Okay, here it is the custom made battle map that I am using to run my Keep On The Borderlands – more specifically the Caves of Chaos. It measures 55 inches by 73 inches, which is why my excel version of the Caves of Chaos map is a bit different from the original.
I’ll walk you through how I put it together, and then give a room by room tour (at least for some of the rooms).
Ok, let’s get started.
I started off with some upholstery fabric that I picked up at JoAnn’s Fabric and craft store. They were running a sale and I got it dirt cheap. Usually this stuff sells for $25.00 a yard and I got it for $3.00 a yard. 2 yards = 6 bucks for the base.
The material used for the walls I got a similar deal on, but I only need half as much (actually less than that, but half is a good starting point.
If you should attempt an insane project like this yourself, I recommend very much that you choose a fabric that has a pattern that lends itself to making the 1” grid. If possible, get fabric that already has a 1” grid on it, like a checkerboard or plaid. The lines on this particular fabric are spaced at ¼” so it was pretty simple to make my grid.
Okay, for the next step I started marking my grid and gluing down my walls. If I had it to do over again (which of course I do), I would recommend drawing out the grid in its entirety first. I used a green permanent fabric marker. They are machine washable and really do a very nice job. A word of warning here, though. You have to let the marker dry for a couple of hours before you expose it to steam.
Why is this important? Well mostly because I used a lot of steam.
In order to attach the walls I used fabric glue, which comes in little rolls. The rolls come in a variety of widths from 1/8” up to 2”. I chose the 1” width, but the 7/8” would work just as good, if not better. In order to stick the walls to the base you cut a strip of wall and a strip of glue and then place the wall on the base with the clue in between. Then put a damp cloth over the wall and apply a hot iron (set to wool) for about 20 seconds. The instructions on the glue say to keep it there for 10 seconds, but I found that keeping it there longer really helped, especially with some other types of fabric, like denim, which I used for the pool in area G.
Here we can see what the whole thing looked like with all the walls done but no trees, water, or furniture. At this point I was experimenting a bit with the fabric markers to see how they would look for drawing in furniture and stuff. I decided to go ahead and cut out shapes for most of the furniture like tables and chairs later on because they added more dimension to the dungeon. After finishing the walls I went ahead and glued down the trees, water, and major furniture elements like tables, chairs and altars.
After finishing all of the gluing I went back with a fabric marker and drew in the rest of the elements that I wanted including furniture, fireplaces, the kobold garden, and the magic runes in the temple of chaos.
All told the project took about 50 hours of work, but it is really a wonderful little blanket to have around. My kids just love it. And as for gaming, it really does bring a whole new dimension to the game experience.
Want a close up tour of some of the rooms? Let’s get started.
Area 1: Entrance. I don’t show the pit trap, but will place it down when the PC’s discover it. The red star represents the cave entrance. There are no furnishings in this area, so it is kind of boring visually. The kobolds get to use the narrow hallway to hold back the PC’s if they turn aggressive.
Area 2: Dump. I admit that I had a hard time drawing trash, so it looks a bit like scribbles. When the PC’s go poking around they will find the rats and scorpions waiting.
Area 3: Also visible in this picture is area 3, the Storage area. Crates, barrels and bags are all drawn out. Mixing colors with the fabric markers is a bit difficult, but they are outlined with black and then colored in with yellow and bronze. The yellow doesn’t show up too well in the photos.
Area 5: This is the kobold king’s lair. If you are paying close attention you will have noticed that I switched areas 6 and 5 on my final map. Why? Well because I screwed up and glued in the king’s throne here. Not a big deal I guarantee the players will not know the difference. I tried to get a bit creative with the fireplace, the lantern, and the little playing cards on the table.
Area 6: This is the kobold main living quarters. Notice the large fireplace and exposed rug. The kobolds like to lounge here next to the fire. They also have a couple of oversized sofas.
Area 4: If you’re wondering what happened to area 4 so am I. At the time of this writing I’m just noticing that area 4 got left out. I guess I’ll stick the guards in the hall somewhere.
Obviously this continues on for the rest of the caves. If you want to see the whole thing then you’ll just have to download the entire module. I’ll post links for that next week, I’m just putting on the finishing touches.
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