In our Sci-Fi session we had the recurring problem that characters were injured because of bad battle map display.

We figured it would be great to have a set of reusable adjustable walls etc. with which we could build the map (in our case modern apartment blocks).

I went to our local store and asked and got a baffled look as a response. The whole tabletop area in it had nothing that I could use for it and the guy there told me he had never had any requests for that.

So, how do I make such a thing myself?


4 Answers 4


For Necromunda games we used corrugated cardboard spraypainted grey then written on with thick black marker pen. We cut slots to attach pieces to other pieces (with liberal use of bluetack and sellotape) to build towers and walkways and ramps and walls and all sorts. Part of the setup of every game was taking it in turns to grab a bit of terrain and stick it somewhere interesting on the table.

Necromunda terrain example.

Excellent dungeon example.

Corrugated cardboard is cheap, so you can write all over it, cut it, rip it, crease it, in short - bend fold spindle and mutilate it as much as you want.

We never drew grids as we preferred to measure movement by "yeah, that looks about 5 inches" or by using little tape measures or pieces of string with knots tied in them. I got a few little tape measures from Xmas crackers once, they were perfect for the game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The necromunda terrain example looks great; and 'minigame' of taking turns and set it up could be fun. But, how do you keep it from falling apart during the encounter? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaspervandenBerg Gratuitous amounts of tape and putty? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 16:38

Lego (other plastic building blocks are available). I used them when playing D&D with my brothers many years ago. We had a medieval set, which was just perfect for battles with men in armour. However, you can get the building blocks in a variety of colours, and there are plenty of modern sets. If purchasing new blocks, they can be bought by weight like pick-and-mix.

Depending on the game genre, it may look a little cheesy, but it has a lot of advantages:

  • First, you may already have some that you and your friends used to play with and it is gathering dust.

  • It has built-in measurement for grid movement. Depending on the game you can use the individual 'dots', or some multiple. Longer pieces make simple measuring devices.

  • The lego figurines are at a good scale for skirmish battles. You don't need to use them though.

  • It is light to carry, yet walls and architecture made with it are fairly robust.

  • You can pre-build sections in advance for modular walls, stairs etc.

  • The individual pieces recycle into next battlemap with no waste.

The main problems with it in my experience is you need to improvise within the bounds of the pieces you have. Or you need some disposable cash, it is expensive to buy in bulk.

  • \$\begingroup\$ We use Lego too. Awesome solution. We also put on the lego characters some paper "t-shirts" with numbers on to easily identify enemies during battle. \$\endgroup\$
    – user10601
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have some, will give it a try. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 15:04

I would recommend the following YouTube Channel:https://www.youtube.com/user/theDMsCraft

The basics are you make your layout with cardboard, glue another layer of cardboard to mark off walls, etc. You could either use something similarly flat for other dungeon dressing, or use dedicated things to help set the mood.

I have tried using the Dwarven Fortress and similar terrain and was always disappointed in that there was always some angle (usually mine) where you can't really see what's going on and as a result have to either walk around the table (and away from character/GM notes), or have to take on faith that what others are telling you is accurate, usually both. With the cardboard system, you can still see the minis over the walls and can plan accordingly from around the table. Also, cardboard is much lighter in terms of transport to game or moving the terrain around/along the gaming table as the party explores.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This does not provide me with options to build multi-story buildings, but if I ever go back to Fantasy, I'd consider it. Thank you! The part of the "not beeing able to look through" is something I have to think about, good point. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ When we have a multi-story thing, we separate the stories as appropriate. However, in the cases where a fight involves something like a staircase, we use empty dice containers (clear plastic) to hold up the upper level, while still allowing for tactical movement/measurements. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 0:34

Hirst Arts moulds:

Large selection of sci-fi (and fantasy) molds that are cast in plaster of Paris then glued and painted.

Once cast and constructed they are quite durable. Split the walls into short segments, corners, straight sections for the best re-usability.

The downside; time intensive and expense. Once you get the technique down and have a bit of a collection it lasts well and becomes less of an issue.

Look in the projects section under the Sci-Fi and Modern heading for something that matches your apartment block aesthetic. Projects often use multiple molds (walls/floor/items) so you can pick out the specific elements you are interested in.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This does not, by any means, meet the 'very cheap' optional requirement, but the quality is high on those molds. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 1:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hopefully they can strike the balance between cost and quality. Although I was thinking 'reusable' as in 'lasts a long time' rather than 'reuse the components for a variety of situations'. The molds can be both if you build them right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kazagha
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ These are by far too expensive for my setup and there are no molds available for my game (which would be present day "modern"). But thanks for the hints, maybe someone else finds this question and the suggestion useful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 17:40

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