Sunday, 10 January 2016

DownUnderDM - Introduction To My Craft

Hi Fellow Dungeon Masters and Crafters, 

For the last 24 months I have embarked on the journey of learning the intricate art of being a Dungeon Master. Having absolutely no experience in Role Play Games previous (with the exception of PC games) i decided to investigate the biggest brand name in the market, Dungeon and Dragons. I came in just as 5E was entering the public play-test and have therefore thrown my time into this edition with no knowledge of prior or alternative systems. 

One of the major road-blocks for me was the concept of 'the theater of the mind'. Having come from Warhammer 40k (see my 40k terrain here) i really struggled with the concept of not having terrain and miniatures. It simply wasn't logical for me. Given the amount of time we spent arguing over rules and measuring distances down to millimeters; i just couldn't imagine the game flowing very well without some physical objects to play the game. 

Thus this journey started. 

I began with a A0 piece of grid paper that was laminated. I simply drew features on the grid. We used 40k models to represent PC's (Player Characters) and NPC's (Non-Player Characters). My Dungeon Master Screen was made out of cardboard and some printed information. 

It wasn't anywhere near perfect... but it worked. 

I have an addictive personality which often leads me to putting in a lot more effort than some would consider normal. I have trouble settling for OK when i know i can produce a better result. Especially where terrain is concerned. 

Having spent a fair whack of time making terrain for 40k with satisfying results i knew i wanted to build some terrain for D&D. The freedom to build almost anything was drawing me in. I began researching and very quickly found myself drooling over photos of terrain made from Hirst Art blocks.

My wife and i had just had a baby however, so the entry cost was quite scary at the time. With that in mind i placed my first order. Just some accessory molds so that I could make my dungeons more interesting, add a third dimension for my players to explore. I told myself (and my wife) that this is all i would need... So so wrong.

The Molds arrived and i quickly jumped in a started pumping out block after block. It was around this time i'm sure that my wife's hatred of all things plaster began haha. 

Common Inn Accessories Mold #58
Cavern Accessory Mold #85

The first pour. 

Assembled pieces ready to paint.

Painted pieces ready for the table

There's one thing that can be said about the DM and Crafting community. It is amazing. This quickly led me to meet a local bloke who was also playing around with Hirst Arts. We quickly traded molds giving me access to Unique Inn Accessories Mold #59. A fiddly mold for sure but looks amazing on the table. 

First play session with the Hirst Art pieces on the table. 

As you can see, it works. The player's enjoyed have actual objects to interact with. The setup time however was horrible. Rooms would have to be drawn as they were entered to enable LOS (Line of Sight) and then objects placed to give room's the 3 dimensional effect. We were constantly smudging the lines of the rooms and over all it was just a clunky setup. 

Thus another mold order was placed. This time i went for a floor and wall mold enabling me to start building room and corridors. These two molds alone enabled me to make some great dungeon settings. 

Gothic Dungeon Builder #45
Floor Tiles Various Sizes Mold #201

The first room i put together. No glue here, just bricks on brick to let my imagination start churning ideas. 

The first modular pieces built. 

The first modular pieces complete. There were made largely following the instructions provided by Bruce Hirst on his website

Fast forward 12 months...

I now own a lot of molds from multiple vendors. I have created an entire world of terrain that is all modular and my games are now much more efficient and easy to run.

What follows will be a journal of my builds, instructions of custom builds, reviews of products and generally things i find interesting related to the work of Dungeon Mastering and Terrain Building. 

Photo of every piece of terrain i made in 2015. 

Modular village.

Modular dungeon. 

Modular forest and town entrance.

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