When the glass tubes broke, my players were confronted against a bunch of colored oozes. I found it pretty hard to find good looking ooze miniatures, so I decided to craft my own.
The bulk of it is made with a glue gun. My glue gun only has one setting: very hot, so the glue is pretty liquid and does not set quickly; instead it forms a puddle. To aid me in building shapes, I used rigid frames.
Some oozes split into smaller parts when hit with lightning or slashing, so I also needed smaller versions. They are mostly just a drop of glue on cent coins.
Having a bunch of shapeless blobs on my table, it can be hard to remember which is which. This is why I tried to gave them each their own shape, using various bits underneath to shape the final form.
Some were more elaborate, with bits of bones or even faces inside. Other even had sharp weapon edges.
The whole set before painting.
I did the base before painting the blobs, but in retrospects I should have made the bases even before creating the blobs, so they would have looked like they were oozing on top of the rocks.
Consolidating the bases with a second layer of highly diluted glue.
Same with the small versions, which is a very messy process.
And here we go for painting.
Ochre Jellies, Purple Ooze (from the Creature Codex) and Slithering Trackers (which aren't really ooze per se, but more of an undead kind of thing) on the front. Suppurating Ooze (again, from the Creature Codex) and Black Pudding in the back.
Eldritch Ooze and Tar Ooze from the Tome of Beasts II. The blue of the Eldritch Ooze is a silver paint mixed with blue.
Family photo, with a few layers in.
This was a very long painting process. I can't say it required any skill, but it still took time. Some of the colors didn't cover the black well, so I needed several layers.
I carefully added washes on the ooze part, excluding the bones, to keep the shiny effect. But this was all wasted when in a later phase I used a matt varnish spray.
I'm happy with the gradient on this one. The head is lighter than the bottom which looks like coagulated blood.
When the heroes explored the dungeon, they entered a room full of glass tubes full of oozes (that they of course had to fight).
From above, you can clearly see that one of the tubes is made of a Chessex dice box.
But because I had only one of those lying around, I traced a cross pattern of another one on a sheet of clear plastic.
I very slightly marked the internal grooves with a knife, to help me fold it in place.
I then glued them, adding hot glue on the interior of the tubes. It wasn't the easiest craft as the hot glue is, well, hot, and I had to put them in place long enough for it to set.
To hide the rough glueing, I cut small strips of black cardboard. I added a groove in the middle to more easily fold them.
And glued them on the sides of the tubes.
I gave them a quick silver drybrush, to make them look like old metal panes.
Added another layer of copper, for a slightly older look.
This is another quick craft, similar to the Deverin Cage one, but it did the job. Each tube was big enough to accommodate a large creature. My goal here was mostly for ease of play, and that it would convey what it is quickly. It worked.
Before reaching the last room of the Time Dungeon, my players had to go through one last trap: a set of gears and pistons moving in an haphazard manner. They had to find the right pattern and jump through. Well, actually some of them just teleported through it.
It all started with those cartoonish looking monsters. I think they come from MacDonalds.
I removed the orange and purple parts, and glued various gears, coming from other toys I had dismantled before, or steam punk jewelry. Also some plastic tokens and jewels.
Black priming, and then a gold drybrush, painting some details silver. Or silver drybrush, and painting details gold. Also adding a bit of color (green and red) on the central nose/pipe thing.
In my game, Lord Deverin is an important NPC that has been wrongly accused and sent to jail. The jail itself is actually an underground cavern filled with horrible creatures where a cage is lowered. So, I need to build such a cage.
The base structure is made with a 10cm x 10cm wood plank (I ordered them in bulk at some point), with plastic tubes as corner pillars.
The bars are made of out bamboo golf tees with their pointy head cut of. I kept the heads and glued them on the floor, between the bars.
The top is another such wood plank, covered with plastic squares. I tried to put a dip of glue in each square corner to act as some kind of rivet, but the glue didn't keep its shape and formed more like a blob.
The cage floor is made out of the same materials, but I kept them separate to be able to open the cage to put miniatures inside.
I then used a textured spray (used for polished glass) to add some texture to it. Not sure it worked well or not.
This added a matted texture to it.
