The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30121.
The Observatory is a fantasy-styled observatory with a design that I think resembles Renaissance styling. The map consists of two floors plus a roof (The location of the telescope). Throughout the interior floors is a very decorative design on the floor with no shortage of inscribed runes. An armillary sphere serves as the centerpiece and a scattering of work desks can be found. Overall, the effect is one of arcane mysticism combined with the beauty of the room creating a masterpiece showcase for any fantasy scholar interested in searching the cosmos.
The Observatory is a simple yet intricate battlemap whereas you get a couple of large open spaces sparsely consumed with furniture and a highly-decorated floor with an incredible amount of detail. As with many other DramaScape products, it’s the details that make the big difference.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
The Observatory is a dodecagon-shaped building that cuts across nine pages for each floor. The edges get a little funky due to their relative size, but using the centerpiece armillary sphere as the center “tile” makes construction across those nine pages much simpler. Thus when you layout the entire battlemap, the highly decorative centerpiece is not cut across those pages. Additionally, the map comes in square, hex, and no grid.
Visual Appeal: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is a beautiful map with an exquisite amount of detail. The alignment of the wooden floor is not always perfect, but the textures are beautiful and very lifelike. The decoration of the first floor and all other little details throughout (such as the large number of runes) make the map very visually appealing when looked at as a whole.
Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is obviously a very niche battlemap. The very open floor plan may seem a bit too open for some, but others may opt to fill it with other goodies or use as a great place for an interesting encounter. A map such as this can easily be used as a source for plot ideas within an adventure or campaign given its uniqueness and a wonder of who’s observatory it is and what are they looking at? Maybe they’re attempting to call down horrific creatures from distant planets and are locating them through the use of the telescope!
Overall: 9 out of 10
The Observatory is a great and unique battlemap. Its use can easily spark a number of interesting plot hooks and possible storylines, although it may not fit within too many settings given its design. If you’re running a Renaissance themed fantasy adventure, this can easily be a showcase piece for your setting as its styling really fits that “look and feel.”