Slightly Modifying My Wilderness Maping Style

Howdy! Please forgive my free-writing: I’ve got some pretty involved prepwork going on, typically I try to blog through it, but my mind is occupied, so I think that I’ll incorporate it this week. I am trying something different, yet not really. My last two games haven’t really been up to the standards that I really want them to be, so at its heart, I am stripping the game back down to its very basics, and designing a more traditional AD&D game. The group decided to go to Switzerland, so we’ll be tying up some loose ends, and then disappearing into the Alps, which is a great place to have a nice normal game.

I did some research online and found three potentially good spots to focus on, and finally narrowed it down to just one. We’ll be in really harsh mountains, so I’ll have a bit more control over movement, my wilderness map is not all that accurate, it is but it isn’t. I looked over the google maps for major things, which I marked on my hex map, and then just started filling stuff in. Typicallly with mountains, I’ll just draw them in, ignoring the hexs, but since the entire map is nothing but mountain terrain, that is kind of pointless, and I did want to take the play style back to an older OD&D style, so with the exception of rivers and roads, I marked hexagons individually. Now, the cool thing about these wilderness maps is that you can get a ton of play out of them.

I know that a lot of DMs share their maps with the players, I am not in this camp. If they want a map, then they have to make it, if I want to be nice, then I’ll aid them, but I don’t want them to see my map as it is full of secrets. This one, even more so, because the characters have never been to this territory, they have no idea what is there. They know to follow a trail, and they’ll arrive at a village, I can mark that, and I’ll mark the peaks that they can see in the distance . . . maybe. I’ve still got to figure out what they’ll see.

For this map I’ve done something new, I’ve added secret places all over the map, if the players enter them they will set them off. Some are good, others are bad. We’ll be using random encounters, but there are some places where the encounter is forced, there is also places were food is easy to get, I’ve hidden treasure spots, and I am also trying a brand new thing. When I was a kid I had this cool board game called Fireball Island, which I loved! They had these caves scattered around the island and when you went into one you rolled the dice and it would warp you around the board, I kind of like the idea, so I’m going to incorporate it into this map just to play test it. It’s a maze down there and I’m not really worried about actually playing in them, I’ve decided that the players will roll to decide which cave they go to, and roll again to see how many days it takes to get there. It could take them 1 day to travel all the way across the map, or it could take two weeks and they find themselves back in the cave that they entered in the first place. I’ve still got to figure out how we’ll calculate movement, I know that for the most part, it will be slow and grueling.

I’ve got my basic map done, though I am still fine tuning it. This will be a very old-school game of find the dungeon, but there are things to find out there besides just it. I still have a lot to do, I’ve got to create my random encounters lists, draw up my dungeon maps, complete stat blocks, and figure out some side quest stories if they want to follow them.

I’ve done this before, and once you are finished with all of the prep, the game is a lot of fun to play and you can have multiple sessions with just the work that you have. I also, hopefully, figured out how to stump a player, he is very good at looking at a blank map and picking out where features are located. I tend to put things were they are aesthetically pleasing to me, or in a spot that is logical, and he gets it every time, this time I did not. It won’t be impossible to find, but I am hoping that I get him to do some work for it this time.  I’m excited! I just love the way that D&D allows us to enter a drawing, how the creativity flows and you get all of these fun ideas while you’re working. I’ve got a good feeling about this one! Sandboxes, once you figure them out, are a lot of fun; not to mention save you a ton of money because who needs modules when you can get so much out of a single sheet wilderness map?

2123 Arms & Equipment Guide Review

I’ve talked in the past of luxury items, but what are they? In a nutshell, I identify them as anything that makes play more enjoyable, or faster but isn’t really necessary to play the game. Some of these are expensive, but they don’t have to be. One of the cheapest luxury items is the Arms & Equipment Guide which was published in August of 1991.

Oddly, this is part of the blue Dungeon Master Guide Reference Series, so players can’t reference it directly at the table; I suppose that this was done to help keep the DM in charge of the game, and out of the hands of rules-lawyers, but at this time TSR liked to give books to DMs saying that they were for THEIR EYES ONLY! Players who actually follow the rules might wonder what the heck is in this thing, and some clubs hate it when the DM makes stuff up, so the mystique behind the book might be appropriate in some cases.

There was a shift going on, I think that TSR overestimated that shift, but it was there, and it was breaking away from the published settings and doing some historical play, which had to be home-brewed. Of course the 2e rules had many historical components already built into the game, for instance Ring Mail isn’t something that you are typically going to find in a traditional fantasy game, and the prices reflected this. In the age of Ring Mail, this was the best you could get, and while they pointed this out in the core handbooks, there were lots of things in the equipment sections that were from different times and eras, all of it jammed together in one fantasy store, with no rhyme or reason other than to provide as much information as possible but at the same time keep the page count reasonable. That is where this book comes in, it defines more of the equipment found in the Player’s Handbook!

At the table, over the years I have had some odd questions, and I sometimes didn’t know the answer too, such as, “What exactly is a Bastard Sword?” “What’s the difference between a flight arrow and a sheaf arrow?” “What does my sling staff look like?” these are all logical questions, and since we try really hard not to bring too much mechanical mumbo jumbo to the table, I was always kind of forced to do just that.

I remember that one of my characters used a Morning Star for years, and I had no idea what the thing even was; all I knew was that it did 2d8 in damage.  Also, trying to buy food was always weird, why would a 4th level character want to buy an entire barrel of pickled fish, or try and bring along 250 gallons of cider with him to the underdark? Let’s not even get into equipment for mounts, I grew up around horses and still had no idea what all of that stuff was. Much of the equipment guide was ignored. Sure, there were a couple of explanations that players could read, but who really did that? Even if you did, it wasn’t really enough information to come to any clear conclusions anyway.

Is this all that is available? Four pages of stuff represents the entire list of everything manufactured or available in the world? For many DM’s that is exactly what that means. I believe that First Edition AD&D had a lot more available, but the prices were different. Actually the prices always seem to be influx depending on edition, which is just bizarre. But let’s refocus on this book itself.

In the past, if a DM wanted information they had to go to the local library, you really had to want to know the answer to go to the local library! This book gave as much info as it could for the low cover price. THAT is handy! Even today with the huge resources available to us on the internet, if someone wants to know what a bastard sword looks like I can quickly show them a picture of it, and tell them some of the information in Arms & Equipment  and have it all be relevant to gaming. Sure, you can Google Bastard Swords, but prepare to be swamped. We don’t want to simulate reality, we just want to know if this is something that our character would use or not: Nit picking, but without over doing it.

The book is broken up into five sections: Armor, Equipment for Mounts, Weapons, Equipment, and Clothes. It compiles not just the equipment found in the PHB but from the Players Handbook Reference Series as well as adding stuff from 1e and what I assume to be a few items unique to this book.


Each armor type is given a full page of text and a full page drawing. The text always has a brief description, and a section that they called “Campaign Use” which they talk about things relevant to our games, such as who uses this, how long it lasts, how to quickly destroy it, fun stuff like that! Sometimes there are small variant blurbs to modify things, such as spiked leather armor, or adding optional rules if you want to.

Shields and their uses are also given a page, as well as helmets, which is nice! It helps us visualize these items better, but also gives us some ideas on their flaws. Running around a dungeon with a body shield is something that I have done, and it isn’t wrong if you allow it, but if you are playing with the optional encumbrance system to add challenge, you’ll understand the numbers behind it. You can better apply an improved AC rating to it, but one’s attack rolls would be impossible unless they have the right weapon, and even then that roll will be hard to make with any accuracy.

