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cplmac
03-12-2008, 01:05 PM
I hope this is the best place for my question, since it is about using miniatures for keeping track of players, npcs, and other creatures locations, especially in combat situations. Does using them cause a need for more maps to be needed, and how elaborate do they need to be to be effective? Thanks in advance for the knowledge and input.

Farcaster
03-12-2008, 01:11 PM
I'm not quite clear, are you talking about using miniatures in an RPG game?

cplmac
03-12-2008, 01:33 PM
I'm not quite clear, are you talking about using miniatures in an RPG game?

Yes, just as a tool to be able to show exactly where everyone is located at that given time. This way the party would know exactly where each member is located from their party, as well as the npc's or other creatures that they have encountered.

tesral
03-12-2008, 07:12 PM
A battle mat and a set of wet erase pens is the bare minimum. One could also print out your rooms, go grid less or any number of things. I have seen dice and pawns used as minis in a pinch.

You can also get as elaborate as Dwarven Forage resin scenery. You need Charles Atlas as a gaming buddy to move them and Bill Gates as another to buy them, but you could do that.

I would prefer better than pen, but I'm not paying DF pricers or weight and storage. Paper models are my speed unless I build them myself.

Maelstrom
03-12-2008, 09:24 PM
Battlemats are really nice, but I also like Dungeon Tiles quite a bit. They are pretty cheap (about 10$ per set).To go even cheaper, get a bunch of cardstock with grids and cut out various sizes of pieces... 2"x4", 4"x4", etc, which serve the same benefits as Dungeon Tiles but at less expense.
The battlemat is great for outdoor/city adventures where you can draw out the map ahead of time, and the tiles are great for caverns and such, where you lay down the tiles as the players move through the dungeon.

Skunkape
03-13-2008, 10:25 AM
For terrain you have many different options available to you, which we didn't have when I first started this hobby! Do I sound like an old geezer when I say that!?

Anyway, what you're comfortable with depends on what you're willing to do/spend for the hobby. Let's look at the small list I've compiled over the years for mini use. But first, let me tell you my opinion on the use of miniatures and RPGing. They are essential to a good game! I will agree that they are not for everyone, but if I'm going to include combat in my game, then I'm going to include minis.

Yes, they will tend to slow down combat a little, but the ability for my players to actually see where all of their opponents are, see what kind of terrain they have available to use against those opponents and the placement of various elements of the terrain, bookshelves, chests, crates, whatever which might contain items they want to collect, far outweigh the amount of extra time I take to set up that terrain and again in my opinion, enrich my game more than it detracts from the game.

I've also gotten the other two GMs who also run in our group to also use minis, so I must be doing something right!

So just what are your options? First I would go with the down and dirty easy to use, but just as effective method of the grid/hex sheet and the water color markers as suggested by tesral! You can use a battle mat or even plain paper with a grid/hex pattern, usually using a 1 inch scale, printed on it if need be. The good thing about the battle mat is that it tends to be a whole lot more durable and won't tear as easy as paper. Just make sure that you're using the right kind of markers with the mat!

The next step in my opinion is to go to pre-printed Dungeon Tiles as mentioned by Maelstrom. They bring the option of color to the game and 2d terrain that you have to create yourself with the battle mat. Only problem with the tiles is that they're usually only 8x10ish in size while a battle mat will usually be around 24x36 or larger. Course as I said, the Dungeon Tiles are a whole lot prettier!

Taking Dungeon Tiles to the next step we have cardstock terrain. That moves into the realm of real 3d terrain and is either Free or very in expensive to buy the product, but you still have to print it out, so thatís where youíre main expense comes in! Course, if youíve got a color printer and the time, you can build yourself a really nice set of terrain. Yeah, you have to build it yourself, but itís not that hard to do and if you like working with your hands, youíll enjoy card stock terrain.

Beyond cardstock, you enter the realm of plaster/resin/foam terrain. A number of different companies sell it pre-made, Dwarven Forge, once again mentioned by tesral and quite a few other companies as well. Dwarven Forge is nice because you can use it right out of the box as theyíve already painted it for you. Other companyís products arenít always painted, so once again, youíre doing some of the work yourself.

You can also make your own, the plaster kind or resin if youíre adventurous can be made with a series of molds created by Bruce Hirst or Hirst Arts. The nice thing about Bruceís molds is that once youíve bought the molds you want, you can make as many pieces as you want, you just have to cast the parts, assemble and paint them. While somewhat more time consuming than the cardstock solution, they give you a much sturdier final piece and also one thatís quite a bit heavier.

