Hi, my name is Christoffer and I am an Internet addict.

Why I picked Lego for my tabletop RPG miniatures

2013-08-08 15:49

Updated 2013-08-09: If you are interested, there is a Reddit discussion about this blog entry, with a lot of viewer feedback. Very Cool. :-)

Since I have recently started digging into the world of tabletop role-playing games, in particularly in Pathfinder, I have also been curious (well, since its also very cool) about what options does a Game Master have concerning using miniatures for all the adventures.

The Pathfinder pawns

I know that Pathfinder offers a lot of pawns which can be bought (and some are even included in the Beginner Box). Those are really great. High quality and pretty cheap, and, wow, they are many. With the Pathfinder Bestiary boxes (there are multiple), you probably can find a pawn for any fantasy monster you can think of. However, with all that said, I just think they are just a bit plain and boring for my personal taste. When I put down a Black Dragon on the board, I really want the players to feel the might and power of a fire breathing dragon encounter. According to me, that does not simply happen when using these cardboard pawns.

Looking into real miniatures

The next thing I looked into was it was getting real miniature figures. All the bigger brands within tabletop RPGs have their own miniatures, even Pathfinder. I have to admit; pre-colored plastic or metal fantasy miniatures just look extremely cool!

However, what isn’t as cool is the price of these. They are very expensive toys. A 3 centimeter (around 1.2 inches) high miniature costs around 70 SEK (around 10 USD). The blue dragon costs around 200 SEK (around 30 USD). I can understand what makes people spend their money on getting these really cool miniatures, but unfortunately, I don’t want to invest that amount of money into my new hobby. Not now at least.

I know there are cheaper miniatures to find out there as well, such as Mega Miniatures USA. They are around a third cheaper and (in my opinion) so is the quality. But if you want eight skeletons in the encounter, that’s easily 300 to 600 SEK (45 to 90 USD) right there.

The biggest problem I find with buying real miniatures wasn't solely the price though. It is the price - and the lack of customization. Once you buy a miniature, it will always look like that. That green goblin will always look like that, no matter what adventure or encounter we are faced with, and that’s something I don’t really like. It would be cool if it was possible to not always have the same green goblin model for each encounter, or the same model for all eight goblins.

They said Lego

While seeking advice in the #D&D channel over at Freenode, concerning what options I had for getting miniatures for the encounters, I got the advice to investigate the possibility to use Lego.

I was a bit baffled. Lego? For tabletop RPGs? Hmmm.

Could really Lego be an option?

During my investigation, I actually agreed with them. It might sound a bit strange, but there are actually really a lot of Fantasy inspired Lego out there; including Lego Castle and brand-specific themes such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Heroica, Chima and Ninjago and many more.

To be honest, Lego is not that cheap either. Lego has never been cheap, but it is slightly cheaper than buying real miniatures. The huge benefit in investing into Lego is the customization. Since Lego is a construction toy it offers a crazy amount of customization by assembling and disassembling parts. I will show what I mean later down in the article.

My Lego purchase

As I mentioned, Lego isn't cheap either and since I am don't really care about buying mint unused Lego, I went to eBay. After searching and buying cheap used and unused mixed figures and weapons, I finally ended up with a decent collection of fantasy Lego figures and accessories.

It might not seem a lot but this is where the benefit of Lego plays in. Now my players can create a Lego representation of their character and customize it according to what looks, gear, and weapons the character currently has:

I actually have one box of Lego my players can choose from:

And another box with more Game Master related stuff, for example with skeletons, trolls and chests:

Only using Lego for the miniatures, not the environment

I know it is also possible to introduce Lego as the environment as well, but I avoided that. I like the old school feel of grid layout flip mats:

A word of advice - wash the Lego

And to end the article, remember if you purchase second hand Lego from eBay or from any other source; remember to wash the Lego. You have no idea where the Lego has been or in whose mouth ;)

Old comments from Disqus

Cesar Cappellozza, Friday, January 3, 2014 11:27 PM

That's precisely how I do it, but my game is All Flesh Must Be Eaten, survival horror genre.

Rob Bondoni, Friday, August 9, 2013 5:11 AM

This is a great idea! I was using my Heroclix but this is just as viable and more thematic.