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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    But the farther you go beyond that, the worse things start to get. Lego is distracting. Saying "This mini is me, except I'm a gnome, not a dwarf, and I've got a staff instead of a sword and shield" is frustrating, and too easy for everyone else to forget. "Okay, this minotaur mini represents the ogre, and these skeletons are the goblins" adds an entire extra mental leap--not only do you have to visualize an ogre and goblins, you've got to actively ignore your eyes showing you a minotaur and skeletons. It's easy to look at a quick oval with some circles in it and remember that it's supposed to represent a cave; it's harder when the GM has a map of a forest clearing where "the trees are stalagmites."

    Eventually, I guess, you can wind your way back around to using customized minis and handmade terrain and all, but that represents a huge amount of work. And it's not like making a fancy battle map for Warhammer, where you can fight multiple battles on the same field. Not only will it not be the same castle next time, it might not even be a castle this time--if you spend ten hours setting up a custom model and the game winds up going in a different direction, then what?

    Recently I'm starting to feel like I'm having this problem with virtual gaming--I've been hunting down battle maps and monster images and adapting them to what I need, but the nicer the art is, the more obvious it becomes when I need to change something. I really should go back to just drawing outlines directly on roll20, but that would be jarring in its own right.
    A more elaborate explanation on my views on the topic. These are exactly the problems I am seeing. Wargames are wargames and roleplaying games are roleplaying games. You can mix them, but they don't mix well.

    I guess when all D&D campaigns were only dungeon crawls and PCs replaceable, this was not really that much of an issue, but D&D has stopped presenting itself as such a game over 30 years ago.
    (I would even argue that until the mid 80s, D&D wasn't even a roleplaying game as the term is understood today.)
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  2. - Top - End - #32
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I just found out about a modular set of pop-up terrain that's being kickstarted. I posted a link in the crowdfunding thread for those interested in discussing that product specifically, but for the purpose of the conversation here, it inspired me to see if anyone had any creative solutions for quick set up, breakdown, and storage of terrain pieces for those that use them. In that set, it's basically a series of folding boards with pop-up laminated cardstock buildings built right into it, which I thought was pretty neat because it fits in one board-game sized box.

    I, on the other hand, just kind of shove all of the buildings and little mini props/scatter terrain I make into an old cardboard box and put it on my shelf. I'm trying to find better ways of storing/displaying them in a smaller footprint because I live in a tiny apartment with very little room for gaming storage. I would especially love to know how people transport that kind of stuff safely and efficiently when taking it elsewhere, like to a friend's house.

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    I'm kinda looking forward to getting my HeroQuest kickstarter material, since it has a bunch of minis and a customizable indoor map.
    HeroQuest... Kickstarter? As in this HeroQuest? Is it still possible to back? If so, could you PM me a link to it?

    -------

    Anyway, on topic: I've been playing since late 2001, and I usually but not always use minis for D&D and other D20-based systems. Over the years, I've used all of the following to represent characters and monsters:
    • dice
    • Lego figures
    • HeroQuest board game pieces
    • pieces of popcorn
    • cheese cubes
    • actual D&D minis
    • actual Star Wars minis
    • customized minis made with HeroClix, utlity knives, glue, and paint
    • 3D printed minis
    • minis made from pipe cleaners (this one group I played with had someone who as an absolute artist with pipe cleaners


    And then other times I've played without, going pure "theatre of the mind" with things. I've found advantages and disadvantages to both. In general, I find that using just whatever fits on a battle grid is fine for either small combats or when you're fighting an army of weak enemies (the popcorn I mentioned was from a time when the DM had us face an army of 1,000 kobolds, with each one represented by a piece of popcorn that we ate when we defeated them). On the other hand, I've found that I generally dislike using minis for non-combat situations because it tends to slow down the pace of the game (I check for traps, move 5 feet and check for traps, move another 5 feet and check for traps again, etc.).

    That said, I do not have much of a minis collection myself, and so will usually default to either using or not using them depending on whether any of the other players have a decent collection of minis they're willing to share.
    Last edited by Velaryon; 2020-11-12 at 02:54 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    It perplexes me. Even as one of the most active gaming forums around, it seems the vast majority of forum topics on GitP are all rules, rules, rules, OotS comics discussions, build ideas, gripes, recruiting, and some lore (not in order). That's fine, but also weird to me that the only hits I get when I search for topics about minis are some mentions in a WH40K thread and very rarely an arts & crafts custom. Apart from Kevin Cook, nobody really says much about dice, either. I checked the forum rules a bunch just to make sure the subject isn't outright banned, but it doesn't look like it is. Guess I'll find out.

