I just need some space...


Advice


I'm looking for a way to add some more space to my GMing area. I've been using the Basic Flip-mat for almost two years now and while it's been a great addition to my table, I'm getting to the point where the space available on the mat is just not enough. A lot of times I find myself with not nearly enough room for dungeons, let alone entire battlefields.

What would be a good alternative? The new solution doesn't need to be as portable or compact as the mat, though something reusable would be great.


I once built a 4x8 table and put the same size white/dry erase board on top. I didn't have a grid, but I had plenty of space, so we used a string or tape measure for distance/movement. If you have a smaller surface area you can get the white board cut down. The 4x8 was about $13 at Home Depot and I think they give you a few cuts for free. I don't suggest buying a "Dry Erase" board from a store like Wal-Mart, as you don't need the fancy framing and hardware, just the surface (and they get expensive after your typical refrigerator door size). I always intended to have a grid cut out of vinyl (the kind used for window lettering etc.) and apply it to the board, but never got around to it. You could also do the grid by hand with a permanent marker, but that would get pretty tedious depending on the size of the surface...

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
pipedreamsam wrote:

I'm looking for a way to add some more space to my GMing area. I've been using the Basic Flip-mat for almost two years now and while it's been a great addition to my table, I'm getting to the point where the space available on the mat is just not enough. A lot of times I find myself with not nearly enough room for dungeons, let alone entire battlefields.

What would be a good alternative? The new solution doesn't need to be as portable or compact as the mat, though something reusable would be great.

umm how about the chessex mats? they work great with wet erase markers. Chessex Mats.

If you check with your local game store often they can order them in, with the up side of usually being able to see the differences in the sizes of the mats. My local one has the 54x102 in mats...its great for doing large scale encounters..and if you don't need all the surface that is OK too as it doubles really well into a book surface :)


May I recommend the Reversible Battle Mat from Chessex. I've been using mine since my girlfriend got it for me as a Christmas present, and it's probably the best thing since sliced goblins.

These are durable, water proof, mats that give you one side of boxes and one side of hexes. Their surface is safe to draw on with non-permanent markers(dry erase work too, but I don't like using them as much; too much smudging). Cleaning it is as simple as wetting some paper towel and wiping it off. The mat made out of vinyl so you can roll it up into a small tube if you ever need to transport it. The one thing I don't like is that you need to keep paper towel close on hand if you plan on drawing and erasing multiple areas/rooms in a single session. While you can quickly draw rooms, it takes a little while to properly clean up the whole mat before you can draw more. In the 3 months of using mine, I've had a tiny bit of fraying along the edges where fibers have come loose, but it's negligible at worst.

I use the regular sized one, and it works for most of my GMing needs at at the low price of $22.98. The Megamat is a bit pricey at $39.98, but if you're really in need of a bigger mat it's the way to go. Now if you've got money to spend, or really desperate for more space to play one, and have got damned big table, the Mondomat gives you a massive 54"x102" surface to play on at steep the price of $119.98. Overkill if you ask me, but it's an option. The first two sizes are usually available at your local game/card store.

Edit: Damn, you beat me to it Shfish.


Before the mat we used a decent sized whiteboard, and for a short time one of those old timey school projectors that we used to burn ourselves on all the time. I'd never thought of actually building something, but that sounds pretty promising . . . the things I could do with 8' of grid.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Unless you are exceptionally crafty type person, and know where to buy all the stuff...and also really really like doing this kind of thing..you are better off getting the mats Joanna and I suggested. I once thought of building something...after seeing the material bill start to get over the $50 mark and I didn't have everything priced....I gave up the thought and bought the middle size mat. Best decision ever.


Thanks, those Chessex maps look pretty promising, though I wish that the website had some pictures or a few more links for me to click through. I'd have to be more careful about what markers I use though.

EDIT: Nevermind, a quick google search answered my picture needs.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

its not reusable, but you might also want to consider gaming paper. Its just rolls of inch x inch squares on paper so you can lay it out as big as you have tablespace (could always put 2 tables together if one isnt big enough)

Shadow Lodge

If you go with chessix know that they starting staining after a while. NEVER you dry erase and stay away from red wet erase. I have had mine for 2 years and it is great except for red. ALso if you don't clean them up right after use the black and stain in as well.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Oh another thing is..never use a magic eraser on them!
But, I just use water on mine, works just as well as windex..but the windex is good for getting out the stains if you let it set.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I used to use a white board, but now I use paper from 1-inch-grid easel pads (the kind that companies use during meetings). You can usually find a four-pack of easel pads at a decent price at the online versions of one or another of the big box office supply stores. Watch out that you're not looking at the version with the sticky backing across the top - it costs twice as much.

I switched back to paper because it lets me prep multiple maps in advance, and I can take more time on some maps than I would want to spend if drawing it during the game. Also, when I did the original Ravenloft adventure last year, it was amazing being able to layer the maps so everyone could see how the staircases lined up.


