Some role-playing gamers enjoy sitting at a table with just a sheet of paper (and some don’t even need to). I am not one of them. I want towering dragons and hordes of zombies to shuffle around a grid map with detailed props and landscapes.
My imagination works great, thank you very much, but if I’m going to play a game, I want to play it in the most immersive way possible.
That means little plastic miniatures. Many of them.
In the past, I’ve used dry erase markers to map landscapes on the board and even project scenes from the underside of a frosted glass table top. But here’s a new way to do it: 3D printing the physical details of the terrain. You can even 3D print miniatures if your collection doesn’t have the perfect monster tentacle that the campaign finale requires. Or how about creating your own unique monsters that have never been seen before in any bestiary?
Not in dungeons and dragons? Take a look at these other 3D printing games. !
(If you’re new to 3D printing, follow our guide to learn the basics of 3D printing.)
Before you start printing a bunch of thumbnails, it’s important to get the right define your expectations . Realize that the power of 3D printing is not the ability to produce hundreds of highly detailed models, such as a factory production line. Rather, it is that you can print custom one-offs that are not commercially available, or even create your own.
Print quality you can get from a consumer 3D printer. is not exactly what you get from something that has been commercially injection molded. But it can be a lot cheaper: filaments per model for about $0.10 or $0.20 and you get to choose the color!
It should also be noted that it is illogical larger thumbnails tend to be easier to print . Small little tieflings with thin waffle legs can be frustrating and result in spaghetti on your printed bed, but a gelatin cube that can wrap players in toxic green translucent PLA is likely to be successful.
Create your own mini with Oculus Medium
One of the exciting uses of VR with trackable hand controllers is the creative freedom to draw and sculpt in 3D. In this video, Make demonstrates how to sculpt an octopus and then print it out. Skip to 6:26 for the final product:
Lacking the ability to start building from scratch? No problem! There is a growing archive of medium sculptures to download, so you can simply import existing designs and then customize them by adding tentacles to everything. There can never be enough tentacle monsters.
Gravity Sketch is another great option. The VR open beta is now available and can be used with both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. (Skip to 12:00 for incredible print results.)
No VR equipment? Lucky you! Any Windows 10 user now has access to Microsoft 3D Builder, which can print directly to many popular 3D printers. While this option is handy, it’s not the only 3D modeling tool for beginners. easy creation easy creation there.
Download some mini
Not a creative type? Me neither. Don’t worry, there are thousands of free patterns you can download and print.
Monster Manual A — Z (200+ Minis)
Manuel is a talented modeler who decided to study the monster manual and model what he found using Blender, a popular free modeling program. These are 200 monsters that you can download and print for free. They’re available from Shapeways, so grab them while you can. You will need a free account.
What’s great is that some of them are epic, big models that you might only occasionally find in official figure sets. (Although, of course, if you buy the official kits, you’ll get much better pre-painted minis.)
Netherforge and Delving Decor
Thingiverse user Arian Croft (aka Dutchmogul) currently has 670 designs to his name, covering a range of modern and fantasy miniatures, robots, and dungeon decorations. Our favorite is the Scaring pool and its collection of liners, but these treasure chests and loot markers are also great for any board game.
646 open minis
Brent Newhall has put together an exhaustive list of minigames that you can download from his website, so check it out. The list is a bit old and some of the links are dead, but there are still some great finds there.
Landscape, 1 inch scale
Of course, once you have monsters, you need to decorate the dungeon and set up proper walls.
Ultimate Dragon Castle: Dungeon Starter ($10)
This is a premium set of stone dungeon models with a unique ability to connect. The dragon castle provides rigidity, at the same time it can be reused. Print them in gray then dry the parts.
The starter kit costs $10 but is relatively limited. Each expansion pack costs another $10-$15 and you will definitely need several. However, if you paid $500 or more for a decent 3D printer what else is worth $50 for decent models? There is also a free sample pack if you want to get an idea of the quality of the models before purchasing.
Fat Dragon Games advise that self-printing models will cost just under $0.50 each.
OpenForge system (free)
The OpenForge kit is simpler than DragonLock, and the current parts archive doesn’t provide any inter-part locking system. But this set is completely free, and there is a huge selection of items available — not just dungeons!
If you love these sets, consider supporting the designer on Patreon. For $1/month you will get access to the base design files from which all elements are made, or for $2/month you will be given the right to vote on future designs.
Raging system with OpenLOCK
From PrintableScenery comes Rampage, a modular lockable system similar to Dragonlock but built on top of an open source connector. The Rampage designs themselves are not free and just came out of crowdfunding, so they are still under development. However, keep an eye on it (base files are available from Thingiverse). If you feel like developing a few non-standard interrelated elements, you can try — and expect to see other projects in the future.
OpenForge has also begun supporting the OpenLOCK system for use with its landscapes. Note that OpenForge uses a very slightly different dimension with 50mm tiles compared to the 2″ tiles from PrintableScenery. However, the difference is only 0.8 mm and is within even standard print error tolerances, so they must be compatible.
It’s also worth noting that the Rampage system has removable walls, which gets around the problem TrueTiles (below) is trying to solve by increasing all dimensions. Of course, this complicates the design a little and means that you need to use intermediate elements instead of two-inch squares.
Our advice: choose a single system and stick to it.
Heros Hoard: TrueTiles (from $9)
The premise of TrueTiles is that other tile systems are broken because walls take up most of the space and minis don’t fit. To create maps with a common wall, one part of the design is compromised and ends up being smaller than intended. TrueTiles fixes this by scaling all tiles to 1.25 inches each instead of one inch. This design choice allows the mini to fit into the tiles even when there is a wall. Also, wall height is limited, so models with extended brackets can still fit. Grab your pack here or download the sampler from DriveThruRPG.
DnD Hex Grid Props
Based on the Pocket Tactics hex tray, Albert decided to remix for use with Dungeons and Dragons. Who said DnD can’t be played on hexes instead of squares?
It’s a bit unconventional (perhaps your party is playing in an alternate dimension?), but if you’re going to use hex grids for other games anyway, then you might as well stick to one system and adapt the rules. After printing a base tray with seven hexagons, these props add interest and objects of various heights to your arena.
Bonus: Roll in Style
If your printer can handle it, we think this ClericAaron dice tower is a must have kit. The model includes several different tray designs to choose from, but should be a simple print that only requires arch supports.
If you only need D20, can we offer this amazing electronic D20 with custom critical roll graphics on a cute little OLED screen?
These are our favorite models.Let us know yours in the comments!