Archive | Props RSS for this section

Building Scarlet Moon Hall

Scarlet Moon Hall is one of the “haunted keeps” located in the Dessarin Valley and an important location early in the 5th edition D&D adventure Princes of the Apocalypse. The gallery that follows shows how I built the keep for my game using primarily Dwarven Forge City Builder terrain and D&D Dungeon Tiles. Below the gallery is a parts list for those interested.

Click the individual photos to read design and build notes for each floor.

Parts List

The following is a list of parts to build Scarlet Moon Hall similar to the way I have. In some cases it varies slightly from what I actually used as I ran out of pieces here and there and made due with what I had. I have linked to sets on the Dwarven Forge site that contain the pieces in question, but note that many pieces appear in multiple sets.

1st Floor (The Downward Path)

Here, and throughout the tower, one could opt to use only stone double posts, only wooden ones, or a combination of both. I chose to use both on the exterior walls for aesthetic and cost reasons.

Wall type and placement can also be varied. I chose to alternate solid stone walls with arrowslits, both horizontally and vertically.

2nd Floor (The Downward Path)

3rd Floor (Upper Entry Chamber)

If you use the ruined wood floors, the exterior will match the other wood floors (the outsides of the floor pieces are brown).

In addition to solid stone walls, one has the choice of magnetic walls and walls with LED torches to spruce up this build.

4th Floor (Cultist Barracks)

Here and elsewhere, it is possible to substitute a double posts with two corner posts. However, the double posts serve to hold adjacent floor pieces together, giving your build stability.

5th Floor (Elizar’s Chamber)

In my build, I used two more stone center window walls for the North wall (instead of a solid wall and arrowslit wall) simply due to running out of wall pieces.

Attic

I chose to make the walls of the attic Tudor style as I thought it helped offset the attic a bit from the stone walls of the structure.

Roof Support

Alternately, one could use a combination of any type of wood floors, as it simply supports the roof.

Roof

Using the 2″ x 4″ roof pieces creates a roof that isn’t as deep as the rest of the keep. One could alternately use a total of eight 4″ x 4″ roof pieces.

Scaffold

The pieces for the scaffold came from a variety of D&D Dungeon Tiles sets, but the most useful are found in DU6 Harrowing Halls and DU7 Desert of Athas.

Tents

These are great papercraft tents designed by Dave Graffam Models. Assembly required.

Advertisements

Props: Invisible Ink

Durin's Door

The moon now shone upon the grey face of the rock; but they could see nothing else for awhile.  Then slowly on the surface, where the wizard’s hands had passed, faint lines appeared, like slender veins of silver running in the stone.  At first they were no more than pale gossamer threads, so fine that they only twinkled fitfully where the Moon caught them, but steadily they grew broader and clearer, until their design could be guessed.”

– The Fellowship of the Ring

Invisible letters and glyphs are a great fantasy trope and can make for really interesting and engaging props in your game.  In your world, the letters or symbols could be drawn in Mithril ink that is only visible by moonlight,  arcane magic that is triggered by word or touch, or simply disappearing ink that’s exposed by heat or chemical reaction.  It could be a map, a secret door, a spell, or coded instructions from the king.

Invisible ink markers seem to be hard to come by these days, but I was able to find a company online that sells them.  Unless you have a black light at home already, you’ll also need something like this mini black light keychain to reveal the ink.  Other than that, all you need is some paper (see tips below).  Draw up an invisible map or letter, hand it out to the players at the appropriate time, and watch them puzzle over this mysterious prop.  Don’t give them the light, of course, until they’ve determined how (in game) to make the letters appear.

Here are some tips:

  • Use clean, bright white paper, for best results.  If you use colored paper the ink may not blend in completely.  Paper that comes with a pattern already printed on it (e.g. a scroll pattern) seem to work okay, but your mileage may vary.  It may not work well over printer ink (if you prink out your own scroll texture, for instance).
  • The hidden letters are easier to see under blacklight when the room isn’t brightly lit.  A good excuse to turn down the room lights for atmosphere.
  • Consider hiding the secret message on a page with other words or symbols drawn on it, like at the end of a handwritten letter, or on a map.  A handout with words or drawings on it is much less likely to arouse the suspicions of your players than one that appears to be completely blank (of course, if you want them to be suspicious, then go right ahead and do so).
  • DMs that make their own 3D terrain can even use the markers on them to draw hidden doors, runes, or other magical features.  The ink dries clear on craft paint just as it does on paper.
  • I wouldn’t recommend drawing on your vinyl battlemaps with an invisible ink pen as it’s unlikely to come off.  It should, however, work on Gaming Paper.

Props: Echo Mic

Props can go a long way toward adding realism and enhancing the atmosphere of your game. I am a big fan of props and try to incorporate them whenever possible. Here’s one I’ve gotten to use recently: The Echo Mic.

Echo Mic

The Echo Mic is just a simple plastic tube shaped like a microphone housing a spring or coil of metal. When you talk into it, it adds a metallic echo to your voice. You won’t win any Oscars for Sound Design with this thing, but its cheap and relatively effective (mileage may vary depending on the quality of your voice acting).

The Echo Microphone is most useful for creating ghostly, eerie, or otherworldly voices. The cries of the undead, the distant moans of zombies, the voices of ethereal beings, etc., are all good candidates, enhancing the atmosphere of a room or encounter or giving weight to an important NPC. As an example, I recently used it to help roleplay the character of Sir Keegan in Keep On The Shadowfell, emphasizing his ghostly dialog. It can also be used to create unusual sound effects by tapping the sides or rapping it on a table.

You can find his prop for just a few bucks at a party store, toy store, or online retailer.