The Island Cave is a fairly simple battlemap that can easily be used within any genre. Using a 1″ grid, GMs are presented with a small portion of an island with a couple caves that leads into two small caverns inside this island hill. The Island Cave is hand-drawn and uses a 3D perspective looking from overhead. The map isn’t terribly large but can be used for a variety of purposes.
The Island Cave contains fairly standard terrain for an island. The caves are contained within a hill that gives way to simple grass that flows all the way to the water. Scattered throughout the grass are some bushes and a large tree near the top (of the battlemap). A footpath leads from the water to the entrance of the cave. The cave leads into the hill and splits off into two mid-sized caverns. There is an inconspicuous water inlet off to the side with a cave that ends at the wall of the cavern. I’m sure this can be used as a secret entrance into the cavern or maybe a hidden path for quickly escaping with your treasure!
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rite Publishing has done an excellent job of overlaying the grid so that it only covers the areas where its necessary. There is an overview page with the grid and .jpegs are included without the grid (and another .jpeg with the grid). The battlemap is divided up very well between the multiple pages and avoids cutting important features down the middle (such as the main cave entrance). The battlemap is in full-color and a black-and-white version is included for printer-friendly use (although it truly looks better in color). The biggest positive note on publication quality is how the battlemap is divided between the multiple pages. Cutting a major feature (or room) in half makes for a poorly put-together battlemap. The Island Cave completely avoids that.
Visual Appeal: 8 out of 10
While battlemaps may look wonderful when using the right software, there’s something to be said about a great hand-drawn one as well. The 3D perspective really comes through and you can really see the outside walls of the cave/cavern complex and how the island flows down to the water. The battlemap is truly a piece of art. However, there is a large tree at the top of the battlemap which really looks out-of-place. After looking at it numerous times, I have a difficult time understanding how the tree is positioned. It looks as though it’s laying flat and partially hanging in the water, but the limbs look like they’re the wrong direction. If it’s meant to be rising out of the ground toward the sky, then the 3D perspective did not come through. Obviously something like this is left to GM interpretation, but I still find myself a bit confused. But when it comes down to it, the artwork is very visually appealing and pleasing to the eyes. I don’t think it would look as good if it was done using standard map-making software.
Desire to Use: 7 out of 10
The map definitely has multiple uses (although it may not make as much sense in a sci-fi setting). While it’s use may be more valuable within a fantasy, pirate or historical setting, you can still find a myriad ways to use it. I also find the side entrance to be a great addition. The only problem I can see is that with the grid, the cave pathways to the caverns seem too small. The caverns themselves are plenty big, but there are a couple spots in the cave paths that are tight and would seem difficult to traverse when you’re fully loaded with armor. This may have been done purposefully or it could be a simple oversight, but I would prefer caves that are wide enough to traverse (from a flavor and role-playing stand-point). I would also prefer there be less unused space and maybe some caves that lead away from the opposite sides of the caverns. Basically, when you get to the cavern, there’s no other caves, just a wall. Even adding another cave that trails off the end gives the GM something to use for the next part of their adventure, otherwise it seems like a one-time use.
Overall: 8 out of 10
The Island Cave is a beautifully drawn map with a very well-placed 1″ grid. By not specifying exactly what’s in the caverns or defining the surroundings, GMs can use it for a variety of settings and systems. I’m a big fan of hand-drawn maps as they’re not hard-edged and seem more natural (compared to real life) than one made with computer software. This is artwork and the 3D perspective really comes through.
[4 of 5 Stars!]