Props

Although not necessary, it sure adds flavor and mood to any game session to have props for the table and general room ambiance. Whether it's having monster trophies to proudly display on your wall or faux parchment notes to pass to the player, all of these things help add immersion to the session. Environmental props can help distractions at bay and gaming props can help with a sense of wonder and appreciation for any DM who goes through the effort of making them.

 

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It's easy to see how players would get into the mood with this Wizard's Study.

Wall Trophies/Plaques

 

One of the most high profile items to adorn the walls must be a mounted dragon head. However, a quick search of the internet or Amazon quickly shows dragons in excess of $300! As with all things on my site, I can help guide you to finding a way to achieve this bucket list DM item.

1. Head

Halloween seems to have been the time for dragons for 2019's Halloween in the US. I happened to score a dragon skull at Target of all places for a mere $18! There are still many solid choices on Amazon and eBay, while Etsy has many 3D printed heads to choose from. You could alternatively get a Halloween mask of some sort and fit it over a life-size foam bust and mount that. 

2. Plaques

  • Size: You will need to measure the head to determine how many inches vertical and horizontal beyond the skull's dimensions you want for your plaque to get the effect you want.

  • Style: Research "trophy plaques", "shield plaques", or "taxidermy plaques". There are a

  • Color: You can purchase ones that are already stained/painted or an unfinished one to customize it yourself.

  • Availability: If there's not one on the net in the size or style you need, there are shops that can custom cut one for you.

3. Customizing the Plaque (if needed)

  • Foam brushes: they spread paint and stain more evenly than brushes

  • Staining: RESEARCH! Different wood types hold stains differently. A little research will go a long way to making you happy in this. Also, read the instructions!

  • Painting: Primer and the paint color of your choice should go on without any hassle. Also, read the instructions!

4. Mounting Materials

  • Screws/bolts for head to plaque

  • Screws to mount it to a wall

My Dragon Skull Plaque Process

Materials

  • Dragon Skull $18 - 2019 seasonal Target Halloween item

  • Plaque $14 - Walnut Hollow Basswood Shield Plaque, 12 by 16-Inch

 

  • LED Tealight Candle $1 - I got mine in a 4 pack at a $1 store (I hated the shifting LED lights that came in the skull)

Cost: ​~$66

    *These will last you a very long time​

 

Hardware (most of these I already had, but wanted to list prices for those of you who don't have these)

  • Pencil

  • Ruler

  • Laser Level $10+ - Cheap means cheap with these things. Go name brand and read the reviews.

These are pics of my final product; lights on/off and flickering light on/off.

 

Your materials and methods very likely will vary, but this should help as a general order of operations.

 

Notice: Although I try to update all of my links & prices at least once a month, Amazon sellers may change or remove the particular items or prices since the time they have been listed here. The items I have listed are the best that I have found at the time, but any item matching the general description should suffice for this project.

 

I've broken these down by size and then by part. In addition, I have added the keywords I used to find these items if you want to do your own searches or in the event that the seller has changed/removed the item listed below.

 

WizKids Trophies

Big, beautiful, unaffordable 

Process

Plaque Prep Part 1

  1. Research how to sand and stain my basswood plaque

  2. Sand the plaque 

  3. Apply pre-stain conditioner to the plaque

  4. Apply 3 coats of the gel stain

  5. Paint the edge of the plaque black; since the stain came out much, much darker than expected despite the internet's collective knowledge on basswood (or the listing lied), I wanted to give it a nice accent to make it "pop". 

 

Skull Prep

  1. Disassemble the dragon skull

  2. Toss its round back panel; I didn't want a round surface against the plaque & to take out batteries to prevent corrosion

  3. Use a bit of approx the same width as your bolts and drill 2 holes through the back of the skull to the eye cavities; these are where your skull will attach to the plaque

  4. Use a utility knife to cut a hole in the roof of the mouth for tealight​ placement; for true flickering light and also to be able to turn it on/off and replace it as needed without fuss

  5. Push tealight into position; attach as/if needed

  6. Block any holes to front of nose or mouth; I just wanted the eyes only to flicker and used some old adhesive felt leftover from my Character Tablet project

  7. Reassemble the dragon skull​ 

 

Plaque Prep Part 2

  1. Place skull on the plaque

    1. Mark through eyes location and angle for bolts​

    2. Determine the location for screws to mount the plaque to the wall; measure and mark

    3. Remove skull

  2. Use a bit of approx the same width as your skull mounting bolt and drill through the plaque

  3. Use a small bit (thinner than the drywall screw) to drill through the plaque at the wall mounting locations​

  4. Use a wood/spade bit on the backside of the plaque and drill ~1/4" deep at the skull mounting holes; so the bolt heads aren't sticking out from the plaque against the wall.

  5. Push the skull bolts through the back; if you want to make them permanent put a little permanent glue where the heads will rest against the plaque

  6. Use a laser level, ruler, and pencil to determine and mark your wall where the drywall screws; I measured the back of my plaque so I didn't have to hold the plaque up while using the laser level

  7. Mount the plaque to the wall

  8. Push the skull onto the bolts

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