Category Archives: making cardboard castles
In the Dungeons and Dragons game, just like in good fantasy fiction, it is the villain of the episode who makes or breaks the story. Good villains in D & D often means an evil wizard. After all, what would the Harry Potter saga be without Voldemort… (sorry, I mean “He who must not be named.”
Like H.W.M.N.B.N., a good villain must have a truly evil goal in mind, something for the heroes to thwart or fail to thwart until the world is on the edge of ultimate doom. Brother Garrow, the shape-changer masquerading as a vampire cleric of the Blood of Vol religion, wanted to find an ancient mechanical evil in an earth-rending robot, and bring it back to life. He was fully thwarted and died a horrible death, but the robot would later be given life and unleashed anyway. Malekith the Pyromancer wanted to subvert the entire college of magic at Cymril University and set them on a path to a new age of necromancers and undead evil. Unfortunately, the heroes got side-tracked with looting the Peppermint Wizard’s Candy Store and Alchemy Shop, so he is still out there subverting successfully.
Some wizards, like Morgoth the Mad are based on published game characters, and some are entirely my own creation like the High Lama. Both of these wizards are not only lead figurines that I painted myself, but they both lend an oxymoronic meaning to the idea of “Good Villains”. Morgoth was certainly evil when he tried to sack the city of Gansdorf. But his son, Kath, was adopted by the heroes and raised to be a hero himself (though one that bore endless suspicion because who ever heard of a hero with bat wings?) The High Lama did only evil magic spells, but he also raised an orphanage full of adolescent were-rats. Any mentor and teacher, no matter how evil, cannot be all bad in my book.
Lucan Stellos was not actually a wizard himself. He was an agent of the Kingdom of Breland who should’ve been a great hero, but got turned into a vampire by the evil vampire queen of Sharn.
His sister, Grilsha Stellos, however, was a level 6 sorceress who used her magic to help her brother carry out the will of his evil mistress. She loved her brother and fought for him courageously, but in the end she fell in combat with the player characters. It was her death that shook Lucan free of the power of his mistress, and so he let himself be captured, expecting to be destroyed.
Instead, the heroes set him on a path to redemption as a good vampire, killing other vampires in the name of a forgiving god and vengeance for his lost sister.
And let me end this silly list of evil wizards with the Lizard Wizard. Old Lizzie is dragon-born, half man, half dragon. And he uses his evil dragon magic to loot and plunder for the pleasure of himself and his lizard-man minions like Kato who follows him here. In the picture, you can see old Eli Tragedy trying to drive the Lizard Wizard out of the Cardboard Castle with his magic wand of really painful cold sores.
And that is not the end of my list of evil wizards. They are immensely fun to play with, so naturally I have a lot more. But I will not inflict them upon you here and now. Too much evil in one essay is never a good idea.
When my health is poor and my day is limited mostly to the bedroom, there are still ways to pass the time that create a tangible something. Something I can hold in my hand. A piece of art.
This weekend has meant more work on building my castle out of cardboard. (I am not planning on living in it myself. Imaginary D & D characters live, fight, and die there.)
So, I don’t draw all the elements myself. I have found published sources of easy-to-assemble cardboard castle parts. Then, with my arthritic fingers, scissors, tape, glue, and miniature-making muscle memory I proceed to create castles.
This weekend’s castle-creating came about with the help of a supplement purchased at a book store, my favorite used bookstore.
It was called Map Folio 3-D and was published in the last decade by Wizards of the Coast, a publisher whose D & D products I have been buying since they published Talislanta books in the 1980’s.
It has cut-out walls and doors and details that you can cut out and slap together.
You may have noticed I even cut designs off the cover to use on my versions of the buildings they designed.
So, that plan took me from this above to this below.
I did the village inn and a barn/workshop. And put into the center of the cardboard castle, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the scene.
So there you have it, a little bit of the doofy art-noodling that Mickeys often do.
Part of being a dungeon master is the responsibility for creating the dungeon. Now I do intend to fully explain the events of the siege of Castle Evernight in a future Saturday D&D post, but today I want to show you my dungeon setting, the Keep of the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight. This is me thinking like an insane architect to build a tall, spindly castle that no real-life king or duke would ever try to live in. But insane as it was, it had to be drawn to scale and the inner workings had to be mapped out on grid paper where every little square represented a space of 5 feet by 5 feet.
Level one shows the areas you would enter coming in through the front gate. Colored-in areas represent the solid stone from which this castle is built as well as the rock spire it was precariously perched upon. The usual dungeon-master map symbols apply. The little empty rectangle thingy blocking passageways and interrupting walls is to be interpreted as a door. You can also see that to visit on horseback requires your trusty steed to be able to climb stairs. So, unless you have a verily dexterous and unusual horse, you should probably ride in griffin-back or dragon-back.
Moving to Level 2 brings you to where the Duke’s Great Hall would receive you as a visitor. There are also places you would like to get to, especially if you are a teenage boy, like the harem and the bathing pool attached to the harem, and maybe the Magic Lab, but you will most likely not be allowed into those places. But you see the dark spots in the walls? Those are the garderobes. You probably will be allowed access there, because, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and that is the proper place to go. Medieval castles have primitive plumbing.
Level 3 is the level I would most want to see if I were touring this place myself. Not only is it the place that has the library in it, but it houses the limner’s studio, and the limner is the resident painter, picture-maker, and white-washer of fences and garderobes.
Level 4 contains the “Party Central” places that every highly social and only mildly psychotic nobleman seeks to spend his schmooze time. There’s a ballroom for dancing, a solarium for getting sunburn when you drink too much wizard’s ale and dance naked in the sunshine for too long, and a hall of mirrors for admiring the way the sunburn makes your behind glow bright red.
Level 5 is getting up to the top of the towers. In a vertical dungeon like this one, this should be nearing the adventure climax. That was not how it happened, however. I will tell you more about that in another post. This is where the belfry bats and the Duke’s treasures are stored.
By the time you reach the Summit of the Keep, you are beginning to think that something is seriously and morbidly wrong with this Castle. This is where you will find the Evil Doctor Zorgo and the animated remains of Duke Dane Evernight. And golem labs next to sarcophagus rooms? Something has gone terribly wrong here. But don’t have nightmares about it, or anything. Rest assured that Gandy Rumspot and Mira the Kalashtar have already solved this problem or I wouldn’t be telling you about it. Dungeon masters, at least the good ones, never reveal a secret before the dice are rolled.