Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Arsenale Shipworks Maps

Sometimes we fail to see the elegance in something simple. We don't always see the possibilities in the functional and gravitate toward visually stunning. I have to admit when I first viewed the Arsenale Shipworks maps I almost passed them over for this reason.

These fantasy maps are black and white, one to a pdf, and lack eye catching graphics. As it turns out, this is by design. The maps won't eat your print cartridge, have a 1" grid suitable for 25mm miniatures, and print on 8.5x11" paper.

At last count, Arsenale Shipworks has 12 maps available for about $0.75 per printed page. Each purchase includes the map with and without descriptive text. Most maps are a single printed page but two of the maps reviewed required two pages to print.

For you Virtual Tabletop users, the graphics are easily imported into an image editor like GIMP and saved as jpgs or pngs. The resolutions is 100 ppi and the line up nicely inside Maptool. The added benefit to the black and white color scheme is a small memory footprint inside a VTT.

I had two issues with the maps. The map's description exists only on the retailer's product page and each map is duplicated (one with text and one without) in a separate file which leads to disk clutter. I recommend placing a description on a title page and putting both versions in one file, possibly with a text layer than can be turned off for printing.

Overall the maps are a nice offering and well worth the price.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: The Unspeakable Oath

How much fun can it be to thwart evil only to be eaten alive or driven insane for your efforts? As it turns out, quite a bit. Cthulhu fans everywhere rejoice in the return of a quarterly magazine dedicated to their favorite tentacular genre, Unspeakable Oath.

The periodical publication is overloaded with material that takes a while digest. It’s not that the 80+ pages couldn’t be read quickly. it’s just that you’ll want to stop ever so often to contemplate ways to work the material into your campaign. WARNING: The Oath is not a light read.

Four Tales of Terror by John Scott Tynes, Pat Harrigan, Monte Cook, and Nick Grant give scenario ideas for Keepers. They are skeletal, game system agnostic, and provide great adventure seeds. Each tale provides the initial scene or adventure concept then offers three different adventure paths. The Oath also contains a fully-fleshed, 16 page CoC adventure set in the 1920s Louisiana swamp titled “Dog Will Hunt.”

The Oath contains information on ancient tomes and scrolls for your campaign as well as a malevolent CD set for modern campaigns. The Arcane Artifacts section details mythos devices with the history, plot hooks, and CoC statistics for each. The review section contains eight reviews of Cuthy related books, games, and movies.