A few weeks back, I posted some photos of my old GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Hex Boards. Since then, I’ve made some new ones – and I like them a lot more. The last time I did this was proof of concept; this time, I really went to town.
I started by making just one big square board to use as an all-purpose battlemap.
To keep the game visually interesting, I tried to work in a few little details – cracks in the stone, old scars where something heavy has been dragged across the floor, moss and creeping vegetation, and so on.
I’m not much a photographer, and so I’m finding it a bit hard to capture the details in the photos. This close up, things just keep getting blurry.
But here are a few shots of the details, anyway. Sorry about the blur!
I was happy with how this big square board turned out, so I decided to make some more battlemaps in different shapes..
I started with a big round room:
Of course, any big room is probably going to have passages leading into it – and from a tactical perspective, the entrances to those passages might even be the most interesting things in the room. So I built a funny-shaped passage to connect with the big round room.
It’s not easy to get the hexes to line up properly when you’re doing this, and I can’t say I’ve succeeded terribly well. But hopefully it will work ok in play.
I also added another smaller passage, to increase the range of options.
This made me think that perhaps it would be nice to build a second round room, a bit smaller than the first, with entrance passages (or nooks for statues?) already attached:
At this point, I was really enjoying the building process, so I whipped up a few more room shapes.
I obviously needed something to use as a wide passage, corridor, or hall – either on its own for the old “Fight In The 10′ Tunnel” scene, or as an entrance to one of the larger rooms.
I decided it would also be nice to have a hallway with little alcoves or nooks running along it for statues, sarcophagi, or whatnot. This would create cover, as well as odd angles for retreats, and opportunities for boxing opponents in.
When I started the project, I was intending simply to make one good-looking all-purpose battlemap. But by this point, mission creep had set in with a vengeance!
Now the goal was to create an extensive series of modular battlemaps that could be combined to generate a wide range of tactical situations.
I built a sharp right-angled corner, as well as a curved one. The curved one is kind of prettier, but I find that a right-angled corner can be a surprisingly interesting place to stage a battle. The right angle creates a certain amount of limited cover; sometimes you can use the sharp inside angle of the turn as a choke point; and combatants who are gaining ground often have to work out how to negotiate the turn. All good stuff.
I also put together whole bunch of little extra passageways. Obviously none of these is going to be useful as a battlemap all by itself. But I was still working on the principle that, tactically speaking, the entrances to a room are sometimes the most interesting parts of it – so I needed to be able to add little entrances and exits at will.
I left them as separate pieces so that I could create a wide range of different layouts.
In an ideal world, I’d have such a wide variety of shapes in my toolkit that I’d be able to cobble together an appropriately shaped battlemap no matter what the adventure called for. I certainly haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I’ve definitely got a range of new options. It’s going to be fun to see how it all works in play.
Now, I definitely didn’t create all these hex-tiles as a modular dungeon. They’re really meant to be used just as battlemaps, rather than as a full-on dungeon layout.
But of course at this point it was impossible for me to resist the temptation to lay them all out as if they were a full-on modular dungeon layout, rather than just a series of shapes for creating various DF battlemaps.
Those are a few different layouts, anyway.
But as I said, this is not really designed as a modular dungeon system – if it had been, I think I would have made a different variety of room shapes. Really, this is just meant to be a series of shapes that allow me to lay down a visually and tactically interesting battlemap whenever the need arises.
The moral of the story: GURPS has a brilliantly sophisticated combat system, and it’s even more fun when you can run it in a visually interesting way.
Alternative moral: when the new Dungeon Fantasy boxed set arrives, I’m going to be ready, damn it!
Anyway, those are my new hex boards for playing GURPS. I’m really looking forward to trying them out.
Thoughts and comments welcome.