    Is this entire message board populated exclusively by theatre-of-the-mind folks? Does everyone talk toys elsewhere?

    I mean, we could.

    Talk about it. Y'know...

    Hey fellow nerd people, how do you like those little figurines?
    Whaddya like? 2d, 3d? Painted/unpainted? Metal/plastic/meeples carved out of soap?
    Do you rock the resin tiles, plaster casts, DIY? Fly in a pre-built scene or assemble on the fly? Dry-erase on a gridded mat?
    Do your click-clacks sparkle? Do you annually recolor the numbers with a 40-year-old crayon? Use a tower or a tray or just toss them willy-nilly?
    Does your DM hand you a map? Are you allowed to write on it?
    I know a lot of games moved online, but the plague won't be around forever. What did you do before quarantine? What do you want to do once face-to-face gaming is a thing again?
    Well, I have a lot of miniatures for 40k [I play 5 armies right now] for Flames of War [4 armies], and for DZC. Sometimes, I even use them in my RPG's.

    However, most of my RPG "minis" are of the form of a drawing [done be me, of course!] standing up on a base. I would build terrain with a set of like 2000 wooden planks. That said, nowadays all my gaming is remote, so those drawings have moved into roll20.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Even before all... *gestures vaguely* ...this, virtual tabletops and theater of the mind were more convenient for us. Between roll20 sheets that could automatically perform calculations or apply buffs and debuffs, to being able to calculate distance/LoS/lighting on the fly, to having dozens if not hundreds of minis at our fingertips - yes, having a pile of physical minis is a unique experience, but one we don't particularly miss either.

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  6. - Top - End - #36
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    We have two DMs. Both have dry-erase boards they can draw the blobby rooms on. We got a TON of the D&D Minis game minis, so we can generally find good hero analogues, and we also have a sufficiency of appropriate mob monsters. I occasionally pick up individual minis, and got a Heroforge for my IKRPG gobber pistoleer.

    We also play, occasionally, Shadowrun and FFG Star Wars, neither of which *truly* requires a map, but it's helpful.

    I do rather wish we were doing one of those two now that we're using Teams and screen-sharing. One of the GMs, for things that really do require positioning, has a camera pointed at his board and has minis for that.

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    There’s also the problem that RPGs written around the existing wargaming minis to extend their lifespan are, by and large, terrible because the skill set of writing a system with pleasing odds and simple mathematics versus the skill set of writing a system which rewards and facilitates theater of the mind not only do not overlap but don’t seem to be able to bolt one system atop the other but must always be rebuilt from scratch on both sides by both parties.

    The least worst problem about this is making a simple and not very visually memorable character concept and then, even when faced with a selection of literal thousands of minis—and that’s privately owned, not an FLGS’ worth where most of them are only available in larger boxed sets—still having to chop up two different minis to replicate the, again, fairly generic look of the fairly generic character.

    And then when one does finally get into the ‘hobby’ side of things, well, it’s a lot easier to multitask message board chatter and tweaking rules and builds and odds, than to write posts while trying to glue foliage onto a hand-twisted tree armature yet not onto your fingertips yet also hold all pieces in their relative orientations until they dry. I haven’t quite mastered task flow such that I am only joining two pieces at once and could therefore use the hobby clamp/magnifier set.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    @Velaryon YES, that heroquest.. updated though. And no more fimirs but you get abyssals or something like that (fish peoples) Sdly I found out about it the day AFTER the kickstarter ended with expanded heroes like a bard and druid. Also, I think they are doing male and female on each of the 4 original heroes



    I still have all my original heroquest stuff and my tomb of the witch lord is still in the plastic.


    I use a combination of 3d miniatures that i have collected over various games and companies the last 25 ish years plus 2d/2.5d (2d i mean like pathfinder pawns and 2.5D i mean those tri-fold paper miniatures)

    I personally enjoy the paper miniatures better as they end up costing you like 12.7 cents a mini. (at least thats how much my collection cost me and thats getting them printed out in color at a print shop and using foam board form the craft section to glue the paper on instead of just using cardstock and then using packaging tape to 'laminate")

    There is literally a TON of sites that have free paper miniatures from just tokens, 2d, 2.5D and even 3d paper miniatures. THIS IS AN AWEOSME SITE. You can drag and drop images to make your own customized paper miniatures. It what I have been using to make miniatures and I spent a couple days helping the GM assemble them for his campaign as well.

