Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ok, I'm Confused

I hate to step on Raggi's toes and steal his "let's discuss this discussion" thing, but this one honestly, honestly has me baffled.

Is Vornheim really that weird?

I mean, the only real difference I can see between it and other city supplements like it is they go:

"This neighborhood has the fish market. The fish market has fish. Boats with fish on them sail in and out of this neighborhood. In the words of Granar Blazonhelm 'I smell fish, I must be in Fishinghood'. There are many adventures to be had in this place--you might not realize it, but boats can be exciting! Sometimes there are things on boats in addition to fish! Like cargo! Cargo comes into this fishing neighborhood from all over Worldimadeuppia, from as far as Vaguelysketchedoutjapanequivalentium. NPCs you might meet in this neighborhood include people who sell fish, people who buy fish, people who pilot boats, people who are riding on boats and people who fix boats. Here's a picture of a boat."

And I don't.

If there is something actually confusing about the book--let me know. If I ever do anything other RPG stuff I'll change it.


noisms said...

I have to say, I don't really understand what "Bohemian" is getting at by saying that you "read it, forget it, and let it influence your play". Like, surely all the useful stuff is in the tables and mechanics, which you actually have to refer to to use?

deleted said...

I don't find anything confusing about it.

As for weird...

This is the first city I've run where my players began looking for odd items to begin work on making their own mutations for selling of 'slow' pets.

While it isn't rare for a MU to charm someone wealthy for financial gain, it is a bit weird that they charmed person was found frolicking with a giant white octopus in a very odd zoo.

I think it really is that weird, but I fail to see this as a problem. It is one of the very few books that gets frequent use when I run a game.

Chris said...

"Is Vornheim really that weird?" asked the tattooed and pierced artist/porn actor/game blogger. ;)

I think it's an expectations thing. City books for RPGs (Lankhmar, Waterdeep, City of Chaos, Ptolus, Imryrr, Sigil, etc.) have a traditional structure, largely derived from travel books like Beidecker or Lonely Planet. Vornheim owes almost nothing to that strand of game industry custom and practise, instead being weighted heavily towards a GM's workbook format.

That, and you have an eye for *interesting and memorable* local colour. Zerohero cites the slow pets; I'd quote the grub fights, trial by pie, the undead trees and all the weird local superstitions.

"h4773r" said...

Admission of the First: I do not have, nor have I read the Vornheim Book, BUT i have followed your blog and "I hit it with my axe" religiously for some time now and feel I could describe Vornheim, as I have had to.

Admission of the Second: I am kind of a stick in the mud when it comes to my settings. Yo dawg, I like western European Tolkenesque fantasy with my . . . I think you get the idea. and then myself and players (or my DM & players) add goofy shenanigans as we go.

With these things in mind, I would say I agree that your whole game and play style are "weird." To expand though, I also agree that its similar to the awesome quote in the thread you linked to - "Vornheim is the Sex Pistols covering Ptolus" for almost everything RPG I've seen you involved in.
You have a very heavy metal/gonzo/old skool darkness infused aesthetic that is not "normal" (yikes, these are funny things to type) to most table top RPG players that I encounter. Mostly of the "yo dawg" flavor I proclaim myself to be.

This is NOT AT ALL BAD, let the haters hate, as the kids say, and hey, even if someone is ONLY getting inspiration from your book, then that's just dastardly (/end sarcasm).
As you said, you don't do cities like normal fuddy duddy supplements and I would wager that's definitely part of the "difficulty" because you see the flaws in the system. Whereas many are using those old systems and may have difficulty wrapping themselves around techniques you consider streamline, efficient and fun.
Just my thoughts. I could probably expand a bit more, but I hope that gets the point across.

Seth S. said...

I pretty much agree with Chris here, It's a different type of book so maybe that's why it's weird seeming.

To me it seemed like weird was what you were going for just in the fact that you didn't like the standard and wanted to do something different.

The adventures included are definitely weird, but not confusing. But weird adventures are what I want usually so I liked it.

John said...

The only confusing thing about the book is the map on page 12.

But it is "weird fantasy". In most city supplements, the bulk of the space is devoted to useless goddamn generica that nobody needs. You chose to devote that space to actual ideas that are interesting and that people can use. If that means you didn't have the space to bore us with Yet Another Fucking Wharf District, I'm not complaining.

High fantasy is just weird fantasy with the interesting bits spaced further out. Contrast and rarity can be good, but if I'm paying money for a book, I want the good stuff.

Zak Sabbath said...


