So as you might have guessed from my earlier posts, I'm devoting a lot of my time to RPG scenery. I have been running a lot of Pathfinder Society games recently and I have been looking for a better method of map representation. For one thing, Paizo sells some of the maps for their scenarios, but not all of them. Also, many of those maps are now out of print. So sure I could just get a blank flip map and draw on it with wet erase markers but I have found this annoying for two reasons.
1) The flip mats are folded. They do not lay flat easily and mine has begun to warp with age.
2) It's not fair that I get to see what the tavern interior looks like but my players only get a line drawing with some hastily scribbled tables.
I want something that actually shows the room, lays flat easily, is reusable, not too expensive, and is portable.
So my choices are...
A) Either make my own tiles or buy tiles like these.
Pros: They are generic and modular. As long as you are creating your own scenarios, you can design within the constraints of the tiles you have.
Cons: They can get real fiddly if the tiles are too small, room decorations will have to be placed on as separate tiles adding to the number of fiddly bits, their is a finite amount of room shapes you can make unless you add a heap more custom tiles, and the maps in Pathfinder scenarios can't really be built with tiles unless you have a ton of custom ones. Finally, the more tile options (rooms and decor) you have, the more likely it will slow down the game as you set the scene.
B) Make a magnetic board.
Pros: I just have to lay out the boards and I can place magnetic walls, doors, and other furniture around at will without fear that it will all tumble over when someone shakes the table. I may even be able to make the base tiles in 8x10 sheet for portability.
Cons: The base sheet or sheets may get heavy if they are made of metal, this lends itself best to 3D terrain items which aren't very portable. There is some question as to weather it would be cheaper to make the base sheets metal and attach magnets to the terrain or to get magnetic sheets and attacked metal to the terrain, and finally I'm hearing a lot of mixed reviews about using magnets (depending on type) and terrible things about magnetic paint.
C) Make hardback tiles with plastic slip covers so I can change the tiles inside with custom printed images.
Pros: I save the cost of not mounting every tile I make, the slip cover would accept wet erase or dry erase marks if needed.
Cons: I would have to convert Pathfinder maps with my own art, maps wouldn't be reusable with other pieces.
Any thoughts or comments? As I go through the design process I'm going to keep a record here on my blog so other crafters can see what I did that worked, what failed, and hopefully it will sparks some ideas in you.
BTW on a lark I bought a bag of .75 inch cubes of wood from a craft store. There were 24 cubes in the bag I think. here's what I did with them.
I made a .75 inch crate texture and copied it six times to the side. Then I made copies of that group and slightly adjusted the hue and lightness for different shades of crate. I then printed out the sheet, cut out the sides and glued them onto the wooden blocks. I took a few of the blocks and glued them together into stacks, making sure I left one single crate unglued just in case.
Now I have crate stacks for whenever I need them, or when I start running home games again. Best of all they are light and very durable.