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26

Pros: no arguments about where something is no confusion based on differing visions of the world if you use 3d terrain and so forth, it can be very evocative easier/quicker to do crunchy strategy Cons: time consuming to set 'em up can definitely hamper player creativity -- "if it's not on the map it doesn't exist" same goes for GM creativity


18

No, you can't run D&D 4E without a battlemap. Playing 4E without any kind of map at all using only narrative techniques requires you to ignore half the powers on the character sheet. At that point, you might as well play a different version of D&D. I know that people are saying that they have actually done it, and this should be enough to prove ...


17

I love my Dwarven Forge! That said, you are correct. Buying only one set is basically a tease. You will spend way too much time breaking down each room to build the next one. If you are running D&D 4th, you want big spacious interesting areas to fight in most of the time and one set just won't work very well at all. I recommend 3 sets to start: ...


17

If combat is a more minor element of your adventures then using narrative combat can keep the game flowing in the same manner as other types of encounters rather than switching to a separate type of "mini game". If combat is the major element of your game the greater tactical options of using miniatures can be more enjoyable to a lot of players. It really ...


16

I make my own: this is a lot easier than it sounds -- be advised that I'm a bit of a craft-klutz, and one of the reasons I don't collect minis is I have no confidence at all that I could really paint them well enough for my taste. So, actually, I don't make minis, but I make counters. First, I buy a batch of appropriately sized, good quality mini bases (I ...


15

The cheapest source of metal minis I know is Mega Minis, which does reproductions of a lot of old Grenadier minis plus a ton of new stuff. They go down to $1, $1.50 apiece. EBay sometimes has big collections of old minis, albeit not necessarily pewter. The condition of those can be a bit of a crapshoot. One Monk paper minis just went free, so that's about ...


15

It's quite possible to buy miniatures for much less than $1 apiece. I wrote an article on this topic for Kobold Quarterly, which I'll summarize. Caesar Miniatures produces cheap fantasy and historical miniatures for $11.99 per 35 or so, or around 35 cents apiece. These cover the basics: dwarves, elves, humans, orcs, goblins, skeletons, mediaeval infantry, ...


14

Miniature Rarity, Circle is common, Diamond is uncommon, Star is rare and Circle-Star is ultra-rare.


14

Monte Cook made it a point to design 3e to be agnostic about using miniatures—groups could use them if they preferred, and groups that didn't could play just fine too. He wrote an article about it ages ago: "Running a 3E Game Without Miniatures". The 3.5e update moved much more strongly toward "you should use miniatures" than 3e did, but the basic techniques ...


13

I don't see it working. A 2d map is still only going to ever give you the upper most surface. Consider a troll under a bridge. How do you know what's on top of the bridge vs what's below it? IMO this is no better than a flat map. What has worked for me for minimal effort is Construx. They were a competitor to Lego during my childhood and can be ...


13

In the very near future, probably this year, expect Hero Forge's customizable 3d printed tabletop miniatures to be funded and providing truly customizable features to the market. For now, you can probably find the coarser attributes as described in the many answers here. However, beyond gender, race ("specie"), and class you'll probably have to "settle" if ...


12

Bryant lays out the pro and cons very well. I will add there is no "right" way of doing this. On one hand there is the pure verbal approach on the other hand there is the person with racks of dwarven forge style layouts. The key is to find what mix works for you. I always been a miniature based GM from the early days of AD&D 1st edition. I find the ...


11

May I suggest a third way: a scribbled pencil map with player characters marked on as letters? You show just enough to allow the players to remember where things are but no so much that it turns into a miniatures game.


11

This isn't so much an answer, as I've never even seen Dwarven Forge in person, but as someone else interested in 3d terrain I thought I would pass on this option I've been considering: http://www.castlemolds.com/ You buy the molds and can make the pieces out of plaster of paris or whatever you like. It basically replaces the money cost with a time cost, ...


11

My wife made me a storage solution for Christmas out of stackable ornament boxes with egg-crate foam added to the bottom of each compartment. She also pulled the dividers out, but you could go either way on that. It's pretty freaking awesome, especially because it's easily expandable and cheap. You can also just fill up one compartment with minis you know ...


