-res versions of all maps as additional archive.

What, from above? Surely your shadow would prevent you seeing where you were moving your minis?
 





[MENTION=1]Morrus[/MENTION], if I wrangle a big zip file of maps and share them with you, could you upload them?

I do know that we'd planned to put up the ship maps as low-cost downloads for people who want to print them as poster maps. We ought to get on that.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
@Morrus , if I wrangle a big zip file of maps and share them with you, could you upload them?

I do know that we'd planned to put up the ship maps as low-cost downloads for people who want to print them as poster maps. We ought to get on that.


You should be able to upload 'em to the downloads section. The EN Publishing folder is public, and the ZEITGEIST folder is subscribers only, so just put things where the permissions make sense.
 

High-resolution maps are great news.

As I have said before i use poster razor to build the battlemaps, even the really big ones and my player love it, particularly if i manage to print them full colour.

My problem is with the scale of the maps, since 1 square 5 feet is the standard, can you use this grid on all the maps please?
 



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