Tag Archives: Dungeon Accessories

Dungeon Accessories: Beds

So I’m still on the Dungeon Command Tyranny of Goblins “bedroom” tile (as I have come to call it). Last week, we did the broken mirror, and this week we’re going to tackle the bed. (The rug was covered in this article.)

This was a quick and fun little project that I was actually able to make out of things I had lying around. I will admit that, as I was putting it together, I mused upon the overlap between what I do and what dollhouse makers do. Although I doubt most dollhouse makers know the difference between a mace and a morningstar… but maybe that’s just what I was telling myself to make me feel better… Continue reading

Dungeon Accessories: Mirrors

As I’ve said before, recreating a map that someone else has made always stretches me to get better at what I do. When someone makes a two dimensional map, they usually aren’t thinking about logistical problems that may crop up for someone recreating the map in three dimensions. So it is as I work on recreating the Tyranny of Goblins dungeon tiles. But hey, you get this cool tutorial out of it, so who’s complaining? Continue reading

Court of the Storm Lord: The Encounter and Dungeon Accessory

Last week, I posted the terrain I made for the Fourthcore Team Deathmatch at the Charm City Gameday. I had a blast playing the deathmatch, and I’m really happy with how the piece turned out. But I have this hangup with making terrain: I’m not a big fan of spending more time on making something than I’ll get to use it. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, if something is only going to get used once, I do something quick and easy or not at all. In order to get more use out of it, I wanted to use this piece for an encounter in my home game. Of course, many of the features that are in place for the team deathmatch aren’t really compatible with a standard D&D encounter, so I needed to tweak things a bit. Continue reading

Dungeon Accessories: Trapped Corridor

This post is part of a series where we show how to make 3D dungeon accessories for your game. If you don’t use 3D props, we always include a list of ways to use the dungeon feature in your game, even if you don’t use the physical piece. You can check out the whole series in the menu bar link, above.

This hallway looks weird...let the rogue go first.

I’ve been following, with great interest, Project Red Rover over at Ben’s RPG Pile for the past few months. He’s recreating the 4e adventure Pyramid of Shadows in Hirst Arts blocks. A few weeks ago, he posted instructions for a trapped corridor using the Egyptian blocks. The idea is that a PC moves past a certain point in a corridor, and a wall drops out of the ceiling behind them, cutting them off from the rest of the party. I thought the idea was brilliant and easy to make. I wanted to re-create it with the Gothic Stone molds, using my corridor creation style. Continue reading

Dungeon Accessories: Slimy & Wet Terrain

Click for big

Just last Saturday, I had to trudge out to the garage to get some stuff, and noticed that I had left some of my terrain making supplies on the bench from the Gencon Fourthcore Deathmatch models I made. One of the pieces I made used a product called “Envirotex Lite” for the pools of boiling blood. As I was boxing everything up to bring inside, I had a small brainstorm. Why couldn’t I use it to make small puddles that could be placed on terrain pieces to create areas of wetness or slime? A little paint could add some color, and in my tests with it earlier this year, it held its “puddle” shape as it dried. I decided to give it a shot. And it turned out great.

This is a super easy craft that takes less than 10 minutes to do. Here’s what you’ll need: Continue reading

Dungeon Accessories: Standing Stones

This entry is part of a series instructing you how to make your own accessories for your Dwarven Forge or Hirst Arts 3D dungeons. For the rest of the series, click the Article Series menu item above. If you’re not interested in making the project, you can still scroll to the bottom of the post for ideas on using standing stones in your campaign.

I'm sure those stone pillars are nothing. You go ahead, I'm right behind you.

A few months ago, I talked about making a terrain board for some Hirst Arts pieces I was making. If you remember, I talked about using insulation foam for it; when you buy that stuff, it comes in a sheet of about 8’x4′. I only needed a 2’x2′ piece of it, so the rest of the sheet has been sitting in my garage since July. I needed to do something with it because my wife is threatening to “relocate” it. While this little project won’t use too much of the foam, hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to outline another project I have in mind for it. Stay tuned. For now, let’s carve off a section of that foam, and make some super easy, really nice looking standing stones, or stone columns. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

Dungeon Accessories: Iron Vault

This article is part of a series on Dungeon Accessories for your game. For the rest of the series, click the link on the menu bar above. As always, we’ve posted a list of hooks and ideas for this accessory at the end of the article that you can use even if you don’t make the piece.