I didn't find the texture grain big enough, so I added some Vallejo Ground Texture to it, to create small rocks, like old rust.
And applied the same treatment to the whole piece. I should have added this texture before the black priming though.
Started painting, with a silver overbrush, then a brown coarse drybrush and a sepia wash.
I added some more yellowish stamps, and painted the rivets in silver.
And here the final result, drying. It does the job, it conveys the old rusty look I was looking for but is still very rough. I need to practice on my rust effects.
For the top chain, I found a plastic chain in an old toy. I added a bit of rope at the end and dipped it in glue, hoping it would solidify it in place. Didn't work.
So I wrapped a small metal wire in it, covered it in the same texture I used on the cage, and attached it to a fake plastic rock. I glued it all on a washer for weight.
In one of the last rooms of the dungeon, players entered a room full of moving gears, with a ship help in the center, and a wall made of moving gears at the back. Behind the wall they heard sounds, but before they could explore it, one of them turned the helm and they all got transported back in time, at the entrance of the dungeon.
The base of the wall is made of plastic "chicken" mesh.
I glued ice cream sticks in a rectangular frame on it, on both sides, and trimmed out any remaining part.
I added some vertical separation on top.
To hide the separation between the sticks, I put some superglue and sprinkled it with baking soda, to both strengthen the bond, but also make it look like old rusty parts.
I glued steampunk decorations on the mesh, as well as on the frame. I also added a heavy dose of gravel on the base, to force it upright. The mesh is flexible, and it was distorting my frame, so I need something very heavy to put it in place and prevent it from falling forward.
First silver overbrush on a black priming.
Copper drybrush on the frame, and picking individual cogs in various metalic colors.
The last step was to add a black wash and let it dry.
Similar to the Stone Floors, you sometimes need to lay some large wooden floors. Here, I needed a way to represent the mansion of the Kaijitsu family, that my players befriended, and where they first encountered their evil twins from an alternate dark future.
Instead of multiple wooden tiles, I opted for full room boards.
I started the boards in a similar fashion that the stone ones. Each square is made of three planks, but the alternate order allows for visually distinguish them in play.
For the wood texture, I used the tip of a used pen and draw squiggles in the direction of the plank, to simulate wood grain. It has a bit of a cartoonish look, but in play it does look like a wooden floor.
Paint scheme starts with a coat of dark brown. You can also see that I added small holes at the top of each plank to symbolize nails.
Lighter brown (almost orange) drybrush.
And same treatment applied to a larger piece.
The wash did warp the board a little, but one night under the weight of the PHB, DMG and MM fixed it back.
While exploring the dungeon, I could put on the table 2x2 squares to symbolize the corridors and room. This was very versatile and helped in representing the tortuous corridors. This is similar to Dwarven Forge (but way cheaper) and to Wyloch tiles (but without the excruciating cardboard curtting).
I already have a post where I explain how to make those tiles. This time, I needed to create a bit more, and also to have the wall width to be consistent across all the tiles.
So I started cutting strips of 1cm wide foam.
I cut them into smaller strips of about 3.5cm long, and draw a brick pattern on each.
I then setup to carve the brick pattern by creating grooves over the pattern. I used a black sharpie to mark which face was supposed to go up (and I continued the brick pattern on the other side).
I glued them on my wood planks, and trimmed the parts that were over the edge.
I glued on the texture wall paper tiles.
Applied a first coat of black modpodge. My mix was too liquid, and didn't cover much. I had used black china ink instead of black craft paint, which indeed is more black, but also more liquid.
So I ended up spray painting on top.
Lighter Grey drybrush
Wash (still drying)
And with a last tan drybrush
Dungeon tiles are great, but sometimes you need to put one large room on the table, in one go, without having to fidget with 9 moving pieces. In that case, having the the whole 6x6 floor room ready is best.
I start with a fine layer of foam glued on a sheet of foamcore. Many online tutorials talk about the "cheap foamcore from the dollar store, where the top layer peels easily". Well, we don't have dollar stores in France, and all the foamcore I could find had their top layer well glue. So instead I'm adding my own foam layer on top and carve it.