So those are some of the options available to you. Me, I do a little bit of each for my own games, so your own mileage may vary! Oh and as you can tell, I have no problem with talking at length about terrain use/creation, so feel free to ask more questions!

mrken
03-13-2008, 05:40 PM
Minis are important to my game too. I have a six-foot table that I toss an army blanket over and clamp it down prior to my players showing up. When the situation calls for tactical movement I put down the terrain or place the building on the table and instruct the players to place their minis on the table in their marching order. As for initiative I just use the person out front and work my way back. NPCís go next if they are not part of the party and monsters go last.

The green of the blanket matches very close to the color of the flocking on the homemade terrain I build. Generally I use corrugated cardboard and cover it with spackling. When I paint it it is sealed and quite durable. Some of the early stuff is six or seven years old and still in pretty good shape. Of course I take pretty good care of my stuff and we typically have a relative humidity of 10% to 30% and I store the stuff indoors.

Over the years I have built hills, stands of trees, rock outcroppings, cave entrance, cavern pieces, dungeon pieces, a castle, an office building, a manor house and plenty of other quick building outlines. Sometimes I score the base with a knife in one inch squares. I have all sizes of dungeon or cavern rooms made for some of the adventuring. The old days where we played without minis were good days, but now days with minis it is even better. The players buy their own minis and paint them up to their own satisfaction. Shoot, some of my players even wear costumes to help with the mood. The music I play during the game also helps in the mood of the game. One day I am going to be able to replace the light over the table so I can lower it to just below eye level so the table is lit without affecting the playerís eyes.

Yes I do have some of the cardstock buildings mentioned here on this forum, and I do love it for itís looks, but with it I am unable to allow the players to place the minis inside the buildings for any of the rp that takes place inside those buildings like I can with the stuff I build. Some of the stuff I build is just a sketch of the building and not really finished, but it does have walls and doors and some even have fireplaces and tables and beds. These I can build in a few hours compared to days with the really nice stuff. And yes, I am still working on making the real nice stuff ďreal niceĒ.

As for minis adding to the time to resolve combat I must disagree. One of our house rules is that if they are not ready when their turn comes up we just skip their turn. Since they can all see where they are in the line they know when their turn is coming; they only miss a few turns when they get the lesson. It also cuts down on table talk unrelated to the game. Another house rule is no one touches anotherís mini. This way you can cut down with players trying to get out of a situation by saying that they really werenít in a certain place but somewhere else.

If I can figure out how to include photos here I will post a few, or I could send you an e-mail with some photos attached if you would like. For some reason I find it hard to load photos onto the net. :(

Maelstrom
03-20-2008, 04:00 AM
If I can figure out how to include photos here I will post a few, or I could send you an e-mail with some photos attached if you would like. For some reason I find it hard to load photos onto the net. :(


I'd love to see those photos! They are pretty easy to add to a post: Just click on the attachment paper clip in the advanced post editor. Add the image(s) and then insert them into your post.

Sounds like a pretty sweet spread!

mrken
03-21-2008, 09:42 AM
Ok, here is one photo. I hope it dosen't cover the entire screen (if it does, everyone can blame Maelstrom :biggrin:). If this works out I will take some more photos and post later.

boulet
03-21-2008, 10:08 AM
Awesome ! I'm not into minis but this model would make me feel like trying.

mrken
03-21-2008, 10:20 AM
Ok, that worked out rather well. Looks like I can post a few more, but please realize some of these photos are, ah, more than a few years old, and a few of the pieces have been sold.

Guess I will have to get out the camera and reshoot some of these pieces. Sort of meant to do that after I had eye surgery, but I am still waiting on the bureaucracy of Kaiser to figure out what it is they really think they know. Funny how a dozen years of med school and all that training can't teach someone what I know by just opening my eye; can't wait for HillaryCare.

mrken
03-21-2008, 12:22 PM
And not to forget the actual terrain, the outdoor stuff, try these.

Skunkape
03-24-2008, 07:20 AM
That's some great looking terrain! With my cardstock terrain, I make sure I've got room inside of it for my players to move minis!

I've kind of put my terrain making on hold for the past few months though as I've had some other things come up that are taking my attention. I hope to get back into building pretty soon though!

Valdar
06-28-2008, 12:56 PM
I use the Castlemolds from Hirst Arts for terrain. After some experimentation, I've found that just having some blocks- 4x1x1 and 6x1x1, and some doorways, is sufficient. You can block out an area faster with the blocks than you can with pens, and they make LOS easy to determine (you can sight down your minis and see where the walls are in the way). Don't make the walls higher than one inch, or your players won't be able to see the minis from where they're sitting (and making them 1x1 makes them quick to place, since they don't have a "top" to keep track of).

Cast them in Hydrocal if you can find it (art store usually), rather than plaster of paris, and they'll be more durable.

cplmac
10-09-2008, 12:37 PM
Thanks for the input everyone. Those terrain and castle pieces look awsome. Not sure if I'm ready to try and tackle something of that scale yet.

