Tips for battle maps and dungeon tiles

I do most of my dungeon mastering at conventions and game stores. This post shares some of my tricks for working with battle maps on the go.

Wizards of the Coast includes pre-printed battle maps with Encounters and Lair Assault adventures as well as most of their published adventures. I love the maps, but they never lay flat. The folds and creases always seem to topple figures on the map.

To solve this problem, I purchased a sheet of Plexiglas from the window department at the local home improvement store. Laying the sheet on the printed map forces it flat and prevents it from sliding. You can even mark up the sheet with a wet-erase pen. Suitable Plexiglas sheets cost about $15.

Living Forgotten Realms adventures encourage you to use dungeon tiles. As I’ve confessed in other posts, I prefer to bring the best possible production value to the table. Particularly if I’m running the same adventure several times at a convention, I feel like the extra effort of assembling maps pays off.

For the times when I plan to set loose tiles on the table, I spread sheets of non-slip drawer liner, available anyplace that sells housewares. The liners grip the table and keep loose tiles in place. The lightweight material easily rolls up for transport.

For all but the simplest layouts, loose tiles take too long to arrange on the table, so I like to assemble maps in advance. I use removable mounting putty to stick the tiles on foam-core art boards. Office supply stores sell both the boards and the putty. Get the white putty, and not clear removable mounting dots, because the clear stuff sets after a while and will damage the tiles.

I transport my maps and Plexiglas in a cheap, $10 artist’s portfolio case.

Next: Evolution of the skill challenge

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