Ben’s DM prep of Pyramid of Shadows is well underway and he only had to turn a single page in the new module to run into a bit of a custom terrain head scratcher. The very first dungeon encounter (aka P1 The Entrance Pit) gives a description of four severed craniums and a sack hanging on pegs in an alcove. Ben obviously has no such items in his RPG Pile but wanted something impactful yet modular for future yes. So let’s bust some skulls and see what he came up with for his game group.
A little back story here: An Ettin, named Gurrak, guards the Pyramid’s lobby area and the monster is a bit of a boastful, noggin collector. Now Ben could have easily just described some decapitated heads on pegs to the group but he wanted to set a frightening, what-are-we-getting-ourselves-into scene right out of the gate – seeing would be believing.
First things first…Ben needed some heads. The module called for four victims (a male shadarkai, a male Orc, a female human and a male human). Ben found two in his bit box and went to his MageKnight eBay lot box for other two.
After clipping them off with a wire snips, Ben painted their undersides with Blood Red and then put a spot of Menoth White to represent some bone. Gross but the point is conveyed.
Deciding how to mount the heads created a great discussion in the Hirst Arts Questions and Tips forum. Several veteran hobbyists suggested drilling a tiny hole in each piece and then sliding them on pikes. Alas, Ben has WI sausage fingers and has no drill gear. Instead he decided to treat the mounting using an apple and knife analogy. The backside of the heads would be wedged on the sharp side of the spear’s tip. Certainly the Ettin wants to do as little damage as possible to his trophies.
Ben’s office bit box came into play here again. He found some nice Warhammer spears that were up to the task. Toothpicks could have worked but actual weapons seemed like a more natural fit.
For the base, Ben could have used a simple wall or floor tile but that would limit future use as they would have a distinct paint job (traditional grey for a dungeon or light brown for an Egyptian setting). Using rocks meant they could be placed in any setting and not look out of place.
The rock molds by Woodland Scenics are the stone of choice here. Taking a tip out of The DM’s Craft YouTube channel, Ben mounted the rock cluster on some simple thin cardboard. He wedged the spear in place using a little black Milliput.
He gave the piece a dash of color by dabbing on a little green moss and then topped it off with a simple sand/stone flock mix.
Finally, he grabbed an old toothbrush and spattered on some blood red paint to complete the goriness.
Ben is purposefully looking to introduce more visuals into this next module so he put together some fun face cards (using our Photoshop templates) for the severed heads and main monster.
So there ya have it. Heads on a stick, anyone?
Questions to Ponder: Would you have drilled holes in the head pieces? How might you have improved these pieces further? Have you bought hobby supplies from Woodland Scenics? If so, how would you rate them?