On the Society for Creative Anachronism...

The first time I saw them it was like seeing something that I was not entirely sure was even real...
Even all those years ago, 1982 maybe, I still remember rubbing my eyes and thinking there is no way I am seeing what I am actually seeing!

It was in a park in the Society for creative anachronism Kingdom of Caid (Southern California in mundane terms). And I witnessed two knights battling it out in a park near a baseball field where my Father was playing. I still remember that feeling in my chest, that overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. I've never forgotten that. Despite the more jaded and often times less-than-ideal introduction to the SCA I ended up having.

Still, something inside me pulls at me. A wander lust, a sense of wonder, a pull to another time and age that keeps me coming back and constantly dreaming of the things I see. The brotherhood, the camaraderie. I wonder what that would be like.

And frankly, I will probably never know. I'm much too old to start on the path of Knighthood, or fealty, and know far too little of the Society locally, or of its customs. I've already in my brief introduction burnt bridges (albeit accidentally), made enemies faster than Ned Stark, and all but given my first attempt a persona creation a banishment worthy of the backstory to which they ended on-dying on Crusade sometime in the late 13th century.

I see videos of knighthoods in the Society, of great fighters battling and then sharing laughs and hugs and handshakes and honors. And while I don't personally aspire to be a Knight right-off per say, what I do admire is the genuine honor and respect, the heartfelt duty and sense of camaraderie that all surrounding this knight seem to genuinely express. A perfect example of this can be seen here:


But this will never be my life.
I say that in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I am incorrect, and that there still resides somewhere in the vast and infinite possible universe of the Society a place for me.

Still...I go on. And I'm not sure why. That same pull. That 'otherworldly calling.' And I wonder if there is anyone that feels this same way? Even in the Society itself? Or do I just have an over-active imagination?

The door just barely opened to me before I found it slammed shut. And getting back in has been harder than the professor finding his way back into Narnia. But I still search, like a crusader on an endless quest to find some form of solace in my isolated and searching state.

I moved in the last few years to a new residence, but am still within the same SCA Kingdom and Barony, and that unfortunately makes activity difficult. At my new home in the westernmost mountains of the Barony of Loch Salann in the Kingdom of Artemsisia, I have even built my own retreat, filled with the trappings of travel, crusade, explorations and study.

But even surrounded by the very things that call to me, I still find something is lacking. Crusade era totems from Sicily,  crosses from England, goblets from France, even gauntlets handmade and stitched with mail and leather, sitting idly by and waiting for testing.....

Recently I sought a more direct and almost charge-like approach to conquering this burden and worry that has plagued me for years. I contacted those individuals whom so embroiled me in conflict during my early years and set to right wrongs, clear communications, and ensure that truths were told. I knew not if any response would be received, and doubted it would be.
Sadly, I was all to correct.

I wrote long missives, lengthy messages and heartfelt communications to local Royalty. I had even purchased a golden idol from an eastern monastery on a recent trip to China, complete with an encased human tooth of a great warrior monk, planning to give this as a gift of largesse to this individual who thought I had wronged them so many years prior. All to no avail....silence. As if banishment unspoken was my curse.

But then a ray of light came through a modern message site that summed up a course of action that brought hope, and the thought that maybe, just maybe, there was indeed a possible place still remaining for me in the Society.
Maybe.  Albeit, much further away.
Time will tell, and the battle cost the life of one SCA persona already.

Meanwhile, the largesse wrapped in fine leather goes unopened, and gauntlets go unused. But soon they will see their time. But along with the overwhelming feeling that there is something calling me to this organization, there is also the feeling that while it may be difficult, it may just eventually, become worth it.

Who knows, maybe even someday the individual, now royalty with great renown will see it fit to respond, and I will truly be able to put this first rough start behind me. But until then, it is a difficult, and lonely path on which Tristan Cenowülf de Cawdor must trod.

Summer pell work and the coming of Fall...

As I've written many times on the Creative Dungeoneering blog, I tend to take a bit of a hiatus during the spring, summer, and to some extent fall.
Most "creative" work takes place during our long winters here, from roughly October through May, and the dark skies, rain, snow, wind, and general nasty conditions of Utah's western mountains makes for the perfect backdrop to an entire season of creative endeavors.

But often times before that fall breeze brings with it the mysterious callings of creativity and old historical musings, long before the heat of summer passes. It's usually under gray skies, mysterious weather, or a full moon, but every so often, that strange voice, as artist Loreena McKennitt phrases it in her song "The Old ways" call me home.

