Click the image to go to a great write up on the sadness of poorly painted miniatures at Hungry Ghosts Chaos Squats of Khorne
The summertime festivals of Montreal have come and gone. Even though there may be a few more festivals that the 9to5 Crew finds themselves at, they are mostly at out of town locations for the time being.
That means that it’s time to play D&D more.
Miniature figurines are not a “must have” in most campaigns. They were much more important in 4th Edition since combat in 4e was basically a tactical boardgame with all sorts of rules hinging on movement and placement. Even then, if you were totally dedicated to not using miniatures you could just use a penny or a piece of popcorn or something to represent your dude moving around the play area.
However, and maybe this is just because of the conditioning that I’ve experienced with video games, having the right little guy representing my character is pretty important.
Think about nearly any video game where you create your character. This happens in sports games, wrestling games and, most often, RPGs. You select the stats of your dude (which takes about 5 minutes) and then you create their look (which takes about 4 hours). The more detailed the character creation options are, the longer you spend tweaking literally every minute detail of your character.
“How far apart should his eyes be in relation to the length of the bridge of his nose.” That’s a thought that I’ve had. It is not a thought that anyone outside of maybe professional statue makers has ever had before some time in the 2000s when it became an option in character creation.
We obsess about it because of the long term consequences of the decisions that we’re making. This is going to define the look of the character that we are going to be controlling for hours of our lives in the future. Maybe days. We need to make sure it looks just right.
Dungeons & Dragons has an incredible, robust character creation system. Just creating a Level 1 character means selecting (off the top of my head): Race, Gender, Class, Attributes, Skills, Alignment and Attributes. With piles of variations in each category. Unlike a video game, character creation means flipping through a stack of books or online resources to figure out which options are best for the character you’re trying to create.
The whole thing can take a while and at the end of it you’ve almost certainly created a character that is exactly the way you want them to be.
So you’re ready to play and you’ve got your sheet in front of you and a pile of dice and you’re drinking a beer and eating a pizza and you’re ready to be transported to a fantasy world of dungeons and even, in some cases, dragons. Then it happens: combat.
Your Dungeon Master pulls out some figurines of Orcs or Kobolds or something and sets them up and you need to have something to represent you on the play area. If you’re like me, your DM has a collection of miniatures to choose from and you pick something that’s “close enough”.
Close enough sucks though. I’m a Half Aquatic-Elf Swashbuckling Pirate Rogue who wields a rapier and a dagger. Yeah, I guess the little elf guy with a bow and arrow is ok. I played the same character for nearly 8 years in our last campaign. Conservative estimates would put my play time with that character at over 400 hours. Who would want to deal with spending 400 hours having your character be represented by something that was “close enough”?
This image is also a link to Hungry Ghosts Chaos Squats of Khorne
So that means you take to the internet to try to find just the right little miniature to represent your character.
There are few companies that make miniatures. Wizards of the Coast makes some “official” D&D minatures and WizKids makes various D&D spinoff figurines. These come already in full colour and are basically “plug and play”. Scour through all the figurines out there and you might find a little lump of plastic that accurately represents your beloved character.
If you’re really, really ambitious you can expand the possibilities even further by buying an unpainted figurine. There are a ton of tabletop miniature games that you can draw from to find just the right little guy.
The problem then is that you need to paint the miniature. This means you need tiny paintbrushes, paint and, most importantly, a steady hand and some level of artistic talent.
I feel like in one of my previous blogs I mentioned the fact that my brother used to love painstakingly painting and putting together model cars. On the other hand, trying to mimic my older brother, I was only skilled in producing grotesque four-wheeled monstrosities of paint and glue. I have never had the hands for fine, detailed work.
I did a Google Search for “badly painted miniatures” and I am fully certain that even the examples like the ones I selected here (from: Chaos Squats) is probably much, much better than anything I could manage with those fine little paintbrushes.
So what do I do?
Well, presently I’m very seriously considering dropping $25 (USD) on a 1 inch miniature because it looks the most like my Half Aquatic-Elf Swashbuckling Pirate Rogue. That’s a lot of money for a little lump of plastic.
Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.