First off - lovely maps in the November Dungeon. It really is great to see Wizards commissioning more new map art rather than re-using their dungeon tiles.
For the laminated maps - I know Chris West does large print runs to get the price down. He's used Kickstarter in the past to make sure that he has enough money pledged to offset the cost of doing a large print run. His advantage is that he has a big following amongst the Star Wars miniatures community so he can secure money up front for a new map. Kickstarter would be a good way to test out the model of a decent sized 11 by 17 laminated map as it's risk free both for the seller and the people pledging money.
I know I would not pay for what would be mostly one time use maps. Even Christopher West's are a bit more expensive than I would be willing to pay for a large battle map as most of the time such things are just to specific to be reused easily. Now... I can understand the extra overhead involved in lamination, but I am also someone who spends very little money on my gaming habit and I rarely buy any physical product from the internet(subscriptions and digital maps and such are a small exception). Prior to my getting involved in VTT's heavily, I have purchased several of the D&D dungeon tiles for my GM's use, but that's also because he is my brother and it was as a B-Day gift. The art work is not horrible but not great, but the big advantage is the re-usability and replay factor with double sided tiles that can be matched up to create scenes.
Thankyou both for your input once again and Tortan for your comments:) I am currently checking out Kickstarter, but i'm not sure if it would really fit my needs as of right now but i will explore it more in detail.
I was thinking that if i invested about 400$ up front for a decent printer, ink and a laminator i could cut costs down big time in the long run. I mean a decent print from Zazzle or another online printing company at 8.5x11 runs about 6-8$, and the 11x16poster on matte paper is like 9$ (strange i know). But throw in lamination 3-5$ a page, and shipping and they become expensive very quickly. Self laminating and printing can be a hassle but with the right equipment its not really bad, plus i dont have to worry about shipping, and it winds up being only like 1-4$ a print. Throw in self lamination and add .50 cents to that, that seems the right way to go rather than having other people do it for me. 4-500$ upfront for that capability will quickly pay itself off if this goes somewhere.
As for the re usability, i suppose it really depends on how people DM and how much variety you want or can have with maps. If i sold 16 general smaller encounter maps done up like the ones i have osted here, would people pay for that type of work? I know If i self print i could make them a bit cheaper, but i'm not sure if its really going to turn a profit or what people would realistically pay for them. Granted these are to be sold at a convention for right now but it will sell online and stuff later (if i choose to do this). I suppose i could do a map folio and stick them in one color publication and sell that, so people could use them right out of the book, or scan them and then print them larger. Maybe a book of 16 smaller color maps would run say 30- 35$.
Jfrazierjr, i'm not really sure how to gauge the market, while you spend next to nothing on this stuff, i had a friend that had bought every single 3rd edition book and adventure their was on the market because he loved the stuff so much!
I'm not sure what i should do!
it is a difficult world to step into Jared (I know I'm wondering about when to enter myself) and I'll just throw some thoughts out there (not ment to discurage) - but I bought the H1 scenario from wizards - it have 3 double sided large (21x30) maps in it - so thats 6 cool maps - pro-quality (not laminated) incl. a scenario for 30 dollar. Now the reason they can get the price down there is volume - when you offset print a lot you get a good price, where as on a "normal" printer every print costs the same, so you can't lower your prices (much) because of volume. I know that wizards don't throw that many maps in all scenarios - it more like one double sided map if you're lucky :) ... but they are still affecting what people will think is reasonable to pay for stuff. And I buy a lot - have a whole shelf of 3rd and 4e books. Just about bought'em all :) ... and I'm probably willing to pay more than a lot of teenage guys out there since I have a "real" salery :) ... then again I also have mortages and car payments and all that stuff *lol*
So what am I saying? ... only that the price that people are willing to pay - aren't always the price the work is worth.
As a by note please take into account that if you choose to print the maps yourself - calculate in the toner/ink in your expenses - cause that stuff is the most expensive liquids you can buy - and remember, printers break down/get worn .. suddenly you get lines in your print and have to change the heads etc.
And good luck - please keep us posted :)
Yea... it's a hard call. I used to spend all my money on RPG stuff... but that was back in the days before wife and kid. One other thing to keep in mind is volume pricing vs time/money investment pricing. In general, the less expense, the more people will buy (with the right marketing!!!). With your approach, you will have to also factor in the shipping costs as well as equipment and artist time.
For example, would you rather 10 people pay $10 for the same map. Or would you rather 100 people pay $1 for the map? You make the same amount of money($100) , but you get 90 potential more future customers as well as advertisers. Of course, there is no way you can do laminated print maps and ship for $1 while making money, but, hopefully you get my point about volume. Your goal should be to get maps into as many peoples hands as possible (and perhaps versatile with 2 sided maps) for the lowest price you can and make a profit in the long term. I think Mr. West probably has a decent price point for print maps (double sided) at that size). I expect that would be a price I might pay for such a thing in a store (perhaps even more in a store due to the store overhead and price increase.)
