What do you guys all use for your gaming surface?


Savage Tide Adventure Path

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I'm curious as to what all the groups out there are using for Savage Tide's playing surface? Currently, I'm using one of those large notepads with 1 inch graph paper and just scribbling down the rooms and maps as I need them. This is proving to be more and more difficult though as there are a lot of caves, outdoor encounters, and such that don't follow the square room dungeon models, and they are really hard to draw.

Anybody have any other ideas for this that don't require any artistic talent?

Also, I use D&D miniatures or tokens (colour portraits printed on cardstock) for all my encounters and my players love them, as they tend to add a lot of realism to the game. But seeing them on that white paper with red or black lines for dungeon walls seems like a waste to me.


We use an old board game board sprayed black with 1 inch square stuck on it in general. It folds up and is really good for the open combats.

I also have photo mounting boards which I covered in printed paper on 1 inch squares and then covered that in stick clear plastic. You can draw the area in and they dry wipe clean. They are each A3 so a few of them can make a very large area.


Combination of printed maps created in Dundjinni and a battlemat drawn on with wipe clean markers. D&D miniatures and/or coins with numbers on for tokens.

I've printed a map of the Blue Nixie and photocopied the Sea Wyvern and pasted both on foam board, great for ship to ship combats.


Pop'N'Fresh wrote:
I'm curious as to what all the groups out there are using for Savage Tide's playing surface? Currently, I'm using one of those large notepads with 1 inch graph paper and just scribbling down the rooms and maps as I need them. ... Also, I use D&D miniatures or tokens (colour portraits printed on cardstock) for all my encounters and my players love them, as they tend to add a lot of realism to the game.

Actually, I'm a step behind you, using 1" graph paper and d6es for opponent. (PCs are d4s.) (We will be using the deck plans of The Sea Wyvern when we're done with "The Bullywug Gambit", and I'm planning to buy a figure to use for the climax of "City of Broken Idols".) I do pre-draw maps that I'm reasonably certain will be used, if I have time.

Could you elaborate on your tokens? I thought about doing this, but it always seemed like too much work. Do you print them out yourself? (If so, where do you get the art?) Do you buy pre-made tokens? (If so, which ones?)


We used to use a transparent plastic sheet with 1 cm x 1 cm squares preprinted on it. We drew on it with wipeable pens and was easy to clean.

But then came the ultimate solution: a computer connected to the TV and the most amazing gaming tool ever, Photoshop :) This way i can place each PC/NPC on a different layer and use the original maps from the magazines. I can only recommend this method, it works perfectly!!! I prepare the maps so that the i cover each area on the map with a black layer and when they discover it then i just hide that layer and the room becomes visible. It takes a bit of time to prepare it beforehand but then it saves lots of time during the game.

Try it! Photoshop is the bomb!

PS: I have uploaded a few prepared maps if anyone wants to give it a try: http://www.elderbrain.com/x/maps.zip


Some scrap paper to keep track of hits. That's it. No one in the campaign uses miniatures, or battlemats, or counters, or barbie dolls for that matter. The poster maps have been used (esp. the one of Sasserine), and for "Sea Wyvern's Wake" I made a color-coded spreadsheet for tracking how well all the PCs and NPCs were getting along at the moment.

Obviously, we're dealing with a very small number of players here. More would be welcome!!!


Sben wrote:

Actually, I'm a step behind you, using 1" graph paper and d6es for opponent. (PCs are d4s.) (We will be using the deck plans of The Sea Wyvern when we're done with "The Bullywug Gambit", and I'm planning to buy a figure to use for the climax of "City of Broken Idols".) I do pre-draw maps that I'm reasonably certain will be used, if I have time.

Could you elaborate on your tokens? I thought about doing this, but it always seemed like too much work. Do you print them out yourself? (If so, where do you get the art?) Do you buy pre-made tokens? (If so, which ones?)

Sure thing! I simply use the PDF's of various D&D books, including the web enhancements of DUNGEON and copy and paste square sections of the images. Usually an NPC's face or a monster's head and body, if it fits. Then I paste it into a Microsoft Word document, right click the image and select "Format image". Go to the size tab, uncheck "Maintain aspect ratio" and change the image size to 1" by 1". Then I add a black border around the image, and presto, you have a token. I also usually number them after I print them out on card-stock on my colour printer, so its easier for my players to say "I attack bullywug #2".

I would email you the documents I made so far for the first two adventures, but they are quite large for email, usually over 8 MB, so you'd need a gmail account or something similar.


gaborg wrote:


Try it! Photoshop is the bomb!