During the more active summer season, I find that this odd, esoteric tingling can often times be satisfied through mixing up my race training a bit with does of regular cross training, of the more historical variety.

Two to three times per week I practice for an hour to two hours a day with sword, pole arm, florentine, sword and shield, or as in the case of last week, axe and shield. And as a competitive cyclist, working out the arms with a martial weapon is a workout that brings a new definition to the word pain. Known for large arms we are not.

Such was the case last week where after a good deal of study on historical Anglo-Saxon Axe and Shield training, I incorporated heavy wooden shield and hand axe training into my regular pell routine. Not only did this provide some expertise with new weapon types, but it allowed me to feel at one with my historical ancestors in a brief moment of mental dreaming as I exercised both my muscles and my imagination simultaneously.

The axe was handmade from a standard cheap home depot variety, but with a heavy steel head, sharpened and blackened for a more historical look and feel. The carved wooden handle was then inscribed with anglo-taxon runes, and wrapped in a leather tie for grip. Not a masterpiece by any means, but it looks the part and is fun to practice with.

The round shield is a heavy, full wood shield double wrapped and lined with a bolted brass edge. Leather handles are riveted to the inside with a fur padded arm rest and extra support. Two straps, fore and hand wrap the arm and provide a stable and well balanced grip and feel.

I once heard someone say that a round shield was far easier to use than a kite or traditional heater style shield, and I have found that to be the case, although my more romantic notions still prefer the standard templar kite shield.

I guess my quick point here is that sometimes schedules, and even weather and lifestyle don't always meet up with the voices in out head that come calling, so we may have to adjust how we can answer their call, no matter the season.

Adventure journals, Y2K, and Alaskan Ghosts...

You've likely never been there.
Most never have. Most never will.
It closed in 2010, and there's still a station, two runways, and some creepy Air Force tunnels with keypads, air tight subterranean doors, and some strange barrels filled with a substance that we were never able to identify...

The Japanese invaded Attu Island Alaska in May 1942, and after they slaughtered their way through the medical tents of the wounded US soldiers in a failed last-ditch Kamikaze charge, and retreated back to their bunkers in Holtz bay, they held grenades to their heads and committed ritual suicide.

There's an odd titanium monument out in the middle of nowhere to their sacrifice, still there, like a beacon to no one of a war all but forgotten. I called this magical, mystical, and very haunted place home for over year from May 12 1999 to late June 2000. I loved it. Every miserable cold, wet, lonely, minute of it. And wanted to stay even longer, but the US Coast guard opted to waste my last 8 months of active duty at a hole of a station off the Oregon coast where I did little other than man a communications station and go on the occasional search and rescue mission (which wasn't all together half-bad really, but that wasn't my life plan...).

I loved Attu.
It was a lonely forgotten place and having moved around as a kid growing up, I found it was a place I discovered on my own, for me, and kind of made it my unofficial "home." I actually "discovered" Attu through a 1998 Outside Magazine Article-similar to their updated one here: https://www.outsideonline.com/1886361/scratch-island-map

After reading this article one summer on the hood of my Jeep, pulled under a pavilion during a torrential downpour summer storm, while working as a Lifeguard on a waterfront in Tennessee, I told myself I was going to see that someday. I had no idea of the effect it would have.

This entire blog could be about Attu alone, but instead what I am writing about here is something I started after the whole "Y2K" scare: The belief that when computers rolled over to "00" that somehow, the whole world may suddenly collapse.

I remember at the time thinking this was a joke and that I could care less. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere and loved it.

"So go ahead mother nature and technology....do your worst."

I found this article, also in Outside magazine featuring "Y2K proof" gear. One of the items was a leather bound journal from . Now I don't know why, but at the time, the idea of a leather journal seemed a new concept to me, like I was looking at something from Indiana Jones and the Last crusade. I wanted to start keeping a journal, sketches, ideas, thoughts, songs, prayers, poems, stories, and tales of Alaska and this odd place and the adventure it was turning out to be, and I wanted it to look like Dr. Jones Sr. had designed it himself; worn, water logged, and filled with every imaginable bit of lore.

This started me on a path of journalling that I have kept to this day, now compiling 8 such "worn looking "adventure journals" and spanning 18 years, over 33 countries, and 5 continents.

The latest versions come from a more fantastical, mystical, and fantasy-based approach, as my actual exploration and real-life adventure days have started to wane in the presence of a more "normal" domestic life (aka, office job....). But they remain just as cryptic, creative, and elusive as ever. Maybe even more so.

