I consider myself the prop-master of our group. I provide most of the minis for the various DMs; sometimes maps and other materials.
Our new DM, starting a new campaign, enlisted me on Wednesday to provide "some kind of sea monster." Well, of course, that's the ONE type of critter I don't have, mostly because we've never been on the water before. He was getting a little desperate, mostly because he hasn't DM'd in years, but also because he hadn't had much time to prep. He had some general ideas for the campaign, and then decided yesterday that we needed to board an ocean-going ship to get to the starting point.
[Aside: This is where I should point out that I'm playing a 3d-level Dwarven Barbarian. Based on recommendations from the DM, I made him a desert/wasteland barbarian. Completely desert-centric. Our first major encounter? Loading our butts onto a ship for a weeks-long trek across the freakin' ocean. End aside.]
Then I had an epiphany. I told him that I'd put together some tentacles. That way, he'd just need to stat the individual tentacles and could leave the real big baddie (or baddies) completely anonymous. He could even just use a stat block for a giant constrictor. He liked that, so my little grey cells started churning. I've scratch-built a bunch of place-holders and minis in the past, including a ping-pong ball
- Loctite GO2 Glue
- Gorilla Brand Super Glue
- Fender washers, 1/8" x 3/4", 10 each
- Fender washers, 1/4" x 1-1/4", 10 each
- Zinc nuts, 3/4", 10 each
- 3 Packs of 25 each pipe cleaners: black, green, pink
Assemble the ring base using the two sizes of fender washers, a couple dabs of GO2 glue, then clamp for 30 minutes to set. Repeat 10 times.
Take one black and one green "fuzzy stick," insert them into the end of my power drill, hold the free end tightly, and start the drill spinning. (One interesting note: The drill, when drilling in reverse (counter-clockwise) gear actually made a shorter resulting spun combo fuzzy stick than when moving in forward (clockwise) gear.)
So here's where I had to start experimenting. Seeing how awkward and messy it was to try and glue the entire length, I tried to spot-glue and then tie (or wrap) the points together with black embroidery thread. After doing several this way, I resorted to wrapping the pink ends tightly to each end of the spun black/green tentacle, then simply tying together the longer tentacles with thread at different points, and relying on the wrap, pressure, and tension to hold the pink to the spun tentacle.
The now-three strand tentacles were bent at different points to form a misshaped "U", with the point threaded through the hole in a ring base. Then I'd snip another length of tentacle and worked it down in through the hole and the "U" tentacle. This was the hardest part: you're essentially cramming six layers of "fuzzy stick" through a hole barely big enough for three or four. Then spread the ends out on the underside to keep the tentacles attached to the base.
After realizing how messy, awkward, and time-consuming the GO2 glue was to work with, I switched to good ol' Gorilla brand super glue. Four dots on the cardinal points of each nut, working the bent underside ends into the center of the nut, and holding the ring base against the nut until the glue set. (This was a much faster process than the GO2 glue, further "cementing" my love of Gorilla glue--and super glue as a whole.)
Pose each tentacle into a sufficiently threatening pose.
Here's what the final product looked like:
And here are some in-game glamour shots. My dwarf is the little tyke down here on the right hand side, right at the bow of the ship. Somewhere between these two pictures my dwarf was grappled, lifted to the sky, and then sliced himself free, dropping dramatically to the deck, rolling as he landed to minimize any falling damage.
All in all, the guys were impressed with the tentacles. I am too, speaking from the utmost of humility.
They worked pretty well and looked good at this level, allowing (as you can see) for grappling and positioning of victims. We only lost one crewman from this attack. Fortunately, the DM didn't use the full box of 10 bases (2 or 3 tentacles each) that I'd prepared.