Gabriel Pickard: Map Set Comparison

Gabriel Pickard is pretty really prolific. He’s also really good, one of the best map artists on Roll20, and certainly the best with a backlog this vast. Let’s take a look at what specifically is in there.

Gabriel Pickard got his start mainly doing Quick Encounters. These were packs of readymade maps, usually 25×25 or 30×30, following a certain theme. Early Quick Encounters were forests or underground mini-dungeons, and later eventually started going to really weird places like sky islands and the insides of kaiju. Quick Encounters are great for what they’re named after and I often use them as the backdrop for random encounters in adventure modules that don’t usually provide maps outside the dungeon. They are not modular, however, so don’t buy a pack of them and expect you’ll be able to stick them together into a bigger map. There’s no way to hide the seam except by burying it under tree doodads, at which point the seam is just as obvious from the giant wall of trees.

Pretty soon afterwards Gabriel began releasing Vile Tiles. These are packs of doodads and backgrounds with which, I assume, Gabriel creates his maps, and can be used to make endless variations that will look about the same. Vile Tiles can be used to build maps from scratch or tweak ones that already exist. They’re time intensive but allow for extreme flexibility. I occasionally use Vile Tiles for tweaking purposes, but lack the mapmaking skills to make proper use of them.

Where things really get good is when Gabriel began making Save vs Cave and Village to Pillage. These two modular packs are fully compatible within themselves (i.e. any Village to Pillage pack can be used with any other, and any Save vs Cave can be used with any other, although there’s no way to link them together). These can be used to make much larger maps. Save vs Cave maps can easily reach 100×100 with just a single $5 pack, although that’s in part due to lots of solid rock. See, Save vs Cave sets come with just fifteen or so different rooms and then lots of generic corridors, corners, and junctions. The rooms have varying entrances and exits which allow them to be plugged together, and you can use the corridors and corners to join an exit from one room facing south to an entrance to the other facing east, but in order to do this you’re going to end up with some empty space on either side of the corner. If you just link rooms together as directly as possible you’ll get a space efficient dungeon, but often one that requires a lot of backtracking since rooms frequently branch but rarely loop on each other. To make a properly Jaquayed dungeon, you’ll need to accept a lot of empty space, and also that a lot of the times there just won’t be entrances in the right spot to make connections where you want them. Take a look at this, for example:

Isla Ornos Tunnels

In the bottom center, you can see a dead end that could link up to the room west and slightly south or the one to the northwest. That room on the right side is currently a dead end, but by adding one of those two connectors, it would become a loop instead. On the right edge you can just barely see an ice cavern to the side, and a connector to that from the east side of the whirlpool chamber would also make a loop. Unfortunately, neither of these is possible, because there just aren’t any entrances there to link up with. This is not really Gabriel Pickard’s fault so much as just a limitation of the medium, but it is something to bear in mind. Most packs come with at least one pre-made room that’s already a loop, and you can still build loops with them, they just have to be really, really big.

For a while, Gabriel started releasing Save vs Cave for underground stuff, including reusing the same theme from his earlier Quick Encounters as a modular dungeon instead of a bunch of 30×30 one-page dungeons. Relatively recently, Gabriel Pickard’s maps ascended to what may be their final form: Critical Trails. That series, along with Jumble a Jungle, are like Pillage a Village or Save vs Cave but for wilderness areas. With five different critical trails, it’s possible to make a massive wilderness map – like the one in Petals and Thorns (if it’s on or before October 11th, the Kickstarter for that is still ongoing if you’d like to see these maps in action) – with which to connect multiple dungeon entrances together. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could make two and still have them be reasonably distinct from one another.

With the Critical Trails series in its infancy, there’s not really a whole lot of variety in overworld terrain. Someday I’m hoping to see mountainous, desert, snowy, etc. etc. Critical Trails, to expand the range of overworld environments that can be seamlessly explored. The possibility of massive, 100×100 maps excites me – it’s something that breaks the limits of what a table could handle.

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