How do you all make use of your grids?

Meech17

Adventurer
So I'm new to the world of gridded play. I ran my first session using it two weeks ago. First encounter I just drew out an area with symbols for statues and other obstacles. The second encounter I went all out and drew an entire eight room house that the PCs infiltrated. I had drawn it out and used pieces of paper as a fog of war, removing them as PCs entered rooms.

I can see the first method being the primary way to use a grid. The party enters a room with an encounter and I can draw out that specific room.

While the second method was really fun and had what I felt to be a large pay-off.. It was A LOT of work. Plus it was a pain. I drew it out the night before, and had to store the tiles in another room. While moving them I had to be super careful to not erase any of the marker.

Do you guys draw out entire dungeons? Or just specific rooms? Any other tips or tricks for a newbie to on-grid play?

Edit: I should have mentioned beforehand that I was primarily looking for answers regarding in-person play. I do enjoy hearing about the VTT options though.
 
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Reynard

Legend
When playing in person and using a grid, I almost always bring dry erase Tac-Tiles and draw locations as needed. I prefer to do exploration or other activities in theater of the mind.

When I run on Fantasy Grounds, because that platform doesn't really have good sketch on the fly tools, I use pre-made maps and built in fog of war, lighting and line of site tools.
 


Meech17

Adventurer
When playing in person and using a grid, I almost always bring dry erase Tac-Tiles and draw locations as needed. I prefer to do exploration or other activities in theater of the mind.

When I run on Fantasy Grounds, because that platform doesn't really have good sketch on the fly tools, I use pre-made maps and built in fog of war, lighting and line of site tools.
This is kind of what I was assuming. Stick to theater of the mind for the most part and then use the tiles when needed.

Do you have any recommendations for dry-erase markers? I got some cheap ones off Amazon and while the black ones are okay, all of the colored ones that came in the pack are barely visible.
 

Reynard

Legend
Do you have any recommendations for dry-erase markers? I got some cheap ones off Amazon and while the black ones are okay, all of the colored ones that came in the pack are barely visible.
I literally just buy the Crayola ones that are in the school supply aisle of the grocery store. They die relatively quickly but I have never had a problem with their visibility.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I have a gridded wet-erase Chessex map on my table with a large sheet of plexiglass (3' by 4' ish?) lying on top of it. So I can dry-erase maps on top of the plexi as needed with the grid below to guide my hand. If it's a large map that I know the party is going to and I want to save time, I'll print the small version of the map I want onto a sheet of paper with the image flipped... that way I can dry-erase draw the reversed map image on the plexi, then when I'm done, flip the plexi sheet over and realign it to the Chessex grid beneath it, that way the dry-erase lines cannot be accidentally erased because they are on the bottom side of the plexiglass.

I will also occasionally use my Dungeon Tiles and build dungeons or forest areas out using tiles and then place the plexi sheet over the top of them when done so that the tiles can't move or get slid around as players move their miniatures (and it allows me to again dry-erase on the plexi if there are effects that occur during the battle that we need to keep track of.) Finally, if I find an intricate and detailed full-color map online that I know I will need and which looks really, really good... I can also print said map at 1" scale on my color laser printer, cut and tape the pages together to create a full poster map, then again place it on my table and cover it with my clear plexi sheet so it can't move.

I can and do all of these things depending on what I need, how cool do I want it to look, and how much time I'm willing to spend on it to prepare.
 

Meech17

Adventurer
I have a gridded wet-erase Chessex map on my table with a large sheet of plexiglass (3' by 4' ish?) lying on top of it. So I can dry-erase maps on top of the plexi as needed with the grid below to guide my hand. If it's a large map that I know the party is going to and I want to save time, I'll print the small version of the map I want onto a sheet of paper with the image flipped... that way I can dry-erase draw the reversed map image on the plexi, then when I'm done, flip the plexi sheet over and realign it to the Chessex grid beneath it, that way the dry-erase lines cannot be accidentally erased because they are on the bottom side of the plexiglass.

I will also occasionally use my Dungeon Tiles and build dungeons or forest areas out using tiles and then place the plexi sheet over the top of them when done so that the tiles can't move or get slid around as players move their miniatures (and it allows me to again dry-erase on the plexi if there are effects that occur during the battle that we need to keep track of.) Finally, if I find an intricate and detailed full-color map online that I know I will need and which looks really, really good... I can also print said map at 1" scale on my color laser printer, cut and tape the pages together to create a full poster map, then again place it on my table and cover it with my clear plexi sheet so it can't move.

I can and do all of these things depending on what I need, how cool do I want it to look, and how much time I'm willing to spend on it to prepare.
This is all amazing. Do you have a dedicated gaming space? I doubt my other half would be happy about me storing a table sized sheet of plexiglass in the closet of our apartment.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I've mostly used a Chessex Megamat (34in x 48in) with wet erase markers. Sometimes I pre-draw a location, but a lot of the time I whip one up on the fly for random encounters. One of my old groups loved Chessex's Mondomat, (4 foot by 8 foot), which we'd cover the entire game table with.

I've also bought Post-It easel pads (20"x 23") with a 1" grid printed on them and used those for pre-drawn and reusable locations.

I have a bunch of dungeon tiles and a foldable 24"x24" cardboard markable/erasable board (dungeon on one side, green grass on the other) I picked up at a hobby shop a couple of years ago (folds into a 12" square for easy transport) but I haven't used them as much.
 
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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I thank my lucky stars for VTT. Makes grid play a snap. When I played F2F, I used a chessex battlemat with wet erase markers. I would draw each room as the players entered them. I tried a few times to draw big maps ahead of time and then paper over them, but it was too much work. I spend much of my time preparing the NPCs, events, etc.. which is where my heart of play lies and is too much to spend it on grid work. Though, again, VTT makes it much easier and speedier so I tend to do it more.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
One approach I'd like to try in the future is Professor Dungeon Master's original Ultimate Dungeon Terrain (before he moved to the more abstract zoned version), a circular grid on a Lazy Susan with modular 3d terrain pieces. Used in combination with normal grid paper maps. Then just rapidly place the walls/terrain/dungeon dressing for wherever an encounter happens to occur on the UDT.
 

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