Before MMORPGs there were miniatures

My husband introduced me to role-playing games with miniatures.  Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was one of the more popular game systems, but there were/are a variety of others, including Champions, Savage Worlds, Deadlands, and Necromunda.  The Game Master sets up a story line, players create characters that will interact in this story, and you play it out by moving miniatures that represent your characters through replica buildings and landscapes.  Some games focus on strategy (such as Necromunda and Warhammer, and the historical recreation games); I prefer the ones that focus on individual role-playing.  There is always an element of chance — the Game Master presents you with a situation, you decide what you want to do, and chance decides when you move and what you succeed in doing.  Chance is introduced with the use of playing cards and dice.

These photos were made during a recent game with our friends.  I joined the group 18 years ago, but some of them were playing together long before that.  One friend in the group grew up watching her parents playing these games, and she is now quite good at playing her own character.  Other people have played with us over the years, coming and going as jobs and locations made it possible or impossible to play.   Various members of the group have been Game Masters at different times; my husband was Game Master for this one.  It takes creativity and quick-thinking to be a good Game Master, coming up with a game that allows latitude for players, and knowing how to guide a game without forcing the players to do what you want.  You also want to make the game a challenge without actually killing a player’s character (though some players don’t mind that).  After playing together for a while, everyone gets to know what another player may do (such as shoot first, ask questions later) or what will push a player’s buttons (“You just killed that little kid?!”).   Our games usually last 2-4 hours, though I know groups who have done day-long and/or night-long marathons.   When life was less complicated, our group used to play every week or every other week, and we had scenarios that lasted months —  Champions and Deadlands were two of our favorites.  [Champions was about superheros, and Deadlands was about magic and the Old West.]

My husband is very much into painting the characters and creating the towns or landscapes for the adventures.  He is good at it, though I have seen better (and worse!).  Figures are about one-inch high, so it takes careful painting to get the details.  The stuff created by people who work for miniatures companies and have time and money to pour into them are amazing.  For my husband this is a hobby.  The games have educational and psychological value.  People learn how to work together, how to compromise, how to lose, how to win gracefully, and a little about exploring what life might be like if they acted differently.   I enjoy the games, though mostly I enjoy getting together with these friends.  It is more real-time than the MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) like WoW and far more social.  And it means I get my house cleaned (sorta) before we host a game.     🙂


About judithornot

Lives in semi-rural Northern California, happily married, retired counselor, night person, knits, plays WoW.
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