Special Terrain on Urban Tables
I often hear people say that the reason they don't use special terrain rules is that they usually play on urban tables. That to me sounds like a lack of imagination! To help inspire you guys with urban tables, I've put together ways to add a variety of special terrain to your cities.
First up is Jungle terrain, by far the easiest terrain to add to an urban setting. The obvious answer to adding this terrain to a table is by the use of planter boxes, letting you add small sections of forest to your tables.
But what if you want something a bit more significant? Well, how about a park? You can use a square of MDF as the base, add some fencing or hedges along the outside edge, glue down some trees and paint it with a path through it. BAM! Quick and easy if you use pre-made trees from train stores. While not strictly jungle terrain, 4Grounds makes a pretty rad looking playground set, which could be used to accessorize your city park and provide additional sources of cover inside it.
These planters are made by Systema Gaming, 4Ground, Sarissa Precision, Multiverse Gaming, Warmill, and Every Little War. But there are countless companies which produce similar items.
More challenging, but not impossible. First off, if your park from above is large enough, why not include a pond? Similarly, you can easily add a swimming pool to your table, which would look great if accompanied by some surrounding residential buildings. If you're getting really crafty though, an aqueduct, or fancy water feature going through the heart of a city could look nice, or even pools of leaked toxic waste.
The aqueducts are from Armorcast and Micro Art Studio, the pool is from TTCombat, and the open pit from Blotz, while the toxic pools were hand made.
These kinds of terrain took me a bit more thinking, but after a while it hit me. Garbage. Vast piles of junk would be similarly difficult to traverse as loose rocks up a mountain slope. Quite a few people make adequate terrain for these kinds of features, use the larger piles that you can get models onto as mountains or hills, while the barricades and smaller piles can work just like rocky outcrops.
The junk piles are from Pardulon Models, the stacks of crates are by Micro Art Studios, and the junk barricades are Secret Weapon Miniatures.
Low/Zero Visibility Zones
Probably the most fun to come up with were some odd and unique types of terrain to add to the table. Not all terrain needs to be purely analogous to natural environments, by focusing on what makes a sci-fi urban setting unique, you can come up with some easy to play terrain rules that add some unique flair to your table.
There are some companies which make great terrain to represent vents or cooling towers, while not impeding movement directly, you could say that the heat/exhaust produced by the vent causes the terrain piece to produce smoke (steam/smoke exhaust), white noise (plasma/nuclear exhaust), or both. You could even get away just using inexpensive drain caps from a hardware store to create these kind of vents. Speaking of a Nimbus Zone, using weird scifi tesla coil type things you could have nimbus field generators, projecting a Nimbus Zone from the terrain piece. Furthermore, if you play with building interiors, you could have some building interiors contain generators, which cause the room to be a White Noise, or even Zero-G zone.
Terrain by Impudent Mortal, Armorcast, Wargamma, Home Depot, Horizon Creation 3D, Every Little War, Secret Weapon Miniatures, and Blotz.
Doing it Yourself
Don't be intimidated, thinking that to make special terrain you need to break the bank. I mentioned above that an inexpensive piece of plumbing can work perfectly to create a visibility zone, you can also find inexpensive ways to make any of these things. A lake or pond need not be anything more complicated than a glossy picture of water, maybe glued to a more rigid surface or weight and support. You can often get trees for dioramas very inexpensively at craft stores, especially snow covered pines after Christmas. Want to make a pile of junk? Literally glue together a bunch of junk and paint it!
While these tables mostly make use of woods (which is probably the easiest terrain to integrate), you can see the effect of adding some special terrain to a game table. The greenery added to these environments makes them feel more welcoming and a place where people would actually live. They also create interesting situations in gameplay, forcing players to adapt to, and overcome, their environment.