Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Old Skool Accessory: Dungeonworks Magnetic Dungeons

Before Bendy Walls... before Dwarven Forge... before Hirst Arts... there was...

Dungeonworks(TM) Magnetic Dungeon!

Released in 1991, the set consisted of a 10" square felt backed metal board with 1" square stone tiles printed on it's face.  The plastic walls and doors had a rectangular recess in the base to house a strip of magnetic plastic, a sort of thick version of that used in magnetic sign boards.

The corners of each wall section were mitred at 45 degrees so you could make convincing corners and but walls together to make corridors.  Door archways were also included in the set, but there were no doors themselves.  As you can see I added some resin cast doors to a few of the walls in my set.

There was one huge problem with the whole set which I found almost immediately during play.  The walls are way too high and the board too small.  In fact my experiences with this set were partly behind my reasons to go with a 1.5" square floorplan scale and 1" hinch walls in my foamcard 3D dungeon, a winning combination in my opinion.

The miniatures end up being crammed into a tiny area and the board can only handle a maximum room size of 50'x50'.  I guess they were expecting you to buy more than one set, but it was too heavy to carry around compared with a box of cardstock floorplans, not to mention the price.


  1. If I remember properly (it was a loooong time ago), the weight of the product was supposed to be a plus. Positions and layouts were more likely to survive storage and accidental jiggles. When we would do demos for cons, it was not uncommon to stack setups several layers high for storage and transportation. And of course the expectation was to buy more than one ;D Anyone still have sets lying around?

  2. The trick to using Dungeonworks is to buy one of those magnetic office noteboards http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10159443/# , spray paint it with a light coating of grey paint, and mark a 1" grid in non-erasable marker. I was incredibly lucky in that the Dungeonworks guys were friends of ours and one GenCon they gave me a huge box with a few hundred walls and doors. I just set up my dungeon and use the hooks that came with the noteboard to hang it up on the wall when the game comes to a pause. Since most of my figures are the plastic D&D type, I also glue some magnetic disks on the bases and they hang on the board too.

    1. Great Idea. I like to use 3d cardstock scenery and it would keep everything nice and locked down on the playing field.

    2. While I also have a set of Mage Knight dungeon walls/floors, Dungeonworks are a lot faster to set up--I can build the dungeon on the fly. I can also make odd shaped rooms. And with small magnets on the bases, I can use any of the Mage Knight dungeon accessories on the layout. One of the things I've recently tried is attaching electric tea lights http://www.45mm.com/lighting/images/tea-lights.jpg to the tops of wedding cake pillars http://www.thebakerskitchen.net/Grecian-Pillars.aspx to make sources of light for my dungeons.

    3. Last week, my daughter saw my Dungeonworks setup, and since she's going to run her first D&D game, she wanted me to set her up. I ended up using THIS: http://www.target.com/p/chalk-board-black-14in-14in-ubrands/-/A-16732121#prodSlot=_7_5 as the baseboard--it's 14x14, but you can buy as many boards as you want (cheap at $9) and expand as you go.