Tuesday, September 14, 2010

REVIEW: Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Set

Regular readers of this blog know that I often use miniatures in my ongoing Dwimmermount campaign. I also use Hirst Arts dungeon blocks to represent the chambers and corridors through which the players characters travel in their adventures. But when I was a younger man, there were no such things as 3-D dungeon blocks, or rather those that existed weren't readily available to me. Consequently, my friends and I, like nearly everyone we knew who hadn't been a miniatures wargamer before getting into roleplaying, had to make do with paper and cardboard "dungeon floorplans" (as we called them) to represent the environments in which our scenarios took place. Consequently, I was intrigued when I first heard about Inked Adventures' line of hand-drawn printable maps for use with miniatures.

The Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Pack is 41-page PDF retailing for $5.50 (currently discounted for $4.00) and would seem to be, as its name implies, the foundational product of this line. 36 of the PDF's pages consist of colored illustrations of rooms, corridors, junctions, stairs, and dungeon features like doors, pools, trapdoors, corpses, furniture, and more. The selection of architecture and scenery in the Basic Pack is remarkably varied, covering most of the classic elements of a fantasy dungeon, all drawn in an attractive style that's neither too "realistic" nor too cartoonish. I liked the look of them so much that, even though I'm unlikely to use them in actual play, I printed off a couple of pages just to see how they'd look. I can report that they look very nice indeed.

Certainly the cut-up sections lack the "grandeur" of 3-D blocks, but they more than make up for it in the quirky charm of their artwork and, unlike 3-D blocks, it'd be very easy to print off pieces and pre-assemble them for an upcoming session without having to set aside large areas of space in one's home. They're also a lot more flexible than 3-D blocks, since it takes little effort to alter the shapes of the rooms and corridors with the deft use of scissors. If I have any real complaints about the cut-up sections it's that, because they use a scale of 1" to 5 feet, many contemporary miniatures, which have circular bases, such as the Otherworld Miniatures I use in my games, a little larger than a single square. It's not a huge problem, to be sure, but it could pose some difficulties.

Still, I was suitably impressed with the Basic Pack and hope it will be well received by gamers who don't already own or use 3-D blocks in their fantasy campaigns. It's an excellent product at a good value and fills a void in the old school market.

Presentation: 8 out of 10
Creativity: 8 out of 10
Utility: 7 out of 10

Buy This If: You're looking for an attractive, inexpensive alternative to dungeon blocks for use with your fantasy miniatures.
Don't Buy This If: You already have and use dungeon blocks with your fantasy miniatures.


  1. "I also use Hirst Arts dungeon blocks"

    If Hirst Arts somehow involved Damien Hirst (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damien_Hirst), we could have some seriously wacked-out dungeons.

    As to the scale problems, a cludgy solution may be to check if your print drivers offer options to rescale the document when you print it. From 1" == 5', scale by about 10% and it should be right for the 28mm == 6' scale that most contemporary minis are sculpted in.

  2. Actually, my maths went in the wrong direction - 1"==5' is a little bigger than 28mm scale. Otherworld's website says that their bases are 1"; if the bases are larger than the squares, is it possible that when you printed the tiles they were scaled down?

  3. It's certainly possible; I'll have to go back and check.

  4. I've grown used to using the 3⅓ ft. per inch ground scale Gary suggests in the 1e DMG, so I'd need dungeon sections with 3 squares per 10 ft., rather than two. Sadly, this rules out all the dungeon tiles I've come across, so far.

  5. Some of the Otherworld minis are on 25mm bases(near to an inch as makes no difference; just under, IIRC), but some are on 30mm, which would overlap enough to be a little awkward. That may be what James is running into.

  6. Okay, a little shameless promotion here. I have my own dungeon tiles that you can download for free in PDF format. I used a roomy 1 1/4" grid format (sorry Philotomy, that'll really throw you off).

    Free to download here: http://warlockshomebrew.blogspot.com/2010/07/dungeon-tiles.html

  7. Bought this set and glad I did! Very attractive art. Love the old-school feel. Now just trying to think of ways to attach the pieces so they do not shift during play. Hate paperclips...