Today, we are looking at the Zoneside of the Jadepunk playmat. Earlier this week, we took a look at the Cityside of the Jadepunk playmat. The playmat is available from the Reroll Store for $10 plus $6 shipping.
The Zoneside of the laminated playmat gives you a dry erase space in which to create zone maps for action scenes. The Zoneside of the playmat is setting-neutral: you can use it with any Fate game. The playmat offers an open space for zone creation, rather than superimposing a grid of hexes or squares as do most playmats designed for conventional RPGs. This is in line with the Fate system preference for abstraction with respect to space and movement.
We gave the playmat a test drive on Thursday night, as Bob ran the second half of our Pilgrims of the Flying Temple playtest. The adventure took place in a forest, in the caves below a giant tree, and inside the giant tree itself. Our use of the map was a bit whimsical, and traced our itinerary through the forest adventure, with situational/environmental aspects being recorded along the way.
Later this weekend, I'll post a more tactical use of the playmat over on my Fate of Tekumel blog.
In the upper right hand side of the playmat, there is a box labelled "Situational Aspects". Since this was the second half of an adventure that happened 3-4 weeks ago, I used that box to record the names of the NPCs.
The action started with the PCs chasing a dog named Ulf. We had been sent to a village outside the forest because of a letter from a village girl called Molly. She had requested our help, because all of the village's animals had disappeared. Once we discovered Molly's dog Ulf deep in the forest, we followed the dog into a branching tunnel complex under the giant tree in the center of the forest.
Next to the sketch of branching caves, I wrote down one of the important environmental aspects that Bob put out there for players: Luminescent Moss. As we went in deeper, we encountered an underground river. All of us went in the drink, chasing the dog.
As you can see from the detail shot below, the river has one of Bob's signature aspects:
The river was swift, and some of us were NOT good swimmers. That led to a number of Approach rolls, as one PC attempted to avoid drowning, while a few of us struggled to catch-up with the others.
Over several rounds of Approaches rolls, Bob used the lower left hand box on the playmat (designed for recording Boosts) to make hash marks for each player's relative progress moving down the underground river. The fewer X's you had, the farther ahead you had gone; the more X's you had, the further you had fallen behind in swimming, stalactite swinging, or walking on water.
Yes, that's right. Walking on water. My character decided that since he knew how to walk on treetops, it should be easy to walk on water. The trick is to keep moving, so you don't sink! He grabbed a stalactite, kicked off his wet shoes, and began walking on water. Stunt creation on the fly!
Eventually we made it out of the cave, and found ourselves back right outside the giant tree at the center of the forest.
We climbed the tree, eventually found an opening, and went inside. There were ant-folk. We communicated with them by making "antenna gestures" with our hands. Eventually we encountered the blobular sapling creature living in a pool of sap.
We negotiated - get ready for it - a Tree-Tee, and brought it back to the villagers outside the forest so that they could sign it.
Our first experience with the Jadepunk playmat was very fun. Sure, we didn't use it for tactical play in a single zone, as much as to represent the succession of scenes where the action took place. So we used the playmat as a set of linked scene maps. I think that is a legitimate use of the artifact.
The two boxes on the right side of the playmat were not used exactly as intended. Instead, the GM found a new use for each box which supported play in that specific adventure. I think it adds value to the playmat design that a GM can make versatile use of these small compartments.
Finally, a couple of words about the physical quality of the playmat are in order. In my original review of the Cityside of the map, I commented that I would have preferred a rolled mat, as opposed to a folded one. I have since heard back from the playmat's designer that they experimented with a rolled format. It didn't work too well, as the rolled mat kept trying roll up on the game table. I can tell you that in a 2.5 hour session, the fact that the mat had been folded made no difference for play.
No less importantly, I want to underscore how erasable the playmat is. One dry napkin was totally sufficient to remove all traces of dry erase marker from the playmat. Reuse is everything with a playmat, and this one is a very good value.