In one of the final encounters of the “Marauders of the Dune Sea” adventure the group enters it’s most important battle. The battle is set in a 15×12 cave with a 4x4x4 pit in the center, two fountains, and an alter. It’s quite a plain looking room and my original intention was just to draw it on my battle mat. But for the finale of the adventure I couldn’t diminish it with such simplicity, so I decided to create a 3D set where combat would take place.
As I’ve shown before, when you need to go down you have to build up. If I was to incorporate the 20 foot (4 inch) deep pit in a model, I would have to raise the entire set 4 inches. That alone took some effort. Since I couldn’t find a box of the exact (or close to) size I needed, I constructed my own with my most abundant building material: cardboard from the recycling bin. This proved to be more intricate than I thought it would be.
I needed a great number of support columns for the floor, so were you to look underneath the box you would find a Frankenstein monster of disparate pieces of cardboard in a variety of shapes and locations. The pit section itself (where I’ve placed an infinite-use electric tea light) is actually a piece I did separate from the main cave floor and and became the central support column for the whole box. After using varying sections of cardboard I could scrounge up for the floor, I realized it would have been better to have found a large cardboard piece and create a veneer that would give the floor a more uniform look. But since I enjoyed the fact I had done the work without purchasing anything, I kept it as is.
The additional pieces to the model were two fountains and an alter. The alter was no problem and I new what I wanted to do with it (again, in cardboard), but the fountains were something I wanted to expand on. In the adventure, the fountains were described as “dragonhead fountains.” The fountains being dragon heads made very little sense to the story and I suspect they were chosen because there are dungeon tiles for them. I decided I wanted the fountains a little closer to the story so I came up with a fountain with kraken tentacle statues reaching out from them.
Why they would be present at all would be described in part of the Ul-Athra mythos that the players would obtain:
…and so the Dust Kraken reached up from the sea and swallowed it whole, but it found itself still wanting.
And here’s the box in play: