by Mike Shea on 17 March 2014
Note: This article has been updated since the original September 2009 version
In early 2013, Dwarven Forge ran a Kickstarter for newly designed "Dwarvenite" game tiles. These simple, beautiful, useful, and rugged pieces answered many of my original complaints with the resin Dwarven Forge pieces: weight, durability, and cost. The Kickstarter was a smashing success and the results were shipped to backers in late 2013.
In March of 2014, Dwarven Forge launched a new Kickstarter for Dwarven Forge Caverns made of the same excellent material. As of this writing, the Cavern Kickstarter has only just begun. If you didn't get in on the original Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, you can still pick up the original Dwarvenite pieces at their website.
In today's article we will discuss tips to make the most of your Dwarven Forge pieces, both resin and Dwarvenite. We're going to investigate how to make the most of your investment and bring a lot of flexibility and fun to your group.
Building awesome three dimension adventure locations is the main advantage of Dwarven Forge over other dungeon mapping systems. Make use of this as often as you can by building multi-platform setups. Use corner pieces to prop up large floor tiles and you can build two or even three platforms high. Stairs and large floor tiles are especially useful for building vertical setups and raised areas can bring a lot of extra texture to the battle space. Building multi-tier encounter maps is the best way to show off the value of Dwarven Forge pieces over flat maps.
We all know that the way of the lazy dungeon master is to leave open paths and fill in the scene as the characters step into it. With Dwarvenite pieces we can easily build rooms as we need them. Because it only takes a couple of sets to have enough pieces to build some nice-sized rooms, we can save some dough as well by only needing to buy two or three sets.
If you have some room configurations in mind, build them out and take some pictures so you have a model you can build from when you need it. For some extra fun, dump the Dwarven Forge pieces on the table and have your players build out the environment from your description.
Building a room at a time saves you money, saves you space, and helps your game grow organically instead of you setting up everything else ahead of time.
Building unique dungeon rooms is all about the details. The more accessories you can drop into a room, the more unique that room will feel. You can pick up accessories from all sorts of locations including traditional miniatures, board game pieces, model stores, doll house furniture, and all sorts of other odd places. Build up a good set of these accessories and keep them on hand to build out your unique room as you need it.
Dwarven Forge pieces work very well when mixed with poster maps or other dungeon tile systems. You can use them to build out walls or towers on top of a flat map. This mixed environment gives your group a good feeling for the scenery and only takes a handfull of pieces to put together.
If you want your players to only see what their characters can see, use a piece of black cloth like an old t-shirt or a pillow case to cover up the parts they can't see. The lighter weight the cloth, the less of a chance it will knock over your stuff when you pull it back.
Though Dwarvenite is a much better deal than traditional Dwarven Forge pieces, it's still a hefty investment in your game. Regardless, the Dwarvenite game tiles are, by far, the best 3D terrain you can use in your game. Spend some time learning how best to use it at your table and you'll have a great time. If you haven't already done so and have the means, get in on the Cavern Kickstarter for a fantastic deal on some excellent terrain pieces.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master, Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures, and Sly Flourish's Fantastic Locations. You can also support this site by using these links to purchase the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual, or Dungeon Master's Guide.