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I LOVE minis. Really. I paint them, I created social media accounts just to show those painted minis' picture to the entire world, I'm a complete sucker for any boardgames that has too much plastic in it...

    Just... Not in my RPGs. For those, I'm a strong advocate of the theater of the mind. As I said when mini were still chunks of metal "too much lead weights down the dreams".
    When I see mini on the map, I stop seing the scene in my head. I just see pretty, inanimate chunks of plastic on a pretty, inanimate image. I don't imagine a cool action scene where my character is rushing down the corridor, I just see its token sitting there on the map. I don't imagine a decor I can integrate in my action scene, with darkness, crumbling walls, blazing flames, stuff I climb onto or under, stuff I can use as improvised weapons, since my eyes show me a static image of the place.

    So yeah, I'll break out the minis to play Mansions of Madness or Imperial Assault any day of the week, but for RPGs, I'm all for Theater of the mind :)

    (But the "a monster for every season" tokens reaaaally make me wish I wasn't. Those just BEG to be used ^^)

    But if you want to show off your painted minis, I'm all for it ^^
    Last edited by Kardwill; 2020-11-13 at 10:25 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #40
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    When we talk about theatre-of-the-mind and a lot of folks complain that minis and a map thwart that somehow, do character sheets do the same?

    I ask because they do for me. Few things are as immersion-breaking as someone having to pause and look through three sheets of paper or tap through however many screens to find a feature or a spell, or a stat modifier, or some piece of equipment they didn't remember trading away. In my experience, the tabletop representations serve to bring all focus back to the present situation after that distraction is resolved.

    I'm sure that the demographics vary, but I would wager that many users here on GitP are accustomed to gaming with other players who really have their characters down, which is great. In my groups, there is more of a learning curve that stretches in sporadic ways due to all of the factors that compete with game time as well as time outside of the game for folks to delve into the crunchy numbers and theory of how to play a role within a specific rules framework. Fact is, they just don't. And while there is intelligence and aptitude among them, there is also an overall lack of real-world experience with how they would behave in many social situations, or how big a space is when described in dimensions relative to their point of view, or the faintest clue of what it is like to get in an actual fight before converting any of those perspectives into a make-believe setting. Or worse: everything they think they understand about such scenarios is based on media instead of any first-hand exposure.

    What I find is that miniatures communicate most of these concepts better than I can to those who have little to no experience to draw from by presenting a more relatable foundation. No, a 1" tall figurine is not in any way going be a person for the sake of interpersonal relationships, which is why all the maps and doo-dads are far less useful for role-playing, but the right miniature along with more detailed artwork (illustrations) can certainly convey a personality better than I can with my pitiful voice skills, as well. Like I said, the props are to simulate the scene, which, once all can build a visualization in their own mind on that shared framework, focuses the mind's eye more efficiently than mere words.

    This is not to dismiss pure imagination. I treasure that as well, and think it wonderful to be able to share an imagined world without any anchors to the real. It's just that, in a practical sense, we just don't have time for it, whereas I have the material on hand to toss a small diorama in front of everybody as the rough sketch for the picture I'm trying to paint. As a plus, the toys are really cool.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    It's different, but similar.

    I think the issue is not the sheet itself, but how mechanical character abilities are. In modern D&D, I seen a pervasive tendency for players to listen to the description of an obstacle or opponent and begin the process of choosing their reaction by going through all the special abilities that are available to their character. "Which of my skills could I use?" "Do any of my spells help here?"
    This behavior is what I usually refer to as "looking for the solution on the character sheet".

    The more rules for specific cases you have, the more you start to consider every situation as a mechanical problem. It makes player think less about a character in a story and more like remote controlling a robot that has a limited set of pre-programmed moves. Like miniatures and terrain, presenting the game as a math challenge creates distance between players and characters. They all turn the game into a more elaborate version of chess, where you think of any situations as rules and mechanics first, with a story being relegated to a framing device.
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  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I prefer to play with minis. I've never started a thread about minis because I have no questions that people can answer without seeing my minis.

    By contrast, you don't need to see my rulebook to answer my rules questions.

    There is no direct connection between the number of threads on the topic and its value. The connection is between the number of threads on the topic with the number of questions that can be usefully discussed online.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    When we talk about theatre-of-the-mind and a lot of folks complain that minis and a map thwart that somehow, do character sheets do the same?

    I ask because they do for me. Few things are as immersion-breaking as someone having to pause and look through three sheets of paper or tap through however many screens to find a feature or a spell, or a stat modifier, or some piece of equipment they didn't remember trading away. In my experience, the tabletop representations serve to bring all focus back to the present situation after that distraction is resolved.
    I'm not really bothered by that sort of thing. Sometimes, it takes a while to make a move, and that's fine. The delay isn't part of the scene. I suppose that the ability to separate out this "noise" varies a lot between people, though. (Things that are annoying, like a player not paying attention and having to be caught up, do break my concentration.)

    The problem with high-detail miniatures and terrain (and a lot of visual media) is overspecification, that is, providing details that don't matter to the story, but that do contradict possible mental images people might have of the story. When you're telling a story, you don't need to describe everything in the scene; a character can simply be "regal". However, when you're drawing the character, you (usually) apply the same level of detail consistently across the image. You're not just drawing the character's "cold, dark eyes" and the scar here and the magic earring there, but you're also showing the (regular) boots, the (common) backpack, the (uninteresting) scabbard, and so on. If we both heard the story, and my idea of what that character looks like doesn't match yours, we might never find out, as long as we use the same words to describe the character. If we both draw a picture, however, we'll see all sorts of details laid out that just look wrong. You might even be forced to add details that don't mesh with your own idea of the character.

    Battlemats and character sheets specify what is necessary for the gaming to work*, and the rest is left open. Likewise, narration specifies what you need to make the story work, and leaves the rest open. Everyone may fit their own mental image to the story/game.


    *"To work" is deliberately vague. "Produces few enough inconsistencies that everyone's happy to suspend their disbelief (or, on the game side, their sense of fair play) and carry on" might cover it.
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  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I prefer to play with minis. I've never started a thread about minis because I have no questions that people can answer without seeing my minis.

    By contrast, you don't need to see my rulebook to answer my rules questions.

    There is no direct connection between the number of threads on the topic and its value. The connection is between the number of threads on the topic with the number of questions that can be usefully discussed online.
    One that could be discussed is what size a square should be. In most games I feel like the instinct is to make them far too large, which means the table has to be enormous. I wish there were more tiny chess set size pieces, it would make it feel more realistic while not being enormous.
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  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    One that could be discussed is what size a square should be. In most games I feel like the instinct is to make them far too large, which means the table has to be enormous. I wish there were more tiny chess set size pieces, it would make it feel more realistic while not being enormous.
    No too terribly long ago I was running a game where some of the base weapon ranges managed 300m and some vehicles were moving ~500m a round in a fight involving both spear phalanxes, a grav tank, 40m long undead beetles, and an invisible teleporting mage with Meteor Storm. Yeah, 2m to the inch squares and 32mm scale minis wouldn't work.
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  16. - Top - End - #46
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    When we talk about theatre-of-the-mind and a lot of folks complain that minis and a map thwart that somehow, do character sheets do the same?

    I ask because they do for me. Few things are as immersion-breaking as someone having to pause and look through three sheets of paper or tap through however many screens to find a feature or a spell, or a stat modifier, or some piece of equipment they didn't remember trading away.
    Yes, looking though a character-album kinda bothers me for this reason. That's the reason all my go-to games nowadays have character sheets that occupy a single page, including stuff like personality traits, significant gear, magic or superpowers. If your game forces me to search 4 sheets of paper to get some information about my charactere, I may accept to play if you're a friend (althuough I'll grumble about the cluttered CS), but I certainly won't ask for it nor GM it.
    My sweet spot is around 15-20 stats for a character (again, "stats" includes attributes/skills, but also technical stuff like magic) : Enough to define the character, but still manageable when I need to remember something or find it at a single glance :)

