Around the start of quarantine one of my friends asked if I’d be interested in joining a remote Dungeons & Dragons game she was organizing. I’ve always had an interest in trying it out and we decided to give it a shot.

If you’re not familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, or other tabletop role playing games, the simplest way to describe it is group improv and storytelling. The dungeon master, or more generically the game master, creates the world in which the story takes place, and facilitates the mechanics of doing things in this world, and the other players fill in the rest with a little bit of planning and a lot of improvisation.

After about 8 months of playing, I expressed some interest in trying out being a DM, and our current DM stepped down and joined as a player while I took over. There are a lot of responsibilities to being a DM, but it all boils down to creating the world that your players are in, and showing them what is happening. While it’s possible to do everything completely by imagination, it’s a lot easier, and more fun, to see pieces on maps and game boards. Some people have the artistic ability to hand-draw fantastic maps, but that isn’t where my strengths as a maker are. I took this as a challenge, using my access to equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters to create pieces that we could see well on camera.

I started off very simple, creating basic high-contrast colored tokens. The different colors would signify different characters or enemies in battles, and over time I started making special tokens as I needed them. I also used the laser cutter to create a webcam mount, so that I had a top-down webcam view, and to quickly make some bulk features like trees.

I was able to use the Asheville Makers’ high-resolution resin 3D printer to create detailed miniature figures for some of the players, and I’m still working on making them for the rest of the party to use when we can play in person. I have been able to 3D print any weird ideas that came to my mind, for example when the party tracked down a beast that was attacking some poor shepard’s flock, it turned out to be a 9ft tall carnivorous goose, and I had a mini ready!

I have been branching out into more complex builds recently, learning about painting (something I haven’t seriously done since middle school) and drawing on my electronics background to create illuminated and interactive elements. Our latest adventure involves a cave filled with skeletons, and a odd glowing obelisk, with many mysteries for the group to uncover!