Hey there, and welcome back to the second of five articles where I’m going to show you how to create the ultimate visual dungeon experience for your friends and family. My passion is crafting fantasy terrain for tabletop gaming, and if you missed the first article head on over there and check it out for a complete background and history of who I am and why I do what I love.
In the previous article we made a highly detailed set of dungeon tiles out of XPS foam and a handful of crafting tools and supplies. We’re about to dive deeper into our dungeon and increase the immersive feel by adding walls to our collection. We can make our walls out of many different types of media just like our tiles, and the design and heights can vary as well. We’ll be creating our walls out of XPS foam. Let’s start by talking about the different size and style walls you can create.
When your players start their dungeon crawl nothing adds to the confined, eerie, and tension filled experience of a cave or dungeon than walls. Some game masters opt to play with no walls at all as they feel they obstruct the view of their players. While I think this is true in some cases, if the walls are constructed properly, and your players are oriented in such a way that the height of the walls isn’t an issue they can add a ton of immersion and playability to the game. I’ve made walls to represent not only a dungeon environment, but the interior walls of buildings such as a castle and tavern. My castle walls are only one inch high. In a case where you’re just trying to separate one room from the next this is a great option.
It offers the player a sense of awareness as to what is around them while not obstructing the view in confined areas. Typically crafts like taverns or homes offer a very limited space for players to explore and large walls become an issue. To see how I make my magnetic walls for just such an encounter I’d recommend checking out my “Magnetic Walls and Doors for Dungeons and Dragons” video on YouTube.
Ok, let’s get back on track, dungeon walls. The wall height for your typical dungeon is usually around two inches. This offers the border we are looking for without obstructing the view in a 360-degree scenario.
Now before we begin crafting let’s briefly discuss the overall design of our walls. Crafters for years have been creating walls for their dungeons that sit on the exterior of their floor tiles. The main issue with this is that on a table, space is limited. In placing the wall tiles on the outside of the dungeon tile you now are taking up space on the table with a wall where a tile can no longer be placed. This eliminates playable space on the table. This is why in the last article I mentioned I like to create my dungeon tiles to the size of six by six inches. This allows the Game Master to cover the entire table which makes it all playable! He or she can then place their walls on top of the tiles. You now can create rooms or corridors, but these walls can also be stacked to make a vertical play surface! This adds a third dimension of play and makes encounters much more interesting.
When I think of a dungeon I think of dark, musty, torch lit environments. Areas filled with danger around every corner that can be seen by remnants of adventurers or dungeon dwelling creatures scattered about. We’ll want to show all of this visually on our walls.
First, we need to start with our base structure. A typical dungeon wall is made up of some rather large blocks that we can then weather and age. I make my walls slightly smaller than six inches in length, so I don’t have any issues with them butting up against each other. Now you could cut out a six inch by two inch high block of foam and draw in your block pattern which will certainly work, but will lack the depth and detail we are trying to achieve. The best-looking brickwork is usually that which is placed by cutting out individual bricks and laying them one at a time. You’ll want the bricks to be twice as long as they are high. This is important if you plan to vary up the pattern of your brickwork once you get going.
This is where picking up a Proxxon Hot Wire Table is a huge time saver. It will allow you to get very straight cuts and will reduce the time it takes to make your crafts, but you could always make these long cuts with your framing square and Olfa knife.
The blocks should be roughly three quarters of an inch long by three eighths of an inch high. Keep in mind that these represent large stone blocks and not bricks for the scale we are working in. Once you have all these blocks cut out you can then place them in a plastic tub with a few rocks and give it a good shake. This will add stone texture to all of them quickly and easily. You might go mad if you had to texture each block one at a time! Next you can start stacking blocks. Now’s the time to put on your favorite tv show or tunes and have at it. This will take some time, but we aren’t in a rush. Also get creative with each wall. Leave out some blocks in certain areas, make the top of a few walls look as though they have crumbled by chipping away at the blocks once the glue has cured. Speaking of which, I recommend placing tacky glue on each block to hold them together. Hot glue would become a pain with all the small strands that would end up all over your walls.
Ok, now that you have your walls constructed, and before we move on to the details let me say you can build these in a fraction of the time with the brick jig from Shifting Lands. It’s a product that I helped develop with Gerard Boom that allows you to make large strips of bricks in minutes that look as though they were individually placed bricks… something to consider.
Finally, I like to place a single magnet in the center bottom of my wall. I also add a magnet to two sides of my dungeon tiles. This will make the walls and floor snap into place and prevent them from being knocked over so easily. You can see this in my Cave Tile Series.
Ok, now for my favorite part of any craft, the details! This is where you can let your imagination run wild. You can do a little research online and look at some pictures of dungeons if you need to for ideas. You can place skeletons chained to your walls, add some small openings or windows, make some holes with little rats poking their heads out, add some flicker LED torches (check out my video on YouTube), add some multi colored brown and green moss to the base of the wall, the addition of dripping water running down the face of the wall is always a nice touch done with UV resin… the ideas are endless. So how do we achieve some of these effects, by experimenting that’s how.
Look through your bits box for any armor, swords, skeletal parts. You can glue them to the base of your wall. Lean a sword or shield up against the wall or chain a skeleton to the wall. Chip away at certain areas to create little peep holes in your wall or create larger windows for enemies to shoot arrows through (don’t forget both sides of the wall are playable)! Pick up a bunch of rats from your favorite miniature company and place them along the top of your walls or poking their heads out of tiny crevasses you’ve created. Don’t be afraid to work with electronics. In my Flickering LED Torch video, I show you how to create actual flickering torches with nothing more than a single LED, a battery, and some hot glue! What dungeon doesn’t have moss growing up the walls? You can simply add some tacky glue to the base of your walls and sprinkle on some dark and light green flocking. Adding two tones makes the moss much more interesting to look at.
You’re going to want to make two wall tiles per dungeon tile for straight corridor sections. A great addition to your wall set would be to glue two of these walls together into an “L” shape and now you have a corner wall to direct your players down corridors or other tight spaces. Again, because these walls are placed on top of the tiles, these corner walls can be placed anywhere within the dungeon making it a fun winding corridor full of danger around every corner!
Now that you’ve created these dungeon walls you can create any style wall for any environment you wish. The same principles apply. Get creative and make some sewer, catacomb, temple, or cavern walls like I made on the channel. I’m sure you can think of a bunch of other fun walls to create as well! Do a little research and think about what makes sense to add to each environment. As an example, moss might not be the best option to add to your temple wall, but a small alcove would look great with a little book resting on a shelf centered in that nook. This is a great segue into our next article that will be dealing with scatter terrain for our dungeon. As we start thinking about fun little additions to our walls, we can now start to ponder what we might encounter throughout our dungeon… and then create it!
For more great crafting inspiration and content please visit me on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Patreon at Tabletop WitchCRAFT, or visit my website that has links to the most common items I use, links to all my plans and merchandise, as well as discounts for all my affiliates. Ok, until next time I’ll see you around.