Tuesday, January 31, 2017
I'm honestly torn about the usefulness of Road System, the first product I've purchased in the Pathfinder Map Pack line. The product consists of 18 full-colour tiles, each 5 squares wide and 8 squares long and containing a section of a dirt road or (on two of the tiles) a stone bridge across a narrow stream. The tiles can be arranged in whatever order wished, such as one long road or a shorter road featuring crossroads and intersections. The artwork on the tiles is really good, as everything from muddy puddles to a felled tree to clumps of boulders are added in for some interesting terrain features. The tiles, which are single-sided only, allow for wet, dry, and even permanent markers, so a GM need have no hesitation in adding an overturned wagon, a dead horse, or whatever they'd like.
I picked up Road System as an aid for random encounters when PCs are travelling from place to place. I've only used the pack once, so my comments should be taken with a grain of salt. My main concern is that, as pretty as the road looks, it's obviously too narrow to contain a full-fledged encounter. This means the tiles have to be used in conjunction with an underlying map which isn't going to be nearly as attractive, and on which the GM will still probably want to add minor terrain features to add realism (unless the road is going across a featureless plain). Because the easiest thing to draw on a blank play-mat is a set of parallel lines to make a road, I'm not sure how much "value-add" the map pack is actually providing. It may be possible to combine a wilderness-themed Flip-Mat underneath Road System tiles, but I'm not sure how well the two would mesh together.
So all in all, the reason I'd give this an average score isn't because there's anything wrong with the set, but only because I'm not convinced yet of its usefulness.