How We Created Terrain Wizard 2.5D RPG Tiles

When we were researching Role Playing Game (RPG) terrain for a post, we went straight to Dungeons and Dragons (DnD). The staff at Wizards of the North (WotN) created card sets as part of their original game offerings. At first Dungeon Masters (DM’s) used the cards to play out the encounters provided by WotN. Eventually, DM’s wanted more creative control over the encounters. This meant new terrain.

DM’s started creating their own terrain. Hand-drawn maps on butcher’s paper were the first solution. Then came an assortment of printed modular tiles. These were a step up. When Dwarven Forge created commercially available 3D tiles, it seemed like the ultimate answer.

But DM’s like DM Scotty found there were some shortcomings to these tiles. They blocked the DM’s view of the encounter. Everyone kept knocking them over as they played. While they are beautiful, they are heavy and expensive. He felt he had a better answer – 2.5D tiles.

2.5D tiles introduced short walls, which let the DM see the encounter and allowed players to move without scattering the game pieces. He even fixed the weight and cost problem by crafting his own tiles from scrap corrugated paper. Clearly, DM Scotty enjoys the crafting part of creating 2.5D tiles. Plus he plays a grid-free game. This led to a closet full of unique terrain pieces.

The next step forward came from down under. The DM G took the 2.5D tile and made it modular. Now a much smaller set of reusable tiles can build an almost unlimited range of terrain. But it still required everyone to craft their own tiles.

A J Pickett saw the advantage of the modular 2.5D tile but wasn’t really interested in spending his time painting tiles. So he worked with the people at Heroic Maps to create printable modular dungeon kits that could be used to create 2.5D tiles. You still have to go dumpster diving for corrugated paper, but you don’t have to be an artist to create great looking tiles.

This is the point where Terrain Wizard comes into the story.  First we found a lightweight sturdy material to create tiles – MDF.  We use a laser to cut modular shapes; because, we all have limited storage space.  Then we etched a 1 inch (25mm) grid on the tiles for easy game play.  Finally, we added the rock dungeon walls.  You can play them right out of the bag or apply your own custom finish first.

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