A Sneak Peek at UpWorks

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UpWorks logo

Here’s an early look at a cool upcoming project. Jeff Martin just launched a preview site for UpWorks, a three-dimensional terrain system for RPG players. I got to take an early look at it last night, and over the coming weeks it will have a lot more information added.

First, let me back up a bit. Jeff Martin is the creator of True Dungeon, the live-action role-playing adventure that’s one of the highlights of Gen Con for the GeekDads.

True Dungeon Tiles
GeekDads and Company after successfully solving a room in True Dungeon. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Martin also served as president of Dwarven Forge, which produced modular dungeon tiles through two highly successful Kickstarter campaigns. The Dwarven Forge tiles let you build out dungeon rooms and passages, and they look fantastic. It’s the sort of thing that RPG players have dreamed about, and now it’s available.

Dwarven Forge
Dwarven Forge tiles, as seen at Gen Con 2014. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

But Martin has another dream, one that has been percolating for nearly forty years. He remembers the ruined tower from his first experiences playing D&D, and over the years he’s come across other towers in his role-playing campaigns, too. Ever since then, he’s wished for a way to have an actual tower that he could use as a DM—one that the players would be able to see.

In a phone conversation, Martin described a scenario: the party comes across a ruined tower with crumbing walls and fights their way through the enemies in it. Then, they find a door to the dungeons beneath—and the DM is able to take apart the tower and build them into the dungeon passages. After successfully clearing the monsters out of the dungeons, the heroes return to the tower and establish their base there, repairing the walls and reinforcing the tower—all of which could be reproduced in miniature on a model.

Like Dwarven Forge, UpWorks is a three-dimensional modular terrain. However, there are some notable differences: first and foremost is that Dwarven Forge lets you build out; UpWorks will let you build up. They’re designed to construct castles, keeps, and towers, so it’s truly three-dimensional.

Another difference Martin described is that these are designed with digital sculpting tools. These allow sculptor Darryl Jones (who also designed some of Dwarven Forge’s sets) to work in fine detail, but also ensure that the pieces fit together with tight tolerances. Martin explained that Dwarven Forge tiles were hand-sculpted, so although they look great, they’re roughly square but not exact. UpWorks pieces will fit together exactly, allowing constructions of any size without things drifting out of alignment.

Because the sculptures are digital, you’ll also be able to interact virtually with the buildings online. There will be some sample builds on the website so that you can view them from any angle and see what they’ll look like down to the smallest detail.

Martin will be launching a Kickstarter campaign at the end of the month for UpWorks, but we thought it was worth an early preview. It was apparent just in the brief phone call with Martin (even setting aside True Dungeon and Dwarven Forge) that he is very passionate about RPGs and tabletop gaming, and his enthusiasm is contagious. If you love the idea of great-looking terrain for your campaigns, you’ll want to keep an eye on UpWorks.

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