Roleplaying is my primary jam. Collaborative storytelling with my friends is the best way I know to spend a game night. Because of that, I’ve never held back from splurging to improve that game. Luxury Dice from Level Up? Check. Personalised Wizkids Minis for each player at the table? Double check. Picking up Pathfinder and Starfinder Flip Mats to cover every situation we could end up in? Definite check.
So why did I initially hesitate at the idea of a small plastic bookshelf? Dungeon dressing always seemed unneccesary in my mind – we always describe the room a little, if someone wants a table, they’ll ask for one, right?
But then I tried it.
What fascinated me initially wasn’t simply how good it looked (out of the box, too – I hadn’t had time to paint it), but how it affected my players. “I hit it with my axe” became “I jump off that table and give it an overhead chop”, or “I stab at it” became “I drive him back into the pile of coins – does he lose his footing?”. The visualisation helped my players to narrate and become involved in the game more strongly, which is every GM’s dream come true.
I was hooked instantly. For the extra minute it took me to ‘dress the dungeon’ a little, this reaction was golden. Of course, my gamer brain wasn’t going to let me stop there. What else could be made more exciting with terrain?
My son loves Warhammer Quest. It’s a good little co-operative dungeonbash – seemed like a prime candidate to me. The terrain wouldn’t have any functional use in the game, but maybe it would spice up the look. Here’s the before shot:
and with some of that Terrain Crate magic?
The short answer is ‘yes, it’s better’. The longer answer is “Dad, this was the best game of Warhammer we’ve had! It was so cool when I bashed that guy onto the totrure rack!”. That’s a strong vote from the pre-teen crowd, but what about using the terrain as an intentionally tactical piece of scenery, I wondered. Enter: Heroclix, where you have elevated terrain – if Batman is supposed to be standing on something, then I’ll put him on something!
Seems like an even fight currently, but what if we dress it up?
What I love here is that it doesn’t just look better, it’s actually improving the look of the game. Hulk has picked up those logs and is going to hit someone with them. Batman is going to spring into action from up there and we can all see it. It actually helps in game too, because of the way targeting rules work.
A word of caution; this terrain can take over your life! Within a week of having it, I was having waaaay too much fun with it.
All this is unpainted and does the job fine, a little colour goes a long way. I’m no expert when it comes to painting, but I have some basic skills and a few brushes. I threw a quick undercoat on a few pieces
A single layer of all the necessary colours came next – the models take really well to the paint.
Finally, I bit of drybrushing and washing finishes out the paint job – I’m sure there are better painters out there who would also do some highlighting and play with colour blending more than I have, but these pieces, adding decoration to my dungeon, will work for my purposes.
All up, the paint job took me less than half an hour (plus some drying time). My dungeons will pop forevermore and I’m pretty stoked about how versatile the terrain really is – most of it can be used just as easily in my games that have more modern settings, like Call of Cthulhu.
You don’t need much to go a long way, either. One box (the Dungeon Depths Set) gave me everything you see in this article and more!
The Terrain Crate range is available from your local Good Games store, or at our online store.