I did try something similar to this using an LCD projector from my work. I hung it from my ceiling in my old apartment and had it point straight down, and connected it to my laptop. We covered the table under it with white paper, and presto, projection map from above! Unfortunately I moved, and my work no longer allows me to take home the projectors :P

I may try the TV approach next week as its right next to my game table and I can hook my laptop into it very easily. I also have a wireless laser mouse that I could use to allow my players to move their own tokens around the screen. Thanks for the great idea! :)


I have a projector that I plan to use as my "gaming surface" by placing the image on our battlemat. I will definitely be using the PDFs posted with those professionally made maps! I am wondering what program to use to reveal the areas as the PCs travel thru them though. I own Fantasy Grounds but haven't used it at all (failed online game)and have also been checking out Battlegrounds. I also wonder if it would be worth buying another program to help run the game (DM Genie, RPG Explorer, etc) but I don't know enough about them to make a decision. If anyone has any experience with any of the above I'd be glad to hear some ideas on the subject.

Luckily (or maybe not) my campaign will not be starting for a couple of months yet so I have some time to make a decision.

Paizo Employee Sales Associate

I can't not say at least something... So here's a quick sales pitch, based on things I've seen in action and what I liked the best (and the best buy for your bux):

Steel squire Flip mats. Write-on-able (is that a word?) with just about anything, and folds up for easy storage. It's very handy for 10 bucks. Cheap enough to get two. ; )

As for minis, if you opt out of using the WoTC official D&D minis, Mega Miniatures has fantasy packs of unpainted tin miniatures. You can get 20-30 minis for $17.99. That's less than a dollar a mini.

However, if you do wanna pick up some of the WoTC official D&D minis, but you'd rather know what you're getting adn aren't rich enough to buy them singly... well... that's why we put together the critter packs. Useful minis on the cheap. Check 'em out.

Sorry for the sales pitch... but I really do suggest these things.

Thanks,
cos


This seems so much less imaginitive than everything else here, but I just laminated the large grid that came in the DMG. It works really well with dry erase markers.


Pop'N'Fresh wrote:


I did try something similar to this using an LCD projector from my work. I hung it from my ceiling in my old apartment and had it point straight down, and connected it to my laptop. We covered the table under it with white paper, and presto, projection map from above! Unfortunately I moved, and my work no longer allows me to take home the projectors :P

This is the next step to take for me. As soon i have a spare 1000 euros i will do this upgrade. Nothing like a projector hanging from the ceiling ...


Steelsqwire Flipmats, Paizo Gamemastery cardboard tiles and the new Wizards dungeon tiles all work well for me.


Mastermaze, laminated grid sheets and 25mm painted figures.

The Exchange

I have modular dungeons made for rough-hewn stone, fieldstone, and gritty blocks that I make out of Hirst Arts/Castlemolds and some molds of my own devising with dental plaster. I also use alot of 3D terrain (usually self made) and cardstock models along with the occasional usage of a large 3'x4' battlemat and an 18" x 24" battlemap. I like my stuff in 3D, baby!! I got a bajillion WOTC D&D figs and usually have plenty of anything a party could encounter. Lilith has some pics of one of my modular dungeons in action and a cardstock ship that is 3' long, if you ask her nicely maybe she'll show you!

I like handouts, props and anything that helps enhance the visual/tactile aspect of the game.

FH


I forgot to mention the walls I purchased last Gen Con. They are made out of some sort of plaster and are basically 10' (2" in length) wall sections. I waited until the last hour of Gen Con and bought everything the guy had left for $40. It has been the best buy of the Con for me, we use those walls every single session. The 3D aspect they add has been an awesome addition to the game.


I'm going to do this someday.....

(this link shows the digital projector talked about above)

http://www.d20srd.org/extras/mapProjection.htm


Eric Goldman wrote: Obviously, we're dealing with a very small number of players here. More would be welcome!!!
Where abouts near houston are you? Next month i'll be relocating to livingston.


The group I'm with uses a 3'x 4' dry erase board. Initially we just drew the squares in with a permanent marker until we got tired of having to redraw the squares 'bout every 2 or 3 game sessions, so we ended up using a boxcutter to edge the grid into the surface. Works out great as the players can write their init's and spells they have going in combat as well as their current h.p.'s on the board at their seated locations. If we ever have to wrap up a session in the middle of something, most info is writtin on the board so we know where to pick it back up at.


