||The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29182.
Ruined Mill contains the remains of a mill with a detached house and warehouse. The ruins are kept somewhat generic so as to allow the GM to create the method of how they became ruined (such as time, weather, attack, etc). The centerpiece of the map is the mill powered by a handmade channel for the water. This is an interesting take on the watermill concept and can be translated into a number of curious uses (such as why was this channel created and where does it lead). However, oddly enough the actual mill building no longer has a mill in it, just the wheel that’s supposed to turn the mill. In addition, there is nothing coming from the waterwheel that would normally connect to the mill. This leads me to wonder how the waterwheel is staying attached.
Given the abandoned state of this mill and weathered look of the structures, any number of creatures or humanoids could be using it as a base camp, waypoint, or refuge. With the inclusion of the water, one could realistically live there, pending the water is fresh and potable. The remains of a camp appear in the ruins of the warehouse, leading you to believe that someone has stayed there rather recently.
Ruined Mill is yet another great map from DramaScape with many possible uses in an outdoor environment. Given the added details of the now-dormant camp and the possibility of using the house as shelter, any number of beings could call this place home permanently or temporarily.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Ruined Mill is a well-laid out battlemap. It is a fairly large battlemap depicting a very small scene and is thus cut across many locations of the overall scene. This can be a bit tricky to line-up when the between-page breaks fall on the trees or the rocks. All the other page breaks should be fairly simple to line-up as they fall on buildings and other obvious structures.
Visual Appeal: 7 out of 10
Ruined Mill is a good looking map with some cool environmental and weathered features. The grounds around the mill are a combination of extremely worn, almost dirt-like ground and some thin trees. The actual mill, however, does not look much like a mill. There is a waterwheel and a building, but I don’t see any doors, or remnants of, nor is there an actual mill in it. The mill also seems a bit on the small side. I also found a handful of occasions where the textures of the rocks do not align well, making a bit of an odd transition between the two (this is extremely minor though).
Desire to Use: 10 out of 10
Many fantasy adventures and campaigns find the PCs traveling across the land to reach their next major destination. To make that journey a little more interesting or to drop a clue as to what may be coming up, maps such as the Ruined Mill make excellent places for encounters or investigations. Looking it provokes many questions to determine why the mill is in the state it is and who may have stayed there recently.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Possibly the best value of the Ruined Mill map is its utility use. It’s so simple and random but evokes a sense of desperation or destruction if one should happen upon it. The purpose could be something as simple as famine meant the mill was abandoned or something more sinister such as the mill was set upon by vile creatures that tore the place apart, looking for food. This mood-provoking design, from such a simple map, can make it very usable in fantasy, or even historical, adventures and campaigns.
[5 of 5 Stars!]