Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review: Modern Floorplans: Streetscapes


Disclaimer: A free copy of this product was provided for review. In addition, Charles White has contacted me about contributing material for Olympus, Inc. That hasn’t actually happened yet, so at this point I haven’t worked for Charles in any capacity. Purchasing any of the products below through the provided links will earn Wine and Savages an affiliate credit through DriveThruRPG.

Modern Floorplans: Streetscapes is the latest offering from Savage Worlds licensee Fabled Environments. Charles and Krista White publish adventure modules and accessories, but their bread and butter is the ModernFloorplans series – architectural blueprint-style battle maps of everything from arctic research stations to warehouses. Krista White is actually trained in AutoCAD and brings a real architect’s sensibility to the projects, including functional details (like restrooms) that many mapmakers ignore.

Like other products in the Modern Floorplans line, Streetscapes is presented in printer-friendly greyscale devoid of the textures and extraneous detail particularly found in fantasy maps. It’s deliberately simple and functional, allowing players and GMs to balance the clarity of miniatures-based combat with the inventiveness of theater of the mind gaming. It consists of three 36” x 48” maps covering a city block built around a particular theme: a block of white-collar commercial buildings, a “night out” scene of bars and restaurants, and a residential block of houses and apartments.

Streetscapes is kind of a sampler for the Modern Floorplans line. One of its strengths is that each block consists of various different types of buildings. Unfortunately, the sheer width of each block means we only get part of each of these buildings; the commercial and night out streets in particular suffer from presenting only half or a quarter of an establishment. There’s enough shown of each building to run a scenario set in each block (especially the residential map), but some GMs will inevitably find that some players want to take their firefight into a restaurant’s unseen kitchen (or something similar).

The saving grace here is that every building shown in Streetscapes is taken from a previously-published Fabled Environments map. Since Modern Floorplans: Streetscapes only costs $5, the curious buyer can pick it up and get a good idea whether they like the Fabled Environments style. If they do, then they can pick up the full maps of the various building for usually $2 or less each. If they don’t, then they have a set of varied and interesting maps they can use for a modern or near-future setting game. The simplicity of the designs means that they can easily be used for any period from the 1930s of Deadlands Noir to the 2090s of Interface Zero.

(My one real complaint, honestly, is one place where there’s too much detail. The parked car on the night out map kind of gets in the way of the timelessness that is otherwise a selling point.)

I’m not much of one for miniatures and battle maps myself (though I would pay good money for it if someone did a map of a grand Georgian country house like Pemberley), but I have to admit that the night out street reminds me so much of a collection of bars and restaurants near my house that it makes me want to run a game set there. I also have to admit that when I do use maps, I like splashy color and detail as much as the next guy – but it took me three minutes to print up one of these maps on my laser printer and it looks crisp, clean, and eminently reusable. That is a good value for both time and money. (Seriously, have you priced printing up a full-color map lately?)


Modern Floorplans: Streetscapes offers a reasonably-priced collection of useful, reusable maps that are as affordable to print as they are to purchase. The commercial district map could be used for anything from a high-tech heist to a super-powered brawl, the entertainment district map could be home to '70s street cops as easily as present-day barflies, and the residential map practically begs for tract housing horror in the vein of Fright Night. An imaginative GM and gaming group will find scores of uses for it. 

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