I have asked this question several times of different people in hopes of making less confusing maps in the future and they have never ever given any answer, so I have no reason to believe you'll answer either but:

What -exactly- is confusing about that map on page 12?

Anonymous said...

Posted a reply on the thread. Damn the man.. Save the Empire!

Zanazaz said...

Well, I think weird should be a selling point. Normal fantasy gets old. I don't have Vornheim yet, but it's on the list.

Anonymous said...


I think he's meaning that he's taking the ideas from the tables and mechanics that interest him and creating his own from things in whatever campaign world he's using.

I can definitely see liking and/or having a use for the idea or mechanic of some of the tables but not wanting to include the Vornheim specific info in your existing campaign.


As the others have touched on, I think it's all in the preconceived expectations toward the product. The regular readers here know what the idea was behind the Vornheim City Kit. Anyone else is likely expecting the traditional 'travel guide' style. It's not REALLY weird, but it is different enough that I could see it being confusing until they 'get it'.

Same goes for the map on page 12. I don't find it confusing, but I can see someone who is unfamiliar with your work not recognizing that it's a map at first glance. It's just different enough from what many would expect from a map in a gaming product, that it might not click as 'map' on first look.

Spawn of Endra said...

Granted, I've been having trouble following along with arguments made on the internet lately, but the original poster never said it Vornheim was weird. I got the sense that it was a lot of cool stuff to take in (hence being overwhelmed) but not that that was bad (he keeps going back to it, because he's excited about it). My read is he's asking "How have people used this book?" not "How do I use this weird f'ing book?"

And to your question, Zak, "Is Vornheim that weird?" Yes, Vornheim the city is weird. No, Vornheim the book is not; it's also not ordinary or mundane.

Kiel Chenier said...

@ Zak,

Speaking as someone who probably represents the "lowest common denominator" or "Average Schmoe" when it comes to experiences with D&D, I think I'm justified in saying this.

YES, Vornheim is WEIRD.

Its layout is weird and different, its structure is weird compared to other books, and it is unlike anything else out there.

HOWEVER, it is the book's 'weirdness' that makes it exciting, interesting, accessible, and unique as an RPG product.

Vornheim is weird, and it is a significantly better product than most others out there BECAUSE of its weirdness. Its unique style, presentation, and oddly accessible nature make it a gem.

If anything, if there is any part of the book that isn't completely transparent in its meaning or reasoning, it serves to entice the audience to 'fill in the blanks' themselves.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that Vornheim: The Complete City Kit Batman.

It might not be the book we want, but it's the book we deserve and need.

Thomas M. said...

Zak, my only guess as to why people would feel the page 12 map is weird, along with the other structure/scenario maps you make is that it deviates pretty heavily from what's expected -- scale maps on graph paper. While everything on your map is very clear in terms of what connects to what, it isn't something where you can say "there's a 30' stone corridor that dead-ends in an iron door". It's abstract in terms of describing a physical space and considering how married adventures/supplements have been to having the map be as accurate as possible in terms of scale, having something that that's not clearly defined in terms of units of measurement can be somewhat challenging in terms of dealing with your expectations.

(Short version: there are no scale measurements and there is lots of (quite nice) art. This is the converse of most adventure maps.)

I say this as somebody who first saw your maps and had the "whoa hey now" mental reaction of not quite knowing how to parse it in comparison to any of the other supplements that I was used to. That was kind of a parallel reaction to the whole book in general and this blog as well. I have to say that it's been a very pleasant experience as a gateway to/rediscovery of the "roll your own" RPG ideal and really inspired me to get back into DMing.

CJewell said...

The page 12 map was initially confusing for me too, but that's because I failed to read the "follow line to see where stairs lead" tip in the map key.

Also, room G doesn't read well visually. At first glance the hallway is hard to decipher. My eyes couldn't tell what was going on and I skimmed past. I only now went back to try to figure it out.

I think my problem with the room G hallway was a combination of not understanding the way the stairs were connected with lines and mistaking the white stair-connecting line for the bottom boundary of the hallway. I think that this is probably reinforced by the hallway and stair-connecting line being parallel AND being approximately the same length. Makes it look like the south wall of the hallway.

Also, making that mistake makes the windows, which penetrate the boundaries of every room on the rest of the map, look like they are incorporated into the 'snapshot' artwork of the room. So it's like I'm simultaneously looking straight at a bank of windows AND looking down upon a hallway with lectern in it. I don't know how you'd fix that. Making the connecting lines wavy or jagged? Circling the stairs so that they stick out against the boxed rooms? *shrug*

All this was only confusing while I was skimming. Going back to look more closely (and reading the map key) resolved that confusion.

