More planning for my adventure path! I'm not thinking at a high level about art and maps. These are both important to any product, but they require separate skills; people who can do both well are rare and should be treasured. They both have some wildly different costs.

Art comes in two general types for the third-party publisher: custom and stock. Custom art is made to your specifications, and is a lot more expensive. You'll get exactly what you need in art, and your art piece will be unique. Stock art is pre-made to fit a wide audience. It's much cheaper, but you might see it showing up in other companies' art as well, if they also buy the same stock art. It's also normally much more general in scope and tone. What you need depends a lot on your budget and the role of your art; if you want a specific villain that's a flaming skeleton with a great axe and half-plate with a specific symbol and blue fire in its eyes, you probably need a custom art piece. If you just want an orc warlord and don't much care about the specifics (or can write the specifics to match the image), then stock art is fine. Like many third-party publishers, I prefer custom art, particularly for covers or important villains and the like, but I make do with stock art. I also reuse art when reasonable to keep my costs low.

Maps also come in custom and stock, but stock maps are much more rare. They often just aren't as useful for a large dungeon or area that must have some specific features, or rooms of specific sizes to accommodate certain foes. Most maps are therefore custom. And since an adventure can have up to 2 or 3 or more maps in it, this can often be one of the most expensive components a third-party publisher takes on.

So, what should I do for my AP? Let me start with a baseline of no maps. I'll have content like "here are six encounters in a forest" or "a cave complex with these two traps and these four fights," but I'll leave it to the Gamemaster to put them into play. If I have a particularly complicated encounter area, perhaps I'll get a custom map. Or perhaps I can make stock maps fit. But that will come after the design process: I'm going to start with a "no maps" position.

Or, rather, one map. I think it's critical that a whole adventure path have an overview map to provide context and setting for key locations. Think of this as the map at the front of a fantasy novel, telling you where all the action is going to take place. I've already moved off of my "no maps" position in less than a paragraph, because an overview map of the land is so critical. I want a map that has at least a few settlements, a variety of terrain types, and--crucial for an adventure path where the demon Treerazer is active--lots of deep, primeval forests. 

It turns out, I have a good map that seems it would work well for this. I used the attached map for my "God Callers of Sarkoris" campaign for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This was drawn by the talented Marco Morte, whose maps I've used often in the past. It's got a rugged frontier type feel, with Viking overtones, and it has several cities, forests, mountains, and so on. Once I have a better sense of the adventures, I plan to populate this with tags like "XXX River" or "YYY Forest." I can also take a version of this map to overlay it with numbers 1 through 20, to visually represent where the 20 adventures of the adventure path are all set.

So, overall map is set. This already leads me into dividing up adventures as "the one near a city," "the one on along a river," "the one in the mountains," and so on. That's good for thematic feel, and dovetails nicely with choosing encounters, something that I'll start after a little more overview thinking (and a few more overview posts).