Entering the Hydrocal(TM) world…

So, up until now I have built terrain using styrofoam (aka “styrene”), wooden sticks, very small amounts of casting resin, epoxy putty, actual rocks, florist materials, wire, etc…

The one thing I have not been using is the most common terrain making material in both the RPG and Model Railroad hobbies, which is essentially gypsum based plaster, specifically a product called “Hydrocal.”

Hydrocal is a hard plaster, something like 40% more durable than plaster of paris. There are other products that are more durable than Hydrocal, but those I haven’t been able to find in quantities less than 25 pound bags where the shipping fee is as much as the product itself costs. I’m sure there MUST be some place in Denver that sells the other stuff, but I haven’t found it.

I’ve avoided this up until now because to use hydrocal you have to make molds, and molds require expensive mold making materials, specifically silicon based molds. The silicon mold making material I use is about $35 for two pints, which will make five to ten molds, depending on how big the molds are. For terrain elements the molds are pretty big, so figure that to use the Hydrocal I will need to make a dozen or so molds and you can see that it’s going to cost near a hundred bucks just to make the molds. The Hydrocal itself is pretty cheap, a half-gallon of it costs about $10 and would be enough to do several dozen castings from the molds. At that rate the Hydrocal cost is almost negligable compared to the mold cost.

So now I have to decide what I want to mold. I figure I will start with some simple rock walls that can be used to fence in graveyards or create tactical obstacles for the gaming party to deal with. I will probably make two types, one a natural stone wall, the other a cut stone block wall. If I am clever enough I can make a few interlocking originals which can then be connected together to make long walls with corners and gates.

I will probably end up going to Hirst Arts or DwarvenForge and modeling my own efforts after their products. But I don’t intend to use this to make highly complex castles. As much as I love the look of them, they seem to be extremely labor intensive to build and set up. I’m more interested in using this to improve the look and feel of my dungeons as well as to provide tactical options for the party to deal with.

I’ll keep you all posted on my progress…


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