11

The most portable terrain type is also the least convertible: papercraft. There are piles and piles of papercraft building, landscape, cave, etc. terrain PDFs out there, but of course whatever's printed on the terrain is what's printed. Personally, I like papercraft because it's quick and you can generate a large amount of terrain quickly relatively ...


10

Lost Soul on ENWorld wrote up a set of rules he's calling Fiction First. It changes a lot more than just the battlemap, although at a quick glance it's still clearly 4e-related. There's a section in the playtest PDF on skill combat, which is potentially gridless. The other material might or might not be useful to you, depending on how far from 4e you want to ...


10

Cheap Alternative #2 is to check out the papercraft products over at WorldWorksGames. They had an amazing display at GenCon and buying one simple dungeon set means you can get as much dungeon as you want limited only by paper, printer ink, and assembling time. They've built up a pretty impressive catalog over the last couple of years, so you can really go ...


10

They're functionally different. The slots and dimples match the shape of the miniature's attachment point—a wide tab for slots and pins for dimples. Plain bases are intended for flat-based miniatures. Bases can sometimes be used with the "wrong" miniature, though it's usually not worth the effort, and not all miniatures are good candidates for the ...


9

We've used lego minifigs as characters for a couple of years, and now and then as major NPCs. None of us can be bothered to collect or paint miniatures you see. A lego minifig fits nicely enough on an inch grid wipe clean battlemap thingy. I managed to source some nice round bases for them as well, which you can just see at the bottom of the above ...


9

It sounds like the thing you don't like about miniatures is the mental perspective change caused by seeing (a figurine representing) your character "from the outside". If so, my suggestion would be to replace the miniatures with something more abstract that serves the same practical function — providing a shared tactical view — while being ...


8

I use a variety of boxes. The black/yellow ones I purchase at Harbor Freight Tools ($8). It has removable boxes that I can mix and match between cases. The clear ones I purchase at Big Lots ($12). They have removable trays and I can mix and match the top four I want to bring to a game. The top also is a great place to stage minis, hold dice and ...


8

I'll talk about the paper cutters (aka robocutters) first, since this is going to be image heavy. You're not looking for a Cricut, since they don't allow you to use your own patterns: what you want is a Craft Robo. The CC330L-20 is just fine. It hooks up to your PC (not Mac, alas) so that you can download the patterns that tell it where to cut. ...


8

Provided you're comfortable with a hit point-based system already, the easiest way to go might be to make some slight modifications to provide the narrative framework you seem to be looking for. Imagine something like this: Characters have wounds, divided into 5 categories: Scratches, Painful Wounds, Impairing Wounds, Grievous Wounds, and Deadly Wounds. ...


8

Here's a bit of a non-intuitive fit, but bear with me. Have you considered FATE? Requirements: Miniature biased combat, with combat being the presumed focus of the game. Combat is not largely determined by luck. Dodging and parrying are an interesting part of the system. Less abstract damage. Every damaging blow should have a specific injury associated ...


8

I use to draw maps on the fly, as the players explore or get into a situation. I must say that those maps aren't generally very detailed, so the task is done fast and it doesn't slow too much the game. The only advices that I can give if you draw more detailed maps are: Try to know beforehand the next possible rooms, and have them ready so you can draw ...


7

I use a bunch of IKEA Krus boxes. I leave the separators in for small and medium minis, and pull them out for a couple of boxes of larger minis. Right now, I have a box for undead, one for humanoids, one for elementals, and so on. They stack nicely and don't take up too much room.


7

I find that sewing or fishing lure boxes can make good cases and some even come with adjustable plastic dividers. For added protection you can get some foam to keep it from banging around in transport.


7

Shapeways provides 3d printing services; there are already a few people selling miniatures through their storefront. I've never done 3D design, so I can't speak to how difficult it is, but it seems like there are two options: find someone who's done work there similar to what you want, and contract with them to do you a custom design; or play around with ...


7

I draw maps on the fly, and here's a few tips Make sure the map is easily reachable for drawing - you'll probably have to forgo (or at least move) a DM screen. Speed is better than precision - since your grid lines are already on the page, don't worry if your lines exactly match. Drop rocks on any players who complain. I tend to minimalism on my drawings, ...



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