Behold: A better way to Map!

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EDIT: Updated with info on making simple trees, shrubs, and water.


As a DM for our games, i am always looking for better and more visually appealing implements for our games. And i think i stubled onto the ultimate.

When we battle in dnd, i used to use a 1 inch grid map laminated and used dry erase markers on it. It worked well, but it wasnt as visually pleasing. I searched the internet near and far, and found several solutions, but most were usually too expensive or time consuming. Like worldworksgames products here.

Then i found something else. There is a tabletop strategy game made by Hasbro alled Heroscape. It utilizes stackable hex tiles, creating some awesome landscapes. This would be a simple easy solution to making visually appealing and dynamic terrains and settings, but again its waaaaay too expensive, and it uses hex tiles.

So i got an idea. Does anyone remebers the family board game called UpWords? It was pretty much a game of scrabble with stackable letter tiles. See where im going with this?


I had figured out a way to make that boardgame into 1" square stackable terrain for our DnD games, and it works GREAT!


Here's what i figured out:


First things first. You go out and raid every single local thrift store you can get your hands on, and purchase all the copies of the game UpWords you can find. I was able to find 8 copies (thrift stores usually sell these things at around $2 a box). You are gonna need these letter tiles. Lots of them.


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Next i would recommend washing the letter tiles. These thrift stores are 2nd hand, so you dont know where they've been. Once you have them washed, you want to glue some of them together. The reason for this is you want the tiles to be a quick and easy setup. Something you can do on the fly on the gaming table. If you are having to stack up each and every individual tile one at a time, it takes a while. So with some of them you glue them together. I would say about 30% made into 2x2 tiles, 30% made into 1x2 tiles, and the rest singles. Glue them together and make sure they have a set spacing so they fit easily on the game boards they come with.


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Once you have your tile groups made, paint them. Spray paints do great for doing the base colors. I will explain how to do the details in a bit.


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Now that we have our tile sections made, start thinking of what kind of terrain you want. Of all the tiles had made, i was thinking of a combination of:


  • rocky ground (outdoor set)

  • cave floor dirt (dungeon set)

  • dungeon floor coblestone (dungeon set)

  • outdoor road coblestone (outdoor set)

  • grassy (outdoor set)

  • volcanic rock (outdoor set)

The quickest way to do this is get some printable sticker paper, and find on the internet some textures (google images was invaluable for this) and print the textures onto the paper. Cut them up into squares that fit the tile tops and stick them on.


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Now for your game board. As you may notice, one of the game boards isnt nearly big enough for what you need (around 10" x 10") so i had the idea to combine them. I took 4 of the boards and cut off some of the sides and glued them together on the bottom.


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Then spray painted the top. I did this too for a dungeon set.


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And VOILA! Quick and easy stackable gaming terrain. We played with these and they were quick to setup and visually appealing at the same time. We also played with the dungeon set and i came up with a cool way to pull that off. I noticed that there was some space inbetween the tiles. So i printed off some cardstock with textures of cave and dungeon walls. I found i could stick these inbetween the tiles and they would stay standing. This made it feel as though your characters were actually enclosed inside, as apposed to just moving around on a map.


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There you have it. The best way i found to make things all the more awesome for your games. It took a lot of time to make and set up, but the ending result is very pleasing. And all this from several copies of the old milton bradley game of UpWords.


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UPDATE: Simple trees, shrubs, and water.


My whole purpose with this project is simplicity. To make you terrain all the more pleasing, i could go into using sculpting clays and painting, but i wont. I like to keep it simple and yet make it as good as possible.


You can add more realism to your outdoor terrain by adding things like trees and shrubs. For this i went out to a pet store and got a bunch of cheap aquarium plants.


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You will end up cutting these up a lot, and you will use pretty much every part, including the reddish roots at the bottom of the big ones.


First i plant to mount them to some of my greenery tiles. You will need to 'drill' some holes into them for mounting the plants. I just used my x-acto knife.


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Next by trimming off the thick bottoms of the trees, i glued the bases and inserted the trees.


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I did it on a 1x2 tile because a single may be too small and could tip over easily. Also i would recommend mounting trees and bushes near the outer edges of the tiles so you can still fit mini's on them.


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That's pretty much it.


