It began about four years ago with a doodle on a piece of graph paper during a ridiculously boring weekly sales meeting. I'd been thinking about running a convention game for a while, and I remembered how much fun I'd had playing in a convention grand melee game I'd participated in about twenty years ago.
I mulled over that initial design for a few weeks (I think I actually improved on it in later sales meetings). The concept: What if I built an arena with actual moving parts? Say, concentric rings around a central tower, and each ring would actually _move?_ I thought it would be a pretty cool thing, if I could figure out how to make it work. I knew I'd probably want to make it out of something really solid; cardboard or paper wouldn't hold up well enough, so I chose plywood. It's easy to work with, and I have full access to dad's garage woodworking shop. And there'd be a central tower...
I knew early on that if I did this, it would have to be for something more than a home campaign; "I've made elaborate maps before":http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v310/UselessTriviaMan/Campaign%202009-2011/184389_204598926220158_100000101555523_871148_6131305_n.jpg but nothing on THIS scale. No, something this big would have to be for a convention game. Maybe... an annual event, even??
Eventually, this all jelled into an actual rough blueprint. I discussed it with my (completely non-gamer) dad, explained what I was essentially trying to do, and used his input to help me make this:
(Of course, UTM Jr. had to help test it out. A lot.)
Two layers of plywood for the base, and the rings were all cut out of the top layer. They're just lying in place, with nothing to hold them in or help them move. Yet.
I had a specific idea about how to construct the tower so character figures could actually climb the sides: I have numerous tackle boxes, and I realized that the little flat plastic dividers would work great for wedging into the cuts I'd made in the tower to represent the ladders on all four sides:
UTM Jr had to help again:
So the wood was cut; it was now time to start painting. I first covered everything in black primer, then wound string around the base, forming one-inch squares:
Then I added a liberal coat of that stony-texture paint (the exact name escapes me at the moment), and after it dried I peeled off all the string, neatly leaving the whole thing covered in one-inch squares. A black sharpie was used to touch up anywhere that the black lines were a bit light.
The rings were much trickier; it wasn't hard to wrap the string around them in (roughly) one-inch intervals, but each ring is three inches across. I had to get creative to get those two middle circular lines on each ring - I hand-drew those lines in pencil, then used a lot of rubber cement to glue down string onto the line for each circle. Once these were sufficiently accurate and fully dry, I then wrapped the rest of the strings around to complete the grids on each ring. It was time-consuming, but it worked out pretty well. And again, after the paint dried the strings peeled right off, leaving reasonably-close renderings of one-inch squares:
Ptolus, City by the Spire - 2016 Campaign of the Year
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