Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Weekly Update - Sunday, May 8th - Small Projects, Great Satisfaction

The tiles used to look like this...
Now, they look like this.

The blue cobblestone room is made up of two sections;
it matches up very well, I think...

Every now and then, I get a small project done that gives me a lot of satisfaction. This week, I'm happy to say that one of these has gotten done, and I'm delighted with the way it all turned out.

As I mentioned a while back, I support three different world-settings - not sets of rules, settings - and so I had wanted some sort of underworld / dungeon / corridor system to use in adventures. I've tried a number of very good systems for this kind of thing, over the years, and the biggest issue I've had with all of them has been set-up time. It really slows adventures down when the GM is fiddling with a kit of parts, so I wanted something that was generic, easy to store, almost indestructible, and easy to use in game play. And cheap, too.

I eventually settled on using the off-cuts of MDF that I had left over from making all the modular terrain tiles for the new game table; these are about a 1/4" thick, and were destined for the trash if I didn't think of a use for them. I originally painted them in the same color that I use for the majority of my figures' bases, but the notion of using a Sharpie Fine-point marker to draw in all the flagstones just left me cold.

What to do? I looked for stencils, and didn't find anything useful; I looked for wallpaper, and didn't find anything in stock - you have to order it, and it's expensive - and finally found 12" x 12" sheets of patterned paper at one of the local crafts stores. (Jo Ann Fabrics, actually!) The price was right: $0.47 a sheet, so I got plenty in order to do the project and still have something in stock for the future. I got three patterns - two blue 'cobblestone' and 'tiled', one 'cork' - for some variety.

After that, it was simple. Coat the piece with a thinned mix of glue - I did 1 part water to three parts Elmer's PVC glue - and press the coated 'tile' down onto the paper. Let dry. I then used a razor knife to trim the 'tile' away from the sheet, and there we are - a set of rooms and corridors, very modular, and very durable.

I'm very pleased with the result, and the price can't be beat. Comments? :)


  1. My only comment is that I am as jealous right now as a Ngi-lizard watching you sit down with a bowl of delicious Chumetl......

    1. Thank you! :) This is a pretty basic little project, and it took about two hours to get the paper pasted onto the MDF. look around your family and friends - maybe there's somebody who's a craftsman type, and can cut the MDF for you; I got the sheets at Home Depot in their 'scratch and dent' lumber section for a couple of bucks each.

      I got the idea for doing this after I saw the commercially published tile sets at the local FLGS; they look good, but I fear that my very clever players would recognize the tiles the second time around, especially with the pre-printed furnishings. I favor a style of play where the furnishings are part of the action, so doing generic 'blank' tiles suits me a but better. It's all in how you play, really!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I had hoped that people might like these; I wanted something that used up all the surplus stuff I have lying in the parts bins, and still looked good. The 'cork' pattern is very subtle, and the blue very bold - which should tell adventurers that Something Is Up... :)

  3. Hi Chirine,

    I am from Late For The Sky, a board game manufacteruer in Cincinnati, OH. We would love to have you review our newest game Fantasy-opoly on your site. Could I send you an email with more information?

    Jessica Staub
    Late for the Sky
    513/531-4400 x100

    1. Thank you for your e-mail, and your time on the phone this afternoon. Watch this space... :)

  4. Ugh! Trying to comment using my phone resulted in blogger eating my comments. Suffice is to say, A) looks good, and B) I've had good success with JoAnn's contact paper for projects myself...though nothing quite so ambitious.

    [maybe not ambitious for YOU, O Crafty One, but me...yes]

    : )

    1. I hear you - I'm having issues as well.

      Thank you for the kind words! I like doing these little 'afternoon projects' and I think this one turned out well. I did have some issues with bubbles and wrinkles in the plain paper that I was gluing down, but nothing too serious.

      "O Crafty One"? :)

      Next thing you know, I'll be shooing cultists out of the basement where they worship the workbench, and somebody will write the RPG "Call of Chirine"... :)

  5. So I have a question - your tiles are not gridded so do you simply measure with a ruler or measuring tape for movement or just "eyeball" figure movement?

    1. Generally, we used to just 'eyeball' the moves in situations like this, as the movement rates given in both EPT and "Chainmail" were normally much longer then any reasonably-sized room was. The 'Doomkill' in EPT, for example, had a maximum range of 240" on the table; it's very rare to get that long a clear line of sight, indoors.

      I have a huge stock of both 6" and 12" rulers for players to use, and we've found that this pretty much covers all the situations we've encountered below ground or indoors. Outdoors, the tape measures do come in very handy.

      I'm not very fond of grids on floors; I do like them as aids to drawing rooms and walls on battlemats, but there's a tendency to think in 'squares' when players look at grids - both hex and square. I'm a big fan of the 'Free Kriegspiel' approach, which is what we used way back at the dawn of time (in the 1970s), and I like to make players think in terms of 'rooms' and 'corners' when the are adventuring down here - thinking like their PCs would have to, in a situation like this.

      And it does seem to speed up game play - see my videos on my YouTube channel for a sample underworld game, such as these tiles would be used for...

      (There! Got it right, this time!)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Ignore this; I messed up, the first time around...