(ps, I really love the art in Vornhiem. And your blog/book has demystified the world of random tables for me. Thanks.)

Zak Sabbath said...


But there is a scale--it's right there--10 feet per click. There's a ruler running down the left and across the bottom.

p.s. please answer this comment. this is exactly what always seems to happen, someone cites a nonexistent fact, I clear it up, then hear nothing and am left wondering why I bothered.

Superhero Necromancer said...

I'm not John, but I'll take a crack at the map on p. 12 because it also wasn't immediately accessible to me. I had to work a bit to make sense of it.

My guess is that it comes down to the need to do some on-the-fly perspective shifting to read the map. Some of the map reads best if you look at is from a "top-down" perspective (e.g., the overall layout of each floor), which is like a lot of dungeon maps. Some of it reads best if you look at it as a "side view" (e.g., room A, also the stairs). In addition, each room has its own internal perspective, which may differ from even adjacent rooms (compare i. and K., for example, or G. and e.). In contrast, the maps on pp. 4-5, or the one on 18, or the maps on 25 and 26 respectively each basically let the viewer settle in on one perspective and read the map from there. No on-the-fly adjustments needed.

Not sure if that's the cause -- but that'd be my first guess. It's a trade off for the information density achieved. Though at some point, high information density may be part of the problem. The more information packed into the space, the more the reader needs to sort through to parse it.

I suspect the reason people can't explain their problems in interpreting it is related to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Stupid people don't know they're stupid. (I'm including myself in this category, just for clarification.) The skills I'm lacking in being able to read the map are the same skills I'd need to be able to explain my problem understanding it. If I don't understand it, I also probably don't have the conceptual knowledge and/or technical language to explain why I don't understand.

Zak Sabbath said...


ok, but you;re typing a comment, which means you're trying. I mean, if someone goes "i can;t understand the map" and then I go "what;s up?" and they say nothing, that's not even trying.

obviously, yeah, there's different perspectives. But Thomas saying there's no scale? that's just straight-up contrafactual.

John said...

@Zak: CJewell's problem with room G. Superhero's bit on perspective, especially with the relationship between A and B which for whatever reason my brain tripped up on. The map is slightly too busy, which aggravates the other problems by making it more difficult for the eye to immediately pick out the floorplan (compare page 18, where the illustrations are more clearly distinct from the lines of the map). Also, quite a few of the illustrations aren't iconic enough to immediately jog the memory as to the room's contents - like room D after I've checked the entry I can see is a jack-in-the-box and teddy bear but beforehand I have no clue what I'm looking at.

These aren't big problems - I can understand the map fine now, after I've looked at it a little - but it means the map didn't immediately "resolve" when I first saw it, and if I had to pull it out in the middle of a session months from now when my players unexpectedly drop in on a medusa I would probably have to reorient myself again. So, as a map rather than an illustration, not as efficient as it could be.

Matt Finch said...

You throw people off (unless they follow the blog and had an idea what to expect) because you offer a process rather than the finished product of the process. I've run into the same questions on a smaller scale with Tome of Adventure Design, which is also a process-behind-the-product book. It's harder for people to assimilate what's happening in a process book. Once people get the idea, process books are way cooler than product books, IMO, but they are waaay less common.

patch101 said...

Personally, I don't find the map on page 12 confusing. I think its unique, and subtly complex in its design. However, with a moments perusing it a is clearly a usable map and creative piece of art. But that's just me.

What I think some people may find confusing however, is the use of two different perspectives. The floor plan is top-down, while the images of the doors/windows, and some of the drawings within the rooms are a first person type view. you follow me?

That in combination with the stairs could be confusing for some. The stairs, in particular where two sets cross one another I think could be problematic. Tracing one staircase on floor two to the top floor for instances when following the lines almost gives you a feeling of climbing up the side of the building to reach the top, even though I know its not true.

Anyhow, I hope this helps answer your question. Like I said though, it works for me and the obvious work that went into it makes it more worthwhile in my eyes.

Thomas M. said...


Good thing I keep Vornheim in my bag because you're right, there is a scale.

I just...hadn't noticed it unti you pointed it out. Maybe I'm a dumbass, maybe it's not where I expected to see it (this and the first portion of the sentence are not mutually exclusive), maybe the "busyness" meant I missed it (not meant as a judgement on the piece, just a guess).

