Monday, 19 January 2009

Combining miniatures and roleplay

When you use miniatures with roleplay game you take something out of the imagination and give it a solid, unchanging form - a battlefield with representations of the heroes and monsters on it that you can see and touch. When they exist only in your head and the heads of other players, they can truly be as as magical and monstrous as anything words can evoke. So why would anyone really wish to try using miniatures and what is effectively a board, for battles?

There are many advantageous to using miniatures to help resolve combat. You can use tactics on the battlefield (great for fighter types) when you can see exactly where everyone, and every terrain feature is. You can quickly resolve issues of who can do what and where - in other words, the positions, facings and obstacles are all very tightly defined. In some way ways, tightly defining these elements would seem to be anathema to the tension and resolution of using dramatic narrative alone - on the surface at least.

A battle from our last game session where the party fought a gigantic python that snaked out of a well and attempted to eat them (the enemy is in the centre of the pic).

One way around this is to try and bring some of the roleplaying narrative elements back into the game again, while still leveraging the strengths using miniatures for resolving combat. To encourage this with my players, I have started offering 5 experience points for describing an action. I vary the amount based on how good and dramatic the description was. This has been having the desired effect - the players pretty much describe everything now! Sometimes the players jump in to help each other out or expand on each other's descriptions. Of course, I describe the actions of the enemies too and the effects of the character's actions on them.

This has proven to be a great way to get some of the roleplaying back into combat that uses miniatures and combines the strengths of both ways of resolving combats.


viricordova said...

Any game that has movement restrictions benefits from minis if just so you can see where everyone actually got to move that round.

Soul Existence said...

While it is true that you can see where everyone moved that round, it does take away from the descriptive sense of the game itself.

Lately my party has devolved to setting up the encounter and then they move, roll dice, tell me damage, i -force- them to tell me what action they took, then i remove minis and describe, "Your shot slams into his chest. He staggers and cries out, but does not fall," while they just roll dice.

The xp for descriptions is a great idea. i think i'll start incorporating that into my games to help them get more involved.

Tom said...

I often create characters based around minis I've painted or am working. I find that to be a very rewarding part of the experience.

In my opinion, miniatures and DnD have gone hand in hand since the original edition. I feel they add far more to the experience then might take away.

Steve Ballmer said...

I actually like this one!