CHAPTER 2: Equipment for Mounts

An excellent chapter with takes medieval ideas and simplifies them for modern minds. Unlike the previous chapter, this one rewrites and replaces the rules found in the PHB, it sticks close enough to them that it doesn’t cause a problem, but for more advanced play it allows more flexibility and ease of use when calculating AC ratings for lots of troops. While this chapter may seem overly complex, it actually makes things easier and gives an element to our encounters that we wouldn’t have if we stuck with the PHB. Basically it treats a rider and mount as one entity instead of two, which honestly makes more sense.

This chapter is a lot more compressed then the previous one, it still has fabulous art examples, but the definitions and campaign use were squished together. Some examples also have some vocabulary words to throw at your players so that they have no idea what you are talking about and may become really impressed and shower you with praise and admissions of love and deep respect—probably not, but a very very slim possibility is still a possibility! Actually this book adds depth and options to play; it identifies some very specific equipment that can change the nature of an encounter based on technology. It also makes entertaining reading, which considering that this is a book about arms and equipment, greatly helps with getting through this thing.

CHAPTER 3: Weapons

This is the longest chapter, and has some interesting features. The format is squished when it can get away with it, just giving a definition, but it can also open up and really blow your mind with facts that are relevant to your campaign; some entries feature Adventurers Notes that are actually helpful, and/or boxed text of historical data. In most cases they also have artwork that show off different examples of the same thing, such as battle axes and maces.

Finally, I know what a Morning Star is, and I laugh at my DM for allowing me to use it in close quarters: HA HA HA!

This chapter also includes a Master Weapons Chart, collecting gaming data from multiple publications at the time and putting them into one chart; this includes all four of the basic Complete Class Handbooks, so this list is pretty handy!

CHAPTER 4: Adventure’s Equipment

Historical Locks
This chapter is not complete, but it does have examples of the trickier thing found in other sources, and gives pictures to accompany them. It defines and briefly talks about their use in your campaign world. It doesn’t tell us why we’d buy a barrel of pickled kipper, but it does tell us how we can get it up the side of a mountain!

It still doesn’t do much for food needs, but it does add a provisions category which helps us to figure out food costs by the week, it isn’t all that helpful as it squishes everything up into one tidy paragraph, but it is something.

Maybe the fact that when I first started playing we were broke and starving half the time, has something to do with my obsession on this subject? We’d spend a good deal of time talking about exactly what was available at the inn, how it smelled and how it tasted . . . we didn’t care about the logistics of moving eight hundred thousand gold coins out of a 9 level dungeon, but by god you’d better go into elaborate detail when it comes to describing the innkeepers stew because that stuff is what really mattered, dammit!

CHAPTER 5: Clothing

Clothing should be given more attention than what this book or the PHB gives it, there just isn’t much to choose from, and while this chapter is far from complete, it is a step in the right direction and allows a DM to come up with some idea for the cost of something. Not that we want to get carried away with fashion, but it does play a part in society. There are still some mental calculations that we’ll have to do at the time to get our characters properly fitted, honestly, TSR would probably have had to make a book on this subject, and while I’m sitting here bitching about it, there still is no way that I would had actually bought something like that, so . . . yeah, this is a great chapter! It at least gets us started so that we can come up with some mental core ideas, nothing that we’ll ever want to write down, but it gives us just enough to make stuff up when we need it.


There is something definitely missing from this book, an index! When somebody asks you what the difference is between swords, you’ll have to do some flipping to show them the picture, but that is the thing, the pictures are nice! Well, not all. The image given to us of Leather armor is pointless as the man modeling it definitely made his Hide in Shadows roll, but that is just nit-picking.

Is this the best book that TSR had ever put out? No. No it isn’t, but it allows some sense of order to be had from us laymen at the table, it allows options and in some cases shows us why some items are listed the way that they are. Some items are not as convenient as we give them credit for, while others offer the players more options than they might be aware of. Much of what is in this book helps us visualize things better, or make a decision easier. It isn’t one of those books that you have to sit down and read cover to cover, and it won’t be able to answer every weird question that your players can pose to you, but it will help, and unlike Google, all of the material in this guide is relevant to gaming. If we want to know more, Google is always there, but at the table, this thing will eventually pay for itself in convenience and mind-candy alone. 

