Anyone who’s been to the game shop on a busy night has seen the tote-stacker dungeon master. He’s the man with an army and an arsenal of battlefields to throw at his players…if only he could get them through the door. He wheels around his tote-boxes strapped to a moving dolly, and a hush follows wherever he goes– from customers anxious to see what custom dioramas he’ll unveil, to his players waiting at the big table. Everyone watching feels a mixture of emotions. 50-percent pity for the poor bastard loading up the moving van every game night, and 50-percent frothing envy over the players who get to tame the wilderness within those tote boxes.
Everyone who frequents the game store has seen this guy. Hell, I am that guy. At least, I was. Then I decided to become the Van Helsing of gaming.
Everything I need to DM a game in one box. One tote, ready to do battle at the drop of hat. No more moving dolly. No more asking; “Could you hold the door?” Everything I need in one space-saving, box-of-holding for mini’s, set pieces, maps, and dice.
Too bold? Too lofty a goal? Probably. But what I managed to build isn’t half bad for running a game in a pinch. So here are a few features of the Battle-Box.
The kit itself is a re-purposed toolcase from Harbor Freight (20 bucks) with half of the tool straps pulled out of the backing to make room for gaming props. From left to right along the backing: Rope beads/charms, deck of playing cards (alchemy edition), pens, pencils, dry erase marker, small scissors, creature tokens, bestiary cards created on Godeckyourself.com, 20 mini D6’s, a full dice set, and acrylic and glass bead markers.
I use a combination of creature tokens and actual painted miniatures. Because I refuse to part with 100+ monsters on account of them being 2-D on a 3-D board. The name of the game is space-saving and portability. 2-D Goblins give the same experience as 3-D Goblins. So save your pewter miniatures space for NPC’s and bosses, and load up on minion/monster tokens.
If you’ve visited this blog before you may also notice the completed nesting houses fit perfectly in the left margin of the battle-box, right next to the creature bins.
These building-within-building boxes are perfect for assembling whole towns or dungeons on the fly. Coupled with a few free-standing stone walls which are hidden behind the backing, one can fill a table with pre-planned 3-D sets.
Once the cloth map is selected from the fold-in tablecloths (grass, stone, or water, as seen in the top backing section) the walls and structures can be set on the cloth, allowing your buildings to have a foundation other than “soda-stained card table.” After the map is selected and the walls are deployed, just pick out some of the 3-D miniatures from the creature bins.
The creature bins are cut from grey garage mat foam. It’s a bit tougher than most case foam, I’ll admit, but with a decent protective coat on the mini’s it works wonders, cuts easily, and bonds with hot-glue like it’s tig-welded. The top sections can be removed and separated for ease of access.
So, when all these components come together, do they stack up to the tote-case dioramas that have been meticulously sculpted, painted, and packed off to the game store? No, of course not. But they’re really goddamn handy for taking the bus to the game, or running a quick session without having to load up the van.