10/17/2015

Frugal GM Review: Fat Dragon Games Ravenfell Core Set

Frugal GM Review: Fat Dragon Games Ravenfell Core Set
This week I decided to put together one of my paper terrain buildings I had received from the Fat Dragon Games Ravenfell Kickstarter. You can get this Ravenfell Core Set off of DriveThruRPG, so I felt good about putting one of the buildings together for review.

The first thing I did was select which building to print. The zip file I had contained folder for each building, but what I did was use the included instructions booklet to look at the finished buildings to make my selection. There are two instruction books, one for general paper building instructions, the "Beginner's Guide" and a specific set of instructions for the Ravenfell Core Set.

Ravenfell Core Set Building 2
I ended up choosing Building 2, which should come out looking like the model on the right. Each building had its own folder and this building had 5 sub-folders (Floors, Level1, Level2, Roof, and Tower). Each sub-folder had a separate PDF for each page, which I didn't really like playing with. I have to assume there was a reason for it, but I had to go through and remember what options I chose for each and every page I printed. This was a good and bad thing.

The good thing was that I had options, and that is probably the biggest strength of the Ravenfell Core Set. I could have a natural grid represented by a visible nail pattern, in two sizes no less. I could have a dusty & stained floor or a perfectly clean one. The coolest options were for the outside though. Different facades & even a snow covering.

I started off printing 12 pages of the 16 needed for the set. The main levels cut out and assembled easily enough and I opted for the more sturdy "permanent" setup instead of the ability to fold the model up after I was done. My first problem came when trying to affix the floor to the roof of each level. I know that sounds off, but the setup is that you can remove each level. Take away the whole building and you have the base tile showing the ground floor. Remove the top and show the floor underneath.

Problem with the floor
It is a great idea in theory, but it didn't work out so well on this model at least. According to the files, the main level is a 4 x 4 area, but if you look at the picture above it is more like a 4x4 base with an added 2x3 section on the end. This isn't reflected in the walls you put together for the main level. There is a tower section you are intending to add, but the floors for upper levels.....they have this add-on. The floors are labeled BrFlr1, B2Flr2, B2Flr3, and Ground_Tile. This is important because you have to realize that BrFlr1 isn't the 1st floor tile, but the 2nd level floor tile that gets affixed to the topside of the 1st floor level. This means there is an area of the floors that doesn't have walls underneath it. This also means the tower won't work with these floors.

I ended up having to go back through the other building files and borrowing floor tiles that would work with the building I was putting together.

My "finished" building
My "Finished" Building
There were little issues here and there, nothing to get too worked up about, but stuff I had to deal with nonetheless. Since I was gluing the building up the floor tabs (the plain white base floor that is) got in the way of some side slots I'd need if I went back in and added the tower. I also noticed that the layers weren't consistent among all the pages. There were page elements that I could remove from some pages, but not the others. It was a little thing, but if I don't need to waste the ink on it, I'd rather not.

Probably the 2nd biggest thing I had a problem with was trying to figure out the locking base system. It isn't too difficult to figure out, assuming I've done that correctly, but I'm not sure I should have had to figure that out. A couple lines of instruction in either set of instructions for this download would have been nice. After hunting through the many FDG sets I have I've found better "general" instructions that prove what I was thinking wasn't right....oops.

In the end I did have a decent building that I like. I'm finding the assembly of the levels a bit much and I think I'd figure out something with sheet magnets so I can get rid of those tabs.....seriously, it is a PITA to get a tab on each side of a square building to line up with their corresponding slot. The only thing I'm not happy about is having to waste four pages of cardstock printing. If I was having this done professionally that would have been $4 and a second needless trip across town.

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Fat Dragon Games Ravenfell Core Set
Still, even with the issues I really liked the "finished" model and that is the important part. I haven't gone through and markered up the model to get rid of the unsightly white bits. or even bothered to get it based. Being able to re-do this building with some variations is pretty cool. I'll have to see how well these stack up against my paper buildings from some other manufacturers.

If you want to do a whole town of buildings that are similar, then the Ravenfell Core Set is a pretty good way to go. The strength is in the many options beyond just the building's looks.