And they also are fantastic inspiration and aids for gaming and fantasy-fiction writing: real-life items, three-dimensional, tangible, that bring the sense of adventure and magic and mysticism to life in ones hands. Complete with cryptic reformed anglo-Saxon runic writings, herb and plant samples, and even old maps and legends, they can inspire the creative mind as much as that article did for me so many years ago.

The writings are usually far more fantastical, and cover realms I will likely never see in real life; Flannessia, Nyrdyvia, Faerun, Middle Earth, Narnia, Krynn, Endor, Fantasia, and the Western Isles.

But then again....I never thought I'd see Attu either......

Lost in the 40K Universe...Again...

After a LOOOONG delay and some intricate and nefariously complicated IT web-browsing proportions more akin to the chaotic evil of Lolth's demonic pits, I am finally able to once-more delve into the depths of the Dungeoneering blog and resurrect the Creative Dungeoneering blog!
(Thank you Googole Chrome!)

NOW....in the 41st millennium there is still only war, even since the late 80's...and it's glorious!!!
After a long break from the Warhammer hobby, I have returned to Games Workshop and the wonderful world of Warhammer 40K.

Now typically I am a hard-core D&D'er, and have always been more akin to playing classic, vintage, old-school fantasy role-playing than techy-sci-fi RPG's or wargames, although I did dabble with a small Space marines and Chaos space Marines unit back in the late 80's/early 90's (Khorne of course...BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!)

And despite a deep and reverent love for all things Star Wars more closely associated with religion than fandom, my tastes have always been more of the fantasy variety than sci-fi, especially in the terrain and crafting realm. So I was surprised when I first walked into my local Warhammer store, and felt immediately drawn again to not Age of Sigmar, the more "fantasy" styled version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but to Warhammer 40,000, the Sci-Fi based wargame....but here's why:

The Black Templars:
Ever since first learning of the Black Templars some years back, I felt a close kinship to their kind, not only for their crusading lore, but for the ties to their medieval nomenclature, the style of their almost knightly armor and weapons, and use of bladed power swords and symbology, but to their idealogy as well.

Now at the risk of dabbling into the political realm, which I vehemently forbid in the Creative Dungeoneering world, I wont get into my own personal feelings on Crusader history other than to say I am a long time reader and passionate medieval historian of crusader and medieval religious orders. I have read every historical non-fiction work I can find on the Religious Orders and on the Crusades spanning from the first crusade of 1096 until the fall of Acre in roughly 1291. Of all the religious orders, the Templars of course have always been the nearest and dearest to my heart. Both for their mystery and esoteric history but also for the contributions to history and their religious ideologies that I personally find applicable in my own life to this day.

 An opportunity for me to craft, assemble, paint, and bring-to-life an entire army built around this favorite of my Military orders albeit with a sci-fi twist was far too good to pass up, especially with a Warhammer store now in my very own backyard.

A quick note on the Warhammer the District store as well, located in South Jordan Utah:

Check them out on Facebook here:


Scott, the Manager of the Warhammer store at the District is, in my over 33 years of gaming, is EASILY one of the, if not THE best game store manager I have ever met.
He welcomed me into the store from my very first step as a friend and with the wave of his hand has made me feel at home every day since.

Since this is the first post we've had here in a while, there is a LOT to catch up on!

  • We have new Sci-Fi terrain in the works for some new Warhammer terrain, 
  • New painting techniques
  • New gaming stories to tell
  • New projects to share. 
  • A whole new fantasy series in the works; Through Cenowulf's Throat - all based around Cenowulfs mile, the great bridge spanning the Riversweep canyon leading the the Furond city of Sohlnorus. Which, for anyone who's followed the Creative Dungeoneering blog for a while knows, is the seat of power for the Kingdom of Furond and the location of the High senate. This of course means we will be seeing a bit more of Pellinia Te'Surk and her vile dabbling with Alzur and Abraxus. And we learn a bit more from the perspective of a character that only received a bit of mention in the first Flannessian book, Elerin of Kelrik.  

Stay with us! We may have dissapered into the depths of the interwebs demon pits for a while, but were back from the underearth and have survived the udnerdark to fight another day!

Lovecraft Proud Scouting

I grew up as a Scout.
An official Boy Scouts of America Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Eagle Scout.
I was even in Order of the Arrow.
Hard core. And I loved it. And still do.
But if these had been available? I'd have had at least 2 more Silver Eagle Palms on my chest to this day.