My group uses an old dinette table that I have removed the legs from, then spray painted with chalk board paint.I also purchased two lengths of crown moulding, spray painted it with gold paint and then painted each length on all 4 sides with dwarven, dragon and elven runes(so every one at the table has somewhere to put their dice). I used a black marker and a yard stick to draw 1" squares on the board. We also use D&D minis figures. Every one buys their own and creates their character around the figure. One box of coloured chalk and away we go. The entire thing only cost about 30 bucks.


Two words: Overhead Projector.
It has changed gaming for me.
Although I get tired or erasing.

The Exchange

I scratch built a 5' x 10' gaming table for my basement, with modular tops that pop in and out for different games. The basic plan for it is on the Drunk Dwarves webiste, but it's for a 4x8 table, and I wanted bigger, so I just adjusted the measurements accordingly.

http://www.drunkdwarves.com/pages/artttgttcultimatetable.html

Anyway, I have a Chessex Mondomat over that with 1" squares on one side and 1" hexes on the other that I draw the maps on. We also use the "Ravaged Pride" 4 layer ship and mast set for this particular campaign for the on-ship stuff, and I got a free pack or two of those cardboard pop-up pirate ships from that CCG for them at Gen-Con last year, that we use for ship-ship combat.

We also each have miniatures, and I bought a ton of single common pre painted D&D figs, most for about 25c each, to use as random bad guys and such.

I also got one of those dry-erase initiative tables from here; that's been really good for helping organize and speed up combat and other encounters, which is especially important for a party this large...we have 8-9 players. Anything to keep that running smoothly is a good thing.

All in all, we're pretty happy with the setup.


Chessex battlemat with water erasable markers.

My house is too small for piles of miniatures, so I make them out of vinyl floor tiles. You can get over 100 1 inch chits from a single $0.60 tile. Of course, a large creature uses a 2 inch chit. The vinyl floor tiles are already sticky, and they make durable chits.

The artwork comes from lots of places. The old module The Gates of Firestorm Peak came with cardboard chits, and has a bunch of gibbering mouthers. Glossy comic books work well too. However, the best artwork for chits came from cutting up trading card commons from MtG.

I have unique chits for every NPC. That way, the players remember who's about to be eaten by just looking at the board.

The players use regular minis. When they're grappling I just put their mini on the chit.


We play on a average sized (seats six) dining room table.

We use D&D minis for 'the fodder' and use various companies painted metal figures for our PC characters and anything we want to look a little more important.

We also use Macfarlenes Toys as big monsters (the dragons series and some creatures from the spawn range like 'Violator' and such are great for big demons!)

We have some dwarven forge, D&D tiles, Warhammer Quest sets and all those Dragon and Dungeon mag play gifts to help us with battle mats etc. I also have a lot of table top senery from the days when everyone had Warhammer armies and Mordhiem warbands.

We use whatever seems to suit the mood or fit.

Contributor

I have a 4-ft.-by-8-ft. table I built for my game room. The surface has the postersized grid paper (1" squares) on it laid side by side (there are six sheets in all) and then 1/4" plexiglass laid over and held in place with screws/nuts. We can draw some really, really big encounter areas on it with vis a vis erasable ink markers. We keep a squirt bottle and rag handy to erase when needed. The table itself is large enough for six big fellas to sit around it comfortably and it's set a bit lower than your standard table so that you have a bit of a look-down angle going on to make viewing the game table from a sitting position a bit easier.

A also have the big Chessex vinyl mat with 1.5 inch squares that I can lay over the top of the table to draw even large scale encounter areas such as keeps/castles. 4 normal sized minis can fit in one square snuggly.


My personal favorite is a big old sheet of laminate that I got from Fed Ex Kinkos. When they get near the end of a roll they often let it run out and then replace with a fresh roll. If you know someone or maybe ask real nice they might toss you the left over piece. It looks like a big sheet of clear plastic. I then sat down and with a sharpie marker drew a 1" grid over the surface. For terrain we use fabric or cheap sheets of poster board and lay the laminate grid over the top. Blue poster board for water, green felt for grass/ forest, tan cloth for desert. I have model train trees and painted foam for rocks.

I've only had one Player comaplain. He plays a Monk and witha 80 ft. move (double move often) he can run laps about the 3' x 3' laminate. I'd go bigger but the players already have laminate grid pushing into thier personal game space and compeating with soda, books, dice, and food.

The Exchange

You might look into that Mondomat then Jib. The rest of your setup sounds pretty good, confining yourself to just a 3x3' area is rough, especially for the limitations it puts on your monk.

