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Kang

HirstArts dungeons - interior walls eating up floorspace?

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Me and my D&D group took our big pot of unused $2-each-weekly-dues (collected to fund purchases of prepainted WotC minis, dollar-store terrain/animals/various accessories, and anything else that would benefit the whole group's gaming experience, so that whoever takes the initiative to pick up some gaming supplies for the group doesn't end up having to foot the bill) and bought a bunch of HirstArts molds and a 50 lb. box of dental plaster. This was several months ago, maybe more like a year. Maybe longer; I don't actually want to think about how long they've sat there rarely being used. The idea was that we'd build a bunch of rooms, hallways, etc., that we could assemble on the fly during our games, rather than always make do with messy erasable markers and laminated grids. Since then, our party in one of our 2 alternating campaigns has come into ownership of a large castle, which we'd also like to try building with HirstArts blocks.

 

The problem is, after we got the molds & plaster and experimented a little with the bits we'd cast, we realized that just using 1" floor tiles and 1/2" wide wall sections would cause some problems when it came to narrow hallways and small rooms. Most D&D dungeon maps in our experience have interior walls that are little more than just darker-than-usual lines on the grid, whereas the HirstArts walls are half the width of a square floor tile. So if you straddle the walls on the gridlines, they eat up a 1/4" strip - a significant amount of the squares that are adjacent to the walls. Not a big deal in large rooms, but when you are building 5' wide hallways and 5' square rooms, the walls on either side eat up half the width of the hallway or room, leaving no room for the minis. Most of the sample dungeon images I've seen where the builders used HirstArts blocks have either every wall as an exterior wall (where the wall pieces can sit outside the corridors and eat up 1/2" of the adjacent 'front lawn' or 'buried underground' square without bothering anyone much), or only have interior walls in large rooms (where you can put a mini up against the wall and have it hang partway into the adjacent square without causing major problems).

 

I know some of you guys & gals have build HirstArts pieces for gaming, whether it be set pieces or modular dungeon terrain. I know this because some of you have said so in other threads related to HirstArts creations. I didn't want to be a thread-jacker, so here I am in a brand new topic. I'm wondering how you folks who've done some dabbling already have dealt with this issue. Our group thought about putting 1/2" spacer tiles between the floor squares where walls would stand, but then once the map goes through a doorway or the hallway turns a corner, you end up with your grid being out of alignment by 1/2" eventually. We also considered just not having hallways and rooms that are 5' wide (note for non-D&D'ers: the game uses a 1" square on the battle grid to represent a 5' square of terrain), but that seems like an unreasonable limitation for the amount of money we shelled out for this stuff and given the types of dungeons we seem to tend to end up exploring. The latest thing I've come up with was after I saw this game board on the HirstArts site. What they did was to put in 1/2" spacers on the floor between every tile, which would avoid the grid-going-out-of-alignment problem associated with the first option I described above. Essentially, they made the gridlines wide enough that a wall can sit on the line without taking up space on the adjacent floor sections. This leaves room for the minis in every square that is meant to be playable. The only drawback is that there would be all those extra 1/2" spacer tiles between the playable squares where there are no walls, which could potentially get a bit confusing for players who are trying to count up 5' squares for their PC's movements. I suppose one could paint the spacers a different color than the actual floor tiles, but that would change the way the whole place looks. It would also make anything built this way half-again as large as it would be without the 1/2-inch "gridlines", and it wouldn't work well in combination with a regular laminated 1" grid (which has gridlines that don't take up any appreciable space) in those times when you might otherwise want to quickly add some terrain without having to search for the right HirstArts modular bits. But despite these drawbacks, so far it seems like it might be the best option...

 

So, how did all you Hirst Artists out there handle this, if at all? Is there some other trick my group hasn't thought of yet for recreating maps where the interior walls are just lines? I hope I've explained all this clearly enough to make myself understood, and that some other HirstArts users here have thought about this before (hopefully coming up with some ingenious solution in the process).

 

So, let's hear your ideas, folks!

 

Thanks,

 

Kang

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I don't make dungeons from pre-created maps. For exactly that reason. I can't think of any way to make the exact plan using HA because of the thickness issues.

 

There are thinner wall pieces on the Dungeon Builder mold but you would either need to make a custom mold or cast them a LOT to make any decent amount of dungeon walls.

 

There's been some good builds without walls. The tile section serves as the corridor and wall. Here's the thread showing how it was done. It is surprisingly effective and we were all in d'oh moment when it was posted.

