OK, check this spiffy sweet stuff out…
The Adventure Tiles are pre-fab floor plans with 1” grid lines for use as visual aids during a game. They’re intended for use with miniatures, but they certainly don't require minis to use; they look evocative of the setting even if they’re just laid out on the table. There are dungeon, wilderness, cavern, and even sci-fi floor plan sets available. The tiles are some pre-made cardstock dungeon map sections that a harried or busy DM can slap down for visual effect while describing the scene, or even just a small room, instead of scratching the corridors out on a dry erase mat or on graph paper. (Graph paper. Ha! How 80's!)
I got these small tins holding dungeon corridor layouts during Gen Con '05 at the Fiery Dragon booth . While the cards I bought have Fiery Dragon's logo on them, the PDF printable versions are produced by a company called Skeleton Key Games . The printed card stock set I got came in a handy little tin box, for storing and protecting your paper dungeon. If you check out Skeleton Key's webpage, it seems that they are now producing quite a number of new sets of tiles under the product line "e-Adventure Terrain Tiles". You can purchase these as PDF sets, and print them off to suit your needs.
I bought the Dungeon sets because they looked cool.
Anyway, the squares are all durable 5 inch grid interchangeable floor plans, printed in color, depicting stony dungeon corridors and rooms where mysterious denizens of the underground might dwell, awaiting bold adventurers to investigate. There are almost 40 cards in a tin, so you have quite a selection of room shapes and designs to work with.
Each square of five by five inches can be positioned whichever way you want, and placed along the edges of adjoining tiles to form your dungeon. Because each tile can be repositioned, you can of course use the same tiles to create different layouts every time you game.
The down side is that some tiles do have odd features. Noticeably, out of the entire set, there's actually only one single tile that is just a five by five square stone floor, with no other features. Then there are eight other tiles where they're mostly empty floor, but one or two edges of squares is taken up by a large brown border, which I assume is supposed to be the earth and the outermost wall of the dungeon. The problem is, those large brown borders aren't necessary to tell me that they're at the edge of the map, and really all they've done as far as I'm concerned is remove a great many squares of play area for me to design larger rooms with.
Now, you can just tell your players to ignore those large brown borders on the floor pieces if you need a few more squares to a particular room, of course. But it's a shame that you'd need to, considering having the floor tiles without the borders seems far more useful and logical than having so many floor tiles with borders. It's odd that Fiery Dragon/ Skeleton Key went with that less-useful tile design to such an extent. (The box and website don't indicate that this is a random-tile sort of product, so I have to assume that every tin comes with the same selection of tiles. Meaning that buying more tins won't practically improve my useful-to-annoying tile ratio any.)
The good side is that some of the squares have altars, or torches, or fountains, or other furnishings to visually add to the imaginations of your players as they poke about in the dark places. There are odd corners, smaller tunnels, and light effects on some tiles to enhance your descriptions and give ideas of line of sight, where hiding in shadows may be effective, elevation of daises and steps, or other tactical considerations.
There are also smaller-block cut-outs of pits, stairs, grates, caskets, barrels, ladders, walls, pillars, tables, coins, corpses, etc., which can be used to spice up the environs of a room.
As a bonus, not only is the tin a secure and sturdy place to store your flooring tiles, but the manufacturers include a large 20 by 30 inch single sheet of empty floor tiles, for those mass combat situations that may pop up and require a large map space. (Before you say that this solves my earlier gripe about not having enough five-square tiles, note that this large sheet is in black and white, regular paper format, and not the cool cardstock full color that goes with the rest of the product. Sure, you could cut it up and use it for smaller floor space, but it's not the same quality and look.)
I like these things. I'm a sucker for miniatures anyway, even though I rarely get to use them during actual games. The $20 price seems right, for the professional look, sturdiness, and reusability of the product, and considering that I have a nice tin to keep them organized in. Downloading them as a PDF is even way cheaper! Of course, printing them onto cardstock may not be everyone's cup of grog, but there's no reason you can't print them on heavy paper and laminate them, or simply reprint them every time your friend Ralf gets excited about a d20 roll and spills his Kool-Aid® on your dungeon...
So if you're looking for something quick and detailed to add color to an otherwise dry room description, whether you like to use mini figures or not, I'd recommend these. Even if you just plop them down during combats, they make the use of miniatures fun and keep everyone visually on the same wavelength with such info as the archers' locations, strategic exits, or who's gonna be standing in the area of effect when the chain lightning spell goes off.
OK, ok. Yes, I know it's really just glorified graph paper, but it's nifty graph paper! So go buy some.