A few months back J–one of our Statbonus contributors–linked me to a Youtube video of TheDMGinfo making cardboard and tinfoil miniature cave tile sets. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend checking out his channel.
I liked these ultra-cheap versatile caves so much that I decided to try my own variation, with a few modifications and material substitutes.
First off you’ll notice that I used foam-core boards from the dollar store to avoid ending up with cardboard striping, which you can see peeking through the black paint in the above video. This is a tad more expensive than free cardboard (2 dollars total) but the end product will be more rigid, have less undesirable striping, and won’t be as identifiable as once the edges are painted to match the black walls.
While TheDMGinfo preferred tiny strips of foil, I crinkled large sheets that would cover the entire tile and adhered it to the foam-core with white glue (no hot glue in this build). I then used the irregularly shaped chunks that had been removed from the middle of the tiles and set them back into the drying forms, like puzzle pieces, which guaranteed that I wouldn’t lose cave floor space to improperly secured tinfoil corners and nooks. I recommend keeping the tiles flat by placing books on top while they dry.
Next came the black paint, which was a combination of black spray primer for the first layer, and black acrylic for the second. I also mounded more white glue onto the cave floors wherever I wanted more organic-looking irregularities in the rock.
For my caves I picked a grey-scale instead of the mustard-brown favored by TheDMGinfo. I also built a few extra-large boss chambers, connecting chambers, and dead-ends. The result was a cheap, rugged, modular set of tiles that can be re-arranged to accommodate nearly any subterranean encounter.
If you want to take a stab at creating cheap modular cave floors, take pictures and explain your process, and we’ll include it in a tabletop DIY feature in the future.