The Mondomat is 96 squares by 48 squares, you're not going to run out of space on that. :)


I took the ultimate plunge. Since I work at a kitchen cabinet company, I have access to lots of hard wood scraps. I desinged a fold out table that sits ontop of my kitchen table. The gamming table sits about 4 inches off the kitchen table. I made the table in such a way that there are grided off 1x1 cherrywood squares seperated by 1/8th maple. The grid is 40x22 squares. The gaps where put there so we could put sticks on the board to map things out. We still use paper for most maps (just place them on top of the gamming table) but for ramdom encounters the gamming table comes in real handy. The other great thing about the table (and possibly the best part about it), is that we can slide our characters and books under the table. We were using the paper grid out of the DM's handbook, but our books and clip boards were getting in the way of using the whole thing. I've got pics on my comp. If anyone wants to see it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

We use Tac-tiles (sp) dry erase panels on my dining room table with the WotC painted minis. We've come a long way from playing on the floor using one player's mom's old sewing board with a sheet of plastic over it and dice as minis.


We use a combination of 6 seater fold out dining table and chessex battlemats, currently got a bigger area one on order!

We use a combination of D&d PRE-PAINTED mini's and warhammer/warmachien figures, a lot of us are wargamers, so we have plenty of outdoor terrain types as well as fantasy style villages for use.

I've purchased a wide selection of the cardboard wizkids Pirates game for all of our ship needs, if you ignore the cannons on the artwork!

I have been tempted to look at the dwarven forge modular terrain, but the cost far outweighs use and value for our group.


TactTiles. I swear by `em. Reusable, fairly cheap, unbelievably versatile. Encounter gone off the edge of the map? Just move two pieces from one side to the other. It's a battlemat that <i>scrolls!</i>

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow. This thread shows a huge diversity of styles!

I either create maps myself using PaintShopPro or (preferably) use the clip tool in Adobe and pull the images from the high res PDFs. If you zoom in before clipping, you can get beautiful maps from Adobe at a resolution that's still beautiful when its printed. I try and cut out one room at a time from the image, paste it into a new 8 x 10 image and print it out. If the rooms are small, you can turn them and double up to save paper. Then I tape the maps together during play as the map is revealed to the players. Since the maps are already gridded, and the PDF version usually has an un-labeled version, this process is really fast.

What really hurts is when the maps in the PDF aren't at 1" = 5' scale already. Then it takes a little longer.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh yeah, I also found that using trees from your kid's dinosaur playset really spices things up. Lincoln logs and legos are also excellent. And in the Savage Tide, you can use the dinosaurs too!

Watch out for the pink dimetrodon though. He's a player killer.


I have a 4x8 pool table upstairs in a big room. I simply bought a 4x8 sheet of plywood and covered it with felt. When we game, I put the plywood over the top of the pool table and we play around the table. We also use a crystal caste 3x5 gaming mat, and just draw all the stuff with wet erase markers. I have been painting minis for 20+ years, so we got plenty of those.


So far my gaming surface has been the kitchen table with a 42" x 84" map of Sasserine laid down as the "background." As the characters have travelled around the city, they move their minis to indicate such. When a "close-up" shot is needed I've used various things:

(1) pulled the high-res graphics* from the PDF supplements, scaled to 1"=5' (using Photoshop, though GIMP could do the same), then printed out on cardstock and cut the map up as needed to allow me to place the map sections as the party moves through an area.

(2) poster maps from past issues of Dragon - in 2003 or so they had a run on dungeon tiles, city scenes, sewers, etc. and all have proved great for the game. One of the city scenes is perfect for the Crucible trap, being a city square with a large well in the middle; and the flip-side of the map is a great sewer section! They also ran a dual Dungeon/Dragon map with a gladiator arena and lower level that is now the perfect Sasserine Arena.

(3) pre-made map tiles from another company that I can't recall right now...the Lotus Dragon hideout was way too big a dungeon crawl for me, so I used a poster map of a sewer (as above, Dragon 2003) as the general area the characters will explore. Each time they go off the edge of the poster map, they enter one of the encounter areas--Guard Room leading to prison cells, torture chamber/worg/torturer complex, training area, a natural cave leading to the hidden dock entrance, and Rowyn's complex (bedroom, kitchen, meeting room). I think it'll work out great.

*In Adobe Reader 7.0, using the Select Tool rather than Snapshot allows you to grab individual graphics, or sections of graphics. If sectional, the graphic has to be pieced back together, but you end up with a higher-res image than by using the Snapshot.


