For the last D&D session with my colleagues before my sabbatical, I wanted to prepare something a little special. The party was fighting their way through an illusory building, and I decided to make it office-themed. Laying dormant behind a massive steel door, sealed with a mighty lock and marked with a large charcoal skull, was the most ancient inhabitant of this weird realm. And of course they couldn’t resist opening said door, thus awakening…
THE BUREAUCRACY ELEMENTAL. Its original name is “Das Rechnungswesen” – the german word for bookkeeping, which, when read word-for-word, could also be translated as “calculation being” or “invoice creature”. It’s a lame pun and my players loved it. The stats I think are worth a skim, too, but what I’m really proud of is the mini I made for it.
Wanna know how? It’s a lot more primitive than you might think.
How I Made It
At first, I envisioned the “Rechnungswesen” as sort of a voodoo version of Clippy; a strange cluster of crumpled-up paper and thumbtacks painted to look like typewriter keys, with paperclips for legs. It was gonna be a quick build. But then I found an empty loo roll in the trash, and, much like a sculptor recognizing the potential of a particular rock, saw inside this loo roll the heritage I was gonna leave to the world.
I tore it up along its spirally edges on what I declared to be the upper half, and twirled them inward to get two whirlwind-like extensions. I also put small dents in the lower half to give the whole thing a bit of a twist as well as to ensure that the size of its base (4cm2) was roughly appropriate compared to the base size I’m used to for medium-sized minis (2cm2). Then I wasted an hour searching the entire house for white acrylic color or opaque white before resorting to a white permanent marker for painting the parts of the roll that would be visible later at the game table. Against expectation, it worked quite well.
Next, I cut tiny A4 pages from a square white notepad. It was nice thick paper that didn’t warp when gluing it to the roll. I also experimented with larger snippets to use for scrolls and books – or just to speed up the process. Some variation in size also makes for a more dynamic look.
Took me far longer than anticipated, but it looked cool enough to invest some more time and make a bunch of special pages with runes and symbols on them. This also allowed me to cover the last bits of roll peeking out (especially at the edges), and of course to place some in-jokes and references for my players. Finally, I added three scrolls and a book. If I recall correctly, I successively applied the pages of the book to the ground structure. This should work fine as long as you make sure to let each layer dry for a bit before adding the next. And don’t do too many of these if you still want to be able to touch and transport the mini.
Et voilà! Your very own Bureaucracy Elemental. May it terrify your players.