    The problem with both moving minis on a battlemap and searching for info on a character sheet is that they detract from the conversation which is the heart of the game. Doesn't mean I don't see their use, though. For example, to ensure that everyone has a rough understanding of what is going on, I sometime draw a sketch of the place. If the sketch is rough enough, it will guide the mental image of the players (so that we share the same understanding of the situation), but not replace it.
    And when I want to get tactical, I will divide a battlefield into a few "zones" with specific aspects (Example for a seaport gunfight : The east dock is cluttered and offers good protection but restrains your movement / West dock is more sparse, and many cover are flamable materials/ at the end of the west dock is the control booth of the dock-crane right next to flamable materials / the pier is dangerously exposed with no cover / but it's the only way to get to the deck of the ship). If the zones are big enough, the character will "feel" in movement even between their turns (I'm running across the bridge, and not sitting on a static square of it), and players will feel free to add things from their own mental image and play them in the common fiction ("I grab a rope sitting on top of one of the crates")

    And I have no problem with using fictionnal "movie" logic, as long as we discussed it with the other players so everyone know which "level" of movie-logic the world works with ("hollywood logic", where you can run barefoot on broken glasse, crawl into an airduct, and still take on a dozen terrorists? "Manga logic", where a troll sends you flying 5m into the air with a swing of his club but you still land on your feet without any broken bones? "Hardboiled logic", where you're expected to take a beating once in a while, but still continue on sheer willpower once you regain consciousness?). Personally, I tend to go for "hollywood logic" for my games. There's no freaking chance in hell I would know the reality of a real-life combat situation anyway, so action movies are a nice common ground everyone at the gametable shares ^^
    Last edited by Kardwill; 2020-11-16 at 08:23 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #47
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    One that could be discussed is what size a square should be. In most games I feel like the instinct is to make them far too large, which means the table has to be enormous. I wish there were more tiny chess set size pieces, it would make it feel more realistic while not being enormous.
    I've seen mixed scales work well... "Everything inside these die is at 5' per square; everything outside these are 30' per square". The interior area might be 12x12 or 6x6, so you can have a good little melee, but your archer can stand out and shoot.
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  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I started out making 2.5 modular tiles with cardboard, which I painted. I had all sorts of stuff. I made trees out of paper towel rolls and bits of craft stuff for a forest, I had miniature furniture made from popsicle sticks, toothpicks, and what have you. Chests, bookshelves, barrels, all sorts of stuff. Eventually I donated it all to my local library, which runs a monthly dnd game for local teens.

    These days I'm much more theatre of the mind, though I will still do set pieces for important dramatic or combat moments, or if I feel like it. For instance, I made 3d hex tiles for my worldmap. I have forest tiles, river and water tiles, farm tiles, city tiles, etc. I have a large hex base I made to put the tiles in, so when the party moves to a new area, I reveal an add a new tile to the base, depending on what direction they've gone. I took a clear polyacrylic sheet, put a grid on it, and set it above the hex base, so the players can have their minis on a grid for combat, and still see the world map beneath it. It looks pretty cool.

    Lastly, I use starburst candy for enemies (I write #s on the wrappers with a marker so I can keep track). The players get candy when they defeat an enemy, and it helps stop them from murderhoboing - because if I put a mini down for an NPC, they know they won't get candy for killing it. I have them well trained with positive reinforcement - like dogs.
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  19. - Top - End - #49
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I use old Heroscape figurines and 3D print some other custom stuff. I print my maps that I made in CC3 with this company called Geekify. I like to hang my maps up after I'm done with a campaign and it makes weirdly cool wall art. Back when I started, the DM used dry erase but stuff would keep erasing.

  20. - Top - End - #50
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carto View Post
    I use old Heroscape figurines and 3D print some other custom stuff. I print my maps that I made in CC3 with this company called Geekify. I like to hang my maps up after I'm done with a campaign and it makes weirdly cool wall art. Back when I started, the DM used dry erase but stuff would keep erasing.
    The trick is to make the map with wet-erase, and then put the PCs and monsters on with dry erase. That way you can erase the monsters without erasing the terrain.
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  21. - Top - End - #51
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GreatWyrmGold's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Builds, rules, lore, and so on are all things where new ideas are easy to come by and interesting to test. Arguing over vague rules (or what rules should be), trying to suss out the best builds, and discussing interesting lore tidbits that most people miss are all interesting discussions people can have.

    But minis? They're solid, static, and don't inspire much discussion. Sure, there are the two or three topics coming up in this thread, but that's about it. There are individual rules that can start more varied discussions than that! So we don't discuss minis that often, because there's less to discuss.
    I'm sure there are people with strong opinions about metal versus plastic miniatures and stuff like that. I suspect most of them drift towards fan forums for games which feature minis more prominently, like Warhammer or 40k. This community doesn't have much to attract them except incidentally, so I suspect there haven't been enough to maintain a steady stream of such discussions.


