How to Make Board Game Tiles for D&D;

By Michael Hinckley

Though the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Adventure Board Game comes with five pre-made tile sets, or "boards", there is no reason to let that limit your imagination when playing this version of the iconic game. Below are some ideas for creating your own tile sets--both for outdoor campaigns and indoor campaigns. These can also be adapted to an existing D&D; campaign.

Creating outdoor "board game" tiles for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). There are two types of tiles one can make depending upon the setting of the session or encounter. First is the "outdoor" tile set; used any time there are large distances to be represented on the board (the Underdark, forests, naval battles, etc.). These tiles ets usually use a six-sided "Hex" (short for hexagon) pattern which allows for more natural movement over long spaces. Using a simple program such as Microsoft Publisher, one can make generic Hex patterns on a regular printed piece of paper. Or, if other areas such as water, forest, or grasslands need to be depicted, printing this hex pattern over a piece of colored construction paper or specialty paper from craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby (see Resources below).

Improvising outdoor "board game" tiles for D&D can be done using the Heroscape board game by Hasbro (see Resources below). The advantage in using these is that they already come shaped in hexes, are interlocking, offer a variety of terrain types, and are stackable. This allows for making a three-dimensional battle come to life with factors such as height, varied terrain, and water. The tiles can then be re-configured for other battles, though this may take some time, so pre-assembling the tiles and placing them on a flat surface, such as a sturdy piece of cardboard, is advisable.

Adapting outdoor tile sets for D&D can be done using other hobby items, particularly miniature buildings, trees, and bushes from model train sets. The advantage here is that the terrain can be modified, moved, and "destroyed" (removed from the playfield) easily. These accessories can be found at yard sales for those on a limited budget, or through hobby shops for those who want a more regular supply or who don't want to wait. It is advisable to have pre-made paper or cardboard "templates" to set up your board before play begins to maximize your play time.

Creating indoor tile sets are much easier than creating outdoor tile sets and can be done in several ways. First, the "low tech" method is to use graphing paper and a dark marker to make a tiled "grid" large enough to fit the miniatures used in the game. Another way, and slightly higher tech, is to use a graphing template on an office productivity software program, such as Microsoft Word or Publisher. Printing these grids on colored or patterned paper (as mentioned above) will add depth to your game. Both of these tile sets can be enhanced with the addition of "walls" or "furniture" created from folded pieces of cardboard or construction paper--both of which can be decorated or not, depending on the needs and tastes of the players.

Scavenger hunting for new "boards" can also be done when at yard sales or flea markets. Keep an eye out for old board games such as HeroQuest (see Resources below), the Dungeon board game (see Resources below), or old role playing games such as Twilight 2000, Warhammer, or Avalon Hill games. These are usually found relatively cheaply and can provide added variety to your D&D game. A bonus with this approach is that, if they are fully intact, you have a slightly different take on the classic adventure system you're playing with D&D. If only partially intact, you gain added monsters, heroes, and other accessories for use with your D&D board game.

About the Author

MA in modern Middle East history, BA in US history