The Make: Guide to Dungeon Master Crafting

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The Make: Guide to Dungeon Master Crafting

As you may know, there’s something of a roleplaying and tabletop game Renaissance going on. More people than ever are starting D&D groups, doing family boardgame nights, and painting and fielding tabletop miniatures. The RPG, board, and miniature game markets have seen significant and steady growth over the past five years. For those of us who’ve been gamers our entire lives, this is a very exciting time.

One of the hallmarks of the current game craze is the creation of far more “environmentally rich” games, both from game publishers who are including more miniatures, cards, terrain pieces, elaborately-designed game boards and playing mats than ever before, and from players who are embracing miniature painting, terrain making, and other aspects of the gaming hobby in increasing numbers. Just as online project sharing, more affordable building materials, 3D printing, and other modern DIY technologies have fueled other areas of making, they’ve been a boon to the gaming hobby.

From all this has emerged a new category of making known as DM Crafting (DM as in “Dungeon Master”) with many YouTube channels devoted to it. DM crafting is about building your own dungeons, tabletop buildings and terrain, dice towers and trays, DM screens, maps, and custom gaming tables.

If you’re interested in taking your gaming to the next level of environmental richness, designing your own games, and building an actual tabletop dungeon for your group to go adventuring in, we’ve put together this guide to some of the better, more popular DM crafting channels on YouTube and some cool projects to get you started.

Basic Dungeon Floor Tiles with Black Magic Craft

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Jeremy Pillpow’s channel, Black Magic Craft, is a great source of terrain and model building tutorials. In this back-to-basics video, he shows you how to make dungeon tiles. Much DM crafting makes use of blue board insulation foam and this video runs through most of what you need to know to work with this cheap, versatile, and lightweight material. He also offers a simple recipe for making cheap black wash for washing large amounts of terrain. In the video, Jeremy also uses the very common technique of balling up a piece of aluminum foil and rolling it over the surface of the foam board to create realistic stone surface texture.

Simple Stone Bridge with DM Scotty

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One of the most well-known DM crafters is DM Scotty. He runs one of the more popular DM crafting Facebook groups and YouTube channels. In this video, Scotty shows you how easy it is to create a curved stone bridge using little more than a piece of cardboard and foamcore. One cool trick shown here is the introduction of glue into the honeycomb of the corrugated cardboard so that it can be shaped and then fixed into place when the glue dries. He also uses Dollar Store foam board for the project, another common building material among DM crafters.

Build an Inn for Your Adventurers with Wylock’s Crafting

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Follow along with this detailed tutorial and you’ll end up with a gorgeous medieval-style inn where your rag-tag band of adventurers can gather between dungeon delves, to drink mead, brag of exploits, and divvy the spoils. He uses all of the techniques above and also introduces another common building material for DM crafting: Popsicle sticks.

Miniature Treasure Hordes with Mini Terrain Domain

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I’ve recently been obsessed with the fantasy miniatures wargame, Frostgrave. Besides wizards and their henchmen blasting Eldritch horrors at each other, it’s all about collecting treasure tokens. You can buy such tokens, but it’s far more fun to make your own as is detailed by Jake in this Mini Terrain Domain tutorial.

Making Gypsy Wagons with Dungeons & Glue Sticks

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There’s something really mysterious and magical about a gypsy wagon. If you follow along with this video on Dungeons & Glue Sticks, you’ll end up with a really gorgeous little gypsy wagon to use in your games. A lot of people are currently playing the vampire-based Curse of Strahd D&D campaign, which includes a deck of fortune telling cards called the Tarokka. Imagine a gypsy showing up in one of these cool wagons to do a reading of these fortune-changing cards.

3D Printed Terrain

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As we have written about here on Make: before, 3D printed terrain and miniatures are taking the gaming world by storm. In these two videos, DM crafters look at some 3DP terrain and talk about the strengths and weakness of this technology for creating effective gaming components.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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