    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    The interest is if the battles gets too crowded and that different people are imagining different scenes and that it results in a lot of communication complexity then using miniatures helps agree on the positions of the things.
    This, so much. Minis are extremely useful for making it crystal clear exactly where everything and everyone is. It's handy when fighting lots of enemies (especially with AoE effects), splitting the party and figuring out how long it'll take to bail out that idiot who wandered off on his own, and—

    ex: In a boss fight a theatre of the mind setup works perfectly since it does not matters that people imagine things a bit differently from each other due to the low complexity of the armies involved.
    Well, this is something we fundamentally disagree on.

    Part of this is because D&D is just not well-suited to "boss fights" between one monolithic boss monster and the entire party. Tools that VRPGs use to make that work—from multi-stage boss fights to health/damage asymmetry—simply aren't supported in D&D. (Which isn't to say that you can't homebrew in extra stages to a boss fight or jack up the monster's hit points, but it's not supported by the rules.) So when I think "boss fight," I think to one specific boss fight that my group went through—perhaps the most memorable moment in the campaign. (Except the time one half of an ettin pushed the other half into the river.)

    We were playing Storm King's Thunder. On our way back from...I don't remember what, we bounced from a random encounter with a brass(?) dragon to a sad hill giantess to the hill giant chief, Guh, two levels before we were intended to start fighting the giant leaders. After some espionage shenanigans that mostly amounted to the ettin pretending to be a loyal giantkin and the rest of the group sneaking across the lake at night with water walk, we met up and started fighting the giants. We quickly made it to the throne room, where Guh was resting for the night. We started fighting with Guh's guards, and more kept pouring in as the alarm was raised. Goblin archers, ogres, hill giants warriors...

    Part of what made the fight memorable was specific issues that affected our party, like the paladin's cursed sword forcing him to chase and attack whichever enemy damaged him first (it was a goblin archer in the rafters, and he didn't use ranged weapons), or the barbarian being attached to a warlock that cast blink, or our other two party members being a cleric and a rogue. (My cleric was not a very good tank). Part of it was how tense it felt—I think every party member fell unconscious at some point.
    But part was the sheer scale of the fight—we fought just about every combatant in the fortress at some point or another. And yet we won. This sort of battle would have been chaos without a battlemap, and not just because our tanks were indisposed.

    Not every boss battle needs an army of minions to be memorable, but boss battles that just amount to trading attacks until someone dies are gonna be pretty unmemorable. You need something unique to set the boss battles apart, most unique things are going to add complexity, and most complexity is easier to understand with a battlemap.
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  22. - Top - End - #52
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Long and short: When it's flat I'd rather just draw it out, and 3D terrain is expensive. As much as I'd like to use it, ya know, money.
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  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I generally find Theatre-of-the-Mind...well, faster, more versatile, takes up less room, needs less planning, is far cheaper, and generally more immersive.
    that said I have a dry erase board (one side plain and one side with a grid) that can be useful for laying out scales and relative positions.
    I got lucky a while back and found this set of poker chips that have basically dry erase material in the centre and colored rings..so black ones may represent orcs (with the warlord and shaman each having a letter in the circle) and red wargs or whatever the situation calls for while the PC's get solid colour/pattern chips.

    As for long character sheets breaking stuff up it kinda depends what's on the blasted thing. I think FATAL took the cake for unneeded numbers and physical descriptors but when page three is all about a characters social bonds in-world it can be a boon as those are the things the player is less likely to overlook unless reminded....the reminder brings these kinds of things back until they embed in the character over time...familiars also fit in this type of category *pop* *caw caw* *poof*

  24. - Top - End - #54
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I tend to use minis and some form of 2-D terrain for combat just so everybody can tell at a glance who's where.

    The terrain is usually a dry-erase board, but if I anticipate some sort of lengthy, linear environment, I unroll some paper towel sheets, sketch in the static terrain with markers, and fold it back up again. I can still pick up messes with them after their gaming utility is done. Also used 3x5 index cards to sketch a city-scape on for a couple of chase scenes.

