Dungeon Accessories: The Wailing Face

I think one of the most iconic “dungeon accessories” ever (ever!) is the huge demon face from The Tomb of Horrors. Walking into a room that has a huge carved face on one wall is sure to make any character pause.   Is it possible to add something like this to your 3D dungeon setup without dropping a wad of cash on Dwarven Forge’s Wicked Additions?  While making a demonic face may be a bit beyond most people’s sculpting abilities, we can make a pretty good proxy with a bit of Sculpey and an Exacto knife.  Observe:

Materials:

  • Sculpey (I have a giant brick I bought at WalMart a long time ago, though I’ve seen much smaller bricks for sale in the craft store. One of the smaller bricks would probably make two faces as described below)
  • Exacto Knife
  • Pencil
  • Paint (3 shades of gray, or whatever color scheme you use for the rest of your dungeon)
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic Wrap

First things first.  Figure out how big the face needs to be to fit on a wall of your 3D dungeon.  I’m using some homemade Hirst Arts stuff; my walls are 2″ long and 1 1/4″ high.  I just took a piece of wall and traced around it on my parchment paper (pencil is best for drawing on parchment paper).  This rectangle is your template; you want to keep your face roughly within that area.  Don’t worry if it goes a little outside, it’s easy enough to push it back into the boundary.

Take a small ball of Sculpey, and push it flat in the middle of your rectangle.  To keep your fingerprints off the clay, lay a small amount of plastic wrap over the ball before you press it out.  I used a ball the size of a large marble, but your mileage may vary.  If you need more or less, adjust the amount of clay you’re using, and start over.

A note about using Sculpey: the clay will be crumbly and tough at first.  Keep working it, and rolling it around, and it will eventually become soft and moldable.

Once you’re happy with the face’s size, take the “non-knife” end of your Exacto knife and push it into the clay to make two eyes.  Then, take the knife end, and cut a mouth out.  For the mouth, you’ll be removing all the clay.  Don’t worry, we’ll add an (optional) backing to the mouth later.

To add more expression to the eyes, push them in a little bit.  Where you push determines the final expression. I opted for “wailing and in pain,” so I pushed in the outer edges of the eyes.

Next, make a nose.  Noses are surprisingly easy.  Roll a little ball between your fingers, and then roll the top part to make it teardrop shaped. Place the top of the teardrop between the eyes, smooth the edges of the teardrop to the face, and voila, a nose! You may need to do a little extra shaping (like flattening the underside of the nose), but for the most part, it’s done.

If you want to back the mouth, you could use another piece of Sculpey, or a piece of blacked in paper.  I used Sculpey. I put the face aside, and rolled out a piece of clay very thin. Then, I gently pressed the face onto it.

Here’s why you do all this on a piece of parchment paper: just pick the paper up, and stick it in the oven.  I baked mine at 275 farenheight for 10 minutes.  Once it’s hardened to your satisfaction and cooled off, paint the mouth black, and the rest of the face in the three tone gray (or whatever your dungeon’s color scheme is).  That’s it!  To use The Face, you simply need to stick it to your wall of choice with a little bit of sticky tack or double sided tape.  No need to make the fixture permanent.

How can you use The Face in your dungeons?  Here are some ideas:

  • Of course, we’ll start with the classic: the mouth is a sphere of annihilation
  • Anything put in the mouth turns to solid gold -or- gains a temporary magical enhancement
  • The mouth is a portal to another dimension
  • You must place special gems in the eyes to make the mouth work
  • The face is a communication device (use it in Workshop of the Mad Alchemist)
  • Wraiths stream out of the mouth every new moon, and terrorize a nearby village
  • Poison Gas Trap
  • The mouth spews Dust of Candle Snuffing, plunging the PCs into complete darkness

How would you use the face? What ideas did we miss?

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