Ikea TJENA + Dwarven Forge pieces = easy and cheap elevation

Quick and dirty tips time. Tons going on at our house (minor bathroom remodel, yay!) so, though this would be better as a video walkthrough à la Nate, since I do not have a video setup or time to quickly fake one, we’ll be one half step better than the Theater of the Mind: a Medium post with some snaps from my phone.
Dwarven Forge and other 3D terrain lovers, get yourselves the little paper organizer set from Ikea known as TJENA. It’s just the right size to work with Dwarven Forge terrain!

A miniature fighter advances across a raised courtyard, as 4 levels up an archer watches. Underneath it all: black boxes.
The five pieces from the TJENA set provide a rising landscape well-suited to Dwarven Forge terrain.

Piece 1: The Tray

An archer stands behind a wall providing partial cover, guarding a short set of stairs. The wall is a normal dungeon wall pressed against the side of the upside down tray from the Tjena set. The figure stands on a flat terrain tray with a stone pattern. The stairs are a 2x2 floor tile with the stair jacks resting on them by the side of the tray.
The tray is about 2.5 floors high, so it works well in combo with stairs (search for ‘stair jack’ to find sets with these little step pieces) or where a raised area with a railing is desired.
An adventurer stands overlooking a sunken area where the floors have collapsed to reveal water below flowing into caves The pit is the tray rightside up, with a smallwater terrain tray resting inside and cavern and cave pieces creating a jumbled flooded scene.
Flipped, the tray is good for lowered areas, but doesn’t exactly match the grid. To hide any awkward fits, use terrain trays or bank pieces or ledges to create an overhang.

Piece 2: Low Square

A guard keeps watch on the roof of a building overlooking a canal. The building ground floor is the low square Tjena piece with a small terrain tray resting on top and passage walls with a 1" wide stone floor forming the canalside path beside a small water tray. There is 4x4 little building creating a second story beside the open part of the roof where the archer stands. Stair jacks on edge form battlements.
Nice for a one story building where the roof is what you’re interested in. (I’m using an old 2″ elevation block to hold up the hidden back end of the stone terrain tray for this shot.)

Piece 3: Medium Square

An archer watches over a winding staircase below her. The high structure she is on is the inverted medium square Tjena with a layer of floor tiles on top. The small terrain tray on its side comes up just below the top of that floor tile.
These work great with small terrain trays on their sides to provide wall texture.

Piece 4: High Square

An archer watches over an even taller winding staircase below her. Again, a Tjena piece with a layer of floor tile provides the vantage point of the archer. It is the height of two elevation blocks, a 1x2 stair, and a stairjack. The black side of the box is fully visible but looks fine surrounded by the stone terrain and terrain tray below.
Anyone who tries to get all the way up here sure better like arrows. (Also, yay for the variety of stairs Dwarven Forge has offered over time. Keep ’em comin’.)

Piece 5: The Big Tjena

The archer guards a shorter staircase this time, but I bet she’ll still skewer anyone who tries to get to her up the jumbled stone stairs. The big Tjena in its horizontal position with two  layers of floor tile on top is the same height as a small terrain tray on its side.
A super handy piece. You’d want to reinforce it inside if you were sticking heavy stuff on top, but it takes this big floor on top just fine. Again, works great with a small terrain tray for wall texture. For stair variety, I’ve used whiskey stones for one of their few legitimate purposes: terrain. Useful to keep in your DM ‘mixed bits’ kit; I use ’em all the time to support things, indicate pillars, etc. If you don’t already own some that taste like the inside of your freezer (and bring that sad flavor to your drinks), I bet you know someone who does.
Dwarven Forge floor pieces are used next to the box to indicate its size for game purposes. It does not fit exactly to the grid.
On its edge the big Tjena piece is very tall. With a floor piece on top it’s 35′ in game terms.
Dwarven Forge floor pieces are used next to the box to indicate its size for game purposes. It does not match the grid.
Unfortunately the narrowest side doesn’t match our grid as well, so this should be used on the edge of a build or in a forgiving location in the overall grid.
Dwarven Forge floor pieces are used next to the box to indicate its size for game purposes. It does not match the grid but through the use of a passage wall butted against it so that the floor of the wall is on the grid, it's fine.
When the big Tjena is on its side, the short edge is a bit easier to work into a grid.

Okay, dungeonmasters, hie thee hence to ye olde Ikea and start blowing your players minds with more multi-level builds!

p.s. I bet the GRÅSIDAN set from Ikea would work even better, all being 2″ tall, but I haven’t gotten one to play with yet.
— — —
As of late August 2019 I have gotten to try the GRÅSIDAN pieces and they’re great!

A Dwarvenforge wall+floor corner piece sits beside a GRÅSIDAN paper tray turned upside down. They are the same height.

“But, Dinah,” I hear you cry, “where will I store all these pieces?”

😉 That’s the life changing magic of tidying up… Flip them over and Konmari your drawers!

A drawer holding rows of neatly rolled socks, which are held in place in a hidden paper tray.

Now doesn’t a stealth roll like that spark joy?


(The original version of this post was published on Medium in July 2019 as part of “D DMs D&D”)

Author: Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

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