I give it a C+, it is great for advanced tables, but can probably overwhelm some users. It is fast and convenient but totally unnecessary to enjoy the game. I still consider it one of the better luxury items that TSR published, but the fact that it isn’t as complete as the title suggests, and the lack of an index lowers the rate considerably. If all you want it for is to get info on weapons and armor, you’ll be very pleased with this book, if you are looking to have basic equipment identified; you’re going to be a bit put out.

As far as value goes, a fair price would be in the 20-25 dollar range, which is very close to its original cost. Most of these books are still in great condition, I was able to find a mint condition book for 10 bucks, but that is after spending lots of time looking and getting lucky, but there are deals to be found for persistence!

Gothic Earth Episode 5: Nuremberg

The prep for this game was fun, but, as it turned out, rather unproductive. I decided to slow the game down and do a city adventure, as Nuremberg would be a great place to introduce things. Google Earth is a very distracting toy, it allowed me to enter the city and wonder around. I did some interent archeology and was able to get a rough idea of what the area looked like in 1890s. Nuremberg is a beautiful medieval town, it suffered a lot of damage in WWII but was repaired beautifully.

I got hung up on history, and specifics. I also broke a rule at the table. I found a great tourist map of the city that I wanted to use,  so I had players download it and put it on their tables for game day, to save on paper. Printing maps for D&D is supposed to be cheap, but for some reason I wanted to have streets and specifics, which was actually pointless, but the real world maps were so intricate that they would be rather expensive to make and very difficult to draw, so instead of ignoring streets, like I should have I insisted that I keep them, which of course I ended up ignoring anyway. I really should had drawn a rough map, but the pictures that I see during prep and research are so striking and beautiful, I want to share them, but I can't. The tablets at the play table, I believe, destroyed our ability to focus. They are just so distracting!

There is a lot of historical buildings in Nuremberg, I have pushed up the evolution of the Nazi Party and added a much bigger military presence as they are taking Germany by force. I also reintroduced a character that they had met previously, King Ludwig who's been stripped of political power, showed up in town to aid them in getting King Bismark out of the country. They were political enemies, but politics have brought them together.

I divided up city landmarks and provided intrigue to the city with Setting specific factions. The faction that they have been serving the most, The Watchmen appeared to be the strongest influence in the city, but in actuality they were reading what was going on totally wrong, they were hunting monsters and ignoring the true threats to the city which were running amuck.

I introduced a new faction to the party, The Resistance, they hide behind the front of entertainment and culture, so this group was actually the strongest force of good within the old city as Nuremberg is a tourist town that even the military has to respect because of the money it draws.

A cult dedicated to Science, which plays a big part in this season of the game, has sided with the military, they kept a base of operations in the Hospital conducting dark medical experiments, trying to recreate the incomplete works of Dr. Frankenstein to practical application. They had succeeded in grafting parts of the dead onto the living, but are anxious for war so that they have a much larger source of bodies to conduct tests on.

The Chaotic Evil faction, Six-Fingered Hand from last season has also sided with the military and have been able to take over the German Secret Service, weeding out those who are disloyal to the current administration.

What looks to be a simple tourist city that allowed visitors to walk through history was actually a hotbed of spycraft and intrigue. I used the formula from my handy dandy Forgotten Realms Adventures book to write up my city, and that part functioned perfectly!

I was also able to use my new screen and it gave me extra space that I had never had before, which turned out nice as I could spreed my work out enough that I wasn't searching through papers nearly as much to find stuff.

