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Thread: Question about using mini's

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    Question Question about using mini's

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    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.

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    I'm not quite clear, are you talking about using miniatures in an RPG game?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    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.

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    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.

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    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.
    Last edited by Maelstrom; 03-13-2008 at 03:52 AM.

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    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!
    Skunk
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    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.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mrken View Post
    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!

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    Ok, here is one photo. I hope it dosen't cover the entire screen (if it does, everyone can blame Maelstrom ). If this works out I will take some more photos and post later.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Awesome ! I'm not into minis but this model would make me feel like trying.
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    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.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by mrken; 04-02-2008 at 11:40 AM. Reason: To free up some disk space so I can attach other photos.

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    And not to forget the actual terrain, the outdoor stuff, try these.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    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!
    Skunk
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    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.

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    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.

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