About a year and a half ago, US Army vet and hardcore Dungeons & Dragons player Miguel Zavala started what at the time must have sounded like an impossible project. Using his newly acquired hobby of 3D design and 3D printing, he decided that he was going to design and 3D print every monster in the legendary Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Sourcebook. That is almost three hundred different 3D models, including dragons, orcs, trolls and every weird, bizarre and downright ridiculous creature that the classic roleplaying game had to offer. Now, after a ton of work and the almost constant running of his Printrbot Simple, Zavala has just released the last of his models.
A few years ago some major, and at the time controversial, changes were made to the player mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons. The popular RPG rules had always been a little complicated, and it was often difficult for players to fully understand distances, scale and rates of movement. Many industrious DM’s took to using graph paper to help illustrate everything for their players, and while that was helpful it was still a complicated game system. Eventually the owner of the D&D IP, Wizards of the Coast, released one inch grid maps and pre-painted miniatures that could be used either for a basic tabletop miniature game, or used for the RPG to help players better visualize the action within the game.
The miniatures were so popular that when the game mechanics were redesigned, Wizards of the Coast actually incorporated the miniatures into the game rules. While it became easier for players to understand distances and scale, it ended up making it kind of difficult to play the RPG without the grid maps and miniatures. Of course things got even worse when Wizards of the Coast stopped producing as many miniatures, choosing instead to focus on starter sets and random booster packs, while letting many of the popular and commonly used figures go out of print. Many DM’s ended up turning to places like eBay just to get the basic mini’s that they would need to actually play the game properly.
Now, thanks to Zavala, there are other options for DM’s looking to get the most out of the game rules. His project included creating 3D printable models of the entire Monster Manual, as well as the miscellaneous creatures from Appendix A and the Non-Player Characters (NPCs) from Appendix B. That is a remarkable resource for D&D Dungeon Masters, who can now put their players up against any creature that they can imagine. The last of his project, the NPCs, were just uploaded to Zavala’s Shapeways store, which brings his project to an end. The minis are available on Shapeways with the approval of Wizards of the Coast thanks to their existing deal with Hasbro.
All of Zavala’s D&D figures were designed in Blender and then 3D printed in PLA using his Printrbot Simple Metal. He suggests printing the figures with a 0.05 to 0.1 layer resolution, 100% infill and a ton of supports. He printed using a heated bed, so some of the figures are probably going to be a bit tricky to print. PLA is really easy to paint using standard acrylic modeling paints, but I would suggest that if you’re planning on using them a lot that you give the minis a nice sanding and use a black primer spray paint before you start adding the details.
As for Zavala, he’s now decided to move on to designing and 3D printing the Demon Princes, and maybe even redesigning his Chromatic dragons, so this is not the last that we’ve seen of him. You can see all of the monsters from the Monster Manual from A to Z here. You can see all of the creatures from the Monster Manual Appendix A here. You can see all of the NPCs from the Monster Manual Appendix B here (Make sure you keep an eye out for the hilarious Spy mini!). And you can download the STL files, or have Shapeways 3D print the minis for you, using Zavala’s Shapeways Store. This is amazing progress! Discuss further in the 3D Printed Dungeons & Dragons forum over at 3DPB.com.