A few months ago, I did a how-to article on making the phantom staircase from the Fourthcore adventure “Revenge of the Iron Lich.”  If you’ve been paying close attention, you may have noticed that I actually did that project as part of the Gencon Fourthcore Deathmatch arena I made.  Today, I’m going to cover another unique piece I did from the same adventure – a huge iron cube.  While the one in RotIL is twenty feet to a side, you can make yours any size.  An iron box with no hinges or lock is sure to pique any player’s curiosity.

 You will need three things to make this piece:

  • Cardboard – An old cereal box or something similar is perfect for this project.
  • Rhinestones – You’ll probably find these in the jewelry aisle of your craft store. Get the glue on variety.  Color doesn’t matter, as you’ll be painting over them; size does matter, however, and will depend upon the size of the finished box.
  • Metallic Spray Paint – I used Testors silver paint, although I know they make a chrome color and several other metallics.  Don’t be afraid to use a non-traditional metallic color like blue or red.  You can usually find these spray paints with the car models or Pinewood Derby kits.

 First, you’ll need to cut your cardboard. Use a cube template, like this one – if you want to leave the bottom open (so you can hide something underneath it), then omit the bottom piece of the template, leaving a “+” shape.

 While the cardboard is still flat (i.e., before you glue it into a cube shape), glue the rhinestones on. They are supposed to look like rivets on the finished product, so you’ll want to glue them along the edges of the cube. Three or four to an edge should look fine, depending upon the size of the finished cube.  Don’t glue rhinestones on one of the cube faces so that it will lay flat when you place it on the map. (In the picture below, astute readers will notice that the cube is made of wood. More on that shortcut in a minute)

Glue it together. Be sure to score along your folds for a cleaner look, and glue the tabs on the inside of the cube. “Scoring” is cutting lightly along a fold line without cutting clear through the cardboard. You score on the outside of a fold (i.e., you fold away from the cut).

Paint the cube with your metallic paint to finish it up. (Astute readers will notice that the cube has once again magically changed in appearance. My first effort at making the cube used cardboard, but I made the rivets out of little dabs of glue. I was unhappy with the finished product because the glue dots didn’t all dry round or uniform in size.)

But wait! There’s a shortcut!  Check out the wood crafts section of your craft store to find all different sizes of wooden cubes.  From one inch to four inches (or more), you should find what you’re looking for.  The smaller cubes will tend to have sharper edges, which I like, but even the rounded edges on larger cubes look fine.  You can get multi packs of smaller cubes for a couple of dollars.

Total make time: 45 minutes. Less if you use the wood block shortcut or are handy with an Exacto knife.

Need ideas or plot hooks for the Iron Vault? Look no further!

  • Use them for the riddle The Angry DM recently posted (solution).
  • When touched by a person who meets a certain criteria, an inscription and keyhole appears. That person could be a PC or an NPC the party needs to locate.
  • In order to open the vault, the PCs need to slide the vault into a square niche in a dungeon wall. The single exposed face will then pop open.  The hole could be nearby or not, and could be all by itself, or one of hundreds of similar holes.
  • Unable to open it, the PCs leave it behind. Later, and NPC is looking for it. The PCs return to the dungeon only to find it’s a completely different dungeon (or not there at all)
  • The PCs need to find the three words of power that open the vault. These three words are inscribed on three different obelisks that can be found in three different temples.
  • When touched, the vault transforms into an iron golem

What plot hooks can you think of for the Iron Vault?

