A good dungeon needs many obstacles, known and unknown, to spice up the RPG experience. This time Ben went with an oldie but a goodie – the ominous terrain cave-in. This classic creation is yet another golden opportunity to make your three-dimensional game board come alive.
Ben utilized the Fieldstone molds (# 70, 75, and 701) to craft the core base of this piece. He then cast some smaller Woodland Scenic boulders to accent the crumbled walls. Finally, a Skullcrafts Oregon Beach Sand flock and a Games Workshop paint scheme round out the job.
The keys to building this terrain boils down to two sets of steady hands and of course, lots of glue – four types to be exact. Ben and Rob (the voice of Magnum & Red Dawn on our weekly podcast) then did a dry assembly run on the piece including some helpful reminder photos.
The slickery paint scheme included:
- First mix 2 drops of Games Workshop Codex Gray with 1 drop Chaos Black.
- Now dry brush that darker gray combo onto the piece.
- Then apply a lighter dry brush of just Codex Gray.
- Then paint a lighter brush of Citadel Delvan Mud wash (for that dirty feel).
So whether it’s a sudden dungeon cave-in, an unfortunate sprung trap, or a simply portion of a ruined room, damaged terrain needs a permanent place in your own D&D pile.
OK – he’s not going to lie to you…Ben has been dying to use that Lord of the Rings’ play-on-words headline for some time now. Still, can you ever have enough door variety in your D&D terrain life? With that obvious answer, here’s installment number 2 in this gripping series.
Ben loves to mix up the entry and exit points in his dungeons. Big or small, wide or tall, it simply doesn’t matter. He relishes the game group’s reaction and tactics based on the mere appearance of the barrier in front of them. With that said, here’s our latest batch of door goodness.
We’ve utilized the portcullis from Dwarven Forge (from Wicked Editions Set I) – a must-own). Our homebrewed jail cell doors work great for your typical prison area but could also serve as slick gates.
We crafted an imposing door to serve as our entry way into the second Horned Hold tower inside Thunderspire Labyrinth. A small door served as a special getaway inside the Duerger Trading Post cave.
Ben mustered a broken door for Brugg’s Halfmoon Inn assault. And he even made a partially clawed door in a recent Friday Night Strike Dungeon Delve.
Seem like overkill? Too much? Nah – remember, variety is the spice of life.
Be honest now…when has a bridge crossing on your game board ever passed over without incident? The answer is of course, never. Ya see no certifiably sane DM can resist an encounter in such a tantalizing environment – the opportunities are endless.
Ben scours the RPG landscape for bridges on a regular basis. He stumbled across a particularly palatable piece from Miniature Building Authority’s original High Adventure Series. The exquisite detail sealed the deal with perfectly painted planks, weathered ropes, and a couple gaping holes.
D&D 4E’s Thunderspire Labyrinth gave Ben a prime opportunity to test his coveted find (as each fortress of the Horned Hold is connected by a bridge over a deep chasm). Athletic checks and jaw-dropping dice roll rescue checks ensued. Be sure to watch the fun unfold on a future video podcast.
Still lots of options are there for the taking. Ben has tried to build his own with some mild success. Hirst Arts opens your creative mind with Mold 282 (bridge planks) and the imposing Fieldstone Bridge Mold #74 (the complete package).
Every GM needs a bridge in his arsenal cause simply skipping across it just ain’t fun. There’s blood to be had.
See It | Get It
Ben’s feverish room building exploits continue with his interpretation of Thunderspire Labyrinth’s Duergar Workshop (which lies deep within the Northern Fortress of the Horned Hold).
The game group couldn’t conquer the first tower without eliminating Urwol, the Master Smith. Thus, the guys needed a whiz bang encounter with some terrain that would leave a lasting impression. Ben felt this blacksmith chamber was the perfect location.