Next i move onto making simple water terrain. I just measured how big a 2x2 and 1x2 tileset was, and printed off some water texture on some cardstock. I then cut them out into pieces like this:


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The greener ones are smaller and for my indoor dungeon set, for murky cave/sewer waters. These pieces fit easily into spaces between tiles, so it looks like actual receding water.


Now for a showcase of all these principles:


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Thats it. Again you could make this look a lot more realistic by individually texturing each and every tile and detailed painting and flocking, but for this im just keeping it simple and cheap.


 


EDIT: Some of the photos keep dissapearing. Visit my profile page for all of them. All here are uploaded there.

very nice :D

Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?" I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"

Wow, that looks really good and a great way to be creative! Thanks for sharing your idea!


Do you ever have problems with the stacked titles falling off? (map falling apart?)

Long Live Dragonlance and the Nexus! I still want an athasian nightmare beast and a warforged dragon mini! "Look, Meat, I'll tear your face off, rip your throat out and eat what's left-because that's what I do to food like you." ~Thrikreen Intimidation Tactic.
My Custom 4th edition Content (New Content:2)
* My Personal 4e Darksun Material found below: Updated Weapon Options. (critical impact, repair, salvage) http://www.4shared.com/document/bMZK2PNy/Updated_Optional_Darksun_Weapo.html 4th edition Athasian Sloth v1.2 (includes three monster write ups and a new disease) http://www.4shared.com/document/lj561SRh/4th_edition_Athasian_Sloth_v10.html 4th edition Athasian Flailer v1.0 http://www.4shared.com/document/JGi9PqSe/4th_edition__Athasian_Flailer_.html


Wow, that looks really good and a great way to be creative! Thanks for sharing your idea!


Do you ever have problems with the stacked titles falling off? (map falling apart?)




Nope. Again when you combine some of the tiles, they become a lot more sturdy. The staple structure builder is the 2x2 sets. Those make up the foundations of pretty much anything. The singles and 1x2 sets make up the top part and make things more interesting.


So the whole gameplay was pretty much solid. It even withstood a couple table bumps without a single piece falling off.


The nice thing about this is you can make rules for the terrain and movement. We ruled that each tile had a height of about 5'. So it just took an extra speed point to move up one tile. The Elves' wild step would negate that of course.



Wow, that looks really good and a great way to be creative! Thanks for sharing your idea!


Do you ever have problems with the stacked titles falling off? (map falling apart?)




Nope. Again when you combine some of the tiles, they become a lot more sturdy. The staple structure builder is the 2x2 sets. Those make up the foundations of pretty much anything. The singles and 1x2 sets make up the top part and make things more interesting.


So the whole gameplay was pretty much solid. It even withstood a couple table bumps without a single piece falling off.


The nice thing about this is you can make rules for the terrain and movement. We ruled that each tile had a height of about 5'. So it just took an extra speed point to move up one tile. The Elves' wild step would negate that of course.





Thats really awesome, man. Good job on this! Terrain builders rock!
Long Live Dragonlance and the Nexus! I still want an athasian nightmare beast and a warforged dragon mini! "Look, Meat, I'll tear your face off, rip your throat out and eat what's left-because that's what I do to food like you." ~Thrikreen Intimidation Tactic.
My Custom 4th edition Content (New Content:2)
* My Personal 4e Darksun Material found below: Updated Weapon Options. (critical impact, repair, salvage) http://www.4shared.com/document/bMZK2PNy/Updated_Optional_Darksun_Weapo.html 4th edition Athasian Sloth v1.2 (includes three monster write ups and a new disease) http://www.4shared.com/document/lj561SRh/4th_edition_Athasian_Sloth_v10.html 4th edition Athasian Flailer v1.0 http://www.4shared.com/document/JGi9PqSe/4th_edition__Athasian_Flailer_.html

Just wanted to throw more kudos at you, too. That's good stuff!

You should blog or wiki this as well, since the post will eventually drop into nowhereland. There's a lot of good ideas like this that come up, get some kudos, then disappear.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

As others have said, those look awesome. Very nice job.

That is cute and adorable! Thank you for sharing.

IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)

Another post just to say really nice work! That is really cool.

Long Live the Lance! Give us 4e DL!

I applaude your creativness and cleverness!

Kudos, certainly great work! It looks awesome, but...


 


...I thought you were looking for options that were not time consuming? Tongue out

I was thinking of doing something like this with the millions of old legos I have in the atic.