With that said, I have bought most of Torstan's maps, even ones I probably won't use, because the price point for what I get ($1-3 for a printable PDF as well as a MapTools campaign file with the maps) is a great deal(bought them in a bundle at a discounted price FYI. I think I paid like $15 for 10 map packs or something like that a few months ago.)
Hmm thank you all again for your comments, I'm so happy to get a great feedback discussion going!
I think i may have found a possible solution that i may investigate further. For a while now i have been looking into self-publishing my maps and conceptual work (a separate book of course).
From Edition One, which i have heard nothing but fantastic things about, a full color soft bound 8.5x11 30 page book with very good quality paper, Color front cover runs 11$ a piece. I think i could charge maybe 20$-25$ for that at a convention as it would include 20-25 of the above type of maps. That way a DM could open the book, lay it flat, and use the encounter maps as they see fit. They would be grouped into categories with a full index at the front so you could easily flip to the map you want. If the DM wants to scan them in and then enlarge them so he/she can use them fo rtheir players as a gaming board so be it, though i know many DM's who still don't use figures even though 4rth edition pushes it.
What do you think? Would a GM be interested in a nicely bound map folio of 20-25 high quality 8.5x11 encounter maps all in one book for 25$? Let me know your opinions please:)
I would be interested in such a book, but of course I am in New Zealand and so that has its complications. One suggestion though, if you can do this and I know Torstan does, is that if you made say a PDF of maptools size maps (or just at that smallish size you were suggesting) I would more than buy it. I run 2 games online right now but I will also have another IRL game when I move to Australia. The thing I like about your maps is that it's not always about size that makes a good encounter (even in 4E), it's about the situation and if it assists with tactics. For example, the field with the overturned cart in the OP I used for burrowing ankhegs: The creatures dug holes into the ground that could drop the PCs into a series of hollowed out caverns beneath the map (so effectively I doubled the size of your map due to the monsters). Another example is the house with all the skulls up top, by using both levels, the ground outside and monsters crawling on the walls you get a surprising amount of playing area for a seemingly very small map. In fact that's pretty much what the author of the module it is for actually did.
The key thing to me and what would make me buy such a thing is variety. A cavern full of ice, some building interiors (intact, destroyed etc), a cavern full of lava (naturally), class stone dungeons, natural caves, open fields with a road fences and some scarecrows (good lord what I could do with that map alone would shock you). Like if I could order the book I almost certainly would buy that if the maps were usable IRL, but I would be doubly pleased to be able to buy a PDF of such maps as well. That also has the advantage of not incurring such a massive cost to you in buying all those expensive printers, so maybe that's an option to look into (then again I don't know how keen you are to do that - selling your own books obviously has the advantage of being less piratable by unscrupulous people).
Thanks Aegeri, those are some good ideas, and i agree variety would be the key to having a nice map folio. Oh i'm not sure what do you mean by "useable IRL"?
I may be very interested in doing this...i was thinking i could even include a couple inch gridded maps (as double page spreads) along with the normal small gridded 8.5 x 11 encounter maps. so maybe 16 of the smaller maps Liek those above) and 4 1 inch grid double page spread maps at the end? Not sure if i should mix them but i'm thinking about it.
As for location seeds/ideas, i was thinking:
Winding Caves with some treasure
Forest path encounter with small cave nearby
Mountain path encounter with a rock slide blocking part of it
A river ford with barricades on one end
A ruined tower with 3 levels
A castle wall with ladders or possibly a breach
A small villlage half ruined and half burning
A big mansion, 2 stories
A Large bush maze
...those are some, hit me up if you have anything you would like to see, i like to hear other stuff from people.
Sorry, when I refer to "IRL" it means "In real life". I run 2 virtual tabletop games and 1 with actual dice and such (dramatic I know). So I always carefully distinguish between the purposes I need maps for.
I was thinking in maps:
An icy fortress/mansion (Say a capricious winter fey has frozen the household of a baron logging a forest of theirs).
A Wizards workshop with a normal upper floor posh kind of home, but a hidden basement level where he's had an "accident" summoning something. This would be a bit like the map you did in the OP with the magic circle, except in a largish basement type area and the circle is broken. I can think of hundreds of uses for such a map.
A tower built into the frozen side of a mountain (alternative, a tower built into a volcano!)
You can never go wrong with any kind of wizard tower (like the one you suggested), buildings, castle keep walls and similar.
Wilderness encounters in wastelands/fields - Believe it or not many maps "Wilderness" encounter tends to be a forest. You don't want a forest all the time. The cart example in the OP is a rare "field" sort of traveling encounter. It's surprisingly hard to find encounter maps for a farmers field, or trekking across icy terrain, or across a volcanic wasteland and such forth. Lots of forests though.
At the same time, nice forest maps with streams and stuff are always awesome. Always.
A castle bedroom and some of the surrounding rooms: Perfect encounter for stopping/assassinating that evil king (or queen).
All sorts of possibilities. Personally I would be happy just to trust in whatever you created anyway, regardless if it didn't have specific things I wanted. I can always build a campaign towards using a map I like after-all.
Can I get woot woot for a non dungeontile maps!! Very nicey done, hoping to make encounter maps of you or other cartographers like torstan's caliber. Hope to see more in DDI.