“…tactical terrain for building utilizable dioramas”

Gabe:

The box of Dwarven Forge
stuff I ordered showed up yesterday, and when Kara saw it she told me
it looked like a dollhouse for boys. I laughed and explained that it
was actually tactical terrain for building utilizable dioramas.


This afternoon as I was placing the
tiny mugs of ale in the tavern I had built, my mind drifted back to her
words from yesterday. I shook my head to clear the thought. Come on,
this is clearly not a dollhouse. I chuckled softly to myself as I
placed the miniature basket of butter-horns on one of the wooden
tables. Dollhouses are for girls.

In my day we didn't have awesome sculpted terrain and hand-painted miniature figures! We had graph paper and our imagination, and we liked it!

Well, except for when we started playing Warhammer 40K, and we had shoeboxes filled with terrain, and foam-filled suitcases to carry our Chaos Marine armies.

…man, now I want to play D&D, and I want to paint minis.

37 thoughts on ““…tactical terrain for building utilizable dioramas””

  1. You should totally put a group together dude. I am running a local LA campaign right now, AND an online campaign for some friends back in Chicago.

  2. Yeah, Terrain took up so many boxes for Epic 40K. With all the buildings they gave you for the set… the painted cans to look like tanker drums, the two, no 3 high terrain made from styrofoam.
    That was great. It really helped that in college we had no furniture to get in the way.

  3. Well, you could start painting minis for your dnd game while mapping out the dungeon on graph paper using your imagination… or is that just too much?
    I could definitely see Mike (and Jerry too) explaining things this way. They should have a panel at PAX debating the differences.

  4. I feel your pain. A long time ago, I realized that I was in a position (and likely would be forever, being a freelance illustrator and comics artist) where I’d have to choose between roleplaying and painting miniatures – I didn’t have the free time and the disposable cash to do both. It’s a shame, because I really enjoyed painting them…but RPGs are my lifesblood.
    Therefore, it may come as no surprise that I’m in agreement with Alan’s papercraft appreciation. I love paper miniatures, like those made by Arion Games, Cumberland Games & Diversions, One Monk Miniatures, and so on.
    It doesn’t hurt that I can also draw my own in Photoshop and console myself for the time spent because I’m still working on artwork…

  5. I finally got some time last week while on vacation to paint minis. I’d try to steal away for an hour here or there to work on the PCs for a RPG I’m currently in (living in shame for 4 sessions with primed minis), every time I’d get bogged down with “scope creep” because when I dug out the minis I meant to be working on, I had an “Oh! Cool!” moment pawing through the ones that were on deck. Best wasted time I’ve had in months.

  6. …man, now I want to play D&D, and I want to paint minis.
    poor wil *shakes head* if you play d&d and paint mini’s you won’t have time to be a rock star and famous author/actor/man about town. on the other hand, if you ever get to the midwest, come to Champaign and we will run something just for you.

  7. This totally made me laugh. I’ve always been a big fan of imagination, and don’t understand the obsession with realistic video worlds, nor such “dioramas”. I only recently started reading your blog, but am loving it. My partner is running a GURPS game, where we’re exploring Mars, based loosely on the Kim Stanley Robinson trilogy. The first game, we had nanobot viruses to contend with. About a week later, I was watching my old TNG videos, and came across an episode where Wesley had a nano school experiment go awry, and I had to smile at the synchrony.

  8. Wow. Just checked out Dwarven Forge. Awesome. I wish I could buy it all. Also, in my opinion, it doesn’t look like a dollhouse for boys, it looks like a dollhouse for geeks. And a glorious one at that.
    Also, now I’m jonesing for another 4e game session. Austinites? Anyone?

  9. I’ve always liked pretty terrain, on the other hand I’ve had mixed experience using terrain and minis for rpg sessions. Sure they can help you keep track of things, but they can also become a distraction.
    I was also soured on it by one group which was basically like playing a crpg, only there were other people in the room. Roleplaying was pretty minimal.
    Admittedly I’ve played in games where they were just there as an aid, but even then I didn’t really feel like we needed them.
    Maybe I’m just bitter that I fail at making pretty things.