Gothic Earth requires me to hide my monsters and allows me to do different things with them that I wouldn't normally be able to do, so I threw in some curve-balls. The cult of Science had been conducting experiments for a long time, and grafted unwilling victims from the local Jewish community with cats and dogs, forming Broken Ones. They had an unnatural success with one subject, genetically grafting him with a pig, and since he was stronger than the rest, he created order. They appeared to operate a thieves guild, under the city. The Watchmen simply saw them as monsters, and blamed them for local murders, crime, and all of the cities woes. This wasn't true at all, the homeless children were pick pocketing tourists, the broken ones were giving the children food and supplies for the money collected and giving it to the local Jewish temple which was actually supplying the food.

The Broken Ones were good guys who looked and acted like villains, however they weren't. They believe that an ancient Jewish Wizard who has achieved Lich status haunts the city; that a local fountain is actually an Iron Golom created by a long dead Jewish Rabbi that keeps the Lich underground, and if the Lich does show itself, the fountain statue and the Lich will destroy the entire city. If this is truth or myth is unknown, a Lich is too smart to be caught, and their sense of the passage of time is completely different than for the living. The Watchmen don't believe in the lich, nor do any living people, but it gives the Broken Ones a higher purpose, they have the ability to regenerate, and they believe that it is their destiny and purpose to kill the Jewish Wizard once and for all.

The players uncovered this monster fairly quickly, as they were supposed to. There is an influx of pointless murders, a high level agent of the Watchmen was murdered by much bigger secret, and a more insidious creature than the Broken Ones. The Broken Ones are the only witnesses to this murder, and they looted the agents body of the magical items that she possesssed. The Watchmen requested that the players kill the Broken Ones and return the scrolls that had been lost to them.

What happened was horrible. The party was able to catch and cast hold on two of them. Their idea was to torture and kill one monster in front of the other, and frighten it to take them to its lair. It was bad, and once the players uncovered the truth of what was going on they felt terrible.

Now this was where the game went bad. I like to have lots of stories going on at once, and I had created a few mysteries, too many as it were, and they couldn't piece together who the pieces fit together, and misinterpreted what was going on.

Lichs are bad news, and there is no way that this party could possibly handle one of these things, but they assumed that the Lich was the target and that with the support of the Broken Ones they could kill it. I hadn't foreseen that conclusion, which is very logical but not something that I had prepped for. They aren't smart enough, nor dangerous enough to draw out a lich. They completely fell for the cause of the Broken Ones, which was ultimately pointless at this point. I had expected them to try to find the real killer of the dead agent, but they didn't. I had hidden it pretty good. I tried to give them hints about it but not lead them to it by the nose, and by the time that they finally figured out to investigate the toy maker, it was already too late, the Train was on its way to pick them up on the following morn, and we players were mentally exhausted from playing a game that turned out to be more mentally challenging than I had intended it to be. 

My original prepping plan was to have a simple and slow murder mystery, and then to have a big exciting train ride, which just didn't materialize. The game was too slow and I the players were really brainstorming hard, but I couldn't figure out a way to point them in the right direction. I really think that the computers at the table played a big part in our lack of focus, but I am really to blame as well because I wasn't able to figure out stuff either. My timing was just off, and it turned into a kind of bad game.

The party did accomplish some goals, but they didn't feel like they accomplished anything. They learned the power structure of this city, (and actually of Europe itself), the monsterous element of the city escaped detection and is allowed to continue, but it is now the German Military's problem, perhaps that will actually be a good thing? I don't know.

Writing mysteries are tough, you think that your clues are obvious when they really aren't, and I really should had put the cobash on the Red-Haring but I just couldn't think of a way how to do it. I had already discredited their most trusted sources of info, "The Watchmen" and left them on their own, and I didn't know that until after the game concluded. Oh well, not all games can be awesome!

Our next one will start very strong, and I think that it will definitely make up for the slow pace. I had wanted to end it with the train ride, but this can be fun to start it here too. At least that part of my prep is done, and I can focus on Zurich, Switzerland. This time I will make sure to keep things a bit more simpler, AND I am drawing the play map. Getting hung up on accuracy over fantasy definitely doesn't pay.