Dungeon Accessories: The Crystalline Orb

This entry is part of a series where we discuss different accessories you can make for your 3D dungeon sets. The rest of the series can be found via the “Article Series” link on the menu bar. While Hirst Arts molds generally feature prominently in these articles, there are always ideas at the end to incorporate the accessory into your campaign, even if you don’t have the actual, physical accessory to use. In short, if you’re not going to make it, just scroll to the end for adventure ideas!

I’m currently working on a super-secret Hirst Arts project for which I had to design a dungeon trigger mechanism. It had to be useable by PCs, and obvious in its function. Not wanting to go the traditional “lever” route, I came up with this dungeon accessory. While it will represent a trigger in my project, I realized that it can be a very versatile accessory, especially if you make a few of them.  So here are some very simple build instructions, with usage ideas at the end!

In case you hadn’t figured it out, the “crystalline orb” is simply a glass marble.  I found a bag of 50-ish for a couple of bucks in my local craft store’s floral aisle.  I guess some people use them in flower vases.  Boooor-ing.  Don’t worry about buying so many, I’m working on another project right now that will use quite a few of these.  You will probably have a choice of different colors; I went with classic “clear,” but use whatever you like.

You only need one piece from mold #45 – there are three to choose from that will work equally well.  I’m using the pillar; the pillar top (upside down) or the torch holder (also upside down) could also be used.  No matter which you choose, you’ll have to glue two of them back to back.

Since the marble is round, you’re going to want fast drying glue so you don’t get stuck holding it in place until the glue dries.  Epoxy, hot glue, or super glue all came to mind, though I used hot glue since it was what I had on hand.  I had some trouble getting the hot glue to hold the marble, so I roughed up the marble with some sandpaper where I was going to glue it.  Also, as a result of the poor glue bond, I decided to fill in some of the gap between the marble and pillar with more hot glue, and while I was at it, added some drips down the side.

Total build time, including letting the hot glue gun warm up, 8 minutes.  If you want to paint it, add another 2 to make it a nice round 10 minutes. 

By the way, if you are going to paint it, I would suggest doing that before attaching the orb, especially if you intend to add the hot glue drips down the sides.

Here are some ideas for using the crystalline orb in your campaign:

  • Answer the question: What is the ball made of? Glass, crystal, solidified Gelatinous Cube, air, ice, water?
  • The ball opens a door
  • It’s simly a magic orb (i.e. magic implement that a wizard could use)
  • Touching the ball traps you inside
  • The ball is made of water; drinking some of the water recharges one daily power.
  • There are three (four, five, whatever) of them, and they’re on the wrong pedestals. The PCs need to place them on the correct pedestals to progress.
  • There are four of them, one at each corner of the room. Entering the room triggers a sort of “security system” that fills the room with (energy type). This could be a trap to disable, or a skill challenge
  • Obvious suggestion: scrying device. But you can’t take it with you…
  • When touched, it acts as a portal or teleportation circle. With multiple pillars and orbs, swapping them around could affect destination.
  • Place the orb on a grid intersection; standing in one of the four adjacent squares conferrs some sort of combat benefit.  Ideas for that:
      • All attacks do radiant damage
      • Grants immunity to radiant damage
      • Minor action to touch the orb and do close burst 2 radiant damage (recharge 5/6)
  • A puzzle involving more than one orb on pillars
  • A quest to return a missing orb to its pillar

How would you use the orb?

Dungeon Accessories: The Phantom Staircase

This article is part of an ongoing series discussing different accessories you can make for your 3D dungeon tiles.  For the rest of the series, click the “Article Series” link in the menu bar.  Please note that even if you don’t intend to make this project, we always include ideas at the end of these articles that can be integrated into adventures with or without the accessory.

Last week, I took some time to read over the module Revenge of the Iron Lich written by Sersa V over at Save vs. Death.  I haven’t played it yet, but there’s a lot to like about this adventure. I highly recommend at least checking it out if you haven’t done so already.  It certainly has a flavor all its own; it brings back the danger in a dungeon that comes from messing with dungeon objects and the environment itself, as opposed to the danger presented by the monsters living there.  And did we mention the puzzles? We look forward to the second installment of this series.