Amazingly enough, the hosts for our group actually have quite a few minis that we have used to show where everyone is when it comes to combat situations. It gets real fun when the magic users cast their mirror image spells. We use the minis in addition to a dry erase clear sheet that is usually placed over a grid. I find that it does help enhance the game in that it gives a nice visual reference.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
10-09-2008, 12:48 PM
I just use flipchart paper and or a whiteboard when needed. I'd love to use terrain and Dwarven Forge but cant justify the price. So, i will just envy those that do.

Webhead
10-09-2008, 01:03 PM
Some very nice set pieces! I definately don't have the time/money/skill/inclination to undertake something like that, but I am somewhat envious of those who do.

My only problem with using detailed terrain pieces (and even pre-made map tiles and such) is that they are usable only under very specific in-game circumstances. As most of my adventures tend to span a great breadth of different locales (interior, exterior, lakes, cities, caves, spaceports, back alleys, night clubs, palaces, rope bridges, abandoned carnivals), you can really only use the "hill with a tree" terrain so many times before it begins to feel like filler.

I think that is one of the reasons why I tend to avoid more "terraining" or "mapping" than necessary because there is just such a wide range of places adventurers will visit that it would be far too time consuming to keep up with all the changes. Its much easier to have a piece of scratch paper and draw out rough sketches as needed.

Pre-set maps also have the effect of "clueing" your player into the fact that something important is about to happen. "Look guys, he's breaking out the map! Get ready, something is about to happen!" I usually like to let my PCs get into trouble first, and then sketch out the terrain based on where it is happening. That way, if the players want to take a fight outside the tavern instead of picking one inside, I haven't wasted time making a tavern map that doesn't get used, and I'm not stuck trying to whip up a new map on the fly any more than I would have using my normal method anyway.

Just my 2 cents.

gdmcbride
10-10-2008, 01:34 AM
I own and use Dwarven Forge a lot. It is tremendous stuff. If you would like to see what you can do with a setup, here are a few tables of mine I've setup using them.

First up is:

The Crumbling Facade of the Once Mighty Temple of Elemental Evil

The Temple now lies in ruins, blasted and teetering, ready to finally give way and become a heap of cursed gothic stone. But something yet stirs amid the fallen spires of Zuggtmoy's Palace. The once doused flames have been rekindled. At night fleeting half-shadow figures huddle, gather and conspire. A strange book has appeared on the portal steps waiting for new acolytes to learned its damned secrets. At the base of the ruin recently unearthed steps lead down into forgotten levels that everyone prays yet remain empty...

Gary

gdmcbride
10-10-2008, 01:50 AM
And the second:

The Headwaters of the River Styx

You have traveled far into the underworld, to the source of the sacred Styx, river of forgetfulness, path of the dead. The guardians are numerous, these pitiful souls unable to pay the ferryman with anything but service. Their battlements are nothing but junk fished from the river. Their weapons are battered and wave worn. They are a cursed and motley lot, sorrowful with the weight of centuries.

How is it then that they have never known defeat? What do they sleeplessly guard? Could it be the hoard of Persephone's treasure cave, the forgotten riches drawn out of the river by the Charonodaemons? Or could it be the mysterious stone maw, a churning vortex alive with dark energy, consuming all memory, the eternal source from which these demonic waters emanate? Or most unlikely of all, could it be the crude wooden skiff tethered to the landing await its master's return?

Will you vanquish these adversaries or will you join them in defeat? Will you become legend or will the river consume every memory of you?

Gary

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
10-10-2008, 09:04 AM
Very cool. This would be my choice if only i had the gold pieces and storage for said items. Very cool, in deed.

tesral
10-12-2008, 09:37 PM
Very cool. This would be my choice if only i had the gold pieces and stoage for said items. Very cool, in deed.

Second third and fourth. Beautiful stuff that makes a table pop. But that money and space thing not happening.

cplmac
10-13-2008, 08:22 AM
Very cool. This would be my choice if only i had the gold pieces and stoage for said items. Very cool, in deed.


Second third and fourth. Beautiful stuff that makes a table pop. But that money and space thing not happening.


Alas, I am in the same boat as Thoth-Amon and Tesral. Would be very nice to have if not for the space and expense. I guess since I have a truck, transporting them to our game site wouldn't be to much of a problem though.

Chi
11-25-2008, 01:58 PM
Yes, just as a tool to be able to show exactly where everyone is located at that given time. This way the party would know exactly where each member is located from their party, as well as the npc's or other creatures that they have encountered.
Battle maps are nice, I personally like minitures it helps me to grasp exactly what is going on and where I am in all of that!

bitbucket
11-25-2008, 04:11 PM
sigh....*covet*

I use a hex mat and markers to draw in rocks, trees, roads, water, and terrain relief. I love scenery but can't justify the space and expen$e.