  10. This post brought back childhood memories of yelling at my cousin Joyce that my Lando Calrissian Action Figure was not, as she called it, a “Billy Dee Williams doll.”

  11. Really guys? ’cause I TOTALLY heard Wesley and Data, kinda in synch, in a way that Picard would have grimaced at the thought that he had either two Wesley’s or two Data’s with one of each being enough. And I saw Geordie shake his head in resigned amusement… I should probably “shut up” now.
    Oh and yeah… a diorama is a playhouse the same way the Death Star was. Sometimes I am embarrassed for my half of our speices. As in the case of my spelling. hrmph.

  12. Color me jealous of your mad drawing skills. I wish I had the artistic talent to create my own papercraft model artwork.

  13. My husband and I have a small fortune (and an entire wall of our garage) invested in Dwarven Forge. A couple weeks ago we got the latest Realm of the Ancients set which we’d pre-ordered a while ago. It really adds to the game, and it’s fun to play with, too!

  14. Those are awesome. I might just have to pick up a set now that my party is finally getting back together so they can die horribly in a sweet dungeon.

  15. It is now possible to get a color laser printer for about $200. Toner goes MUCH farther than ink does…
    A toner cartridge is still expensive (actually more so than an ink cartridge), but you get about 10 times as many pages from one, so it’s still a better deal.

  16. wow…. i want the maze terrain…
    of course I do fantasy, not 40k… and Dark Elves don’t usually hang out in city-type areas….
    but that’s such a picky point, don’t ya think! :)

  17. Ok I am a big fan of terrain, and we often just build our own for our mini games. I have a horrible habit of getting stuck painting that cool mini army cause I got to have it all. I have a Tanith army cause well, the Tanith rock. You wanna hear a room full of twenty some odd gamers playing 40k and hear the wife of a new guy say ‘Oh isnt that cute, your friends play with dollies too..’and the room goes silent with the grrr sound off in the corner….funny, so true post

  18. I always wanted to see a movement of modding packing materials. Every time I get a piece of gear, the styrofoam or compressed cardboard shipping bits from the box always reminds me of fantasy buildings or dungeon rooms. A little paint, railroad decoration stuff and elmer’s glue and you’d have a killer set for minis. Better than chucking them in a landfill, I guess.

  19. BTW, Wil, I hope you saw Gabe’s pic of the impromptu D&D session he did with the graph paper, Lego men, and iPhone dice app. My heart grew 10 sizes that day… While I appreciate the production values of the new tiles, minis, etc., Its the lo-fi, tin can and string games that makes my imagination the happiest.

  20. I have a feeling we’ll be ending up with some of that around our house in the near future. It’ll be difficult keeping it out of the 4 year old’s hands though…she already gets into our dice and minis! :)

  21. We have had a few visitors to our basement/gaming sanctuary lately that really do not know much about gaming. Everyone has been impressed with my husband’s painted minis and then ask, “what are they for??”. He tells them the minis are for a game (mostly Warhammer fantasy). If there are women around, I have been known to add that the guys get together, put out their figures, and have them fight. This usually gets a laugh- I do not think I have heard much grumbling… so far. :)
    p.s.: our D&D game is held at our house because of our collection of minis. None of us had played in years (if ever), so the Warhammer and Reaper ones will have to do! Of course we had to get new minis for our characters- painting them has been a great experience. :)

  22. Hmm. I just posted a comment that pointed readers to a number of sites where they could find pictures and how-to articles of terrain made from packing materials and any number of other things. I’m presuming that I must have added too many links, and it got blasted as spam.

  23. Wil, come to the Dark Side. I am currently painting up a Skaven army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I have a huge amount of stuff for Mordheim and Necromunda. If you like pre-paints, and I like these ones, then the AT43 figs are great. Plus, the SF behind the game is cool. That doesn’t even count the historical stuff. So if Dwarven Forge makes you happy then go crazy. If you need figs painted then there are some good painters available, including a couple here in Sacramento.

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