Thanks for pointing it out, it does make the map easier to parse.

John said...

I can understand how Thomas could have missed the scale. You've got a bunch of parallel lines on the left-hand side of the page, you've got the jags in the staircases, the scale changes colour along its length, so when presented with the abundance of detail on the rest of the page it's possible for the eye to just skip over it. All this sort of thing looks really obvious when you go back and look at it, but the brain is lazy, it makes assumptions and dismisses stuff.

Zak Sabbath said...


I guess that makes sense.

For my money: when I see a normal rpg map, I immediately get what's going on, but that's usually not much--like "Oh, room 24" is behind a locked door! Which is kinda meaningless since I have to look up room 24 anyway.

Since the dungeons in Vornheim were so small and simple, I figured transmitting what was in the rooms at a glance was more important than having a clear floorplan. The medusa house is basically just a 3 storey brownstone with no real surprises, shapeewise so i'd rather give an idea of where the monsters are hanging out and waiting.

Zak Sabbath said...


John said...

@zak I liked what you did with page 18 - the monsters were clear, but so was the floorplan. I think if you'd shifted the white space on page 12 from between the rooms, to between the borders of the rooms and the illustrations, that might have made it easier to read. That is, if the borders of the rooms had been flush with each other, and there was a bit of separation between the borders of a given room and the illustraton of what's inside. Maybe.

Thomas M. said...

For the record, I prefer this to normal adventure maps for your final point -- I have a sense of what's going on in the space just by looking at the map, which is more important than having a 100% grasp of the physical dimensions of the space, which I'm likely to forget after looking at a regular map in any case.

In a way, I kind of preferred my addlepated notion that there wasn't a scale because it had a phantasmagorical distorted dream-space feel to it and I like when the PCs have a definite sense that they shouldn't be where they are.

Superhero Necromancer said...

John said All this sort of thing looks really obvious when you go back and look at it, but the brain is lazy, it makes assumptions and dismisses stuff.


Zak Sabbath said...

Some of this I can work around but some of this is just going to be "Yeah, it's different than what you're used to and it's dense because I like it that way and we're gonna lose some people and that's price of doing new stuff"

Anonymous said...

I didn't have any trouble understanding most of the book (I'm a regular reader, so I'm pretty accustomed to your style and knew what to expect), but I did struggle a bit with the page 12 map. I think, for me at least, it's down to what Superhero Necromancer said about the perspective shifting. I am not at all good at spatial thinking - I get lost easily in real life, never mind games. The difference in perspective between the layout of the rooms and the depiction of the content of the rooms made the layout very difficult for me to understand. I couldn't figure out whether the map was meant to be a top-down view that showed multiple levels, or a vertical cross-section. I had to stare and stare at it before I was able to correctly parse it. That said, while I don't think the map does a very good job of communicating the layout of the place, it does a great job of communicating the atmosphere. Having the illustrations on the map is a great visual shorthand that probably would make it easier to use in actual play (I haven't used it yet, so I can't say for sure). In a way, I think it does a better job of doing what "boxed text" is supposed to do. It gives the DM a ready-made first-look description of the room, but instead of having a script to read, you have an image to create your own description from.

The Library of Zorlac map on page 26 is laid out similarly, but I found it easier to understand, probably because it didn't have a picture in each room to confuse the perspective. (And because each room there has more important details than in the House of the Medusa, I don't think it would have been practical to put in illustrations, anyway.)

My favorite map, though, is the one for the Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng on page 18. It combines the utility of having illustrations on the map with a layout that allows those illustrations to be displayed in an intuitive way. I know some folks hate isomorphic maps, but I love them, partially just because they look cool and partially because I find them the easiest to make sense of spatially.

I haven't had the opportunity to actually use Vornheim in play, so I can't speak from experience about that, but I found it easy to read and understand, and I feel pretty confident that when I have a group to play with it will be easy to use.

Anonymous said...

Another thought on the page 12 map: When I'm reading a location-based adventure for the first time, I usually look at the map first to orient myself and then read the descriptions of the rooms to fill in the details. I think part of the trouble I had understanding this map is that many of the images on it don't make sense until after you've read the room descriptions. That probably doesn't impact its usefulness in game, but it does make the first reading a bit more difficult.

Unknown said...


I think you did a bang-up job on the book (even reminding me a bit of the zins I use to read) only thing that didn't work for me completely was the main city map as was sort of hoping something maybe more third dimension like the one in Dwellers in the Forbidden City or Stefan Pokorny campaign maps that are showed in the D&D Experience documentary from a few years back. Personally, it's not a deal breaker for me cause I have some some talent when it comes to illustrating and could whip-up map of my own based on your own map, but for other players who rely on using published material, it could see them having some second thoughts.

