Arboretum is another battlemap for The Breaking of Forstor Nagar adventure for Pathfinder set in a city carved into a glacier. The arboretum is exactly that, although slightly damaged, containing a small arboretum with trees, bushes, and stone paths. It sounds like a very simple setup, which it is. The battlemap itself is far from extraordinary considering what the location is. However, it has an immense amount of detail often ignored in more extravagant battlemaps. While you may laugh at the thought of an encounter in an arboretum, don’t overlook this battlemap until you really dig into it.
I’m very impressed with this seemingly simple battlemap. It has an immense amount of detail in such a small location covering such a simple thing: trees, stones, and dirt. The coloring is a great change of pace and it does an excellent job of embracing the idea that encounters outdoors don’t need to be boring. While it’s use may be limited, it is the visual appeal of the battlemap that really stands out.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
As with all other Fantastic Maps battlemaps, Arboretum utilizes the same standard formatting. It is broken up very well between the pages, avoiding that odd break between map sections from page to page. Additionally, there is a full color and black-and-white version along with all the .jpg files that lack the grid. These series of battlemaps never cease to amaze me with how well their put together.
Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
When you think of an arboretum, you may find the concept plain. How do you enhance the visual aspects? By making the details really detailed and beautifully rendered. If you zoom in on the arboretum, you will find an amazing amount of attention paid to the details of the stone, water, and trees. The stones are not plain but rather have good shadowing and a non-uniform texture (which you would expect from a stone). The tree stumps, at least that’s what they look like, look really good from a top-down perspective and the shadowing really makes them pop out of the battlemap. Plus, if you look at the toppled trees, you will even find broken branches laying next to them. The detailing is superb!
Desire to Use: 8 out of 10
Keeping in mind that Arboretum was designed for use with The Breaking of Forstor Nagar adventure for Pathfinder, it can carry an interesting number of possibilities outside of the adventure. The basics of the arboretum are simple and universal enough to be used anywhere. The glacial ground is also simple enough to pass as stoney ground or other types of textures. The actual arboretum, on the other hand, will have to be a main focus for the encounter. However, it’s not an uncommon thing to find in large cities. After all, it is a beautifully rendered battlemap.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Arboretum is a great looking map when you dig down into the details. From a long distance view, it seems plain and all too simple, but when you zoom in and look at all the bits and pieces that have been put together, you will be amazed at the attention to detail. While it obviously has a very purposeful use, it looks great and can be a great addition to any encounter. Why stick to the standard encounter locations? Go find something new and treat your players to a great looking battlemap.
[5 of 5 Stars!]