Dungeon Accessories: The Well & Pool

 This entry is part of a series wherein I show how to use Hirst Arts molds to make new dungeon accessories for your 3D terrain of choice.  If you don’t have any Hirst Arts molds, that’s no problem.  At the bottom of the article you’ll find a bunch of ways you can use the accessory as the centerpiece for an encounter or story arc; you don’t need the actual accessory to use the ideas.  So feel free to read the whole article, or just zip to the bottom, and get your creative juices jumpstarted!

A well or pool usually seems out of place in a dungeon, and players approach them with caution; for good reason, as you’ll see if you read some of the adventure hooks at the end of this post.  There are instructions on the Hirst Arts site (in the Tips & Tricks) on how to make water features.  I’m not going to duplicate any of them, but rather show you one of the methods I use.

Getting everything together

All you need to make a well and a pool is either floor mold 201 or 202.  If you have mold 45, you can use pieces from that mold, but it’s not necessary.  For the well, you’ll need 4 of the long thin rectangular floor pieces, and 4 of the smallest rectangular pieces.  For the pool, you’ll need 8 of the half size floor pieces, and 4 of the smallest rectangular pieces.  Is that specific enough for you? How about a picture:

You’ll also need something called Water Effects, which you can also see in the picture.  It’s basically really really thick Elmer’s glue – think “whipped cream” thick.  You could also use resin, but I don’t have any experience with it; if you want instructions for resin, you’ll have to check out the Hirst Arts site.  I will say this – resin looks like a lot more work, though the finished effect is probably more water-like.


Putting this project together is incredibly simple.  For the well, form two of the short pieces and two of the long pieces into a square.  Then, add another layer, placing the long pieces on top of the short pieces this time.  That’s it.  For the pool, glue two half size floor pieces together for each side, and use the small short pieces for the corners.  Make sure that the smooth sides of the floor pieces are facing inwards.  The pool will be fairly fragile until the water effects have set in it, so don’t go putting too much pressure on the walls.  Let everything dry overnight.

When they’re ready for the water effects, tape some parchment paper to your work surface.  This will keep the water effects from drying to your table. Hold the well (or pool) steady as you fill it with the water effects.  Then, take a toothpick and swirl it around the surface to texture it.  Be sure to get it into all the corners; it may need a little coaxing.  You can see how mine turned out below.

I will note here that the water effects took a LONG time to dry, especially on the pool.  In my dehydrator, over 48 hours.  Hey, I said it was easy, not fast.  Once the water effects was dry, I decided I wanted to have steps leading up to the pool, so I used another of the long and short skinny pieces to do that.  You can see in the pictures that the finished “water” in the pool and well has some air bubbles in it.  For now, that doesn’t bother me, but I may end up painting the surface of the water later.  If I do that, it will be a coat of blue, wash of black, and dry brush in light blue or white.

What can we use these for?

  • The water acts as a scrying device, showing the PCs a possible future, or something happening far away.
  • There is something at the bottom of the well (that they really want!) and a trap of some sort about half way down.
  • Swimming to the bottom reveals an underwater tunnel to a hidden room or cavern.
  • Drinking the water does something special: regenerates a daily power, acts as a potion of healing, or perhaps something more…sinister.
  • A monster comes out of the water and attacks
  • If you throw a coin in, something happens
  • The PCs need to figure out a way to drain it
  • Something triggers it to overflow and fill the room with water

What would you do with it?

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9 Responses to Dungeon Accessories: The Well & Pool

  1. Jason says:

    Nice post. I saw Hirst molds at Gencon this year and have wanted them ever since. Maybe for christmas *fingers crossed*.

    I have a web tool on my site (http://rpgflairgenerator.gnomemullet.com) that lets GMs search for Adventure Hooks and Flavor Text. I’d love to post a couple of your hooks above with linkbacks to this post. would you have a problem with that?

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  3. G KIng says:

    Could you add blue food coloring to the glue so that when it sets the clear would have a blueish hue?

    • Benoit says:

      I haven’t tried that. It *might* work. Keep in mind that this water effects stuff is really thick, so mixing in food coloring would likely take a long time. Plus, it starts out white, so I’m not sure there would be a way to tell when to stop adding coloring. You’d probably also want to mix it before you add it to the pool, so then you’ve got an issue with transferring it over. Too many variables and headaches, in my opinion. If you want clear and blue tinged, I’d go with resin. But if you try it, let me know how it went!

    • Greg says:

      Yes, you can add coloring while the stuff is still wet. If you don’t mix it too much, you will get a nice swirly effect when it dries, where some areas are more colored than others.

      However, I haven’t tried food coloring–I’ve just used blue paint.

  4. Alphastream says:

    Are there any molds that allow you to do a circular well? I have not played at all with Hirst. (What I really want is to outsource this work… so little time for this kind of fun!!!)

    • Benoit says:

      Yes, there are. Off the top of my head, I know there’s a “Round Turret Mold.” There are probably others. The store at the site has great pictures, so things aren’t hard to find. You might also want to consider getting pre-cast blocks instead of molds. I know Castle Kits does this and I’m sure others do too. If you’re looking for Dark Sun type stuff, check out the Egyptian molds, and if you get a pre-cast kit, try and get it cast in a “buff” colored plaster.

  5. nicky says:

    Adding the blue food colouring would be cool for sure, but maybe different colors together would be truly outstanding.

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