Tabletop Game Paraphernalia

That gaping abyss was not there when we started this fight, but we have a character who can cause earthquakes and things,
and he does so love to do that even when it might not be the wisest course of action.

You will note that one of our party is right there in the middle of the gaping abyss.
We have no idea yet how deep it gapes, or whether she survived.
Like I said, not the wisest course of action.
I have about a bajillion fantasy and sci-fi roleplaying miniatures.

I have bits and pieces of scatter terrain — pillars, evil altars, furniture — out the wazoo.

I have a 3d printer, and the 3d modeling skills to be able to make pretty much any sort of tabletop gaming stuff we could ever want.

Nevertheless, this is what we almost invariably end up using, because it is fast and easy and effective. It's a cheap steel whiteboard that I got for a few bucks years ago. It's not huge, about 400 x 500 mm, but it's large enough for most scenarios. Most often, we use chessmen and the like to represent the Bad Guys, because again, they're fast and convenient, and imagination serves perfectly well to project whatever shape is required on to the generic markers.

I've written before about the two-edged sword that is the use of miniatures in tabletop roleplaying — they make the tactical situation more explicit than in pure theatre-of-the-mind, but they also impose a bit of an imagination straitjacket, especially problematic when one miniature is being used to stand in for another creature. People tend to trust their eyes rather than their minds, and if they can see something they know is a cow they'll think of it as a cow, and not as a Ravening Bugblatter Beast of Thrarll.

When we first started roleplaying, many decades ago, we had very limited access to fantasy miniatures, and even less money, so we tended not to use them at all. They weren't completely foreign to us, because several of our group were wargamers and had small collections of figures for various wargaming periods. However, when it came to roleplaying, the nearest we came to using miniatures was when I made a bunch of cardboard tokens with our characters names on them.

My pixie character
Mine was a pixie called Raisenbred Thimblecup. She didn't last very long at all; she was lured off into a swamp and electrocuted to death by a will-'o-wisp.

These little chits were only about 15x12mm, and made from some shitty scrap cardboard I had lying around. They served pretty well for the purpose really.

Many years later, when Wizards of the Coast took over the D&D IP, for a while they were putting out collections of 2d cut-out tokens illustrated with various critters and characters. Like pogs I think, though I've never actually seen a pog in the flesh. Anyway, they work quite well as tactical markers, but again they suffer from the "what you see is what you think you see" problem, and though it's pretty easy to amass a giant, varied collection of the things, there's still the problem of having to sort through them all to find the exact ones you need for any given encounter.

I'd use them for character tokens, and maybe for important NPCs or pre-prepared encounters, but for setting up a fight on the fly, they'd still be a bit of a pain to organise.


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