Craft Supplies for a Low Budget DM (Part 1)

Not every DM has the ability to shell out hundreds of dollars per map on terrain supplies, miniatures, and especially not tiles or battle grids. These items can easily be found in your house, or purchased at a variety of places that aren’t out of your budget.  these are some tips and tricks I use personally to ensure my party has a fulfilling experience, and is inexpensive enough that I can pick these things up when I have pocket change!

1. Lego

Anyone who has a younger sibling or children probably has this in their house. If you don’t own any, no fear! It can easily be picked up in bulk at a garage sale, or in thrift stores, and is also readily available by the metric tonne on eBay. Lego is very useful for making buildings, or outlining different rooms in a dungeon. More expensive sets; however, do come with luxurious items such as miniatures or terrain items.

2. Aquarium decorations

They make cheap alternatives for landscape decoration and explorable terrain, and can even add interesting plot points in your campaigns. However, the more you are willing to spend on aquarium decorations, the better looking they will be – and the more extravagant pieces you can fit into your map. The multicolour pebbles that are available for purchase in any pet store also make great map décor; you can use green for grass or a forested area floor, white for a tundra or desert, and black for the halls of the catacombs under an ancient city. The possibilities are endless!

3. Cardboard

This is something nearly everyone can find in their home, whether it because you have just emptied cereal boxes, or someone on your block just bought a new T.V; cardboard is easy to find, and most times you don’t even have to pay. This is very useful for things such as making doors on buildings, chests, and even miniatures. Easily one of the most accessible item on this list, I’m positive there are many other things a DM can do with cardboard.

4. Papier mache

Papier mache is still about as fun as it was when you were six years old, but now that you’re a Dungeon Master, you have a reason to spend hours in your basement with flour paste and ripped up paper strips. I would personally just stick to making buildings out of this, but you may do as you desire with it! It’s your map, after all!

5. Natural items

By this I mean anything one can find outside of their home to spruce up the appearance of the map a little; such as lichen, rocks, bark, and I’ve even incorporated water into one of my campaigns before. These items are mostly just for decoration; however, if you’re really crafty, you can even try building settlements and houses, or plot items out of things such as rocks.

5. Playdough

Home made or store bought, there’s no real difference in the quality or malleability of this substance! Great for making items that will get knocked over during battle, Playdough is a sure fire way to craft anything you’d like; considering the colour combinations already available.

Look forward to my next post, which will be on a few DIY crafts you can easily make with inexpensive supplies and what my finished product looks like!

Farewell, traveller.




  1. Pingback: DIY Crafts For a Low Budget DM (Part 2) | DMs Lair

  2. Pingback: Pre-made Campaigns | DMs Lair

  3. This was really useful! Honestly, crafts and all the likes can get very expensive and this post is a useful tool. I also love how a lot of the supplies you mentioned were things you could easily find in a home. Well thought out idea. Personally, I think this post could use a bit more explaining and detail, but overall, it was a useful tool!


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