I draw the squares with a pen first, then go over them again with an exacto knife to break the top layer tension. I then go over them a third time with a criterium to widen the grooves. I also cut some random angles, and added random cracks. Finally, I rolled the trusted aluminum foil ball over it to create the stone effect.
Black modpodge layer at the bottom, and some already painted at the top.
First grey overbrush on the left, and lighter grey drybrush added on the right.
The wash added some imperfection, made the stone darker in some places because of where the water stayed.
A last drybrush, made a bit randomly to lighten it a bit.
We used to be playing every other Sunday evening, and had an ongoing D&D 5e campaign running. It started as an initiation table, based on the Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder Adventure Path and evolved into an intrigue campaign in the city of Magnimar.
Then, COVID hit our table, and I moved to another city, which should have killed our game. Instead, almost 2 years after our last game, we all took one week off from work and gathered in my new house, to play a full week of D&D. What's the point of being an adult, if you can't do this kind of things?
From a DM point of view, running a marathon game during a whole week, to close a campaign that was put on a hiatus for 2 years had its share of challenges, but was also pretty rewarding. I have very fond memories of this whole campaign, so I'm a bit sad to have to end it, but I'm also grateful that we could end it properly and not add it to the pile of other unfinished campaigns.
But without further introduction, let me share with you the pictures of the various scenes of this intense week.
The first session started with a bang. The group had to save one of the City Council Members from a certain death. The poor NPC had been injustly accused of consorting with devils and was thrown into the lowest depth of the City Prison: the Underworld, where horrible creature lurks.
While his cage was being lowered, a band of rival adventurers riding a floating barge attempted to capture him (they planned on asking for a ransom); while at the same time a group of bat-worshipper Derros, led by a Bat Demon was trying to kill both the PCs and the rival group.
I had completely forgotten that my group had access to teleportation spells, so what I had planned as a timed rescue attempt ended up much more quickly into a flying chase.
After having saved Lord Deverin (and get rid of the rival group), the PCs went on looting the rival camp, and headed back to the surface, fighting a Roper on their way.
Calling their NPC friend Ameiko Kaijitsu, the PCs were surprised to have somebody else answer the magical phone call. Not sure who they were against, they went to the manor. They found their friend, agonizing on a couch, with two of their evil twins alernatively hurting and healing her.
Rolling incredibly high Initiative, they managed to focus and kill the opposing cleric in the first round, then went all-in on the other members one after another. They still had the opposing Bard take control of their own bard, which could have been disastrous, but they managed to handle the damage.
They ran from the building as the roaring fire of the various fireballs burned to ashes the whole first floor.
Now the PC know that the BBEG is the alternative version of their Warlock, from a dark future. They aim to his dungeon, trying to reach him. The whole dungeon is built on the idea of time paradox (this is a reskinned version of Julinda's Gauntlet, from Wyloch)
The whole dungeon somehow has to be explored twice, and actions the PCs take on their first time through will impact them again on their second time through. This was very fun to play.
Having completed the dungeon, the PCs now have to head into the final boss battle. They were against the evil twin of their Warlock, with his war machine metal golem version of their Fighter. And some animated zombies made of parts of their doubles, hunted from countless other dimensions.
As their main antagonist HP pool was reduced, he spawned alternatives versions of himself. Those couldn't cast spells, but were more on the melee fighter side. The PCs were finally victorious, on the edge of the 6th combat round, and managed to flee through the runic portal.
Unfortunately, one of our players couldn't stay the whole week, so we ended up narrating the last parts of the campaign. Our heroes had to travel to the future, when their city will be destroyed by an Githianki invasion. In the madness of the attack, they had to find their doubles and capture their soul. Each capture had them deal with the impact of removing one of them from this reality.
Kyra the Cleric was now the head priestess of the Sarenrae church and was holding a protective dome against the Cathedral, protecting innocents from the attack. Lem the Bard attracted a group of attackers inside the Opera and sacrificed himself to kill the attacking group and buy time for citizens to flee. Tordek the Fighter took advantage of his last living minutes to find his love and spent time with her before the PCs had to kill him (and his lover turned Banshee).
