Friday, August 25, 2017

Preview: B4 - The Lost City...in 3D

The idea of playing Dungeons & Dragons with 3D terrain has captivated our gaming group since we first laid eyes on events being run with Dwarven Forge at GaryCon. The inclusion of miniatures, dungeon terrain and other visual props is an exciting, albeit expensive and time consuming way, to bring the game to life and provide the players a powerful visual of what is actually happening. I myself am typically comfortable playing D&D using "theatre of the mind" as I loathe interrupting the flow of play to setup dungeon tiles or draw out maps. But when the conceit of an adventure is based around dungeon crawling and exploration through long winding hallways, its hard to argue that having a true physical manifestation of the dungeon on the page laid out for use with miniatures isn't badass.

Over six months ago our group completed their first foray into playing D&D Basic by experiencing the classic B2 - Keep on the Borderlands. The voracious appetite for more old-school gaming led to an interesting idea to construct the pyramid from B4 - The Lost City. If a 3D dungeon was to be built, it definitely made sense to start with this structure as it would be fairly self contained and had aesthetic appeal that went beyond just what was within the walls. What you saw on the outside is an awe-inspiring ziggurat which is able to allow the players to anticipate spatially what to expect from the labyrinth within.


The project began with the purchase of a 4' x 8' of foam board insulation. This was cut into sections that would serve as each tier of the pyramid. We measured 1" for each 10' mapped out in the module layout.


Once piece of advice for anyone who wants to try this project is to bear in mind not only the edges, but also walls the buttress up against other walls. You will need to take these into account for your measurements to work out. Depending on the size of the miniatures you are going to use, you also might want to allow a little extra give for hallways in particular as many of ours ended up being quite narrow by sticking with the 1" measurement per square.


The next stage of the project was using a HotKnife to cut through the foam board to hollow out each room. If you are ever going to try to construct a similar project, I would advise either making sure you have a quality knife or make sure that you pace yourself in cutting these out. My friend who spearheaded this project burned through two of them in the course of the project. We noticed that the hot knife sort of created a smooth glossy look upon the walls and recognized early on we would need to do something to fix that as it kind of clashed with the idea of walking through a ruined structure.




 A really cheap tabletop board was used for the floor. We etched out a grid upon each which had the dimensions of the tier that it would get attached to. Each tile also served as the ceiling for the tier below it, so that once assembled it would have the exterior look of the actual pyramid.


The next step was to begin priming the entire thing for paint. An interesting and unintentional effect happened with this process. The primer actually ate away at the foam board quite a bit; a serendipitous occurrence as it sort of created this effect of pockmarked ruined stone which dulled the edge of the smooth look created from the hot knife. Problem solved!



Once everything was primed, it was ready for some paint. It got a dark coat of some spray on paint to create a foreboding look. My friend who spearheaded the project also took the time to fix some of our miscalculation regarding the walls by using tin snips to cut out from some metal flats that he had to cut out walls and doors to fill out the dungeon.



My favorite part of the entire dungeon is the revolving passage way on the third tier. This chamber operates via a panel of buttons on other side that works as a sort of orbital elevator. A hole saw was used to cut out a piece of the foam board and then the middle passage way was cut into it. It got adhered to a piece of the tile and, using a ball bearing swivel caster, we mounted it onto the floor and it functions as a rotating chamber.


 Everything complete, the pyramid is now ready to see play! Tonight we will be playing a session with an anticipated attendance of 10+. Look for the update to come about how the experience went using a 3D dungeon. If you've enjoyed reading, please click the "follow" button on the right hand side near the top of the blog! You can also get updates by following us on Facebook or on Twitter.


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