I haven't had staining issues even after leaving wet erase market on it for days, even weeks at a time. I haven't used red or black though (only yellow, brown, orange and green) so I can't vouch for those colors. All I've ever had to use to clean it was paper towel and water. I wet some paper towel and wipe the whole thing, making sure to get all the places with market wet, then get dry paper towel and wipe it down. That usually gets everything, but if it doesn't then repeating the process another time does the trick.


I'll look into gaming paper, it might be a good fit for my clumsy group. I can see one of them taking a permanent marker to large vinyl gaming mat now. Is there any sort of product like the vinyl mat that also works with dry erase markers?

Liberty's Edge

pipedreamsam wrote:

I'm looking for a way to add some more space to my GMing area. I've been using the Basic Flip-mat for almost two years now and while it's been a great addition to my table, I'm getting to the point where the space available on the mat is just not enough. A lot of times I find myself with not nearly enough room for dungeons, let alone entire battlefields.

What would be a good alternative? The new solution doesn't need to be as portable or compact as the mat, though something reusable would be great.

I have a chessex board for portability, but my main table is plexiglass over gaming paper. Works great.

Liberty's Edge

What I have done in the past is get a chessex map or something of a reasonable size with the proper squares. Then take projector laminate (the paper sized plastic sheet that goes on the overhead projector) they come in boxes of 100 for about 5 bucks.

place one or more on the Battle mat and draw out your rooms, you could keep a 1000 room dungeon in a box and never run out of space on your grid since you just remove the ones you don't need. It's also great for if you have a dungeon crawl as you don't want the party seeing what's around the next corner, you don't have to wast time drawing the map right then and there.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

+1 on Chessex mats, I have them in multiple sizes. Smaller ones are great for you to pre-draw a specific encounter and drop onto the table when needed, whereas the large ones are great for drawing and mapping as you go, or for long distance (outdoors?) combat.

We also use the mats in combination with various terrains from other companies.


So after the 4th Chessex mat option, I noticed a distinct lack of options. I would suggest going out and getting a piece of Plexi-glass cut to a size you would like (reasonably priced at Lowe's/Home depot). Then take a ruler and mark out one inch spacing along the edges with a marker. Finally buy some pin striping (very thin automotive tape) and grid out the side of the Plexiglass that will be touching the table. I deally the pinstriping will be black or white depending on the background. Next find either a cheap walmart frame or duct tape to seal the edges so they aren't jagged. It's a good idea to sand them first. The reason I chose the frame was that they have the plastic edges that just fit right over top of the frame, they are perfectly designed to cover the edges. Budget route: just use the clear plastic that comes with the frame. Lastly use dry erase markers to draw out whatever you want.


Did a little more digging and found an old product called tact tiles that looks to be exactly what I was after. Unfortunately, it looks like they went out of business a few years ago. The idea of using a grid surface and then drawing on something over-top of it is a great idea I had not thought of. It looks like I'm going to have to crafting of some sort to get exactly what I want.


I own 10 Tact Tiles. They are the BEST DMing object I have ever owned. Im very sad they went under. Keep an eye out on ebay/amazon. Maybe you'll get lucky some time.


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If you're having trouble with large scale combat one solution is to go digital. This requires a computer (preferably a laptop) and a television, large monitor, or projector.

You can run a virtual tabletop program (Maptool is great for this, and it's free) on the laptop acting as the GM, and a second copy on the monitor/television/projector running a PC view, and move tokens around from the GM view as directed by the players. This also enables easier distance checking, use of a handy initiative tracker, saves time setting up stuff on a flip mat, and lets you prepare maps far in advance. It's especially good if you set up a projector to display everything on a table.


The digital aspect looks good, but I do not think I have the means to run it properly. I might however, be able to use that site for some other stuff. Thanks for the link.


Odd suggestion: a roll of sewing pattern paper. Some (not all) have a grid of squares on them, and you can write on it to your heart's content.

Liberty's Edge

For some nostalgia feelings, try a driveway and chalk. I did this once, because we all showed up and the GM locked himself out of his house. Strangely, one of the PC's had chalk in the car, and we killed goblins while waiting for the locksmith. We felt like small children drawing on a driveway.


pipedreamsam wrote:
The digital aspect looks good, but I do not think I have the means to run it properly. I might however, be able to use that site for some other stuff. Thanks for the link.

You could try roll20.com, it is similar to maptools (but not as complicated in my opinion) and everything runs off the website.


A roll of 1" graph paper (34.5" w x120'l) is about $34.00 on amazon.

You can build a table out of birch plywood and 2x4s for about $50.00 ($100.00 if you want it fancy)

That's probably your cheapest route ( aprox 170' x 480' battle field)

A projector on a wall used in conjunction with a program like, FGII, or Rolld20
One pc would work, a player pc and GM PC would've much better.

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