Terrain

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Instructions, Tips, and Tricks:

Gorilla Glue: to use, or not to use?

Don’t use Gorilla Glue. It expands, bubbles, and then leaves a sticky mess. Just don’t do it! Unless… you’re making beer mugs, and you need white bubbles on top of the glass to look like “foam”. That’s the only use for Gorilla glue.

Basing Materials

Basing the pieces on styrofoam is a good idea. It makes them more resilient to dropping, breaking, and chipping. However, the foam has a different texture than the blocks. One inventive solution is to use a hot knife or hot wire cutter and create a cobblestone or fieldstone look… by hand.

Felt is another good option. It is thinner, and still provides enough padding to prevent chips and breaks.

Don’t use foamcore, or posterboard. It sucks. It bends with time, and then your pieces get messed up, making you look lame.

Corkboard gives it an interesting asthetic, but tends to bend over time also.

The best solution I have found is to BORDER the foam base with real DrakenStone blocks, made of either hydrostone or resin. Resin is best. But even hydrostone works, as most styrofoam comes in 5 milimeters, which is JUST SLIGHTLY HIGHER than our 1/2″ blocks… so when you set the piece down, the hydrostone border blocks don’t actually contact the table.

Have you ever considered NOT BASING your pieces? If you’re careful when you handle them, they won’t break. And, this is the most cosmetically attractive option. Its also completely unnecessary when pouring resin pieces – they’re vitrually unbreakable.

What is 2.5D? And what the heck is 5D???

Graph paper or dry erase grid mats are a standard among D&D players. BORING!!! Printed maps or flat dungeon tiles are slightly more fun because they are printed in color. However, they are still two dimensional. But, at least you can see the board. The difficult thing about using 3D terrain is that it blocks the view of the players.

2.5D means two dimensional, plus a slightly raised border to represent walls. This wall is kept short purposely, because every player hates moving their figure into a building, and then NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE behind the walls. 2.5D terrain has become wildly popular, because it takes MUCH LESS crafting time, and less materials. Plus, the advantage of being able to see the entire game board makes playing the game more rewarding. Slightly raising the walls, even by a half inch, brings a three dimensional feel into a two dimensional space… hence 2.5D.

Now, consider that you’ve made a 2.5D dungeon, complete with flagstone floors and gothic walls. And, lets say you’ve also built a 2.5D medieval tavern, featuring wood plank floors and fieldstone walls. Its too bad that the underside of each piece is wasted. Why not glue together the pieces back to back? Viola. Its 2.5D, plus 2.5D. You to the math.

Hirst Mods

Notice that the gothic dungeons presented on the HirstArts.com website feature rooms and corridors with a half inch around the edges. Why? The answer is simple. Bruce Hirst explains it clearly on his website. As the pieces are glued together, placing the walls ON TOP of the floors creates a stronger glue joint. Placing the walls BESIDE the floors creates a weak glue joint. The pieces are more likely to break if they do not have a base.

I’ve found that basing the pieces on 1/2″ foam provides stability, making the extra half inch unnecessary. This is true weather the material is plaster or resin.

The players in my game disliked the half inch squares around the borders. One reason is wasted space. The other reason is that it causes confusion when playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. Can your character move into half a square? What about a quarter of a square?

So, I’ve taken the time to re-design all the floor plans for all the rooms found on the HirstArts website, using whole 1″ squares for the dungeons. In this photo, the room on the right is the original Hirst plan, and the room on the left is the DrakenStone mod. Notice that the rooms are the same size. Also notice that the walls in the Drakenstone mod are only 1/2″ tall, as opposed to 3/4″ in the Hirst room.

Of course, when MOLDING an entire floor or room, it comes out of the mold IN ONE PIECE, so the discussion of the best way to glue becomes a moot point.

Building Your Own Dungeons:

It is fun and rewarding to make your own designs. Using hallways that are 2″ wide provides the best results. Corridors that are 1″ wide make it difficult to move the figures. Plus, many classic modules feature corridors that are 10 feet wide, which means two squares. Like this:

Notice that the 2″ connections between rooms allows for doors and figures to be moved with ease. DrakenStone 5D rooms, as well as our dungeon tiles, are designed with 2″ connectors.

Since the 2″ connectors work so well, the rooms pictured here all have an even number of squares. For example, 2×2, or 4×4, or 6×6.

Odd numbered rooms (5×5) lend themselves to the “single-wide” corridors, which are one inch wide, and difficult to move figures through. Although, it is fun to mix

Other Terrain Products Available from DrakenStone…

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10 Columns from The Tomb, Mold #56

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5 Columns from Ruined Fieldstone Tower, Mold #75

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Great Room, from The Modular Inn