Do It Yourself: Wood Dungeon Master Screen

Greetings Readers of the Page!!  Rip’s wife here.  

So, Rip told me that someone was interested in a sort of “how to” on the screen I made for him for Christmas.  I didn’t think about someone wanting a tutorial on it, and unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as I went.  I can, however, tell you more or less how I did it and just hope that it makes enough sense to whoever might want to make one of their own.

Rip using old screen
 As Rip pointed out in his post his well-used copy of the DM screen for 2e has seen better days.  The seams are totally overworked from the years of opening and closing.  One seam is about halfway ripped out, and as he also mentioned, if you want to buy a new one they’re astronomical!  The cheapest I could find a used one for (and honestly no telling what kind of condition it’s really in) was around $35, and for a new one I was looking at $75.  Now, I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but that’s a little steep for a screen made out of something that’s about the same weight as poster board.  Yes, we love the game, but for the love of all the lost gods, that is way too freakin’ much for a DM screen.  To the internet I went to try and find an Instructable or even Etsy to see if someone had already made one.  Well, I found lots of wood ones, none with the tables inside, and while they’re gorgeous to look at, I didn’t want to shell out nearly $200 for something that I could make myself.  I’m crafty, so why the hell not?

I tried looking for craft wood at Hobby Lobby that would work for my project.  No dice.  Either the pieces weren’t thick enough, or were too thick, or weren’t big enough to hold a regular size sheet of paper.  I did find the brass hinges I used there.  They’re about two inches long and work perfect.  They cost me all of $2 a package.  My next stop was Menard’s.  I went to where they have the rows of wood to find what I wanted.  Honestly, you could use whatever type of wood suits you.  You want to pay out for Oak, then by all means buy Oak but to duplicate what I did, you need it to be 12 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.  I looked at the ½ inch stuff, but to be brutally honest, I wanted something that was going to be stout enough to put up with the table getting bumped and jiggled, papers hanging off of it, or the DM knocking into it and not knock the poor thing over.  They had a section with what looked like wood for craft type projects.  One side had Pine and the other side had Aspen.  I did look at the Pine, but like my oldest son who was with me pointed out; the Pine was kind of soft and maybe wouldn’t put up with much abuse.  The Aspen felt nice, would take stain well, and price wise wasn’t too shabby.  I spent $18 on the piece I purchased. I bought a piece that was 4’x12”x1”.  Perfect!  They have a saw there at the store and if you ask they’ll cut it for you.  Each panel is 12”x10”x1” and as you can see in the picture, you’ll need four panels. 

The next step was the stain.  You can use whatever stain you like.  I bought mine at Walmart for $3.99.  It was just one of those small cans of stain.  Gunstock is the color I used.  The pictures Rip posted up really don’t do that stain justice.  It turned out with a very warm sort of reddish tone.  However, if you prefer something darker or lighter, or would just like to leave it natural, do what works for you.  The Aspen only needed one coat.  It soaks up stain like nobody’s business and I didn’t want to overdo it.  Just make sure you do it somewhere well ventilated and put something down to protect your surfaces.  I accidentally got a little overspray on my kitchen table due to being a little overzealous while brushing it on.  Whoops!  Leave it to dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step or you might end up with a mess on your hands.

The second night of work was applying the tables and pictures to it.  We have a combo printer so I was able to make copies of Rip’s original screen.  I did try to find pdf’s of his screen, but either I’m not smart enough to find them on the internet, they don’t exist, or I’m not smart enough to find them on the internet. Ha ha. In the end, it works out that I used his original screen anyway.  If the rest of y’all are anything like my favorite DM, your screen has spots and stains on it too, and you can tell a story about each one of those stains.  In other words, it means something specifically to you and it’s sentimental.  Those stains and spots carried over to the copies, and I was okay with that.   