Artist Luke Drozd designed these, and while some may not fit into the current political correctness of Scouting, they certainly would be fun to read, write, and uhh.....master. 

Check out Luke's amazing art here:  http://lukedrozd.bigcartel.com

These can even be ordered here: http://lukedrozd.bigcartel.com/category/badges-pins

Nothing says "Scout Law" and "Be Prepared" like having a mastery of home Dentistry and Violent Revenge. 

Personally, I'm a fan of Curses and Hexes. Although Grave Robbery and Spirit Medium may come in handy as well. 

Three levels of Adequacy

Something that works...well...adequately. 
And when it comes to gaming terrain, and the fact that I am primarily a solo RPG'er, adequacy goes a long way. 
I don't have a "huge" space for gaming. I hope to, one day, turn the lower level of the Ursus Templari into a traditional gaming area. But until a suitable group of gamers can be found, (I am skeptical of that ever happening, as my "ideal" requirements for a solid group would likely be so out of touch with reality that I doubt any players possess such specific creative requirements) the "Tower" or the upstairs portion, serves as the primary small gaming area. 

One of my favorite pastimes above and beyond even the actual "gaming" portion of table top RPG's is the setting up, creating, crafting, and building of miniature terrain and 28mm worlds.  But in a small space, that can prove challenging. 

Add to this that I have additional, more expensive hobbies, and the allotted space gets even smaller. But again, it's perfectly "adequate"for solo RPG's and for even small 1 to 2 player games. But the key here is "levels."

This shows the 4-level campaign world for the next build, each "level;" going deeper and deeper. This could be replicated onto a larger tabletop, but with no real solid group of players, it works "adequately" for solo RPG's in a pre-set 3D Terrain world.                                                                                                                            Our storyline for this world starts with the adventurers having hired a wagon and horses from the nearby town, where they are traveling towards the ancient tomb lands and the ruins  of a once fabled kingdom, now long-forgotten and believed to be little other than a scattered set of forest ruins.  

Across the old King's Bridge lies the forest of Andulüth, where once sat the Elvish fortress of Tar Avinon. The bridge, crossing over a meandering bog, fills the distant woodland with a thick mist, the ruined walls barely visible beyond the damaged cobblestone and crumbling borders. 

The forest tabletop was made from an actual table piece, where I have utilized the underside of a flat black tabletop (again, the emphasis on saving space) as a forest-colored surface. This was done by creating a textured spray layer onto the underside and then hand painting with a  forest colored mixture giving the surface a generic green, brown, and forest mottled texture. 

While this works, it's nice to sometimes just use standard grass matt, sized and cut to the shape of the inside of the table, as pictured here. Accessories are hand made and also include elements made by 
War Torn Worlds (one of my all-time favorite war game terrain companies: http://wartornworldsstore.myshopify.com
They're customer service is amazing, shipping is solid, fast, and friendly, and their prices aren't bad. and the terrain is just bombproof and very, very nice looking. Just can not say enough good things about these guys. 

Ok, so back to the story...err...adventure:
So over the small pond and looking west into the forest are signs of the once great kingdoms downfall. The distant spires of natural rock, and the two Elven trees, now burnt and black with foul magic from the wizardry of the Goblin cults.

So I LOVE trees. LOVE THEM!! Every adventure in my world starts, ends, or passes through a forest. Not sure why. And of all trees, pines and high mountain evergreens are my favorite. But getting these to look just right by hand-making is tough. Mine often end up looking more like eucalyptus trees, or at best, lodge pole pines. Not bad, but not very "lush."
At my local hobby store, I can purchase a cheap pack of snowy Christmas style trees for $1.99. I soak these in warm water for several hours, sometimes overnight, and the snow dissolves away, leaving a very "blue-green" pipe cleaner in return.
So to combat this, I spray them with a nice matte forest green spray paint, but don't add any additional flocking. I then put these on sculpted foam core bases, and add stone accents and coloring, and have been pretty happy with the result. To add weight, throwing a glued pebble or dollar-store rock onto the base help stabilize the weight too.

The pond is actually a small terrarium lizard pool, filled with hot glue, painted, and then sealed with a thick layer of Minwax Polyeurethane to give it a greenish gloss. Notice the actual stones added at the base and edges too. These come from a simple dollar store bag of flower arrangement rocks. I added bits of foliage to the edges, and used cropped pieces of plastic IKEA grass for reeds. Cutting the reeds at different lengths gave them a more natural look and feel too, and allowing them to slip and slide a bit when glueing them into the sealant also helped, creating ripples within the drying sealant over the dried hot glue. 

