Cool Tools: Burst and Blast Templates, Dwarven Forge, and Fighty

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 05 November 2009

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Burst and Blast Templates

One of the guys in my gaming group, @TheMikeKatz, bought these burst and blast templates and they are pretty useful. They help us to easily know if a particular target is within reach and we can leave the burst squares on the table to signify areas affected by lingering spells. The same company also makes condition tile sets to help track conditions but we don't own these and I'm not sure how they work in actual game play. Having the color tie to the player rather than the condition helps with the issue of remembering who exactly caused the condition and makes it easier to say things like, "Hey, it's the end of your turn, do any of these conditions go away?"

Dwarven Forge

Yes, they are expensive. But even more importantly, they are freaking awesome. The envy of many a DM, Dwarven Forge sets help answer simple questions like, are there any candles in the room, where exactly are those pits of lava, and are there any girls there? These sets aren't for everyone as some people would rather be limited by their imagination instead of the amount of money they have and whether or not the piece they want is available. But for the rest of us, we either already own them or continue to drool. Mike Shea, @SlyFlourish, has some great tips for incorporating them into your games. And if you haven't seen Gabe's post on using mirrors and lasers, you need to check it out now. We'll still be here when you get back.

Cavernous Passasge SetCavernous Passasge SetMedieval Building SetMedieval Building SetDen of Evil: HellscapeDen of Evil: Hellscape


Ok, this last one isn't quite fair as it's only really available to Google Wave users, but it's still awesome and I just had to gush about it. Daniel Clery, @exedore6, created a Google Wave gadget that allows one to create a virtual battlemap. More details on Fighty are available via the Save vs. Geek blog but these sorts of hacks are exactly why I love my industry so much.


I have several different versions of the condition tile sets - one from Dragonfire Lasercraft, Litko Aerosystems, the Alea Tools magnetic markers, magnetic markers from Dark Platapus Studios, and some downloaded paper condition markers. Some of the people in my group also use little colored rings to note who has marked a target. I have also used counting squares from school supply stores.

The problem with condition markers (Dragonfire or Litko) is that the condition markers get covered up by the miniature, so you need to look at the stack to see what condition is in effect and you need to constantly fiddle with the markers as the conditions end. The Litko Aerosystem markers are a bit better because they are at least color coded. My group ends up putting the condition next to the miniature so that we can see it and so it can easily be swapped out. I commonly use the bloodied markers and sometimes pass on use of the other condition markers.

The set of Alea Tools magnetic markers works particularly well, the problem with them is that you need to make sure that every miniature in your collection has a magnetic base. You also need to come up with a color plan for the various conditions and make sure you have enough magnetic markers for common conditions. Remember that bloodied is going to be the most common condition, so plan accordingly.

The little flags from Dark Platapus Studios was a good idea, but it is still hard to stick all of the conditions flags on the stands. The writing is small, and for those of us who are getting a little older, this might not be a good alternative. The nice thing about the flags is that they are numbered, so you can track damage easily.

The printed versions of the conditions, once that slip under the miniatures, suffer from the same problems as the plastic ones. It is particularly difficult to see these because they are only paper width in thickness; using thicker colored cardboard might be a solution.

Printing out paper condition tent cards to hand to the player impacted by the condition also works well. When it is standing up right in front of them, the player will usually remember the condition. These tent cards also have the game mechanics information printed on them. The downside is transport and storage of the tent cards - a card based version of these conditions put into sleeves might be a good alternative.

I don't know where my players picked up the little rings that they use for marked conditions; I presume they got them in a craft store. I have seen hard plastic rings and ones that are stretchy. Each player has a different color, and there is usually some part of the miniature (weapon, arm, etc.) where you can place the ring.

For a few different conditions, consider buying a set of counting squares (available in a school supply store) and use the different colors for common conditions. Because these are thick, you can see the colors easily under the miniatures.

My advice is to stick with the bloodied condition markers using which ever plastic alternative is aesthetically pleasing to you and fits with your budget - I use the ones from Litko Aerosystems because they look like a pool of blood. For the PC's, I would pass out a card with the condition written on it along with the rule effect summary. For the opponents, the GM should note the condition on the index card they use for the monster. The little rings used to mark opponents also seems to be popular with players, although I believe them to be more trouble than they are worth.

I hope these 'actual play' comments are helpful.


A friend of mine showed me how to make really cheap AoE templates using screen door spline and flower arrangement rods. They look awesome. I shared the process here.

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