My first panel (these are going left to right) has these tables-Morale ratings, calculated THAC0S, saving throws, visibility ranges. Second panel-Turning undead, thief average ability table, encounter reactions, armor class ratings, standard modifiers, and surprise modifiers. Third panel-Weapon damage and missile weapon ranges. Fourth panel-Missile weapon ranges, calculated THAC0s, turning undead, Punching and wrestling results, Armor modifiers for wrestling, and standard exchange rates for money. They’re exact copies of his original screen, so they’re laid out just the same.  However, a person could make their own tables, make a copy of their own screen, whatever would work in your world can be put onto your screen.   But remember this, once you’ve decoupaged them on, they’re on there, so make sure it’s what you really want. For the pictures I used the dragons fighting off of his original cover, and since we also play a Gothic Earth/Ravenloft setting, I printed off a picture of Strahd and his brides for the other center panel.  

 Once my tables and pictures were printed off I used a lighter and singed around all of the edges to give them an old beat up look.  Be careful while singeing though.  You can lose control of your fire quick and burn up your page before you know it.  

 Next was the decoupage.  I used the outdoor formula of Mod Podge.  The jar I bought cost around $8. If you have a really small budget you can use Elmer’s glue and a touch of water and do the same thing.  I wanted the heavy duty outdoor stuff because there’s always the potential for something wet to get spilled at the table and I wanted it to be able to withstand just about anything.  Figure out how you want your pages put on each panel before you start so you can get an idea for lay out before you’re stuck with it. Then, remove the picture/sheet, lay down a thin layer of Mod Podge over the whole surface, place the paper down on the glue making sure you smooth it out well as you go and get rid of any bubbles.  You can even use a credit card to smooth it down if necessary.  I also roll my pages “backwards” before laying them down so I know the edges won’t roll up on me.  Once the page is down good, cover it with a thin layer and cover the whole side of the panel.  Allow to dry for a good 15-20 minutes before adding another layer to it.  I only did a couple of layers and mine is sealed pretty damn well.  Allow your panels to dry in a warm, dry place before continuing.  I had a short time frame for mine, and once my middle two were just barely tacky to the touch I put the pictures on the backs of those panels.  This proved to be slightly problematic during the curing process, but luckily with the panels being thick enough I was able to stand them up so they could cure.

Lastly, was putting on the hinges.  I wanted the whole thing to be able to fold in on itself when not in use.  The idea I had in my head looked something like a “W” when slightly folded up.   If the hinges are put on right, all of the decoupaged surfaces are protected and the only thing showing is wood. So with the middle two panels I laid them on the table with the picture sides showing towards me.  I lined up the panels and had them to where they were touching.  The hinges are each placed about an inch and a half in from the top and bottom and screwed into place.  Next, I flipped them over to tables side up and starting with the left panel I repeated what I did on the other side, and then finished with the far right hand panel.  When folded up, the pictures end up touching each other, and then the tables are all touching each other, leaving just the plain wood showing.    Total cost thus far-$30.

Final thoughts-I do have some more ideas for it to make it better.  My oldest made the suggestion of adding brass corners to the panels.  With the warmth of the wood stain, brass looks amazing against it.  I did find some decorative brass corners online for about $2.99 for a pack of 4.  They screw into place, and I think they would totally set off the whole thing.  I also have a couple of magnet strips to add to the tops of a couple of the panels.  On one of the Instructables I found ages ago, a guy had done that to one he’d built and I think it’s brilliant.  Rip’s always trying to find ways of getting his stuff a little better organized at the table and out of the way.  With the magnet strips he could put paper clips on the top of a map/character sheet/NPC card/etc. and then tack it to the panel.  Easy peasy.  The last and final thing I’d like to do I have to wait until the weather gets warmer, and that’s to spray a clear coat over the whole thing to completely and totally seal it in.  I want to make sure this thing is close to indestructible. 

Anyway, I hope I didn’t ramble too much and you found this to be useful.  This was a fun project to work on and I’m so glad he loves it.  I have to take care of my favorite DM ya know. ;)


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