They then all flew back to the past, at the time of the creation of the city and understood that an Illithid spaceshift crashed there. They killed the Illithids before they could have time to mind control the whole city over the course of the following centuries.
Then, the players decided what they wanted to do with their characters, knowing that they could live a few years in the past, then teleport back to their present. They all acted into planting the right seeds in the past so their present would be better, making Magnimar a prosperous.
Because we actually ended the campaign one day earlier than anticipated, we took advantage of the time to stage some fake pictures and send them to the player that couldn't attend until the end:
At the time of posting, this is the build I'm the most proud of. I spent a lot of time on it, but I had an idea of the theme of what I wanted to do, and went all in.
I wanted to create a necromancer tower, and I wanted it to have a strong "bone" feeling, so I went scavenging all the old toys I had bought for bones and skeleton pieces.
It all started when I bought two second hand board games that came with those two large plastic tower. I had already converted the first one into the Tarnopol Clock Tower, and I wasn't sure what to do with the second one.
If you're looking for details on the original boardgame it's coming from, here is what is engraved on the back of the tower.
The interior was full of gears and stuff that I removed. It made the structure lighter, and more importantly, made less noise when manipulated.
Months later, I found another exact same board game in another second hand shop and bought it as well. Now that I had two identical halves, I thought I could just glue them back to back for a more interesting structure.
This was the base shape of the final build. There was still a lot of the initial iconography to remove. As it was originally a Scoobydoo game, a lot of it is way too cartoonish for a necromancer tower.
I started by cutting the frame of a door in one of the fronts. I used my newly acquired Dremmel tool (that you can see in the background). It makes cutting plastic way easier than what I used to do with manual tools. Still required to turn the tool and tower in awkward angles at time, but still a great time saver.
I then played around with other toy parts I had, seeing what would work well. I ended up not using the door frame I had just cut, putting this plastic fort in front of it instead.
The front fort was lacking a proper roof, so I created one with black plastic sheets.
I "made" a door out of ice cream sticks for the top floor.
And a larger door using larger sticks for the ground floor.
I covered the newly created floor with this 3D wallpaper I had already use when making my dungeon tiles. This gave it a stone texture.
I glued everything on thick cork boards, and this gave me a better initial rough shape.
And I then started the tedious process of covering every wall with foam brick. This helped cover the holes between the various parts and hiding any cartoonish details I mentioned previously.
I started with the ground floor, incorporating some bones in between the stones. I didn't cover all the walls and let some of the initial texture see through, to make it look like it had been repaired in layers.
Here your can see I added an ice cream stick because the gap between the two structures was too wide and I couldn't glue my bricks without it. I knew it would end up covered in bricks anyway, so I didn't really care of using a more "noble" material here.
I also created some windows, with skulls showing through. The gate is coming from Lego, and the skulls are mostly coming from the Skulls set edited by Games Workshop (some other skulls are leftover from other kits).
I did the same logic but with an archway coming from a Megablocks set. I glued the archway to black cardboard, then filled the bottom with wood glue and added skulls one by one.
I frankensteined some wall decoration by gluing plastic skulls to some Playmobil pieces. I glued the whole thing to black cardboard, and will use that to hide the weird Vampire frames of the original toy.
This is what it looks like at that stage, with lots of plastic bones lying around on my desk. I also added a door handle and hinges to the door at some point (all made from jewelry stuff).
I then started the second floor, adding more and more bricks and bones on the wall, as well as some tiles on the floor. I used a mix of my 3D wallpaper and foam tiles for that.
As each side of the base shape is a mirror of the other, I tried to break the effect by building some kind of collapsed wall on one side, and a stair/ladder on the other.
I also started adding bones as railing. They are coming from a Pirate of the Caribbean toy and I just had to cut them to the required shape and glue them.
I then applied spackle (some kind of filler used in construction) between all the bricks from the ground floor. I did that by applying it roughly where I needed it, spreading it as much as I could. Then I used a wet brush to push it in the gaps, and a dry tissue paper to clean the brick surface. The goal is to make sure it fills all the gaps, but not hide the brick faces, so each individual brick is still visible.
It is a very long process, and you have to do it in batches. I covered about 25% of the ground surface, then spread, then use my brush, and then remove the excess, and then had to let it dry before moving to the next 25%.
