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constructing a 3D Tower (Shackled City campaign ending)


First Post
First off: Spoiler Warning! This post contains some spoilers on the Shackled City campaign! This is a cross-post from therpggenius.com

Now that all shackled City players are out, let me continue:
Hi all.

After more than 1,5 years my Shackled City campaign is drawing to an end.
I am planning to make a 3d model of Skullrot to make the final battle a lasting experience for both me and my players!

For those not familiar with Shackled City: Skullrot is basicly a tower with the general shape of a plus (+) and about 9 levels. It's footprint is about 20 by 20 squares at the base. The whole map is rather square (no round endges, round walls, etc).

Apart from slight modifications to the floorplans and ecnounters it will result in the confrontation with the Lichfiend and Adimarchus as described in the hardcover.

What I am looking for is some advice on constructing Skullrot.
I plan to make each floor out of thin wooden sheets. I will paint each sheet grey and stick a color print of the floorplan on it.

The main problem I have is that I am not sure wheter a high-res printout of the floorplan will give the best effect. Also, As I want to make some slight modifications, I can't use just the maps from the map booklet.

I think could either craft the floorplan myself (e.g. paint it) or use a mapping program to create a new map and print that.
Another thing I am concerned about is not revealing the entire map at once (a fog of war effect), but to reveal the map of e.g. a room only after a door is opened.

Any advice or suggestions? If it all works out I'll post some pictures to show how it worked out!


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First Post
I would use foam core for the walls. The fog of war effect will be tough, but you can design it in pieces so that you only reveal a bit at a time.


First Post
I would use foam core for the walls. The fog of war effect will be tough, but you can design it in pieces so that you only reveal a bit at a time.

I did consider foamboard but found it rather expensive (It wouls cost almostr $100 for the floors alone). I also have quite a large amount of MDF sitting in my basement, waitin to be used...

As for walls: I am worried that the whole thing would be difficult to manage with 9 stories all walled in, therefore I think the walls should remain 2D..


I have done something similar and based on my experience, it may not be possible for you to do everything you want to do: IE: a freestanding 9-story tower with a Fog of War effect.

Do you have Campaign Cartographer? Do you have access to a color printer and massive amounts of ink?

When I tried this, I mapped out the entire dungeon using CC2. Each room occupied its own layer of the map, so that each room could be displayed by itself. I printed out each room separately on regular paper using an inkjet printer at a scale of 1 inch to five feet. I carefully cut out each room using an X-acto knife. I then used rubber cement to glue each room to a piece of foamboard, and then I cut out each piece of foamboard, again with an X-Acto.

The result was like a huge foamboard puzzle. Each room was a separate piece. When the PC's entered a room, I could put down that piece only, creating a fog of war effect. I did not build walls and I did not try to create an actual model.

This method will work well for you if you don't want to create an actual model building. You'll be able to display one floor at a time pretty easily.


First Post
First of all, this sounds like an awesome idea. I wish I had the skill to pull something like that off!

Second, one thing I would advise is that you make it so that you can easily have two floors exposed on the table at once. When I ran the Shackled City campaign, during the fight through the tower my players were often split up on two floors (admittedly, they weren't always doing the best job, tactically). Still, you may want to be able to manipulate minis/tokens/whatever you're using on two floors at once.

Third, once you get it done, I demand pictures! Can't wait to see what you end up producing.


I did something similar for the Crimson Fleet base in STAP. One way to do this would be to build each floor separately and make them so they can stack on top of one another. When the players head to a new floor you add it to the base as you go. I am not real familiar with Skullrot though so maybe my advice is off. I do own the magazine however- if you could tell me what issue it is in I could take a look at it and maybe give some better suggestions.

Good luck with the project. The look on my players faces was enough to make the project I did well worth while. I posted a few pictures so you could see how the Crimson Fleet base turned out.


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I did something like what you are talking about for Blackwall keep in Age of Worms. Thread about it here. Pictures are still there for about another week or two before my site goes dark.

This is along the lines of what I was thinking but looking at the pictures made me think of something- you want to make it 9 levels which may be a problem if they aren't connected together well. I'd hate to see the thing fall over during the session!

If you could get some bolts long enough (I'm sure you could I just don't know what they'd cost) you could run 4 bolts thru each floor in the same spots. The floors could then be held in place with a nut on each bolt at the same height. The bottom floor would be the base to keep it upright. You could even put a bolt on the bottom and top of each floor to make it really solid if you wanted.

I suppose you wouldn't be able to tell until you built it but it seems like it would be fairly sturdy. I'm sure you'll get some more ideas though as others post.


First Post
They make bolts that are really, really long and could cover 9 floors no problem. Stick a could nuts and fender washers between "floors" to keep it from moving and you are in business.


First Post
Thanks for all the replies so far!

Ronin: your model looks awesome! I can only hope to build something that comes near that.
Festivus: Unfortunately the links doen't seem to work (Or I am doing something wrong).