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When my group used them prior to our top down projector setup, I made some loose tiles and painted them red. We then used these red tiles as "voids" where movement wasn't allowed for these circumstances you mentioned.

 

That's at least how my group worked with preprinted plans. Before we cam up with the "void" idea, we were just adding that extra space in the tiles into the mix (until one of our rules lawyers threw a hissy fit).

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I don't make dungeons from pre-created maps. For exactly that reason. I can't think of any way to make the exact plan using HA because of the thickness issues.

 

There are thinner wall pieces on the Dungeon Builder mold but you would either need to make a custom mold or cast them a LOT to make any decent amount of dungeon walls.

 

There's been some good builds without walls. The tile section serves as the corridor and wall. Here's the thread showing how it was done. It is surprisingly effective and we were all in d'oh moment when it was posted.

Yeah, that is pretty cool - thanks for the link... But it is also an example of a dungeon where pretty much every wall is an exterior wall, and it is the interior walls that are giving me and my group some grief. I agree this style is the way to go when no 2 rooms are adjacent to each other and there's lots of room in the unused space between rooms where you can put the walls (or not, in this case), and we do have some tiles set up & glued together that we do some stuff like this on the fly with. I'm more concerned with how to set up interior walls that separate adjacent rooms, like you'd find in, say, a house or a castle. The castle we are planning to build also has several storeys to it, so walls of some kind will be a must - the second floor has to sit on top of the first floor's walls, and so on. Hopefully some good-enough method will reveal itself so I don't have to talk the group into funding the purchase of another mold (ie. with skinnier walls), especially since we've gotten so little use out of the first batch so far. I'm assuming you were pointing out the pix in the first post in that link - the linked file in that post with more pictures isn't working anymore, so if it was something in there you were referring to, I guess I missed out on that. Thanks again for the feedback!
When my group used them prior to our top down projector setup, I made some loose tiles and painted them red. We then used these red tiles as "voids" where movement wasn't allowed for these circumstances you mentioned.

 

That's at least how my group worked with preprinted plans. Before we cam up with the "void" idea, we were just adding that extra space in the tiles into the mix (until one of our rules lawyers threw a hissy fit).

Hmm. I'm having trouble visualizing what you mean here. Not certain which circumstances you mean that I mentioned would prohibit movement - I am more concerned with places where movement should be allowed, but where the walls keep you from being able to put a mini there. Also unsure what was meant by, "adding that extra space in the tiles into the mix." Could be I'm just having an decades-early senior's moment on something that's obvious to everyone else here, in which case I apologize for spacing out on you like that. But in any case, could you elaborate a bit on those items and on your 'voids' system in general?

 

Wait a minute, you have a top down projector setup?!? [drools enviously] Nice. And I thought I had a big-spending game group, what with all the molds and the big box of plaster and all... That must be fun to use!

 

Thanks for all the feedback so far, all.

 

Kang

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You don't need to worry about multiple stories stacking. Just place them next to each other. Moving a decently sized built piece around on mdf gives me hives just thinking about it.

 

For interior walls use strips of plastic or paper. Lay them down on the tiles.

 

As always you're making a representation of the place. Nothing will be exact and it's a darn sight better than battle mats for pure visual enjoyment.

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The simplest solution is to sacrifice the 1” or 2” required for your walls and redesign the maps. A bulky wall is more “realistic” structurally speaking than a paper thin wall in a fantasy setting (take that with a huge suspension of belief grain of salt please :poke: ). Even with ground tiles only, this solves more issues than it creates. If you have the wall ride the grid lines and make ½” “gutters” in the rooms and hallways, it makes reaching in and playing with miniatures a whole lot easier.

 

I made my 3d dungeon with 2” walls to coincide with my 10’ per square maps, and when you go below a 30’x30’ room, it gets cramped rather quickly. Another alternative is just to go bigger, with 40’x 40’ being the “small rooms”. Besides, allows more room for décor. :lol:

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The more I think about it, the more I think that for building dungeons on-the-fly during a game, Rastl's idea of using thin strips of plastic or paper that can just be stuck between the floor tiles would be the way to go, at least when walls are required - ie. interior walls separating adjacent rooms. After all - Rastl's right that only a basic representation is needed for this usage. Maybe I'll look into some of the cardstock stuff like WorldWorks or what have you for walls. But the castle we're thinking about building is about as much for the fun of building a cool model as it is about playability (we already destroyed or ran off all the vampires who used to live there, hence the castle as our home base, and it's not like we're hoping for a prolonged seige so we can get a chance to use it in play... but the option would be nice should that ever happen!), so I think we're probably going to continue trying to figure out some way to be able to stack the different levels on top of each other so as to be able to assemble the entire castle as a whole when it is not in play. Perhaps we're being overly ambitious about this; time will tell. The castle has several 5' wide secret passages/rooms, etc., which is a big part of the trouble we're having, so I think we're only really likely to do much redesigning of the layout if it's absolutely necessary and we can't work out some other way to deal with the various tight spaces.

 

Thaks for all the suggestions so far, folks! Keep'em coming if anyone has any more - I'll be checking the thread for new posts. I promise to post some pix too, if we ever actually get the darn thing built.

 

Kang

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If you could post a link to the layout you have in mind I know I could give more coherent answers. Right now we're going on a lot of 'if I want to do X' situations.

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Well, one thing to consider - unless you use paper, plasticard, or another thin material for the build, you're pretty much going to have the same problem regardless of material - foamcore, wood, etc, though maybe not to the same degree. Even if you were to scale your castle plans up to build it to a 1:1 ratio, you'l have similar build problems, IE, your interior rooms would lose some area, though the amounts would probably be acceptable to you.

 

Having been a student of architecture, this is a pet peeve of mine with a lot of dungeon and castle designs I see in modules, books and online. Too many of them are drawn to the convenience of the paper or module, and structurally, they aren't possible to build, or will be rather flimsy structures if they are built, or are otherwise impractical.

 

With that in mind, it may be easier and better for your build in the long run to tweak your castle plans so that the castle can be built with the molds you have, rather than find a way around the build the problems you now face. Depending on how many interior walls you actually have, and the shape of the castle, redesigning it shouldn't be all that hard, and probably won't add significantly to the overall dimensions - At 1/2" thick walls, you're looking at 1" for every 2 to 4 interior walls in a given cross section. Since you're considering building it as a model, I can't imagine it would be that big to begin with.

 

If the castle plans you have are online, or you have them in an electronic format, I wouldn't mind taking a look at them for you to give you a better idea of how hard they'll be to tweak, and still keep the feel of the castle as it is. PM me a message if you like.

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Hmmm. Well, the castle is from an issue of Dungeon magazine. An old enough issue that no maps are online on Paizo's site... I don't even have the issue # - our group's other DM ran this adventure. So the best I could do would be to get him to email me some scanned images and PM them to you 2 (namely Rast & K65, who've asked to see the existing layout). I'm not sure it'd be wise to post scanned images from the mag directly on the boards what with copyright laws etc!

 

I used to play under a DM whose dungeons always had 5' thick (ie. 1" on a 1" grid) walls. Too bad this castle wasn't designed that way! I agree with Kristof that the basic problem comes from the way the maps were drawn, with walls as thin as the gridlines on graph paper.

 

I realize there's probably no perfect solution to this; if I want to have levels that can be stacked, I need (at least some) real walls, and to make the real walls I'll either have to do some minor redesigning of the layout or try using half-inch-wide tiles to make 'gridlines' thick enough for the walls to sit on without any overlap as per the game board linked in my OP, or be willing to live with some narrow corridors that no minis can fit in.

 

After taking look at the maps yesterday though, I'm now starting to think it might not be that hard to redesign things just a little bit and make it work OK after all. There are really only a couple of places with 2 narrow hallways adjacent to each other that would be the trickiest parts to redesign, and I suppose using cardstock or thin plastic or something for just those walls that have no adjacent large rooms to move over into easily would probably be an acceptable compromise.

 

Once this is settled, me and the guys are gonna have to figure out how to deal with the castle's 3 different diameters of spiral staircases and its round tower section, none of which we have molds for! We may have to actually go out of pocket and pay for some new molds ourselves, as the rest of the group still occasionally grumbles about how little we actually use any of the HirstArts stuff we blew our dues pot on the first time... (not that they've ever taken the initiative to use the D&D fund and add anything to our gaming gear themselves, of course). Guess we ought to start building more of that modular dungeon terrain while we're at it, to keep them at bay...

 

Thanks for all the tips and suggestions, all!

