[RPG] A Game Board for D&D?


So I'm a new GM, and I notice there's usually a problem with positioning, so I started drawing EXACTLY what happens on the map in combat for my players. Thing is it gets messy, annoying and time consuming.

Do you guys have any suggestions for any downloadable&printable/purchasable/ideas for do-it-yourself ways to get a good gameplay board?

If you know any good software which can fill this role that'll work too.

Best Answer

I've found that the more visuals you have the better is is for people to know where everybody/everything currently is located. Visuals I always have when I DM

  • Map. Generally a smallish (letter/a4 sized page) that covers the overall area where the players are likely to go. It's a great reference, and the players do miss it when it is not there. If you have bigger/fancier, great. Just have SOMETHING to show the "big picture".
  • Encounter Mat. This is any sort of surface that is easily erasable and has a 1 inch grid on it. I use something like this Chessex mat. However my group has also used Dwarven Forge, as well as a paper-craft version similar to Dwarven Forge. If you want to go the cheap route, you can get a page with 1" grid on it (graph paper works great for this) and then photocopy it as many times as necessary. I would recommend only using pencil on it so you can erase/reuse later, otherwise it gets very wasteful. You can also cover the grid pages with contact paper that are dry/wet erasable. Regardless of solution chosen, I recommend you get a mat that can be used with both wet and dry erase markers. I use wet-erase markers to put the terrain/permanent things on the mat and dry-erase markers for anything that is temporary such as spell area effects. I try to also have some string on hand for measuring distances, and also marking something that will change every round (like flaming sphere that moves every round).
  • Erase-friendly marking equipment. Which will vary depending on what your mat ends up being.
  • Miniatures. There are metal, resin, plastic, and paper minis. Metal, plastic, and resin are all 3 dimensional, whereas paper tends to be a picture stuck onto a base. I like to use the 25-30mm scale minis, especially the Bones Line of minis by Reaper, but there are no shortage of other companies making them. You could even cheap-out by cutting squares of cardboard with an arrow drawn to mark where the character is facing. Sure, minis that are lovingly painted look better, but you can get the job done with the cardboard markers.
  • Any other visual aids needed. I like to also have a picture of any opponent for any planned encounters and have at hand any unplanned encounters (what exactly does a flibbertygibbit look like?) or other important things (what is the holy symbol for the Cult of Foo?). Players tend to like those visuals, especially if they are not easily explainable as something like "a golden hand on a background of green".