Game: Todd Gamble’s Cartographica
Publisher: Green Ronin
Review Dated: 29th, May 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Wow. Okay. Let’s try that again. Wow.
No. There’s no escaping Todd Gamble’s Cartographica’s “wow factor”.
Mind you, there’s no escaping the “Get your dirty minis off my lovely maps!” factor either. If you don’t have access to a colour photocopier then don’t go near Cartographica. You’ll go insane as you attempt to balance the urge to use the wonderful maps in your game against your instincts to protect the book.
The maps are supposed to be used as battle maps; the square grids on them are proof of that. The urge to photocopy the maps must also be perfectly valid since Green Ronin grant permission for personal photocopying up front at the start of the book. Yet the maps have something of a handout feel about them too. The square grid overlay on the maps always smaller than the standard size for game use, often significantly so. There might be no risk of miniatures being used on them, not unless someone has a supply of miniature miniatures. The maps are decorated with in-game paraphernalia like ‘wax seals’, GM notes (directions, comments) and decorative headers.
The Cartographica isn’t terribly efficient. You get 64 pages for your $17. There’s neither index nor table of contents so although that means you get an extra map it means they’re hard to find. An index would be useless anyway since there aren’t any page numbers. An efficient set of maps would be a collection of black and white drawings, or in my opinion, an $8 PDF collection is better still – why photocopy when you can print off at whim and make changes with PaintShopPro?
The thing is, Todd Gamble’s Cartographica isn’t supposed to be terribly efficient. Let’s coin the phrase “Map porn” for the book. Eye candy for cartography freaks. On that score it works very well. GMs can transfer the book’s wow factor to their game by taking a quality colour photocopy and laying the map down on the gaming table for the players to stare at.
There is a fairly good mix of locations in the 64 bold colour pages. Sure, there are insides of castles and passageways ready for dungeon crawlers but there are the likes of graveyards, islands and orchards to.
It’s worth noting the colour. The colour and fine detail are some of the reasons why the Cartographica has such a wow factor but there are a few maps when you’ll find yourself squinting and holding the book up under the light just to see them. A few of the maps are rather too dark.
If you’re well off, if you appreciate fabulous cartography, if you’ve a special scenario coming up and don’t mind one or two eccentricities on a map, even if you’re just one of these things then Todd Gamble’s Cartographica will make a famous addition to your RPG collection. Quite honestly it’s something you can take out and show friends. If you’re a strict, no nonsense, matter of fact gamer then you may well find the book too expensive and too esoteric for your tastes. I liked it. I guess you’ll have to chalk me up as a purveyor of map porn.