This would not be the first time for me to present you with a mess, but it is the first time where I am upfront about it. MESS – Miniature Elevation Sub-System. Yes, I had to cram the S in somehow. The MESS is an easy system to do floating and flight right on your battlemap in your tabletop roleplaying games.

using the miniature elevation sub-system to create a spiral staircase while also showcasing the pieces.
Before things spiral out of controle make an impromptu spiral staircase!

Making the MESS

The system consists of a base and a top piece which you can et on top of one another in order to create roughly 1″ of elevation. From there, you can extend the height using matching lengths of tube. You can find the files on Thingiverse for free. More about where I salvaged the tube from below!

I recommend also printing the “nest”, which is not an acronym but simply the best I could come up with in terms of names. This piece is designed to hold what I consider a decent number of pieces. In my games since making this we never ran out of bases, and there are enough tubes to go around, too.

a holder holding 6 complete medium bases, two large ones, and 18 pieces of tube in three lengths
The nest gives you all you need to cover most flying needs during a session.

Using the Miniature Elevation Sub-System

Sometimes, things are not as down-to-earth as they seem, especially in tabletop roleplaying systems. Characters and monsters alike eventually gain the ability to float and fly. If that happens to your game, you will need a way to represent that on the battlemap. Imagination is all well and good (it really is), but sometimes, something tangible can help it along.

While dice work well enough every now and then, the MESS offers you a way to float in style. You can pick the appropriate length of tube, insert it into a base, place it on the map and you are done. It’s easy and does not take up much space (which is my excuse for calling it a sub-system. Nothing to do with making a pun work). And on top of that, it is surprisingly stable even for large minis!

Where to get the Tubes from

I got the idea for the Miniature Elevation Sub-System when I dismantled some christmas lights – the kind where lights “drop down” at random in a number of said tubes.

You can find examples here or here (affiliate links). I do not know whether the tubes are always 11mm inside diameter, but I imagine they most likely are. If you want to read more about how to salvage them, I have written about that over on my maker blog – how to dismantle meteor lights.

Onward! I mean, Upward!

If you enjoyed making a Miniature Elevation Sub-System I would love to see it in action. You can connect with me on Twitter to send me pictures or just let me know how it worked out – or if you have ideas on how to improve the MESS!

Check out some of the other posts around here for more inspiration, and have a look at my paper models just in case they can fill a need at your table. Thanks for stopping by, and Be Inspired!

Categories: 3D printing