Monday, 11 January 2016

Advice: Planning a Modular Dungeon

Before you embark on creating your own Hirst Arts modular dungeon you need to sit down and consider your plans and available resources. 

The first and one of the most important things you need to consider is what will you base your dungeon on. The instructions provided by Bruce recommend a number of products, i have listed these and more below. 

  • High density foam board. 
  • Cork Tiles
  • Medium-density fibreboard (MDF)
  • Strong Cardboard
Before you pick a product make sure you consider the following:
  • How readily available is the product ?
  • Is the product going to be available for the foreseeable future?
  • How easy is the product to work with?
  • How heavy is the product?
  • How detailed is the product?
  • Will you want to add pits, holes, traps, stairs below the level of your floor?
  • How easy is it to paint?
  • Will it warp?
After answering all of these questions the product i chose to work with was High Density Foam Board. 

Living in Australia i was able to source this from one of our most popular hardware stores, Bunnings. It come's in 1" and 2" thick variations. I went with the 1" as i felt the 2" was too think. 


You will also need glue to put everything together. I use Aquadhere Quick Set Adhesive. The fast bond time lets you work faster. 

From here I personally followed the instructions on the Hirst Arts website. This was a great place to start and left me with a starting dungeon large enough to run quite a variation of encounters. 


Of course once you have made your share of pieces with these instructions you will undoubtedly want to create more. This is where you need to sit down and consider your next actions. 

The hirst instructions work on corridors that are 3" wide. This lets you have corridors that are 2" wide by the time you put walls on either side. 

The official recommendation provided by HIrst Arts
At first i worried that this might be too thin for standard corridor fights. After a year of gaming however I can report that this works quite well. It lets two characters move past each other efficiently enough and restricts free movement within corridors which is how it should be. 

With this in mind i decided to expand on this layout using the plans below. The benefit of this design was that everything would become modular with the pieces i had already made using the Hirst Instructions. This also gave me much greater flexibility to make much larger rooms by combing as many of the large room sections together as necessary. 

Diagram of the modular pieces i have based my dungeon on.
I started out with making amazing walls per the official instructions. They were high and full of lovely details. My players also had to stand up to see what was happening. I therefore quickly changed my approach. I make walls primarily no more than 2 blocks high. I will add feature walls where appropriate but always aim to have only one feature wall in a room ensure better visibility from the other angles. 

By adding these modular plans to your layout you can make some incredible dungeon layouts. Below are some examples from our groups gaming sessions. 

Layout showing basic pieces per Hirst instructions with some of the large room pieces. 

Layout with both basic and advanced pieces per Hirst instructions with some of the large room pieces. 
I quickly realized that i needed more than a dungeon in my game and started to branch out into caverns and inns. I will discuss those in a future post however.