Review of Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set)


First Post
Of all the accessories that can enhance the role-playing game experience, dungeon tiles seem to have come the farthest from their early offerings. While many gamers were content to use the ubiquitous and erasable “battle mat” for dungeon delves, others wanted something a bit more fun and required less drawing. As many older gamers might recall, the early versions of “dungeon tiles” were printed on tarot card-sized decks, while others were printed on tiles which interlocked like puzzle pieces. There were even Styrofoam hex-disks which could be decorated with lichen and gravel to give a “realistic” terrain for pewter minis to delve on!

Ever since the advent of OGL/d20, it seems that the D&D and Pathfinder communities have been bombarded by an explosion of dungeon tile sets – a great many sets from Wizards of the Coast, of course – but from a variety of manufacturers as well. While most of these sets are pre-printed on solid cardboard, some game designers are offering an alternative format - PDF versions of dungeon tiles. While these do require printing by the end user, they offer flexibility in that only the necessary tiles need be printed, and desired tiles can be printed more than one with a single purchase!

One such PDF dungeon tile publisher is Rusty Axe Games, and have recently created and released a couple sets of dungeon tiles to the fantasy RPG community. Produced on their own mapping software – Dungeon DemonRusty Axe Games has a Core Map Set which can be used with almost any role-playing adventure game to create as massive a delve as any DM could desire!
Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set)

  • Publisher: Rusty Axe Games
  • Year: 2012
  • Media: PDF (27 pages)
  • Price: $4.99 (on sale from
Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set) is a collection of 25 dungeon tile style map segments for use with almost any fantasy role-playing game system. The maps come in a single PDF with rights to print and utilize as many of the tiles as desired for personal use. In addition to the maps, the publisher provides a sheet of dungeon “dressing” consisting of a variety of stairs, objects, and physical items which might be encountered during a delve.

These dungeon tiles were purported to have been prepared by a mapping software called Dungeon Demon, also published by Rusty Axe Games, and can be found in full and demo versions on the publishers website here.

Production Quality

The production quality of the Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set) is good, with each page containing a single map tile for ease of scaling and printing.
The cover / title page contain limited directions about printing and using the dungeon tiles, along with permission to utilize the contents of the PDF for personal use.

Regretfully, the artwork of the dungeon tiles themselves is rather bland and monotonous. The gray stone floors and dark gray and brown dungeon walls are repetitively identical, with the exception of a couple which have a trace of wall lichen or a cobweb. There are no terrain features present in the set which would make an area interesting for an encounter. On the other hand, the single page of dungeon setting pieces are decently rendered, although sadly few in variety, but they can at least offer a game master some chance of creating something other than dull empty underground chambers and corridors.

The Dungeon Tiles

As previously mentioned, the Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set) contain twenty-five different rooms and corridors to create maps for encounters in fantasy role-playing games. While the featurelessness and cleanliness of these dungeon corridors seem to suggest the presence of a massive colony of gelatinous cubes (or perhaps a bevy of obsessive-compulsive “house pixies”), the publisher does offer a sheet of dungeon accoutrement to style the place up a bit.

The map tiles in this PDF include:

  • 6 x 6 corner partial room two walls
  • 6 x 7 partial room one wall
  • 6 x 6 corner partial room two walls
  • 7 long square corridor with 4 square T
  • 5 x 6 partial room with two entryways
  • 5 x 6 partial room with no entryway
  • 5 x 7 partial room one entryway
  • 5 x 6 partial room one entryway
  • 5 x 5 room one entryway
  • 7 x 7 corridors crossing
  • 5 x 5 room two entryways
  • 6 x 6 corner partial one entryway
  • 7 square straight corridor
  • 5 x 5 room two entryways
  • 6 x 7 partial room one wall with entryway
  • 5 x 5 room entryway in each wall
  • 7 square corridor with 90 degree turn
  • 5x6 partial room one entryway
  • 5x6 partial room 2 entryways
  • 5x6 partial room 3 entryways
  • 5x5 room with two entryways
  • 5x5 room with two entryways
  • 6x6 partial room one entryway
  • 6x6 partial room two entryways
  • 6x5 partial room one entryway

The dimensions for each tile are given in 1” squares, and “partial” rooms have walls missing on one or more sides, one assumes for the purpose of creating larger rooms by fitting two or more partial rooms together. Entryways are open portals, but the dungeon “stuff” sheet does contain both a East-West and North-South facing wooden doors. In addition to the two doors, the dungeon tile sheet also includes: a well/pit, four turnpike staircases, three treasure piles (in three sizes), two short steps/stairs, two carved floors with a celtic/Viking motif (two sizes), a magic circle/glyph, a wooden chair, a wooden chest, a wooden crate, two smashed crates, and a water pool. Most game masters would probably want to print out this page more than once in order to make sure they had a range of items for rooms.

Of course, owning the PDF of the Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set) grants you the right to print out and use as many of the dungeon tiles as desired, but this is actually one of its great downsides. Prior to writing this review, I called around to a few different printing companies to find out what it would cost to print out the set using a color laser printer onto low weight card stock. Color laser printing ranges from around 98 cents per page to $1.24 per page if printing on card stock grade paper. This puts the price of printing at $25.48 to $32.24 per set, and that still requires a game master to cut out a page of dungeon junk, not to mention trimming the edges of the tiles so they fit together.

However, if you bring your own card stock into most printers - which runs around 7 cents per sheet if you buy it yourself – they will reduce the price of the printing. In this latter printing scenario, the cost for color laser printing is 49 to 59 cents per page, which brings the price down to $14.56 in printing costs.

Obviously, if one has access to a color laser printer of their own, the price drops even further, but not every gamer has access to the same quality of printer.

Overall Score: 1.6 out of 5.0


Sadly, there is very little to recommend about the Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles (Core Set). The artwork is plain and rather simple, the rooms and corridors are featureless and uninteresting, and the dungeon “goodies” sheet contains far too few items to make even one dungeon encounter very interesting. And when one considers the price of having to print out tiles on mere card stock, as well as cut and trim them, there is no real way for these tiles to compete with finished sets purchasable at gaming stores or online through booksellers.

If the tiles showed exceptional artwork, or a theme and some terrains which would enhance the encounters, then it might well be worth dropping a few bucks on a dungeon tile PDF so that one could create a unique and massive dungeon crawl. But these are not those tiles, and only someone with access to free color laser printing and paper could make this product worth purchasing.

So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 2.25
  • - Design: 2.5 (Decent presentation of the tile sheets)
  • - Artwork: 2.0 (Bland artwork and boring tile design)
  • Value: 1.0 (Grossly more expensive option than non-PDF tile sets unless you own a color laser printer)

Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of this product in PDF from which the review was written.

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