 

Kang

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Time for me to .. err.. 'promote' yet another friend's online shop. Normally I use a verb that isn't quite so polite :;):

 

You can buy individual castings for the unique areas you have. That's probably more efficient than buying molds you really don't need right now. Here's my buddy's web site Higher Ground Games. If he doesn't have the mold(s) you want just drop him a line and let him know. He's expanding to fit requirements instead of just buying all the molds in one go.

 

And let him know Rastl sent ya. I'm not sure if it is good for a discount but at least he'll know how word is getting around.

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Time for me to .. err.. 'promote' yet another friend's online shop. Normally I use a verb that isn't quite so polite :;):

 

You can buy individual castings for the unique areas you have. That's probably more efficient than buying molds you really don't need right now. Here's my buddy's web site Higher Ground Games. If he doesn't have the mold(s) you want just drop him a line and let him know. He's expanding to fit requirements instead of just buying all the molds in one go.

 

And let him know Rastl sent ya. I'm not sure if it is good for a discount but at least he'll know how word is getting around.

"Forbidden by rating check

 

You are not permitted to access this URL due to the policy of your organization..."

(only with the "Forbidden by rating check" in big, red, "ohnoimgonnagetfired"-style letters that my tag-fu is ill-equipped to recreate)

 

Denied! Blast it all!

 

I'll have to try that link again when I'm at home. Sadly, I only have dial-up access there, which is why I do most of this stuff during downtime at the office. It's the one way in which I'm sort of glad we only have 5 tape drives for our mainframe (lots of waiting for queued-up programs to start running, or for completed input reel #1 to get switched out for #2, etc.). But I digress...

 

Maybe I'll find time to check that tomorrow evening; tonight is D&D night... Probably not going to be doing any castle/dungeon planning/building until Saturday at the earliest anyhow.

 

Thanks very much for the link; that's a cool idea, casting up HA bits for fun AND money! I'm always on the hunt for new sources of gaming gear. I'm sure your friend appreciates the plug also; I'll make sure to mention that, if I should end up ordering anything. (Even if all else fails, maybe it'll get you a discount) ::D:

 

Kang

 

PS. Still no castle map scans, but I'm working on it...

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Most people have already beat me to the punch on most of the suggestions I was going to make, like Using card stock for walls, and re-drawing the map.

 

 

However I do have one other piece of advice. And after remembering that my phone has a camera, I have some crappy pictures to illustrate what I am talking about. (I hope I don't crap out your dial-up connection)

 

 

After much gnashing of teeth my boyfriend and I decided to put the walls in the middle of a floor tile, and just use this as 'dead space' to help maneuver minis around in.

 

Here is an example of a 20 X 15 foot room with a 5 foot wide hallway:

 

03-01-08_0840.jpg

 

 

With a View from above:

 

03-01-08_0841.jpg

 

 

Couple things: 1) I don't like this color scheme, it's too pink. I will be changing it. 2) sorry that all the pieces aren't painted yet, we moved in the middle of this project. 2) We are still in proof of concept for the doors. So don't take the columns as our solution. We have gone to columns over plus signs for the corners because in some cases they make a smoother transition. We think we are going to make 'door toppers'. Pieces that will fit on either the columns or the plus signs to designate a door.

 

Below is a pick of a door solution that isn't quite working:

 

03-01-08_0843.jpg

 

 

And here is a pick of some of the component parts:

 

03-01-08_0845.jpg

 

 

 

Our goal in building the dungeon in this way is that we wanted to be able to set up the pieces as the characters explored more. Keeping the DM from having to set up everything first and cover it. It works for the most part, but we are always open to other suggestions on doors and corners. =]

 

What we do like is the fact that placing the walls in the center of a tile gives the minis a bit of breathing room, so to speak. And also if there is a room on the other side of the wall you only have to have 1 wall piece and not two. Which saves us casting materials and time.

 

I hope all my picts didn't kill your connection. And once I get my hands on a real camera I will put up some better picts of the whole project.

 

*** Edit - ACK! It looks like spoiler tags are not implemented on this forum. And here I was trying to help save the connections of all those poor unfortunate souls still stuck in the land of Dial-up. :down:

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Honestly I've had he same problem, and I found that the only way to solve it is to forget about using a grid and use a ruler or t square. That way, when you have a 5 foot hallway, just use your ruler to measure out 1 inch on your floor material (foam, styrene, etc) and then put the walls alongside in negative space. If you're using 1-ince HS floor tiles, then all the better, no measuring. I hope I understood you.

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