Mondomat? Tell me more? Who makes it?


Jib wrote:
Mondomat? Tell me more? Who makes it?

Chessex Manufacturing.

The Exchange

Yep..Chessex makes them. They are available on paizo, but are backordered. Chessex's website also has them. What I really recommend, though, is that you go to a con where they have a booth, like GenCon or something. They sell their factory second's there. Like mats that have a small tear in the corner, or some other flaw. You can save big $$ if you do it that way. I paid $75 for mine, retail is over $100, and the only thing wrong with it is a discoloration on a section of the side I don't use (the hexes)

Anyway, paizo's store link to the mondomat for more info:

http://paizo.com/store/byCompany/c/chessex/gamingMats/mondomats

I love mine.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We use a battlemat and mastermaze. Great stuff! Very visual and adjustable. When the mastermaze isn't big enough, we can continue on the battlemat.


I use the D & D mini's - I'm nuts for those things.

I do all my dungeons, towns, castles, ships, etc. in 3D with the stuff from worldworksgames.com. This stuff is awesome! It's affordable and surprisingly durable and it knocks my players' socks off! The products have enough versatility to put together almost any setup one can think of.
Seriously, I can't say enough good things about their products.


For the characters and monsters, D&D minis. For the playing surface, I have a 2 foot by 3 foot dry erase board. Using a knife and a ruler, I cut a 1 inch square grid into the whiteboard. A few dry erase markers and voila, any place your heart desires, battle grid ready. Super easy to erase and redraw mid-session.


gaborg wrote:
Pop'N'Fresh wrote:


I did try something similar to this using an LCD projector from my work. I hung it from my ceiling in my old apartment and had it point straight down, and connected it to my laptop. We covered the table under it with white paper, and presto, projection map from above! Unfortunately I moved, and my work no longer allows me to take home the projectors :P
This is the next step to take for me. As soon i have a spare 1000 euros i will do this upgrade. Nothing like a projector hanging from the ceiling ...

I found this 15 years old NEC projector, works perfectly! The dungeon web supplement maps look awesome on the wall and Photoshop does all the things i need to move layers around, hide rooms, secret doors, etc. I can only recommend it to everyone!


you know; we did this thread about a year ago; look for it; it has a whole lot of gaming surfaces; for instance at any store that sells cloth like your average Cloth World; you can get very large sheets of 1" graph paper which are like 3 or 4 ft square which are used by seamstresses but are great for gaming.

anyway the thread has some really inexpensive as well as expensive options; am a terrible surfer or I would have given you the name

hehe am an Efreeti Lord after all; gotta be only somewhat helpful :)


Until recently, my group has relied on the standard Chessex battlemat, but I think we're starting to move away from that crutch. As the DM, I'm finding that I'm relying too much on boxed text and sketched maps and losing a lot of the evocative descriptions and imagination.

While we'll keep using the maps for tactical combat (which we do like), I think I'll restrict the map drawing until the point where initiative is rolled.

Since I'm hot for Dungeon adventures, I think I'll start taking full advantage of the online supplements and pre-make the maps as map tiles (somehow) that I can just slap down for the combat.

For minis, I've gotten in the habit of using the pictures from the online suppliments or the WotC site to make little tokens of all the encounters. It's up to the players to find minis that match their character concepts...


Vy-Dann wrote:
Where abouts near houston are you? Next month i'll be relocating to livingston.

Vy-Dann, I'm at Westheimer and Beltway 8 (west side of town)... a mere hour-and-a-half drive (if you mean the Livingston that's, like, North of Shepherd on 59).


Erik Goldman wrote:
Vy-Dann wrote:
Where abouts near houston are you? Next month i'll be relocating to livingston.
Vy-Dann, I'm at Westheimer and Beltway 8 (west side of town)... a mere hour-and-a-half drive (if you mean the Livingston that's, like, North of Shepherd on 59).

yep thats the one, but maybe ill visit some time.


Vy-Dann wrote:
yep thats the one, but maybe ill visit some time.

Be welcome!


Tact-tiles... the only way to go.
R.A. Salvatore seys it's the only thing he uses at his table.
Dry erase, and VERY usable. Had em' for a year, and they get a big 2 thumbs up.

http://bc-products.net/Index.html


A large battlemat, although recently supplemented with Dundjinni maps printed out in colour, and soon to use Dungeon Tiles as well.


We have used Battlemats with minis. Just purchased the FlipMat through Paizo. Haven't used it yet but plan on it replacing the battlemat. It's much easier to carry and we can use any type of marker on it.

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