Take Mapmaking to the Next Dimension

Our modular mapmaking packs are a quick and easy way to get your adventurers started on the right path, so to speak – they are a great addition to your digital games and you can print them out for a quick in-person session. But with time and effort you can take our maps to the next dimension – the third dimension – as Kim Forsell shows us.

[Editor’s Note: Kim is using our Crumbling Citadel printable map set, which includes 15 pages of map materials and cutout features. All of the materials needed for this project can be easily obtained at your local craft or office supply store. ]

Check the slideshow at the end of this post to see more!

As most of you, I have looked all over for good tiles and maps to use in my gaming sessions. There is a lot out there but not all of it is good or usable in your settings. So when I found LoreSmyth map tiles it was like… “Finally!”

A quick download and print later I was holding them in my hands, ready to glue them on to some cardboard. But as I was looking at the colours, ranging from black to musky green to bright yellow… and the cracks on the floors with their depth, it hit me that it looked almost 3D… almost.
They deserved more.

So It Begins. 

Start by cutting an A3 size (11.69″ x 16.53″) black foamboard with paper backing in to A4 size (8.27 x 11.69). I then cut the shapes out with an X-acto knife and separated the walls from the rest.
The next step was to glue them on to the foamboard using regular white glue. Use sparingly so the paper does not warp and spread it out, using a finger, all the way around the edges. The ground piece goes on to a foam board that is big enough to also glue the walls on to it. The walls can be glued to any left over foamboard piece. Since the glue is water based it dries fast. This means that in a few minutes you are ready to start cutting out the shapes from the foamboard.

When the cutting is done you now assemble the wall pieces on to the ground board.

Next we are going to make variations to the height and while we are at it: tilting/skewing, hidden traps/treasures & final touches – let’s go!

Tilting/skewing

Check the slideshow at the end of this post to see more!

Now that we have made a basic tile with two heights, that gives it a good depth, we make our next one following the steps in part 1 but with twist.

Instead of just gluing the walls on the ground tile we cut out a few and re-glue them on another piece of foamboard, before gluing them on the final one. We are then left with a much more interesting dungeon since we have broken the symmetry of the walls. As you see in the photo I have also cut out individual bricks and skewed/tilted them a bit. This increases the randomness and makes the environment more realistic. It also gives us room for our next step: hidden compartments!
What really gets my team exited is when they actually can see where a possible treasure or trap could be just by looking at their environment. So I have always tried to incorporate that in my design of the weekend adventures.

Hidden traps/treasures

So the way I stash my treasures/traps is by hiding them in plain sight (ex. under loose floor tiles) or in individual bricks in the wall that they have to move. Both are easy to do with LoreSmyth tiles since they are very detailed and include a lot of info. (Stones, Moss, cracks etc). This makes hiding an artefact more intuitive since you can cut and paste without disturbing any symmetry, that would make it evident that it has been tampered with. In the background of the photo you can see a few loose tiles made out of copied floor tiles. Under them I may have a picture of a silver amulet, a dart trap or… nothing. When making hidden compartments in a wall, just cut out the stone and put it back in place – it will take some good eye sight to notice it!

The final touches!

Check the slideshow at the end of this post to see more!

This is my favourite part of the process, tinkering with all the bits and pieces that makes it all more believable and fun to experience.

Let’s start with chipping
It is easy to see where you can cut away some excess stone and make it look like there has been some chipping done by the forces of time or heavy axes. Anywhere there are black blotches on the edge of a wall tile, that part can be cut away without interfering with the layout.
Burnishing
Now is a good time to make all the white lines from the cutting vanish. This is done by simply sliding a marker (in case of The Crumbling Citadel a black or dark green marker would suit well) along the edges of the tiles and anywhere else you have chipped away.
Flocking
The tactile part is also an important piece to fully emerge in the moment (don’t forget sounds – Syrinscape is a must!). By putting down some glue and throwing a bit of flocking on it I can make anything from gravel to a dirt pile or some soft moss, depending on what shape and colours I use. In this instance I followed the branching tree and put some flock on it and matched the colours.
You could do lots of more cool stuff such as integrate LED’s to change the mood, have physical furniture (such a from Mantis game) etc. But my finishing touch is by adding the doors and chests provided in the Crumbling Citadel files. I printed them, glued them on to some heavy cardboard and cut them out. I also made sure to cut in to the grooves of the doors to make them more realistic.

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Thanks so much for your hard work and great photos, Kim!

Chase is a writer and D&D fanatic that turned his first character into the subject of a new book series: Abel Mondragon. Other geeky obsessions include obscure TV history, cooking, painting (walls) and finding an appropriate Simpsons quote for any situation.

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