From Cheap Signs to Cheap Playmats

Recently, I was given the change to review the cheap signs produced from Signs On The Cheap in Austin. I was given a free sample, but you could buy the same thing for about six dollars (not including shipping) – not bad at all, for the quality. I recommend that you use the section specifically for RPG roleplaying maps.   It has a greater variety of sizes, and limits the printing options to the ones useful for the RPG group. (We just want one plastic map, not fifty aluminum signs…)

Being the sector setting man that I am, I uploaded a 2′ x 2′ coloured map of the Empty Quarter to be mailed to me. The map I got was… OK. The names of the systems are a bit blurry, but still legible. Even the hexes could still be seen without much difficulty. The dark blue systems and borders is a little hard to see against the black background, but it can be seen well enough in natural light. The corrugated plastic the map is printed on is good  material: strong, flexible, and good with a wipeable marker.

This was a difficult test, and Signs on the Cheap – which is geared to produce outdoor signs, not indoor playmats – did better than expected. I would strongly recommend it for diagrams of your PCs starship (and typical enemies, like a Vargr corsair or a Imperial patrol ship), where the bigger scale and the black-on-white background works for your advantage, and the easy re-usability factor helps a lot.

(You can ask for a double-sided sign, which could be quite handy…)

If I were to print it out again, I would either print a black-on-white or colour-on-white subsector map, or ask for better resolution on the sector map, so the names of the systems are stronger and crisper. I would also print on a black/colour-on-white format, instead of the more difficult-to-see black/colour-on-black format.

Rating:

  • 5/5 stars for most Traveller applications like indoor maps for firefights, or the Grand Finale with the final assault on the headquarters, the teleporting Consular Commando, or the shoot-out at the Sector Throneroom.
  • 3/5 for sector maps. It’s cheap, it’s strong, but the hexes and systems names are not clear and crisp. If I printed with black & coloured stars on a white background, it would be better, but not enough for a 4/5 score. Only the sharp printing of system names and hexes could do that: and that’s difficult for a medium meant for outdoor signs, not indoor playmats.  The thing is, could I print a large sheet of a sector and laminate it at a professional printer for six dollars? I doubt it.
  • 5/5 for subsector maps. I did not print it, but I believe that – if I had printed a subsector map, black or colours on a white background, it would have turned out fine. This is not very useful for a lone Traveller group on the usual adventure rampage. But, if the PCs are running a subsector-wide operation, as traders, naval officers, or bounty hunters tracking down multiple bandits, it can be quite useful.

About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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