I’ll be one of the first to admit that Dungeon Tiles are a great product. They’re sturdy, versatile, and attractive, and they’re even cheap at only $12 a pack. However, as great as they are, sometimes you need specialized tiles for something not covered (yet) by the tile sets that WotC has released. Luckily, you can make your own.
How? Well, it’s really not that hard. Here’s what you need:
- An image of the tiles you need to create (to the correct scale)
- A color printer
- Card stock (buy this stuff at any office store, like Staples. It’s the DM’s best friend, really)
- A glue stick
- Foam board (you can buy this at most craft stores, like Jo Ann or AC Moore. It runs about $3.00 for a pretty large piece)
- A cutting tool, like an Exacto knife
- Some sand paper
First, set up your image so that it’s to the correct scale (1-inch grid squares for 4e, for example), and print it out in color (or black and white, if you prefer) on card stock. The reason I recommend card stock is that it’s simply much sturdier than regular printing paper. The glue won’t warp it and it’s less likely to tear or fold in the process.
Once you’ve got your printed image, cut it out and coat the back with your glue stick. Adhere it to the foam board and let it set for a bit. Then, use your Exacto knife to cut along the edges. Make sure the knife is sharp, and make sure you’re cutting on a surface that isn’t going to get damaged by the knife (or a surface you don’t care about). Be careful cutting along the edges, but don’t worry too much if the edges are a little rough. That’s where the sandpaper comes in. Once your tile is cut out, you’ll use the sandpaper to smooth the edges a bit so that it’s more attractive and easier to fit next to your other tiles.
What you’re left with at the end is a sturdy, lightweight, attractive tile that’s about twice as thick as a standard dungeon tile. Custom tiles are great for oddball features in a dungeon, or for very specialized dungeons that have a lot of features that aren’t covered in the tile sets. You’ll also probably want to make sure that any tiles you create are tiles that you’re going to be re-using, just to make your labor worthwhile. Otherwise, it’s probably easier to print your tiles out on card stock and be done with it.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll show you a tile I made last night. This is a tile that I’m going to use to represent the airship that the PCs have recently taken possession of. It’ll probably be re-used quite frequently throughout the campaign, so I’m happy that I put it together.
And here’s an image of the tile alongside an official WotC tile, for comparison. Sorry for the bluriness and image quality; these were taken with my Android phone.