Dungeon Accessories: Standing Stones

This entry is part of a series instructing you how to make your own accessories for your Dwarven Forge or Hirst Arts 3D dungeons. For the rest of the series, click the Article Series menu item above. If you’re not interested in making the project, you can still scroll to the bottom of the post for ideas on using standing stones in your campaign.

I'm sure those stone pillars are nothing. You go ahead, I'm right behind you.

A few months ago, I talked about making a terrain board for some Hirst Arts pieces I was making. If you remember, I talked about using insulation foam for it; when you buy that stuff, it comes in a sheet of about 8’x4′. I only needed a 2’x2′ piece of it, so the rest of the sheet has been sitting in my garage since July. I needed to do something with it because my wife is threatening to “relocate” it. While this little project won’t use too much of the foam, hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to outline another project I have in mind for it. Stay tuned. For now, let’s carve off a section of that foam, and make some super easy, really nice looking standing stones, or stone columns.

All you need for this project is the aforementioned foam insulation, an exacto knife with a fresh blade, and your favorite three tone gray paints. (If you want to do a “sandstone” desert look, try this paint scheme)

We’ll start by cutting a few strips that are as wide as the foam is thick. My sheet was 3/4″ thick, so that’s how wide I cut the strips. I made them 4″ long (or tall, however you want to look at it) which turned out to be a bit too tall (as evidenced by the picture at the top there), so I would suggest 2″. You’ll probably want to do at least four of them, though making more wouldn’t take that much more time. At any rate, you should have (at least) 4 rough rectangles.

Now take a look at your foam columns. You’ll notice that the insulation board has a very thin layer of plastic on the front and back. The printing on the board is actually on the plastic, not the foam itself. So, starting on one of the sides with the plastic layer, take your exacto knife, and shave the plastic off. You should make lots of shaving cuts, not one big long one. The reason we’re starting on those sides is for you to get the feel of how much foam you should be cutting off to start. Now shave the other two sides.

I used my other hand to hold the camera, but you’ll use your other hand to hold the foam block.
After the first round of carving, the blocks should look something like this. (Click for large)

You should now have a column that looks rough-hewn. We’re not done yet, though. Those corners are way too sharp. They need to look like they’ve been out in the elements for centuries. Round off the corners using the same shaving technique. Finally, round off the top of the standing stone. For some finishing touches, you can carve notches and cracks into the stones, but it’s not necessary.

The difference between the block at the start and the finished product
Before their paint job

The pictures don’t do the texture justice, nor does just simply looking at the unpainted piece of foam. The rough stone look really pops out with the three tone paint job.

The final step: if you’re not intending to glue them to something, these little guys will go tumbling across the table at the slightest movement of air, so we need to base them on something substantial. The simple recommendation is a washer, or even two, painted your middle gray tone. You could also use Sculpey – this would be more time consuming because you’d have to mold each piece of clay around each individual stone, but the finished product would be more eye-pleasing.

As always, here is a list of ideas for your standing stones / stone columns:

  • A ring of them could simply be an interesting location for a combat
  • A certain ritual, when performed within the ring, is more effective. Alternatively, the ritual is ONLY effective when performed within the ring.
  • A group of NPCs is using the ring to summon some monstrosity, and the PCs need to disrupt or counter the summoning. Also, the PCs may need to collect a number of artifacts for the counter summoning to be effective. (Thanks to A Night In The Lonesome October for that one)
  • While the full moon shines on the ring of four standing stones, it becomes a ring of portals. The stones between which you enter and exit determine your destination. Standing in the center of the circle, you have a limited view of where each portal leads. Once the full moon sets, the PCs who have entered a portal find themselves standing back in the center of the circle. Note: this will create 12 possible destinations, assuming that characters can exit the circle the way they came in with no portal effect. Here are 12 ideas for what the characters see when they look into the portal:
    1. Seaside
    2. Forest
    3. Desert
    4. Castle Workshop
    5. Snowy Peaks
    6. Waterfall
    7. Cave entrance
    8. Grassy Hillside
    9. Wheat field
    10. Back alley in a city
    11. Graveyard
    12. Swamp

What ideas did I miss? How would you use the stone pillars?

PS – If you’re looking for more rocks in your game, check out this great article from Ben’s RPG Pile! 

A ring of REAL standing stones in Scotland
This entry was posted in Adventure Seeds, Arts & Crafts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dungeon Accessories: Standing Stones

  1. Ben says:

    Very slick. I especially liked how you broke down the steps. I think your best tip is the inspirational photo. That’s always a great first step in any new project. I make it a point to have some sort of visual reference to get the mind pumping. And thanks for the Pile share:)

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