Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Papercraft

Need. More. Pillars!

I am a bit of a hapless penny pincher when it comes to gaming. I buy all my rulebooks used from Half Price Books. I use Legos in place of minis and for a long time I used a go board in place of a battle mat. (side note: the go mat led my group to begin referring to the start of a combat encounter as "go" time.)  However, I also greatly enjoy the creative extras that float around a game's periphery and going above an beyond to give my players a more immersive game experience.

Well, shortly after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, I donated to a cause hosted by RPGnow.com called Gamers Help Haiti. The site offered a large bundle of online, indie game offerings (mostly pdf e-books, map packs and the like) in exchange for a donation of $25 or more, with all proceeds going to the relief effort. Anyway, included in the virtual bundle I received, were a couple of pdf dungeon tile sets from Fat Dragon Games (FDG). FDG offers a wide variety of quality print-and-assemble 2D and 3D sets for building custom environments for your game.

I printed to the tile sets, glued them to foam core, cut them out and was immediately hooked. Ever since I printed my first basic dungeon set from the Gamers Help Haiti bundle, I have been hopelessly addicted to papercraft and FDG. At $2 to $15 per pdf, the FDG sets are far more cost effective than some alternatives. I find myself squirreling away old Red Baron pizza boxes and scraps of foam core (when the exhibit shop at work is throwing it out, it comes home with me!) to serve as backing for my tiles. Every time I swing by my local art store, I jealously eye the Logan mat cutters. My hands become so sore meticulously wielding the exacto knives that feed my need.

My addiction has given rise to quite a collection of papercraft tiles and set pieces that frequently grace my gaming table, along with a couple of realizations:

  • When you factor in the time it takes to mount and cut dungeon tiles and the fact that printer ink costs more than Charlie Sheen's tiger blood, it becomes apparent that brand name, store bought tile sets are ultimately cheaper than the do-it-yourself variety.
  • 3D set pieces take up a lot of storage space very quickly.
  • Having a 3D set that you can quickly throw together somehow feels so much more satisfying than just drawing it out on a battle mat.
  • I really want one of those Logan cutters!



  1. money is the biggest detractor to gaming. well, that and time.

  2. Seriously! I was especially dismayed when I discovered that used D&D 3.5 books sell at 2 and 3 times their new price (at least for core rulebooks and compendiums)-apparently being out of print for five years makes them a rare and exploitable commodity. Fortunately, Half Price Books treats them like what they are -used books... often with stickers of pegasus in them.

  3. I was thinking about the storage issue while reading this. I don't know how complicated the game pieces get, but it sounds like they could start to really grow and take over a room...if you're lucky. :)

  4. When I used to DM, I had a pre-made set that came in handy, but sometimes it was fun to make my own.
    Hope you're enjoying the Challenge!


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