Just my two CP's( correction: two GP's) cause Vornheim really stands out from other recent RPG books.

Zak Sabbath said...


the overall city map coulda been done a lot of different ways--my idea was to make it basically as big as possible yet still have individual buildings--so a DM could "bury" locations anywhere they wanted.

Adding 3d stuff or lots of labels would've made it easier to use in some situations but would've made it harder to have that crazy scale and flexibility right off the bat, which is what I want for my own game.

Peter D said...

It's not that weird of a book. It's unusual and useful, and Vornheim itself is a pretty odd place as cities go. I compared it to Mega City One mixed with Dying Earth and Tekumel. But the supplement is really useful, and I'm already going to use the ideas for random floorplans and street maps and a few other things. I may not have my players encounter grub fights (but I might), or they may not engage in trial by pie, but they sure as heck will walk down streets filled with businesses I generated by dropping dice on that page after 64.

Steve Lawson said...

"Yeah, it's different than what you're used to and it's dense because I like it that way and we're gonna lose some people and that's price of doing new stuff"

Yes, please keep that attitude. I'd much rather see stuff from you that some people don't "get" (even if I'm one of the people scratching my head) than see your posts and any future books lose the character that makes them unique.

As several people above have said, your aesthetic is at something of a tangent to mainstream RPG materials, and THAT'S SUCH A VERY GOOD THING. Stay weird.

Unknown said...

People all to often call something "weird" or "bad" if it does not match their own (poorly informed) preconceived notions. The lack of Generic Content in Vornheim doesn't make it bad and the comments calling it weird come from people who adapt poorly.

As an aside, I will be reviewing Vornheim in my show in December.

Andy said...

Wow, this took an interesting turn. Perhaps I didn't really convey my thoughts as I should have. Confused about how I'm going to use it “in my games” - yes. Excited like I was at 15 when I discovered Arduin, and not really sure how to fit all of it in to my game at once -yes. Really scared- not really.
Mostly I wanted to hear how other folks used something new to me that excites me it in actual play.
But possibly the most important aspect of this thread is it became the subject of “A playing D&D with Pornstars” blog entry. I cant wait to tell my wife

Bryan said...

I'm too lazy to read the entire thread, so maybe forgive me if I'm not really contributing. I bought and read Vornheim, but I've not used it yet. I'm a fledgling GM who is still working on his knot-tying merit badge.


That said. This city kit is meant to be used. I can tell even from just one read that Zak is essentially having a conversation with the reader. He says: This is how I do this...BAM...streets of a neighborhood. You didn't have to memorize them from someone else's you've got *your* map.

I can see how this might seem strange and scary. Personally, random tables are things I grew up with as a player...but now as someone running games...they're just not usual. For me, the big d20 D&D OGL thing that happened around 2001 seemed to change supplements away from tool-kit styles towards an "endless magazine subscription model."

Maybe it only changed the *visibility* of certain types of supplements?

Table-top gaming culture has been too big for me to keep track of since I first got into it in 1989. Now with the Internet, I try...but I still can't tell you what "old school" is. I can tell you what we used to do when I was 11, but are those two the same things? Probably not. I can remember reading the adds in the back of my GM's 'Dragon' and saying to him things like "What the hell is a TORG?"

I feel that Zak, as really creative person, has an approach to his gaming that comes from the center of his creative life. When he says something like "Give someone a floor plan and they'll GM for a day - show them how to make 30 floor plans in 30 seconds and they will GM forever." I take that as a statement of his personal ethic. Thats in the introduction, and the systems he's putting on display are personal. Personal also means idiosyncratic. As a creator, he's showing us his 'personal' tools. If they don't work for you...cross them out, re-roll, and re-write. Those are the instructions.

When I want to be told whats on the other side of the door in the dungeon I have options. I can check the module I bought, or I can create an answer of my own. Zak seems to be suggesting to me that he's got shortcuts he can show me that are interesting and random enough to inspire me to create...endlessly. To me, advice like that is pretty much worth what I paid to get the PDF/book combo. I hope he buys himself a beer "from me" with that cash or whatever else he likes...cause I like the book.

One of my next GM projects is to run a game using only tools like Vornheim...just to see if I can stretch myself that far.

Sean said...


