Dungeon Blocks are 3D-printable ABC blocks emblazoned with fantasy RPG tropes and scenery. They're Open Source and endlessly remixable.
Hail and well met, Kickstarteroonies! I'm Jim Rodda, best known to the world at large as the gregarious gatekeeper at Zheng Labs.
With this third Kickstarter o'mine we'll be making 3D-printable ABC blocks festooned with monsters, equipment, and scenery common to fantasy role-playing games so that you can instruct your wriggling spawn in the flora, fauna, and furnishings of the Underdark.
A is for Adventurer, brave and bold and true.
B is for the Bugbear, who lies in wait for you.
C will call Cthulu, long may be his reign,
D denotes a dragon, whose powers never wane...
The children of RPG nerds need these blocks. It is known.
Cats, dogs, and, for some reason, bears (!) have historically been well-represented in children's toys. Dinosaurs seem to do OK, and every now and then you'll run into a dragon, but what about the lesser-known creatures of the fantasy world? Orcs? Goblins? Ettercaps?
Won't somebody think of the kobolds?
My plan is to illustrate twenty-six different monsters, weapons, and equipment common to RPG games and turn them into 3D-printable alphabet blocks. Take, for instance, this sketch of a direwolf, suitably adorablized so as not to fuel the nightmares of small children.
Who wants to maul Joffrey? You do! Good girl.
The next step is to convert the 2D image into a bas-relief via the judicious application of some 3D modelling hoodoo and then stick wolfie onto a block template.
Hit print, and Bob's your uncle, you've got yourself a D for Direwolf block.
Clever-eyed readers will note a dungeon door on the image above.
In addition to the letters, numbers, and illustrations, at least two sides of every block will sport richly textured walls, floors, doors, and other scenery you might encounter on your weekend dungeon crawl so lil' Arwen can build her own gaol while she's learning her ABC's.
The block bottoms must by necessity be blank so that they can adhere to a printer's build platform. But! We make lemonade out of lemons here at Zheng Labs, and we've found that these blanks hold Dry-Erase marker quite well and are a perfect venue for child-inspired creativity.
Proof-of-concept walls, doors, and flagstone floors are already in the bag, but I'd like to add a few more elements to the set like trapdoors, arrow slits, and passageways:
Oh, and stairs, so you can make multi-level dungeons. That model's finished and tested already.
I slipped a Catan reference into my Kickstarter page. YES I DID.
One of my favorite parts of running a Kickstarter is interacting with the backer community, so let's crowdsource the creativity too.
I'd like to open up the creative process to Dungeon Blocks backers. If the project is funded I'll set up a forum over at Zheng3.com and together we'll hash out exactly which 26 designs get featured on the blocks. Back at $10 or more if you want in on the action.
Dungeon Blocks will be a coloring book, too.
This project's going to generate a lot of artwork. When all is said and done we'll have created 2D sketches of at least 26 fantasy tropes.
I'll clean up the sketches and bind them into a PDF coloring tome that you can 2D print as many times as you like. Every backer at $5 and above will receive one. Please encourage coloring outside the lines.
Tomorrow's toys must be remixable.
The block blueprints are Open Source and Creative Commons licensed, so if you've got access to manufacturing technology you're more than welcome to print, cast, remix, remake, and resell these models and their derivatives as long as you credit the original designer. Who among us doesn't want to see these blocks milled from mithril on an enchanted 5-axis CNC and sold at Renaissance Faires?
Backers at the $50 level will receive a set of STL files optimized for remixability, with every component of the finished block set separated into individual pieces of quad-based geometry. Boolean your dark little hearts away, my friends.
Unfortunately Dungeon Blocks can only feature monsters that are in the public domain. Hydras, skeletons, vampires, and kobolds are fine. Beholders? Not so much.
Under no circumstances should you download Meshmixer for free, replicate a trademarked RPG monster in TinkerCAD (also free) and paste it into one of the provided blank spots on a block.
You have no 3D printer, but still want these.
Printing services like 3DHubs will help connect you with a local printer-for-hire.
More and more local libraries and schools are getting their feet wet with 3D printing, too. Give yours a call and see what they're doing with this fun new technology. Often they'll print items for the cost of materials.
I'm also offering a limited number of artisanal prints fresh out of the forge at Zheng Labs for backers at the $300 level.
Risks and challenges
Risks are pretty minimal, really.
Dungeon Blocks is a mostly-digital project so there are no supply chains to manage or shipping gremlins to wrangle. Physical backer rewards are intentionally limited so that I can concentrate on the design process.
I've never set up forum software before, but people in the know say it's not rocket science. In the worst-case scenario I'll write my own forum software. With mimosas. And keno.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)