Disclosure: these products were complimentary review copies provided by the publisher through RPGNow.
Having a visual representation of an area can be invaluable for playing a game. Even if you're not in combat, the ability to say "I go over here" rather than trying to describe in words in a scene that each player might be imagining differently can be an enormous time-saver. You can make do with a vinyl mat and an overhead marker, but if your drawing ability barely extends to straight lines like my own the results are something less than impressive. On the other end of the scale are things like Dwarven Forge and Hirst Arts - high end modeling supplies that will produce a 3-D dungeon that looks incredible. But they're expensive, bulky, and difficult to transport - and they don't work well if you're playing on a virtual tabletop, either.
Terrain tiles like the ones I'm reviewing today occupy the middle ground that make them the most useful to me and gamers like me: they're cheap, they're PDF format so they can be used electronically or printed out, they're easy to transport, and if they get damaged they are replaced at minimal cost - but they look far better than anything I'd scribble out on my Chessex mat.
A product like this will live or die on the strength of its art, and these sets by Inked Adventures are right up my alley. These are not hyper-detailed textures or simple cut-and-paste jobs. The art is hand drawn by the pseudonymous "Billiam Babble", who gives it a funky old-school feel. The tiles have clean lines and are high enough in contrast that they look good in both color and greyscale, and the movement grid is worked into the design rather than being overlaid on top.
The main set, Inked Adventures: Modular Dungeon Cut-Up Sections Basic Pack, is an enormous bargain. You've got doors (single and double in a variety of styles, stand-up or flat counters, plus specialty doors like a tomb door, a secret door and a portcullis), 5 and 10 foot corridors, corners (square and curved), junctions (T and 4-way), and dead ends. You get your choice of either diagonal corridors or adapters that let you hook normal corridors on at a 45° angle. You get stairs (straight and spiral) and rooms of various sizes. And you get separate counters of dungeon dressing: furniture, chests, pits, trapdoors, pools, rugs, corpses, piles of bones, piles of treasure, statues, tombs, fountains, bridges (over water, lava, or simply dark chasm), a dungeon entrance, and an idol room for human sacrifices. Phew!
Inked Adventures: Evil Summonings is a supplemental pack. Much smaller than the Basic Pack, it presents a four-room mini-map featuring a summoning room (is that circle inscribed in blood?) with a cell off to one side. Behind a heavy door is the warlocks room, with four-poster bed, bookshelf, desk, and stacks of tomes. A secret concealed alcove holds two treasure chests (one decorated with skulls), more books, and a pair of dubious-looking sacks.
All in all, these are some great, high value packages if you like the art style (there's a free sample if you want to see what it looks like). I'm glad I was sent these as a review copy, because I had no idea they were out there, and I'll definitely be watching for more Inked Adventures in the future.