You should blog or wiki this as well, since the post will eventually drop into nowhereland. There's a lot of good ideas like this that come up, get some kudos, then disappear.




I did put this in my blog first and linked it in my sig. Im going to add this link and a few others to my sig as well. Ive done a couple projects for my roleplaying games and plan to do some more in the future.


 


Thanks all for showing interest. Next step for me will be to get some of these plastic aquarium plants mounted onto some of the tiles to make actual trees and bushes.

Absolutely brilliant.

With the proper supplies, one could create casts of the pieces you have made and cast them en masse.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

Nice work! When you started describing the process I wasn't expecting the end results to look so good.


It got me wondering - with this new forum has anyone created a group for this sort of thing? I had a quick look but couldn't find anything although I may be using the wrong terms. It would be good to have a group where people could post ideas of various different ways of making terrain and scenery, uploading photos of what they have done etc.


What do people think?

I'd join such a group!

Genius right there.


I'm using lots of Fish Aquarium stuff, gravel, dungeon tiles etc. 3d Terrain looks and works SOOOO much better than 2d.

http://guild.medialoungeca.com/index.php?action=forum The Guild I'm apart of. We're in WOW, STO, Rift and soon Star Wars feel free to register and hang out. http://sparkster11.deviantart.com/ my deviantart Wheelman of the House of Trolls, "I love it when you watch" Carrier of Section 2, 3 and 6 cargo. Resident Driver Stud God of Transportation and Lust.

That is great!!

Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere

Awesome, but one question:


How are you gluing the tiles together?


It looks like you are just putting them on the board and pouring glue on them, but I would suspect they would be quite flimsy if that were the case.


Cool project though I'm definitely going to try it.


Genius right there.


I'm using lots of Fish Aquarium stuff, gravel, dungeon tiles etc. 3d Terrain looks and works SOOOO much better than 2d.




You should check out Hirst Arts if you really want to get into 3D.

I do, and it's awesome.


dungeon01.jpg


dungeon03.jpg


dungeon10.jpg


Awesome, but one question:


How are you gluing the tiles together?


It looks like you are just putting them on the board and pouring glue on them, but I would suspect they would be quite flimsy if that were the case.


Cool project though I'm definitely going to try it.




It was a process i had to figure out. In reality there are 2 different sets of the game UpWords. Theres an older set (smaller game board, but larget tiles), then the newer set (larger game board, but smaller tiles). I decided to use the old set for outdoors and the new sets for my indoor dungeons.


With the old set you cannot just glue the tiles straight together with nothing inbetween them. I had to find something to make some space between so they all fit on the board. Oddly enough i found the right spacer. It was the leftover sprues from the star wars card game with the little models you could assemble.


I found if i cut those into tiny strips, glue one to one side of the tile with a superglue, and glue the tile to the other side, they were the right distance apart to all fit on the game board. Im sure sprues from that pirates game where you build the ships would work too.


Now for the newer sets of the game, with the smaller tiles, it wasnt so simple. That was where i had to put the tiles on the game board, and get cement type of glue that wouldnt run so i could suspend it between the tiles at the spacing provided by the game board. This Elmer's Craft Bond Ultra Stix All glue worked perfect:


www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=ca...


You have to be careful because you dont want any glue to stick up above the side walls of each tile or else other tiles wont be able to stack on top.


 


It was a process i had to figure out. In reality there are 2 different sets of the game UpWords. Theres an older set (smaller game board, but larget tiles), then the newer set (larger game board, but smaller tiles). I decided to use the old set for outdoors and the new sets for my indoor dungeons.


With the old set you cannot just glue the tiles straight together with nothing inbetween them. I had to find something to make some space between so they all fit on the board. Oddly enough i found the right spacer. It was the leftover sprues from the star wars card game with the little models you could assemble.


I found if i cut those into tiny strips, glue one to one side of the tile with a superglue, and glue the tile to the other side, they were the right distance apart to all fit on the game board. Im sure sprues from that pirates game where you build the ships would work too.


Now for the newer sets of the game, with the smaller tiles, it wasnt so simple. That was where i had to put the tiles on the game board, and get cement type of glue that wouldnt run so i could suspend it between the tiles at the spacing provided by the game board. This Elmer's Craft Bond Ultra Stix All glue worked perfect:


www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=ca...


