by: Matt Conlon
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Want to ensure your battle encounters are accurate as possible? Interested in seeing just how tall your character looks next to a dragon? A couple miniatures is all it takes! Collect and paint your own today!
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Tools of the Trade
The Pen-and-Paper roll playing gamer has a toolbox of utilities at his or her disposal for enhancing or aiding game play. Pens, pencils, dice, tokens, cards, notebooks, rule books, and sometimes, D&D miniatures.
D&D Miniatures are used to represent players, characters, NPCs, enemies, furniture, and just about anything that can be found in your Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Although they are not required, they are a terrific way avoid having to make judgment calls in battle like "Uh, yeah, you can probably get into a flanking position during this turn..." or being able to see attacks of opportunity that your enemies (or allies!) present that would otherwise be overlooked.
You can also use these things to take a break from your campaign, and play an epic battle, or another game based on miniature use.
They are made to scale, based on the size of the race of the character or monster. You want to get a better idea of what your gnome would look like standing next to a Orcus? Get the minis!
D&D Miniatures bring the imagined battle field to life on your table.They're placed on a mat that will represent the area in which this conflict occurs. The mat has with a 1"x1" grid used to measure distance. When the Player's Handbook says you can move five squares, these are the squares to which it is referring.
Before you start your collection, there are a few things you should know. Miniatures can be found in both metal and plastic, and come in hundreds of shapes, some already painted, and for the artistic player, unpainted.
For information on gaming with pre-painted vs. unpainted miniatures, visit Robertsongames.com.
Wizards of the Coast has a comprehensive gallery for all the minis they make. They also have a D&D Miniatures Handbook dedicated to maximizing the impact of miniatures in your game. Note: At this time, if you're looking for a D&D Miniature Handbook, downloading is not allowed. Any copies you find on the internet are a violation of licensing. Until Wizards of the Coast releases books electronically again, steer clear of any D&D Miniature Handbook download!
Unfortunately, you can't get miniatures directly from Wizards of the Coast either, you have to go to a reseller. TrollandToad.com has a selection of miniatures from which you can select the perfect one. If it's quantity you're looking for to bulk up your collecting, there are whole "lots" like the "mega-lot" of random monster miniatures. You simply tell them how many you want, and it'll cost you $1.29 per mini, and they'll send you a bag of mixed baddies. Be sure to look through the list of categories at the top of that page.
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Painting Your Miniatures
Unpainted D&D miniatures allow the owner to put them in whatever clothing or colors the character represented by the miniature would wear. It adds a very personal touch. Naturally, as with any art form, painting D&D miniatures requires some skill, and a fair amount of knowledge about paints and painting. From what I gathered, the paints I used to use for model cars, can work, but tend to be thick and clumpy.
Obviously with any craft, each artist is going to have a particular fondness for one product or another, but here are some sources for things to get you started.
Paints: If you're looking to order paints online instead of in person at your local hobby store, you can get them at GatorGames.com. Also check out the Games-Workshop.com for a mega paint kit, perfect for beginning painters.
Brushes: Some of the most popular brushes among the veteran painters I spoke with were the Winsor and Newton Series 7, though for a novice painter, they might be a little expensive. In the case of a new painter, get some cheap ones to practice with.
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How to Paint
I'll be the first to tell you, I have no experience painting miniatures, though, as I mentioned, I have painted some model cars in my day. Thought painting is not covered in the D&D miniatures book, downloads full of information are available. It is vital to have the right tools for the job. I reached out to a couple RPG communities for some information though, and there's a tremendous amount of information available, as well as some very helpful folks if you know where to look.
Enworld.org is a huge community of RPG gamers. There's so much information there, it's very easy to find yourself losing track of time reading. They have a very helpful "how to" guide on painting miniatures.