Of course, I've used blue construction paper and staples to represent a water elemental before... :lol:

mrken
11-25-2008, 06:34 PM
Hey Chi, wait until the day you guys are out in the woods and there are a dozen of those bumps with trees on them. or in a cave or dungeon with the entire table covered with those cave or dungeon pieces. lol Makes for a fun time. Very visual.

Chi
11-27-2008, 05:42 PM
I love it!

Bearfoot_Adam
12-07-2008, 05:05 PM
And the second:

The Headwaters of the River Styx



Those look awesome. Bet that they were fun transporting in the move.

Teclis44
04-27-2009, 01:07 PM
Take a look at the new Players Handbook mini's that just came out. Very inexpensive for your players to pick up a piece for themselves or for you to have. They have been repackaged to 3 mini's per booster for around $8.99. No more buying sealed boosters without knowing whats in there.

Another good tool for maps and tiles

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20061121t

DragonmagRT
05-01-2009, 08:53 PM
As mentioned, minis make a great visual reference. I hope that when Wizards finally deliver their game table program, which would actually make their subscription worthwhile, the computer will be a better visual representation. Another good use for the minis would be to combine the RPG aspects with the tactical combat aspects (ala AT-43 or Warhammer), now that would be interesting....

Teclis44
05-02-2009, 06:51 AM
As mentioned, minis make a great visual reference. I hope that when Wizards finally deliver their game table program, which would actually make their subscription worthwhile, the computer will be a better visual representation. Another good use for the minis would be to combine the RPG aspects with the tactical combat aspects (ala AT-43 or Warhammer), now that would be interesting....


Have you tried or heard of the Miniatures Skirmish game? Check out www.DDMGuild.com

DragonmagRT
05-02-2009, 11:53 AM
I am unsure if what I read was the skirmish rules or not. I made a copy of the comprehensive rules as well as the regular rules for later perusal. are these the rules that originally came with the miniatures starter set? I actually have the 4th ed(?) starter set, but I never really used them for the seperate game, just as miniatures for my RPG campaign. As for what I mentioned in my last post, I was thinking of possibly using the miniatures and adapting the cards from the "skirmish" game to be used on a more larger scale (ala AT-43 Tactics). I am unsure if there is another personal combat style game out there but I think that WarHammer may also have rules for single-figure combat.

Oldgamer
05-05-2009, 11:01 AM
I only started using mini's in the past 4 years or so when a new group I joined had them ... I was instantly hooked. Especially since they didn't use any of the plastic one, they were all high quality metal mini's from various artists that the players hand painted themselves.

I began buying them and painting them too, I have about 30 or so now, but the people I was playing with in Florida had boxes of them they'd bring to the games. And I mean like paper-ream boxes full of them in their own storage containers.

We'd lay out a 3x5 battle mat and use markers to outline walls and terrain and place the minis within. The mat was large enough to warrant the use of the little mechanical litter claws with the trigger grip for those on the longitudinal ends and their minis were in the middle or other side.

I saw over on WotC boards that some people use a laptop with a mapping program hooked up to a projector that looked pretty cool too.

Teclis44
05-06-2009, 08:41 AM
I am unsure if what I read was the skirmish rules or not. I made a copy of the comprehensive rules as well as the regular rules for later perusal. are these the rules that originally came with the miniatures starter set? I actually have the 4th ed(?) starter set, but I never really used them for the seperate game, just as miniatures for my RPG campaign. As for what I mentioned in my last post, I was thinking of possibly using the miniatures and adapting the cards from the "skirmish" game to be used on a more larger scale (ala AT-43 Tactics). I am unsure if there is another personal combat style game out there but I think that WarHammer may also have rules for single-figure combat.

Long story there about rules. The group of players now running the skirmish game www.ddmguild.com have redone all of the rules and eratta onad condensed it down into a 20 odd page easy to follow rule book. It's available on their web site. Things got way out of had after the Starter set rule book came out. We had that book plus it seemed like every other week WoTC was issueing new eratta. The Guild is also in the process of issueing cards for skirmish play with any clarifications or unique rules incorported righ tonot the card so you will hardly ever need to look up some obscure rule.

templeorder
05-06-2009, 12:46 PM
I simply throw down a dry erase 8.5x11 and work with that - you can get them bigger, and you can use just paper. In using paper, i just drop some dice to show corners/boundaries and thats just as easy with a group used to it. I find it really clarifies a lot of things when it comes to combat. I quit using them for a while, but i'm going to start again because i get tired of the arguments of who is where and what can be done from position.

DragonmagRT
05-08-2009, 05:46 PM
Thank you for clearing that up for me, Tecliss44. I have never used the rules which came with the starter set for 4th ed, In fact, I lent them to my roommate and he lost them. I have dowloaded the rule set from ddmguild and need to read them. In any case, I will use whichever ruleset I think will be easiest and more fun for the players.