You have to be careful because you dont want any glue to stick up above the side walls of each tile or else other tiles wont be able to stack on top.




Thanks for the quick reply.


With the older sets-you just clued the card stock in between--so the spacing equals the thickness of the card?


For the smaller tiles-that didn't get on the board and become hard to remove?


One more question/suggestion: a 1x4(even 1x3) tile would allow for doorways and such-but may be too flimsy?


Very Cool though I'm definitely going to try this very soon.


Thanks for the quick reply.


With the older sets-you just clued the card stock in between--so the spacing equals the thickness of the card?


For the smaller tiles-that didn't get on the board and become hard to remove?


One more question/suggestion: a 1x4(even 1x3) tile would allow for doorways and such-but may be too flimsy?


Very Cool though I'm definitely going to try this very soon.




Yes, that card sprue was the thickness needed. For example, you set 2 single tiles side by side on the game board and a space appears inbetween them. If you glued them together with no space the tile set would not seat properly on the board or other tiles.


For the smaller tiles, again you would use a thick glue, one that doesnt run. You apply the glue to one side of the tile, set it on the board, and stick another tile adjacent to it. Occasionally a little bit of the glue may droop down or queeze onto the game board, but you can remedy that by simply budging the tiles every 2 hours or so to break them free from that.


I considered doing longer or larger tile sets, but they were too flimsy. 2x2 was about as big as i could get for a sturdy build, and that was generally enough for building any structure. If you want to do some long pieces to span 2 heights, like a bridge, all you need to do is clip the bottoms of the pieces together using small binder clips:


www.officemax.com/office-supplies/clips-...


Let me know when you make something like this, i would like to see pictures of your creations as well.

I updated the first post in this thread with instructions and pictures on making simple trees shrubs and water effects.

Thats great! Thanks for posting and thanks for the tips/inspiration.

Sorry for all the questions, one more if you don't mind:


How do you store the tiles, especially the ones with terrain elements?


Sorry for all the questions, one more if you don't mind:


How do you store the tiles, especially the ones with terrain elements?




Remember all those UpWords boxes you have now? Most of those come with a divider used to store the tiles. 4 of those dividers will fit into one box:



There you go! Just be careful when transporting the box to game shops and stuff, and dont tip it.


No problem with the questions. Keep em coming

That, my friends, is why the game is still alive and kicking; the creativity banks are still able to lend.


Take care.

Hey! Do you just keep this at home? How quick can you change the rooms? Is this new and only used 4ED or have you used in with anyother systems? (Can't see why it wouldn't work.)


:-)

GAMMA WORLD Wuv D&D: Beyond the RPG - Transcript This is a complete transcript. http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/22329697?sdb=1&pg=last#390668593 The audio file is in this News Archive http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/DNDXP 2010 D&D Product Overview (47 minutes into the Audio) http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/22329697?sdb=1&pg=last#390928045


Hey! Do you just keep this at home? How quick can you change the rooms? Is this new and only used 4ED or have you used in with anyother systems? (Can't see why it wouldn't work.)


:-)




So far i've only used it at home. I plan to showcase it at our gameshop this gameday on the 19th. We might even play on it.

The rooms change very quickly. With my indoor duneon set, i just lay out the foor pieces, then i stick on the wall pieces which fit inbetween the tile spaces.


So far we've only used it for 4th edition, but it could definitely work for any other game. The nice thing about these tiles is they make a 1" grid map, which is compatible with most games. Even tabletop strategy games that dont use squares and use rulers for movement will work too.


This system only creates the terrain, not the game. Games like mage knight, warhammer, dnd minis, etc, all could work on anything you can make for terrain. This system just helps you utilize a stackable tileset. Again my main source of inspiration was how they did the terrain for the game Heroscape. Go check it out.


www.hasbro.com/games/kid-games/heroscape...


 

Of course, there's also the D&D Heroscape game.


www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/2...


Of course, there's also the D&D Heroscape game.


www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drfe/2...





I can not find the reference!
GAMMA WORLD Wuv D&D: Beyond the RPG - Transcript This is a complete transcript. http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/22329697?sdb=1&pg=last#390668593 The audio file is in this News Archive http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/DNDXP 2010 D&D Product Overview (47 minutes into the Audio) http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/22329697?sdb=1&pg=last#390928045