The TORG is basically a god, and becoming the TORG is the goal of a bunch of cosm (alternate universes) High Lords that invade Earth's reality. They plant monuments called stellae, and within their stellae a bridge to their reality is created, using different natural laws. This allows them to siphon off Earth's possibility energy (the stuff that allows people to hold on to their own reality instead of being shaped by someone else's). Pretty good game mechanics, incredible setting. Still holds a place of honor on my bookshelf.

Sorry for the aside, I just see TORG comments so rarely I had to answer.


Rod said...

On the subject of page 12, maybe dropping a tone over the dungeon artwork to pop it from the white background would help the confused viewer find their way in. I tried it just now in Photoshop and I think it looks nice, if nothing else.

Scott McDaniel said...

Dude, 9/10 of the posts there are going from somewhat supporting to incredibly adoring of Vornheim.
Well-earned, I might add. Don't focus on that one :)

Zak Sabbath said...


you mistake me:

I am not moaning that someone doesn't like one of my books, i am asking a question about how it is or isn't confusing to people. As in: I want to know the answer.

Dave said...

I honestly think you are taking this trifling bit of criticism too much to heart. Everyone has an opinion - misinformed, semi-cretinous and narrow-minded opinions more often than not, but so effin' what? If I'd stayed away from everything someone (usually my mum) had decided was 'weird' I'd never have had any fun ever. I'd never have listened to Bongwater, or Tom Waits, or seen Eraserhead, and I certainly wouldn't have done a few things it wouldn't be a good idea to discuss in detail on a public forum - but they were great!

Vornheim was published, most folk like it, more than a few love it. Some one thinks its weird? Come on, you are an artist, you know weirdness is in the eye of the beholder as much as any other quality. Nothing in it made ME think 'Crikey, call the men in white coats, this man is a nutter', but that's me, other folk who eat only white bread, vote Conservative (or Republican), squint derisively at Picasso paintings and listen to Miley Cyrus unironically might think different. You are not going to make all the people happy all the time, don't worry about them. Unless of course you are only analysing what the weirdness was, so your next RPG book will be even wierder! I hope so, I'd read it.

Zak Sabbath said...


Again, you mistake me:

I am not sayng it's not "weird" as in genre, I'm saying "weird" as in "not user-friendly". This is something I would like to hear about as making the book user-friendly was my intention.

Dave said...

Oh right - well, no problem at all really. I had to squint a bit to make out the stairs between the floors on the Medusa map though. The text was squeezed in a little too tight on the text heavy pages, I don't know what the budget constraints were on how many pages you could use in the book, maybe losing the heavy black borders and having the odd bit of marginalia instead might have helped. But that's a relatively minor niggle,if you can make out the old typewriter style JG supplements you can read this.

amp108 said...

Sorry to come late to the discussion, Zak; but don't be too hard on the people who find the map confusing but can't tell you why. It's like asking someone why they can't break a secret code...if they could say *why*, they'd have broken it already. But look to Edward Tufte's books to find an explanation for why some visuals click with people and why some don't.

Personally, I didn't pay much attention to page 12, since I don't often borrow maps from other sources, but I'll admit now, with my feeble, aging eyes, I didn't see the scale (for example) until someone pointed it out. The little ticks just looked like decoration and the 10' marker just got lost in the ink until I looked slow and hard at it. Pulling all of the meta-data (scale, compass, door/window/secret door icons) into a separate (boxed-off?) area might have helped there.

I also think part of this specific problem is that it's easy to confuse the pictures with map features, like how the edge of the piano keys in room J bleed into the door to room L, or how the window in the Dining Room (which I just now noticed) looks like it might be part of a table setting. I know you're an artist and your drawings are your pride and joy, but if you whited them out and replaced them with short descriptive phrases, I think a lot of this confusion would have evaporated. The information just seems camouflaged. Maybe if the illustrations were in a medium-dark grey, they might not be so confusing?

In any case, I'll bet you didn't get nearly as many queries about the maps on page 18 and page 26 as you did this one.

Jason said...

I found that map somewhat confusing myself. While it's hard to say specifics, I had a hard time translating the look of the map into a mental headspace. But at the same time, I'll readily acknowledge that part of that is just how I parse things. And honestly, I'm more of a flowchart guy anyways, so whatever. :P

The rest of the book is, of course, solid gold.

huth said...

"Forget it, Jake. It's"

Zak Sabbath said...


god, i know.

i just.......i put my ideas on this here blog all the time. it's nice to think you'd get some back.

and, to be fair, i did here--a lot of the things people have said in the comments have made sense and been helpful.