    The minis vary. I've got a fair bit of Warhammer stuff from twenty years back - at the time, they had some good quality and relatively affordable build-a-regiment boxes - so I can bodge together a little humanoid warband easily enough. For the gaming I'm currently running, I picked up new minis from...Whiz Kids or something like that. Seems to be the "official" D&D line these days. Can't say I find them to be of great quality, but they work.

    Monsters, on the other hand, are used infrequently enough that I improvise with craft materials or pick up cheap toys at dollar stores when I can plan ahead. There's a hydra with beads for heads, pipe-cleaner necks, and a green potting foam body; looks terrible but the players enjoyed popping the heads off. Yetis got hacked out of styrofoam with a utility knife and every arrow hit was a toothpick stuck into the body. I picked up a 65mm Roman Reigns mini to keep handy as a future giant/ogre. The 65mm Brock Lesnar got painted black and dipped in sand a couple of times so I had a big coal elemental. The players (four of whom are pre-teens) enjoy the hokey nature of these things and I enjoy the process of creating the hokey things in the first place.

    We also staged a fight where the party was riding giant snails (constructed from mini jelly-rolls, icing, and candies) and fighting various candy-shaped critters such as gummy dinosaurs. It wasn't a very serious fight, nor a very healthy one, but the gang did enjoy it.

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    Up until my friends decided that the risks of the coronavirus were too great, we played a weekly game at one of their houses. They had custom minis for their characters. I used Hero Quest figures and printed out maps from purchased high-res files of Tomb of Annihilation’s map pack, carefully scaled and placed so five foot squares were an inch on a side.

    When we started doing it online, we used Roll20.

  26. - Top - End - #56
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    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I've run and occasionally played D&D for thirty five years.

    In that time, I've only played in one game where the DM used minis, and I've run zero. I've never seen a game of D&D that used terrain models. Closest was the printed maps for running 4e Adventurers league.

    Plenty of battle mat play. But every DM I've ever played with, including myself, uses tokens of some kind for enemies. Players regularly buy a mini if they think the character will live long enough. Although the Curse of the Mini (buying) leading to PC death is an ongoing joke I've heard many times.

    Even board games seem to understand that's normal. PCs get minis, enemies counters.

    OTOH Star Wars Amanda was a lot of (expensive) fun, so I can kinda see the Warhammer 40k appeal. Not painting minis though /shudder. Tried it once, it was torture. Never again.

  27. - Top - End - #57
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I use Legos.

    Go on. Bring on the hate.

    Also, sometimes board game pieces appropriated from a vast array of board games. Currently I own less of them than I did as a kid, so that's a bummer. But they're handy. Heck, I've even use board game boards for maps. Labyrinth and Tikal are perpetual favorites. You basically get procedurally generating dynamic dungeons from Labyrinth pieces alone.

    It's been long enough that I'm somewhat out of practice, so I haven't found the best use for my Legos yet. I mostly use them as a visual indicator of marching order, formation etc.. My paper notes tend to take up too much space to effectively play battles with them.

  28. - Top - End - #58
    Titan in the Playground
     
    J-H's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    I have no interest in spending hundreds of dollars on minis that may be used 2-3 times per year.

    We use a dry-erase battle mat. If I'm DMing, I print off little 1x1 paper tokens and use those.

    In the one game I'm playing now, I modified my forum avatar and printed it as a little fold-up/stand-up "mini." It's good enough, takes only a couple of minutes, and no expense or storage space.

    As for dice? I have a bag full, and could maybe use a few more D4s. I've become more and more annoyed at how hard many of them are to read, and actually have a bag of high-contrast dice sitting in my truck for our next in-person session to give to the guy in his 50s who has trouble reading half his dice. All the low-contrast pretty colors actually interfere with the game.

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

    One thing I did, for a supers game, was buy a bunch of about 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch wood flats at a craft store. Those, a glue stick, some web searches for black & white images, and a bunch of the really small bulldog clips made lots of "minis". They only had fronts but that let you write a name on the back. And one of the books for the game was a pdf so I grabbed a bunch of images of bad guys from that.

    Just scaled the images down, pasted them all onto two pages or so, printed them. Then cut them out, glue them on a flat, put a clip on the bottom. You had to pinch the handles out of the bulldog clip for them to stand nicely.
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  30. - Top - End - #60
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Imbalance's Avatar

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    Default Re: Nobody here talks about the tabletop: miniatures, terrain, etc. Why is that?

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