Sunday, August 9, 2015

You Should Be Doing This: Paper Miniatures

It's Sunday, so let's take a diversion.  Let's talk about miniatures.

Okay, I'm going to put to the side the basic question of whether or not you should use minis in your games.  I myself go back and forth.  I've run (and played) lots of great games where miniatures were used.  I've also enjoyed games, D&D or otherwise, without minis.  And I've certainly seen a lot of games where using miniatures became a pain in the ass, distracting, or just otherwise unnecessary or inappropriate. 

So, I recently got back from Gen Con 2015, and saw the full spectrum of miniatures usage.  One the one end, I tend to go a little crazy on con games, bringing all sorts of elaborate miniatures, re-purposed children's toys, pre-drawn battlemaps, and whatever.  But I also played in a game where we used "miniatures," but they basically consisted of a couple painted meeples from an old board game, a bottle cap or two, and whatever other trash was left sitting around from the game before us....
 Q:  "Uh, is that another enemy wizard?"  
GM:  "Oh, no, I just forgot to put the top back on my drink."
Now, as a tactical "aid," this left a lot to be desired, and wound up causing a lot of confusion at the table.  To be honest, I would have preferred (and found it less confusing and more immersive) if the GM had not used miniatures at all.  I'm really not a game-prep snob.  Okay, okay, I totally am.  But if you have got any kind of lead time, and access to basic 2015 computer technology, you can do a lot better with  10 minutes work.  Here's how. 

All you need is:
  • A color printer;
  • A few pages of photo or cardstock paper;
  • Microsoft Word or an equivalent; and
  • Google image search.
Start with this template - which I just cribbed from the old 1984 Marvel FASERIP rpg.


Now, I don't know crap about computers, photo editing software, or anything.  I just figured this out on my own, so apologies to you techies for using "cave-man speak."

First, Cut and paste that  sucker (the template above) into a Word document a bunch of times.

Next, run a Google image search for whatever thing you are using in your game.  So, if I want to use the Melter, from Marvel comics, in my game, I do a search and find this image...


Even basic word processing and editing programs, like Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, now have a cool feature called "Remove Background," which will let you to trim a picture down and make it more miniature or presentation friendly, after you have copied it into your document.

So, yeah, cut and paste your image into your word document.  Initially, it will "push" your templates down.  But don't worry, that's easy to fix.  Just right click the image, and then go either to "Size and Position" or "Wrap Text."  You want to reset the image so that it appears "In Front of Text."  That will basically allow you to pull the image over the template.  Like this...



Super easy, right?   Do that a bunch, and you've suddenly got tons and tons of paper minis, ready to go.  It *does* take a little time to cut our and paste together, or you can just pay the kiddos into doing it for you (my preferred method - and my 6-year old daughter is super awesome at it!).

 Toy police cars, and my daughter's hand, not included...
And, voila, you've got some paper minis that are pretty durable, tailored to your game, and lots of fun to look at and play with.  Also, bonus, they are nice and light for carrying around at a convention.

Next up, probably more on Cloud games, unless I get distracted again...