Key detail pieces and building notes include:
- Two blacksmith kilns ( large & small) for Urwol to start the process
- Anvil-like stone tables to pound the metal in place
- Dry-brushed flock from Skullcrafts to show metal shavings remnants
- Lots of snapped off weapons to demonstrate a fevered production pace
- Crystaline Counters to act as the burning fire
- Trinkets to show a little smithing variety
- Hirst Arts molds (#203, 701, 76, 75, 71, & 70) to put it all together
The 3-D terrain really made this Duergar showdown sing but in the end, the good guys won. Do you have some cool rooms coming up in your dungeon crawls (such as a spider’s lair, excavation pit, etc)?
Experts say once you build one custom terrain game piece, you’re hooked. Well, those guys sure are right. Ben’s got the fever now and there’s no sane end in sight.
As the group plays Thunderspire Labyrinth, Ben wanted to introduce a more credible connecting plot line to the Pyramid of Shadows D&D module. Thus, a prison block was placed within the Horned Hold to introduce the hook.
The key jail cell components included:
▪ A custom hand-painted miniature to play the main character
▪ A new NPC card for identity and key data points
▪ Floor Terrain and Accessories: Hirst Arts molds (#701, #282, #203, #75, #76, #70)
▪ Chain: Michaels Craft Store
▪ Paints: (Graveyard Earth, Silver, Blood Red, & Chaos Black)
▪ Flock: Dirt from Skullcrafts and dead grass from Citadel
Ben focused on more ornate touches for this piece. It’s the little things like the torches/sconces, tiny buckets, bit box minis, and steel cell doors that really makes this unique build work.
You can learn more about this build by watching the video flyover on our YouTube channel.
How good are Hirst Arts rubber molds? They are so good that they made our inaugural post (a homage of sorts). Ben has cast the magic white powder countless times to build amazing modular dungeons…most notably for our 4E campaigns including Keep on the Shadowfell and now Thunderspire Labyrinth.
One mold that has gotten particular creative attention is the Cavern Accessory Mold #85. It’s got boxes, buckets, barrels, bridges, crates, chests, campfires, coin stacks, crystal balls, caldrons, grain sacks, jewels, flames, levers, lion’s head, pedestals, and stone doors. Too much? Nah – where would your rooms be without the finer details?
Even better, with so many painting combinations, touch-up (such as weathering and blood spattering) and assembly options, it really feels like the mold that keeps on giving and giving and giving.
Visit Website | See It | Get It
Few events crack the suspense barrier like a party opening a new-found dungeon door. The group braces for battle and assumes the worst. You can cut the tension with a bastard sword.
And just like that…the moment disappears. Ben equates this adrenaline rush to that brief moment of silence by the crowd when baseball player delivers his pitch to the plate.
With so much excitement at stake, finding and using the right door is critical. Ben ensures a full arsenal of doors is always at the ready. Is the door steel, stone or wood? What types of markings are on the door (writings or pictures)? What is unique about the door (lion’s head, scorch marks, dried blood)?
Luckily the crew over at Hirst Arts has given us the tools to do it right. Ben utilizes essentially three different molds: Cavern Accessory Mold #85, Cavern Floor Accessories #282, Water Cavern Wall Mold #81. After that, it’s just how fancy and creative one can get with his paint jobs.
Visit Website | See It | Get It
Considered one of my all-time find of finds, Hirst Arts lets you cast your own dungeon pieces by using an assortment silicone rubber molds. Simply make a mixture, pop ‘em out, glue ‘em down, slap on a few layers of paint, and whammo…you got a modular mass of D&D goodness with endless possibilities.
They’re incredibly handy for laying down your own dungeon in real time. The pieces add a whole new visual element to the game and let you go 3-D on your party’s ass. I’ll review a bunch of the individual molds in the weeks to come but thought this first entry would best be served as an overall introduction.
It can be a somewhat time-consuming process, and they’ll chip rather easily but one can’t argue with the results. However, if an amazingly unhandy, non-artist, bumbling-of-a-man like me can do it, anyone can. And of course, one can never put a price on the satisfaction of building your own dungeon from a silly bag of plaster.
Visit Website | See It | Get It