Finally, after several long evenings doing so, I had all the bricks sealed. It is long, but is definitely worth doing and the final result looks much more like one build rather than a pile of foam bricks. It also makes everything more durable, and heavier (so less likely to fall during play).
Above you can see my trying to figure out what to put on top of the tower.
Finally, I decided to put this kind of top altar, where the BBEG would be performing an evil ritual.
The floor itself is a foam board, and the pillars are made of wire spools and Kapla parts. More bones are added to unify the look.
I didn't glue the top part initially, to be able to more easily work on it. I covered the Kapla part with foam tiles, and toped the other columns with more foam bricks.
I then glued it on top, and started working on the crumbled wall I had been leaving untouched until now. I added a lot of wood glue, and sprinkled varying sizes of sand and small stones.
I then added more spackle to better tie together the bain tower structure and the top level I had just glued. The transition between the two could have been done better (not sure how though), but it's still much better than leaving the visible gap that was there before.
I also decided to add more spackle around the Playmobil decoration, to better embed them in the wall. They were looking out of place otherwise.
I added a second layer of sand and glue on the crumbled wall (as well as some around it), to emphasize the effect of it being broken.
And the painting phase could begin. Covering this whole build in black modpodge took some time, though.
Some areas actually required several coats.
And then, the very satisfying first gray overbrush was applied.
More layers, going lighter and lighter, but also starting paint on the wood.
I love this phase of any build. This is when your heap of plastic and foam starts to look like stone and wood.
Picking individual stones in a variety of earthy colors, to break the gray monotony.
I find this really helps better convey the volumes.
Also started working on the bones. First layer of cream color.
Picking up the rope joints in brown.
It's also a long process, as some bones where in hard to reach places.
I then added a brown wash on the bones, to darken and shade them.
This brought the whole piece to live (pun intended).
I actually found it was a bit too dark, so I drybrushed the bones back with the initial cream color.
And I also admired my work.
This one was more to actually test my new phone camera modes.
I added a black wash on the stone to tone all the varying colors down and make it more uniform.
The contrast between the bones and the stones is nice, and not too violent, I like it.
View from behind.
I wasn't really happy with my crumbled wall, to be honest. I thought it was looking too bland. So I decided to redo it, better.
I started by spreading some texture paste on it. It was a bit scary adding back more base materials on an almost finished project like this.
Using a wet brush I spread it even further.
I then "sprinkled" lots of skulls and bone pieces. I really sprinkled it initially, to see what would stick and how. I then used pliers to put individual heads back in the right angle.
I then sprinkled spaghettis (that I had initially cut in small pieces to simulate bones). I soaked everything in a 50/50 mix of wood glue and water.
I ended up adding fine sand on top, to sit in the gaps where no spaghetti bone were set.
Once dried, I covered it back with black mod podge.
Made an initial overbrush of brown, to make it look like the inside of the wall was made of soil.
Then an lighter drybrush to bring the details.
And one more.
Then picking individual bones in cream color.
Applying a brown wash, individually on each of them.
This makes it much more in line with the whole bone thing theme.
Then it's time to add the flocking. I also love this phase. Adding greenery tricks our brain into thinking the piece is much more alive than it is.
I added flocking wherever there was a flat area that could have seen grass grow, especially on the broken wall.
Every flat stone was fair game. I added flocking in several phases. Starting with the darker green, and then sprinkling lighter green on top of it.
I then sealed it with matte varnish, and only after added purple flowers. I picked purple because it's the color usually associated with Necromancy magic, and I like the contrast of the bones with the pretty flowers.
And now some glamour shot of the build on different angles.
Hope you liked the detailed build process. I learned a lot by doing this one. The most important lesson for me was to pick a theme and stick to it. I went all into the whole Necromancer and bone thing and built everything around it.
I used a almost all my spare skulls and bone things, but I figured that if I weren't going to use them to build a Necromancer tower, then I would never use them. So I learned that crafting material are meant to be used, not hoarded. Hopefully I will build even better stuff in the future, but there's no point in keeping build materials for later; just build with what you have right now.