[RPG] Homemade Terrain w/miniatures


I am looking for ideas to make some homemade terrain for combat; I am not a great miniature painter as I usually fat-finger most of them, but I am pretty handy and know my way around my neighborhood hardware store.

My criteria are as follow:

  1. Inexpensive (I still haven't found that money tree yet),
  2. Portable (My group rotates gaming location),
  3. Cool (Naturally),
  4. Dynamic (e.g., elevation, cover, concealment, etc.),
  5. Convertable (e.g., convert an outdoor arena with a coat of paint into a cavern floor, etc.), and
  6. One Inch scale = 5 ft.

I will be DMing a Dark Sun 4E DnD game, but this question isn't necessarily system specific.

Best Answer

The most portable terrain type is also the least convertible: papercraft. There are piles and piles of papercraft building, landscape, cave, etc. terrain PDFs out there, but of course whatever's printed on the terrain is what's printed.

Personally, I like papercraft because it's quick and you can generate a large amount of terrain quickly relatively cheaply, even considering the cost of printer ink. RPGNow has tonnes of papercraft PDFs—there's new stuff every time I look, such as this beautiful ruined house and this desert ruin I just noticed. In addition to being light-weight and easy to move around, some, like Fat Dragon's stuff, is designed to fold flat for even better portability.

The greatest drawback of paper model terrain is that you're limited to what's available. On the other hand, being cheap to produce, there are a lot of publishers offering paper terrain PDFs, so there's an ever-increasing variety to choose from.

For ideas for terrain to make aside from (or to mix with) papercraft models, my go-to site for inspiration has always been TerraGenesis, a forum and gallery of amazing terrain modelling work. They have a lot of how-to articles that I've found useful, and the site has been around and active for years.