How to Create Wire Spell Templates for Dungeons & Dragons

Nothing stalls a fight on a grid like a circular or conical area-effect spell. Everyone waits while someone counts and recounts squares, and then figures angles like a pool shark. For fireballs and other circles, macrame rings trim minutes from the process. The rings come in variety of sizes, so you can get an 8-inch ring for Fireball, a 6″ ring for Darkness, and a 4″ ring for Antimagic Field.

ArcKnight’s sets of flat-plastic templates include conical templates, but I favor wire templates. Rigid patterns make measuring easier and wire can often be set on a map without moving any miniatures. No one manufactures wire cones that work as well as macrame rings, so I made my own.

My cones along with circular macrame rings



These templates require these components:

Home-improvement stores sell all these components, including the heat-shrink tubing.


To make the templates you need these tools:


To create a 6-inch-cone template and a 6-inch extension, do the following steps:

  1. In the corner of a large sheet, use the protractor to mark a 60° angle. Extend the angle 12 inches and then mark each line at 6 inches. Rotate the ruler at 6 and 12 inches to draw circular arc between the branches.

    I drew cones on a paper folder.

  2. Clean the steel rods.
  3. Use the pliers bend the rod to match the shape of the 6-inch cone.

    Shaped 6-inch cone

  4. Using the hacksaw, cut the rod where the wire overlaps.
  5. Bend and trim the remaining wire to the shape of the 6-inch extension.
  6. Connect the ends of each template with heat-shrink tubing, and then use the heat gun to shrink the connection.

    Heat-shrink tubing

  7. Paint the templates.

    Painted cone

These templates approach the quality of macrame rings.

Finished cone and extension

8 thoughts on “How to Create Wire Spell Templates for Dungeons & Dragons

  1. timothypark

    Foam core, a sharp knife and long pins or nails.

    If the pins are too sharp for your tastes blunt the tips of common nails (skinnier with the large head).

    Cut foam core to desired shape. Push 3 long pins into appropriate places (making a three legged “stool”). Set on battle mat. The pins become legs that hold the template above the figures.

    There is enough structure to the foam core that they can be cut “hollow” if you like.

  2. skwyd42

    I agree that wire templates are quite nice. However, these cones (and also circles) will have the issue of “partial squares” when using a grid. I’ve yet to find a satisfactory solution for this issue. Any ideas?

      1. Gridless Johnny

        Go gridless! Don’t let your characters (and monsters) be constrained by an artificial grid! Seriously, it opens up a lot of possibilities and eliminates the issues with moving along angles on a grid system. Create some simple measuring sticks (for measuring movement) via thin dowels from the hardware/hobby store, cut them 6 inches long, and mark each inch with a Sharpie. Or, just use a ruler or tape measure. Easy peasy.

  3. Mark Sirota

    How do you use these things?

    I’ve got a fire dragon sorcerer who casts Fireball a lot, and I was prompted by your repeated mention of macramé rings to pick one up. And once I had it in my hand and imagined it in use, I realized there’s a big question left to answer — what parts of the grid are in the area of effect?

    Turns out there are four “official” systems in the books and one clarification on Twitter from Jeremy Crawford, and in my opinion, they’re all wrong.

    This analysis has me questioning the wisdom of playing on a grid in the first place. I’ve written up why, and I’d appreciate your comments. Thanks.


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