Friday, March 26, 2010

Really Old School Dungeon Tiles

While searching through my old issues of Dragon yesterday in a quest to locate something for Mike Monaco, I cam across an ad from a company called Kabal Gaming Systems. The company was selling "Dungeon Floor Modules," like those picture above -- sheets of paper/light cardboard on which were printed rooms, corridors, staircases, etc. to be cut out and used in conjunction with miniatures.

I never owned these or indeed saw them, but I did have a similar product from Heritage USA, called "Dungeon Floors," if I recall. They came in a small box (like most Heritage products) and were made of rather sturdy cardboard. Unfortunately, I only ever owned one set, so, even when I did use them, I had a limited range of shapes and sizes for my dungeon layouts. They certainly don't hold a candle to the Hirst Arts blocks we use nowadays.


  1. I just came across that same ad the other day, myself. We don't use minis now, but we did (informally) back in the day and would have loved these.

  2. We tried different things back in the day--- like strips of cardboard, etc., but finding the right shape in a hurry was a pain plus a stray breeze or movement could sent them scattering all over.
    I preferred using a chalkboard scribed with 3 inch squares laid flat on out table top on which we would draw the lines with chalk (messy, but effective), or a glass tabletop with a grid underneath it on which we would draw with grease pencil.

  3. Over the years we used a mix of:
    1: advanced heroquest tiles
    2: fan-made heroquest custom tiles
    3: maps drawn on paper, same scale of miniatures
    5: one of those eraseable mats
    6: WotC tiles

    But the best I found are Games Workshop Dungeon Floor Plans. Because you can actually cut them any shape you want.
    And the style is the awesome old-style GW of yore (which probably is "truer" old-school to me due to the stupid amount of Fighting Fantasy and Heroquest/Talisman I played when i was a kid) :)

  4. I had that Heritage set, as well as floor plan tiles from GW. Some were quite good, but we never used them much. It was easier just to draw the room on a battlemat. Nowadays, though, I'd definitely use the Dwarven Forge and Hirst Arts materials.

    Security word: "pyroade" The favorite sports drink of dragon-kind everywhere.

  5. That Hiest Arts site is amazing. But these days, I prefer to use my chessex battle map.

  6. Frankly, I've never seen the point of Dungeon Tiles (old or new) when I've got my trusty Chessex Battlemat handy. It just seems more intuitive to sketch-up the situation than dig to find the right tile or cut out a map that's specific to one dungeon.

    Hirst blocks look quite nice - but for my own style of gaming, I guess I don't need that much atmospheric immersion. Maybe I'm closed-minded, but I'd find the blocks far more valuable as a wargame construction set than as an Rpg tool. If you're going to the effort of casting blocks and designing 'dioramas' I'd construct more with them than just hallways and 10'x10' rooms.

  7. Were it not for good ol' hex mats, I probably would have bought a lot more of this stuff. Dungeon dressing froo froo aside, I like to see where characters are in relation to the world. I honestly don't know how some folk do without minis and hex/square items (not a knock at them - I just don't think I have it in me to do it all from the mind)

    WV: "hobition" - gotta be a good hobbit joke there, but I can't think of one. Damn Fridays at work...brainless

  8. I'm also a pretty solid battle mat user. I have a nice big one that has a grid on one side and hex on the other, so I'm set for D&D or GURPS.

    I have some old tiles but never used them a lot. Though now that I think about it, I like the idea of mixing the dungeon dressing tiles like tables, wells, and the like, with my battle map. I must give this a try.

  9. @Tom: mixing mat and tiles

    That's actually what I do; I have a mat, with a plexi sheet over top. I use whiteboard markers to draw on the plexi sheet, and sometimes, I also use tiles on top of the sheet. Rarely do I mix "drawing" with the tiles, but sometimes I do.

  10. I had a set of the Kabal tiles back in the day. The squares were too small (about 3/4", IIRC), but they were nice looking.

  11. As I recall these (a friend of mine bought a set BITD) the tiles were very nice looking but printed on a very light cardstock.

    The Heritage models tiles are actually scanned at the Heritage models reference Yahoo group (, if anyone wants to see them. They had some nice furnishings.

    We've tried the Games Workshop tiles (lovely and we used the Horror mansion quite a bit in CoC and GURPS horror) but usually ended up back on a battlemat. I also tried making tiles for a homebrew Advanced Heroquest variant on matte board and they are sturdy but want to slide around. The tiles that come with the game Descent are nicer, since they interlock, but the "cave problem" is hard to get around.

    We also tired some printable 3-d paper dungeons (the started set had pre-printed sheets and a CD of more to print) but they were scaled more for MageKnight (1.5" squares) and a bit too fiddly.

    The Dwarven forge looks great, and I don't know if any intermediate steps between battlemats and Dwarven Forge are worth the bother.

    BTW didn't the same company produce the "Knights and Barbarians and Legerdemain" / K.A.B.A.L. RPG?

  12. I had these as a kid. They were cheap paper, and you had to cut them apart yourself. On the up side, there were a lot of them.

    Kabal also had a D&D clone rule system, reviewed in Dragon (forget the number, around 40-50). It sounded terrible.

  13. I use a hex battlemap in my weekly sessions for indoor fights and supplement it with a few plastic walls to get the basic shape of rooms in there, but the scale is way out of whack with whats described on the map... theres no one to one ratio between what the mapper draws and the big rooms we fight in, its more abstract than that.

    Four outdoor levels and caves, I use the Heroscape tiles which stack on top of each other and make variable heights easy to achieve (e.g. hills and dips). This is great for tactical fights.