Book Review: Plans ‘N’ Places: Two Roads to Choose From I from 3rd Supplement

Maps. Rarely do I play in a game without one. Whether it’s a roleplaying game with a battle map or atlas, or a board game with a game board, maps help keep people in the context of what they’re playing. That’s in addition to simply adding flavor and mystery. But most of the time, especially with games like Dungeons & Dragons or BattleTech, maps are an essential part of the equation in my book.

That said, most maps are flat. Elevation is rarely taken into account. And in the real world, holding the high ground is often the difference between life and death. So I wonder why most terrain maps hint at elevated features but leave how to interpret those features to the GM?

With 3rd Supplement’s new series – Plans ‘N’ Places – gamers now have another option. These aren’t your typical maps. Mia and Heiko have taken a topographic map, which is useful for many real world applications, and applied it to an area suitable for just about any roleplaying game or genre.

Plans ‘N’ Places: Two Roads to Choose From I presents an area with
two main roads, water features, cliffs, trees, and more that I could see being dropped into just about any world with greenery and water. The 3D relief map is crisp and clear, but the product doesn’t stop there. On another page they go into detail about a few “chosen spots,” offering details that players might need to get a better feel for the lay of the land. They also offer a page so you can make your own notes and present the map in various versions – including one with hexes and another in a grid.

What makes this supplement unique however is the topographic map that documents the elevations, from 60 feet to 300 feet, across the stretch of land. Though the descriptions of particular spots seems to be more in a fantasy mode, I could see these maps being useful in any modern or futuristic campaign as well. I could easily imagine a modern battle with a small unit of men trying to ambush a supply line…

Where I have a slight problem with the supplement is that the terrain is almost too specific. For example, this map is along a coastal region or along a lake of some size, and you may find it difficult to find a place to use this in your campaign without modifications. I don’t know how I’d make it more generic, but it might present a challenge to GMs to find the right place to use it.

As such, I wonder if 3rd Supplement could take a page from the “geomorphs” idea Dyson Logos has devised. Each block of landscape has various ways to make it blend with other blocks into a unique dungeon (as with the Dyson’s Random Morph Map site). Could a similar system of repeatable tiles for terrain be used to generate maps with the same kind of information as they present for Plans ‘N’ Places?

Another idea would be to partner with the folks behind Gaming Paper. How cool would it be to have a few more ready-made, reusable maps like this lying around when the need arises?

Some things to consider anyway.

Beyond that, I think 3rd Supplement has found a unique niche that gamers in all genres can take advantage of. They have several of these products already – including Plans ‘N’ Places: River in a Mountainous Landscape (parts I and II) – and some upcoming Floor Plans projects such as Cross The Border – The Guardhouse at the Seven Sided Tower.

Great work guys! I look forward to seeing where these product lines go next. In the meantime, be sure to check out Plans ‘N’ Places: Two Roads to Choose From I at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow along with their other products!

Be sure to check out their home page as well, for news and information about existing and upcoming products.

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3 comments to Book Review: Plans ‘N’ Places: Two Roads to Choose From I from 3rd Supplement

  • Mia

    Thank you so much, Fitz! Now, this *is* feedback!
    Actually, we thought to solve the problem of “specifity” (“A lake, uhm, I don’t need a lake!”) with… more maps! And by always providing a complete preview, so the GM sees in advance, what kind of terrain he or she gets. We plan to do at least three or four maps of a chosen terrain type, because most PCs need some time to cross the countryside (if they don’t use teleporting devices).
    Still, our maps are not perfectly continuous as in the quite awesome geomorph idea. We just assume the GM will take the PCs to the next map by describing the not so interesting parts of a voyage until fate strikes again (and a map comes in handy). But the idea is rather intriguing… we could use kind of “in-between” tiles that ensure continuity… And when it comes to print our maps… yessss, we are looking for guys to partner with!
    So, thanks again, for an in-depth (ha!) review and all this useful input… just now I’m clicking my way through the links!
    Mia recently posted…Preview- Early stage of the next map- RiaML-IIIMy Profile

    • Fitz

      @Mia – I’m happy to help! I love the concept – and as I said, topographic maps is not something I’ve ever seen done for RPGs before, so I think you’ve definitely hit upon a useful niche! I like the idea of having “in-between” tiles to help smooth areas together. Like all things – you won’t need such a detailed map for all areas, but it wouldn’t hurt!

      Please keep me posted on your progress and I wish 3rd Supplement all the best!

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