Without giving out any real spoilers, one of the cool features of the dungeon (and there are many) is the Phantom (or “Insubstantial”) Staircase.  It really sparked my imagination.  But if you were to put this dungeon together with Dwarven Forge or Hirst Arts blocks, you’d probably be stuck when you got to the Phantom Staircase.  Who makes such an accessory?  No one but us.  And now you can too!

This is another one of those projects that’s so easy, it’s a no brainer.  Even if you only use it once, the small amount of time invested is worth it.  For materials, you need a hot glue gun, several hot glue sticks (at least 4), parchment paper, and something to make the staircase out of.

  • First, I stacked some Hirst Arts blocks in a staircase pattern.  You could really use anything you like – legos, books, styrofoam blocks, etc.  The only prerequisite is that the top floor tile is of the correct height for whatever it is you’re going to use it for.  Make sure that each step is big enough to put a mini on.
  • Then, I cut a strip of parchment paper, and put creases in it to lay over the staircase.  This would keep the hot glue from drying to the blocks.  I also used a little double sided tape to keep the paper on the blocks.
  • Next, I spread a thin layer of hot glue over the whole thing.
  • Lastly, I thickened the hot glue at each 90 degree angle in the staircase, except for the top and bottom steps.  This will help strengthen the staircase and prevent sagging.  You don’t need to do the top and bottom steps because you’ll glue the staircase to floor tiles at the top and bottom. 
  • When the glue is good and dry, you’ll flip the staircase over so that the bottom step is now the top step, and all the thickened parts are underneath.  Remove the parchment paper, and glue the top and bottom step to a dungeon tile.  You could either glue it under or on top of the tile, as you prefer.  Ok, I get that you might not want to glue it to your precious Dwarven Forge (which is why I like Hirst Arts), and there may be a way around that.  I would start experimenting with removeable adhesive, such as sticky tack, double sided tape, or rubber cement.  Just know that the staircase is going to work best when both ends are well anchored.

Total make time: 30 minutes (!)

As a side note, I initially tried this with water effects.  Unfortunately, when dry, water effects is too rubbery and flexible to support a mini.  The staircase sagged under the weight of even a plastic mini.  Hot glue, when dry, is a much stiffer material, and has no problem supporting even a large metal mini:

This is a rather heavy metal mini, placed at the center of the staircase. There is minimal sagging.

I would even feel comfortable extending the staircase higher.  Time did not permit me to try this, but manipulating the finished product has me convinced that it would work.  Also, time did not permit any kind of decorative work on the staircase, but it would be easy to take the hot tip of the glue gun, a soldering iron, or a hot craft knife, and work some swirls or icicles into the stairs.  (The failed water effects really threw me a curve ball on this one)

Some ideas for using The Phantom Staircase:

  • Like anything insubstantial, there’s a 50% clause: any character starting their turn on the staircase has a 50% chance of falling through it
  • The PCs need a special item that allows them to ascend the staircase.
  • The PCs need to trigger something in another part of the dungeon to make the staircase substantial
  • The PCs need to be insubstantial themselves to ascend the staircase
  • The staircase only becomes substantial in total darkness
  • The staircase has recently appeared just outside the town gate, and no one is brave enough to investigate where it goes. (It could ascend into the sky, or down into a mysterious hole)
  • It is made of air, very hard to find, and is the only way to get to the Temple of the Four Winds

You could also use this technique to make water cascading down stairs.  You would just stop at the initial thin layer of glue, and lay the finished product over the dungeon tile staircase.  Here are some ideas for that:

  • Any character starting their turn on the staircase must save or be washed two squares back.
  • The water squares are simply difficult terrain.
  • The water is mysteriously flowing up the stairs.
  • The water has no apparent source, and no apparent draining point.  If the PCs pry up the floor tile at the source, they find an Endless Canteen (Adventurer’s Vault) or some other water-themed wondrous item.
  • Healing effects heal an extra 5 points (10 paragon, 15 epic) to any character standing in the water.

How would you use the Phantom Staircase?