Friday, July 13, 2018

Preparing for Dunjon of Death I :: The Plan


This is my series of images documenting how I'm building out my Dunjon of Death assets for MEST Tactics. There's a lot of work to do.

The Plan

I had two options for myself which I considered.
  1. Either I build a set of doors, rooms, and walls and free-form arrange them at the start of each game session. 
  2. Or I build a standard set of uniformly shaped tiles.

Since I wanted to have a campaign system where players can grow their adventurers and their dungeons, I opted for the tiles. This allows ease of noting configurations. 

Here's what I have as my floor plans.

My floor plans. Each tile is given a unique identifier which will be used during dungeon design. Rooms are labeled A, B, and C for later use with notations on the dungeon layout grid.

The floor plans do not identify doors or gates; these would be added during the start of a game session. What is most critical is that centered at the edges of each tile is (for me) a 7CM connector; this allows me to align the tiles when they are laid out.

All of those brown areas I'll physically create using cork-board. The red walls denote a standard room using 1-inch thick foam board. The actual size and shapes of the rooms doesn't matter; it's just that each of the openings need to be 3-inches (about 7.5 CM) because all of my doors and gate assets will be built slightly narrower in order to fit. This will also allow me some wiggle room if the finished corridors on the dungeon tiles are crafted crookedly.

My corridors are also 3-inches wide because that allows me enough room to have two 30MM figures standing abreast. I could go narrower or wider for the corridors for any future tiles I'd ever build, but I don't think I'd ever go below 4CM or above 12CM and even so that'd be limited to special tiles.

You may notice that the tiles have unique identifiers at the top left of each diagram. I use S for straight-runs, T for T-sections, L for L-sections, X for 4-ways, and E for Ends. The number after each letter (0 to 4) shows how many rooms on the tile, with '4' being a free-for all but generally big rooms. 

I'll also have additional H for Hallway tiles indicating start and end. These are meant to be long halls with stairs leading into / out of the dungeon layouts. It'd be where the adventurers would start a delve and where they'd need to exit.

Dungeon Layout Planner

Although I am constructing these Dunjon of Death tiles for use with my MEST Tactics game, the idea is to inspire others with some of (what I think) are cool ideas for how to layout modular dungeons. Since everything is a tile with standardized naming, I will be able to assign one card for each tile and draw them at random during solo and co-op play. Furthermore, in one-vs-many campaigns, I'll be using a grid which allows me to notate where each tile lays, its orientation, and any connections.

Here's an example "back-of-the-napkin" sketch for a would-be dungeon master after generating the layout using the Dunjon Deck cards.

I am presuming that a game session for Dunjon of Death game lasts roughly 3 Turns per tile before any complications such as locked doors, secret rooms, or combat. So 6 tiles is about 18 Turns at roughly 5 minutes per Turn or 15 minutes per tile.

Here are the cards laid out by random draw from the Dunjon Deck. The pawn I used to represent the Adventurers as the party explored the tiles. The dice with their pips indicates the relative Security Rating of that tile; further from the START tile is more secure.

Here's the recorded version for later reference. The arrows show the orientation of the tile and point to its top. I'll have a separate post about how to use the Dunjon Deck and and how to generate a dunjon, record it, and use it. I think it is fairly unique in how I do this. It will be in the Dunjon of Death Dynamic Delve rules. =)


Ideally, the tiles would be 15x15-inches square which will allow large rooms. I wanted that, really I did, but it was impractical for me.

BTW, MDF boards sold in the USA are known as 4 x 8 feet, but they really are just 47.5-inch x 95.5-inch. This means that you can't really divide them into perfect 16x16-inch squares. This is why 15x15-inch squares are ideal.

Practically, I need to carry them to and from gaming sessions, and my crates are 16 x 12 x 12 which can only support (roughly) 12-inch wide tiles.

I wanted the tiles to be uniform in shape, and so I got my local hardware store to cut up a 4-foot x 8-foot MDF board into about 20 tiles each 12x12-inches square. I have extra source board for future plans as well.

MDF tiles each 12-inches x 12-inches

Doors and Gates

I purchased two sets from Mantic Dungeon Saga and one set from CMON Zombicide. I prefer the CMON doors because they are multi-pieced and can swing open or closed. The Mantic set are prettier but are always "closed".

Mantic and CMON doors. Maybe too many? Nah!

Spraying with black primer.

The CMON doors can swing open and closed.


For my first set of dungeon tiles I didn't want to create cyclopean walls, nor brick walls, but also not intricate cavern walls. So I decided to carve up some 1-inch thick pink foam and use a featherstone and push details into the foam. This will require gym gloves because the featherstone has sharp edges on their surface.

Pushing featherstone (whacking violently really) into the foam creates these varied textures.

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