As far as construction goes: I think I will make the whole thing stackable, with pillars on each floor. Each pillar will have a deep hole. A long screw/bolt/nail of at least 2 inches long at the underside of the floor of the next level will slot into the pillar hole.
This way I thing the whole thing will remain stable enough. Also by not placing the pillars on the same spot at every level stability will be fine (I hope!).
I think a long bolt that runs through the entire thing could provide a good amount of stability but will require a lot more work. If the plan I mentioned above doesn't work I think I will be going for this solution.

The main issues that I am still wrestling with are the floorplan and the fog of war. I don't have CC so I can't design it in there and print. I do have use of a color printer at work (=free) so I can use some program and print it at full scale. Any suggetions on free programs?
As for the fog of war, I'm leaning towards 1: stacking the floors as they proceed (this elminates a part of the problem) and 2: covering up parts of the floor (with paper, post-its or something similar) and reveal parts as they proceed on each floor.



as a builder type person, here's my take on the problem:

As I understand you want a tower, that looks like a + sign when I assume, seen from the side (if + when looked from above, even easier).

One method is to print out each floor map at 1" scale. Cut out the excess paper (the outside).

for a short tower, use plywoood or foamcore (I assume plywood), cut in the same shape as each floor. Glue the floor paper to the wood.

At this point, you can stack them, to build the tower. If you want a more "realistic" shape, use a thicker material (or glue them together in layers).

The result, is a flat map, with a 3d reveal.

To maintain alignment (especially with a taller tower. Get dowels make pegs to align them. I recommend doing it as pegs, rather than running the dowel all the way through, as the dowel will interfere with game play.

Whereas, drilling a hole on the surface (not all the way through), and having the pegs extend from the bottom, will not. Use more than 2 pegs per level, so each level can rest on it's own if you need to play multi-level. Build a base-board to accept the 1st floor (and incorporate any extra exterior ground-level terrain.

Paint the outside BEFORE you glue on the floorplans. This avoids damaging them.

As for doing the fog-of-war, your mileage will vary. Doing that style can slow down game play (you have to describe more, and the players will be more cautious).

My solution, which will also add height, is to cut "over-floors" from the same material, that are then sub-cut along room boundaries.

Let's pretend you're using 3/4" plywood.

You cut out 2 identical shapes for the first floor. Glue the floorplan to the first piece, cut the second piece along the floor plan room boundaries.

Pre-game, set the floor-pairs up such that the floor plans are covered.

Place the first floor down, and remove the first "room" block. When the players move to the second floor, put the blocks back, so you can put the next floor up.

A flatter version is to use paper "covers" instead, which means you don't have to re-cover everything as you put new floors on (allowing for a re-visit and explore floors dynamic).

A big concern is that building a custom set piece will take a lot of time, and be of limited re-use. Not impossible, but the more specialized, the less re-use (otherwise your players will groan every time they end up at Mount Doom). Using a modular map system to build the tower out of might be a better investment.


First Post
That's some good advice, Janx! Thanks.

At this moment, the plan is to make the levels from MDF wood (since I have a lot of that already). It is about 7mm thick.
I will make pillars on the bottom of each level and small pegs at the bottom of each pillar. These pegs will slot into holes of the previous level.
This way I will stack each level as the players progress to the top.

For fog of war I will reveal rooms and such as the players progres (and not re-hide them when they are out of sight). For the flooplan I intend to use Fat Dragon Dungeon tiles which let me make a faily customized floorplan with good looking hi-res pieces. I will cut these to the appropoate sizes.
I think I will lay these out as the players progress (instead of glueing them on in advance) but I am still deciding on this (as it may slow down play drasticly).

On the thought that this will be a lot of work for single use: I know. But it is the end of our current campaign and I wan''t to end it with a BIG bang :)

Also, I misread the scale.. each map square seems to be 10' instead of 5', making each floor about 40 inch by 40 inch. I think I will resize the map down to about 75% of it's origional size.. but it's still going to be BIG!
The foorprint will be between 30 and 40 inces across and it will be at least as tall!
Can't wait to start at this tonight! (If time allows).


Here's some other ideas, maybe useful for somebody else, or your next project:

Cardstock terrain. WorldWorks makes a ton of good stuff, as do other companies. Google it up, you'd be surprised at how good it looks.

Another method I use, is to build terrain props for parts of the scene. I'll use my standard battlemat for the map, but then build a 3d model for parts of the scene.

bridges, altars, gates/portals

I've even got a campfire I made (small pebbles, twigs glued to a wooden nickel).

These will make the scene 'pop', and as smaller pieces are easier to build and re-use.


First Post
So we ended the Shackles City Campaign and it was Grand!
The tower of Skullrot left a lasting impression on both me and the players.

Thanks for all the advice, It was quite usefull.

I constructed Skullrot a bit different from the map used in the book, both for practical reasons and to make it more interresting for my players.
See the attached photos for the results...


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First Post
So we ended the Shackles City Campaign and it was Grand!
The tower of Skullrot left a lasting impression on both me and the players.

Thanks for all the advice, It was quite usefull.

I constructed Skullrot a bit different from the map used in the book, both for practical reasons and to make it more interresting for my players.
See the attached photos for the results...

Looks great! Congrats on your project.