This is seriously getting ridiculous. Being a DM and making awesome terrain has become a bit of an obsession, and hopefully the payoff will be worth it when my players see the fruits of my toils. This all began with a graveyard scene for one of the encounters in Shadowfell. I created it with folded paper mausoleums, walls, and gates, and paper gravestones with funny names on them.
I put quite a bit of work into the graveyard, and had a lot of fun doing it. For the road and some other terrain, I used some Dungeon Tiles and some homemade terrain tiles that I printed. I taped it all down onto my "battle board", a creation of my own involving a dry erase board with permanent marker. After getting done with it, though, I realized that I would have one awesome looking encounter that lasted for exactly one encounter, and then I'll have to retire my awesome graveyard. That's a bummer. So, I got to thinking about how I could make sweet looking terrain at home without spending a fortune, and be able to use it for more than one encounter.
I've invested in a few packs of Dungeon Tiles, and they're great and look cool, but they have their problems. My biggest gripe is that you don't know what's in each pack. Wizards likes to create surprise packages -- I think it stems from Magic: The Gathering. They're really into not letting you know what's inside. The other gripe with Dungeon Tiles is that there aren't enough duplicates to make really big rooms. They've designed them so that you pretty much need to buy two of each set in order to make a good looking dungeon.
Other tile sets are even more incredibly awesome, but ridiculously expensive. Case in point: Dwarven Forge. They look amazing and are much more customizable because the tiles don't often have things like furniture or dead bodies permanently painted on them. However, they're really pricy. So, I discovered a way to replace the money part with good ol' sweat, and I've come up with some rad tiles. First, I went to Home Depot and dropped 20 bucks on some tile. Like actual, bathroom tile. They had sheets of these 1-inch stone tiles for 10 bucks for an 11x11 square of tiles. However, the tiles are glued to a plastic mesh and spaced for grouting, so there's about an eighth of an inch of space between them straight off the rack. That won't do for my gaming. ;)
The other issue is that they come off of their plastic mesh rather easily. So, I decided to take them off, and use some wood glue and glue them to cardboard bases, to give them stability. I started by making some 2x2 inch squares, which will be good for creating hallways and also for setting side by side to create rooms.
Then I started making some larger pieces. So far, I have a couple of 3x3 and one 6x6 as well. It's fun spending time making stuff like this, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone that's not a fan of modeling, because it gets monotonous. The glue from the mesh sticks to the tiles as well, so I found that in order to create a tight fit between tiles, I needed to use a little sandpaper to get the old glue off.
Happy gaming. I can't wait until the next session.