I try very hard to keep the quality of my games at a high level for my players, not just in the story and encounters, but with the props and terrain I use as well. I have received compliments from each of my players about the various pieces I’ve used and would like to share my secret: most of my props are from other games. Originally, I started out making my own props and terrain, and although it was rewarding to be in control of every little detail of the pieces, I found it took entirely too much time to make them meet the quality I was expecting. At the next visit to my FLGS (friendly local game store), I walked through their Warhammer Fantasy/40k battle tables and saw all kinds of interesting terrain pieces and status markers. This prompted me to looked through the Warhammer and other tabletop gaming sections of the store and found all kinds of goodies.
fire explosion markers
As it turns out, the predominant damage type done by my group of players is fire – the Druid’s flame seed, the Sorcerer’s burning spray, the Dragonborn’s firery dragon breath, etc. – and the attacks usually have an area that is burning afterwards (or I, as the Dungeon Master, allow the surounds to catch fire as well and cause other problems across the battlemap). So when I saw the Gale Force Nine fire explosion markers, I knew I had found what I needed to bring my game to the next level. I also picked up the wall of fire markers for good measure and have used both extensively.
wall of fire markers
Further investigation throughout the store brought me to a section of terrain called Battlefield In A Box. These are high quality, prepainted terrain pieces normally used with various tabletop battle games like Flames of War. I ended up purchasing three different battlefield in a box kits, but have only used 1 so far.
gothic ruined walls
These are just my most recent purchases, but previously I came across a the JR Miniature website (and spent a little over my D&D budget at that time, heh). This purchase included river pieces, a bridge, some wall pieces, barrels, a blacksmith set, a tavern set, market accessories, and farm accessories! These pieces really brought my game into the next level of high quality for the players. (Note: Even though some of the JR Miniatures come prepainted, most of the little stuff does not. I still have a lot of painting to do with all those goodies.)
river, bridge, walls, barrels, and various other accessories
Before I got back into D&D and started using the 4th edition rules, my wife and I tried out The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. It is a very interesting and fun game, especially if you enjoy the books and/or movies. My interest waned after a while as I started getting back into D&D, but I still have the old sets laying around. I went looking for the goblins to reuse them and came across the other terrian pieces of the LotR game. Of all of the terrain I own, I've reused the stone columns from the LotR game the most.
terrain items from LotR:SBG
Other games are just a few places Dungeon Masters can find terrain and props to use in their D&D games. What kind of terrain and props do you use? Where did you find them?