For the second level, underneath the forest floor and through a cavern rock piece above, the characters enter the large cavern dungeon down a winding set of stone pillars on the left. 
The majority of the enjoyment with creating these pr-designed layouts is imagining the stories to be had at every twist and turn.
A combination of hand-crafted and Dwarven Forge brand cavern terrain is used together, along with accents from war Torn worlds. 
Of course everyone knows Dwarven Forge, and as much as I love War Torn Worlds, Dwarven Forge is just epic. Albeit, pricey.....


Wizards of the Coast makes a fantastic pre-painted miniature for the Death Cap Mushroom
And I have even made hand-made versions of these to match previously. But I wanted some that were larger. FAR larger. At my local Hobby Lobby I found a set of 4 mushrooms, actually designed to be a mushroom table and chairs set, in the garden and floral section.  these were perfect for large, overgrown mushrooms, and with a  bit of paint and a nice brown stain, they look the part for an overgrown mushroom forest.


From the far side of the cavern can be seen the magic door to the lower levels, and the winding stairway leading from the central dungeon chamber to its wide balcony. Both of these were made from foam core, sprayed in a stone texture spray paint, and then added with bits of green and especially, purple, to match the Gale Force 9 Dungeons & Dragons caverns of the Underdark adventure set. This allows hand crafted pieces top match seamlessly with the pre-generated pieces. 

The third-level layer is another small modular table reached by a bridges and is not yet complete, but allows the dungeon to grow even larger, or to be broken down into small areas of specific adventuring sections. This will likely be surfaced with a  textured matt beneath, giving the illusion of a stone floor to the upper caverns, and emphasizing a structured city or ruined temple at the very lowest depths. Perhaps even a Draw city. 

Modular dungeons, for group, and especially, solo play can be fun, and also challenging,. If for no other reason alone, it allows us, as Dungeon Masters, to use our own creative juices to generate potential storylines, plot twists, and side adventures for our players and add to the rich and growing story that every game group brings to their own particular realm. 


Bubble, Bubble, Boil & Trouble!

So I am a huge fan of The DM's Craft YouTube videos and the DM Scotty Crafts n Games
Facebook group, and can't say enough good things about the folks you'll run into over there.
What an amazing group of talented, inspiring, and sincerely uplifting people. Go check them out here:

And subscribe to The DM's Craft, Scotty's fantastic tutorials, found here:

So one thing I've heard DM scotty say that I really like, is to have terrain focused on "playability." Here at Creative Dungeoneering, I love creating other worlds even more than playability, but for some pieces, they both work wonders.
And such is the sad, creepy, and quite bubblingly-terrific tale of our recent acid pool creation!

Now...to be fair, this was created a while ago, but it was perfected  this past week with one of my very favorite forms of Craft Alchemy (I should copyright that name!!!)...


NO! Those aren't dice you see in his hand (actually they are....), but the perfect blend of bubbling, acidic, character-eating (in the game only) froth can be achieved with the double-whammy power of the following components:

Hot Glue and Gorilla Glue! The perfect chemical mix to create frothing, bubble effects that both accept paint and resist collapse.              

Now I've done a tutorial on these two before (see the post on Gelatinous cubes and the nostalgia of the Water Weird http://creativedungeoneering.blogspot.com/2015/03/gelatinous-cubes-and-nostalgia-of-water.html 
BUT, I have never really used them in a painted scheme before, so this was a new attempt at creating texture and versatility. 

After creating the tile from standard black foam core (this was done by carving into the paper backing of the foam core but leaving the paper intact on the top), I sprayed the surface with a standard textured spray paint (stone gray) and proceeded to fill the pre-carved pool cavity with plain, clear hot glue. 

The pool itself was carved into the foam, but not all the way through, leaving a thin but sturdy layer of foam beneath to support the weight of the hot glue. I also ran hot glue along a few of the pre-carved cracks to give the impression that the acid in this dungeon tile was bubbling through. I also added over the final dry stone texture, small read of purple. 
Why purple? 

