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AoV: Volondor: The City $7.95
Publisher: Stainless Steel Dragon
by Gordon R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/05/2010 18:27:02

Volondor: The City, from a Dungeon Master's point of view. First let me say I am a fan of SSD maps. I have bought and I use their maps every week. They produce highly detailed maps in black and white, and use the same legend symbols for all detailed maps. This greatly simplifies things for me. I hate having to take the time to learn each cartographer's symbol system, and all SSD detailed maps are standardized and used on at least 100 maps. For the record, I would like to point out that I like B&W maps better than color. I have three reasons. First, it is because they are less expensive to print. (SSD map sets are big which usually means that I need to print out dozens of pages.) Second, I find the white space is extremely useful to me since I write notes to myself on these maps and sometimes I need to erase those notes. Color maps are hard to write on and don't erase well. (I write things like the location of guards, pets, bank inventories, and the like right on my GM map. I let my player's use the clean copy.) I usually print multiple maps for each of my groups I run, and keep folded copies in my DM notebook. Finally, I also like the black & white maps better because SSD makes their maps so detailed that they would be hard read without the stark contrast in colors. (Like a blue print.) I realize there is trade off between detailed information and ambiance here, and other DMs might choose a more colorful map over one with extraordinary detail. Personally, I like the detail. When a player asks me what he sees, I like to be able to tell him everything, without having to find a narration in the book somewhere. (That takes time and slows a game down.) With SDD maps, I can point and explain what they see, when they ask. (The legend SSD uses in their map sets is non-standard, so players can't readily see too much detail about a room, except for obvious things like furniture, doors, and steps.) These maps are detailed enough that I can easily describe everything around them without putting a lot of thought into it. To me this is the sort of thing that makes for a good map set. Let's face it, a map is only good for three things. Showing players where their characters are located. A reference in discerning navigable routes between two points, and for some, as a wall decoration. (Meaningless in my mind, unless the map is also used for first two purposes.) Now I said all that, to say this. The city of Volondor is the largest city SSD has ever mapped. The detailed black & white pages cover the inner city, (Castle area) as well as various random buildings, farms & mills found in the outer city. The castle area alone is about nine square feet 3x3 when spread out on the table. My players were suitably impressed, and went to work immediately looking for places to go and things to do. The maps print out well, and are very clear to read. The SSD legend shows that a pixel on this map is equal to about 4 square inches. Anything smaller then a standardized pixel would be so small most people would need a magnifying glass to see it. A door handle on this map is one pixel. Two pixels indicate a locked door. Three pixels a heavily locked door. Door knobs that look like a boxes are trapped doors. An experienced eye can easily read these maps at this level of detail. Other map sets may have equal detail, but they are usually much larger and would take up too much, if not all of my 4x8 foot gamming table. As far as the content of the castle area, the sheer number and diversity of buildings is staggering. Most interesting to me are the floor plans to the firehouse, courthouse, bloodpit, library, theater and coliseum, but there are many other buildings that might be of interest to a different DM. (See full size preview, there is to much to mention here.) Beyond the black and white detailed maps of the castle. There is a basic colored coded outer city map one page in size, this area sprawls as one might expect around a large castle. (Graveyard, prison, houses, farms, & orchards.) If this set has a wall worthy map it would be that of the region known as the "Midlands." SSD provides two versions of this full color page map. One map for the DM and one map for the players. The GM map has several dungeons and cities not shown on the players map. I taped the four player maps to some poster board and hung it on the wall. It looks fine. Colorful, yet easy to read, somewhat iconic, but totally functional given that most of the other cities and dungeons are supported by other SSD map sets. (Those map sets originally came with only one small DM map. So I am glad to get this one. SSD is hinting that this is the beginning of a much bigger more detailed world for them, but that is beyond the scope of this review.) This map set also comes with 100 NPCs. Several dozen specific (building based) random events. An A-Z list of stores a few having some fairly uncommon services. (Custom engraving and custom tailoring come to mind.) I may use some of this stuff I may not, I mainly wanted this map set for the maps. There are also a few typos here and there in the book, but nothing real distracting. Overall, I am really glad I found this set, it has what I like in a map set. Maps I can use and abuse, pencil and stain, (I spill wine from time to time.) that allow me to show my players everything they need to see. I would recommend this map set to anyone who has use for a giant highly detailed seaside city map, supported by an interesting regional map, as well as by dozens of other SSD map sets featuring cities, temples and dungeon maps

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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AoV: Volondor: The City
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