Because I am a huge fan of modular, and mostly, "store-able" terrain. I don't have a ton of storage space devoted to my gaming area, and since I own two sets of the fantastic, Gale force 9, Dungeons & Dragons Caverns of the Underdark 3D Adventure Set terrain, I wanted this piece to go with it. 
The Stalagmites for the Underdark set come in a pre-painted purplish hue, with the tips and the adjoining pools and crystals done in a magnificent amethyst tone. By adding a small bit of "cave alge" to the edges of my tile, I could easily transition from one area of the cavern to the next, and maintain a sense of visual flow and realistic geological coloring. 

Once the glue was set into the pool, I immediately set to adding gorilla glue. This CAN NOT be overstated enough. I use High-Temperature glue most of the time, but have found that all temperature glue works well too. But before that glue dries, and while it is still warm, add drops of Gorilla glue over the top in a nice clear and thick layer. More Gorilla glue for more bubbles, less, for less. You will not see this foam up right away. In fact, it takes far longer than one would think. But over many minutes, and usually a day, the foaming action can grow to almost out-of-control proportions. If it does, however, it cuts away easily with a simple exact knife when dry too.

The final effect, after painting, is a very textured, and foaming consistency. One very crucial key here though is sealant. 
To keep the bubbles formed, and keep the paint glossy and nasty (in this case) looking, I use a small bit of basic sealant. 
NOT spray sealant, which seems to have a horrible effect for some reason, deteriorating and dissolving the consistency of the texture and paint, but actual brush on sealant by Minwax. I prefer the small can of fast-drying Polyurethane, in the clear gloss, as I use this primarily for wet surfaces and moist looking areas. This also tends to leave, when added in heavy amounts, a bit of a greenish film to it, adding only more to the look of charred, melted toxins bubbling and frothing about. 

Stay tuned to Creative Dungeoneering for some amazing new highlights we have coming up! 

We will soon be opening our official Creative Dungeoneering Etsy shop, our YouTube channel with all kinds of random fantasy, craft, and geek related posts, and of course, 
the Creative Dungeoneering Facebook page

As always, you can email us direct at creativedungeoneering@gmail.com.

Fold out Dice Tower Dungeon Tomb of Doom part 2

Wondering about shading at 4 am is terrible.
Wondering about accenting fake rocks at 4 am is just as bad. And wanting to finish a project more than sleep is even worse. But sometimes worth it!
The Fold-out Dice Tower Dungeon Tomb of Doom!!! Final! Part 2!

So after a fitful few hours sleep I returned to the project to finish this up today. Or last night, er...early today.

I started with finishing the stonework for the outside top portion of the tomb, which was set over a small patch of pre-molded static grass. I opted to make these a bit lighter than I originally intended. Sometimes my 'world' seems pretty dark, and I wanted this to almost have a starker, whiter, high-mountain granite look in contrast to the green grass, so a bit of gray acrylic over the foam, followed by a black wash, and a dry-brush of lighter moonlight gray gave them a nice alpine look. 

I then moved onto highlighting the stonework on the outside lower portion of the tomb, along with designing the doorway, or appearance of a doorway when the lid is closed. I went with a simple stone looking black line, followed by a couple of "semi-glowing" blue runes, but I have mixed feelings about these in their final stage.                     

Moving to the inside, additional shading and stonework was done to the interior cavern walls, entrance for the dice drop, and on the crumbling cavern stairs. For the interior summoning circle I used the same blue lines, but the simple black scar of a circle looks a little less impressive than I was hoping for. 


This photo is pre-sealing, so the color will likely pop just a bit with a bit of gloss varnish over the runic letters, highlighting the "glowing ethereal power" summoning something from the dark cavern beyond. 

For the dice tower effect, I tested out the placement of the circle first, because I really wanted to create the effect that the dice were "appearing" in the summoning circle. 

I also looked into creating two different options for the rear "tunnel:" A portal complete with swirling magic, or a simple dark, black, cavern stretching off into the imagination.  In an attempt to always use space as wisely as possible, I opted to leave this as a black cavernous hole. It leaves infinite possibilities and can serve either as an addition to cavern terrain or some form of dark portal. Adding additional features to such a small space seemed to clutter it up a bit.            

Testing out the dice drop proved fantastic. WAY more than I expected! 
Apparently writing "MAY ALL YOUR DICE ROLLS BE ADVANTAGEOUS" in runes did the trick on the first officially completed "test roll:" Natural 20. 

Lastly, adding terrain and scenery additions to the top portion when the box is closed works as a great additional wilderness terrain or even as a simple start entrance to anything as mundane as a single tomb, or as deadly as...I dunno...this tomb.....