RPG (R)evolution: The Rise of the Miniature

After spending the better part of 10-15 years playing Role Playing Games, I’m noticing the growing trend in the use of miniatures in game. Actually, I currently don’t know a single RPG player that isn’t using miniatures in their game. I have been playing a game of Pathfinder for the last four years, and it is the first time I have used miniatures; rather than props, costumes or accents in game.

As I have a love affair for miniatures and having grown up with HeroQuest and a number of Games Workshop and other miniatures games, I loved the idea and thought it was quite novel.  I thought it was a good way to ease in the few players who had never played an RPG before.



I know in the past, we have driven people away or not made it easy for new players to get into RPGs. Unless you know what to expect, acting in front of people you hardly know isn’t easy. I know I remember my first time when a friend invited me to join his group. I was shocked. These people weren’t just a character on a sheet of paper, these guys were the character. They had voices, costumes and mannerisms for these characters. It was quite scary and intimidating as a first timer.

But now with the rise of miniatures, I’m noticing it is easier to entice new players into trying RPGs . I have also noticed RPGs have lost a lot of that role playing aspect which sets RPGs apart from just being another board game. There may still be some people out there that play it the way I remember it, but to be honest, I don’t know any.

The rise of miniatures in RPGs is a double edged sword. I love miniatures and the fact new players find it a lot easier to get into it, and if the DM/GM is a great story teller, you still get the amazing in-depth story and the miniatures make it easier for the players to visualise what is happening and where they are in relation to monsters or other in game events.  On the other hand, there is a lack of imagination, escapism and immersion in the story that only comes with that role playing element.

I know four years ago, when we started the pathfinder campaign, I found that the miniatures available were all very similar and it’s hard to find your character, unless you choose a very generic character and class. For example if you are going a dwarf fighter with a battle axe, or a barbarian with a great sword, or even an elf with a bow, you can find these miniatures easily. But if you decided you would prefer to play a gnome paladin or a dwarf elemental Shaman, these miniatures were a lot harder, if not impossible, to come by at that point in time.

But why has this (R)evolution happened?  Is it to help the new players easily transition into the game or do we now have more miniatures available or does it helps the story when characters have something tangible to play with, move and help them feel more like they are in a game.

It’s a mixture of all the above. I know in the past, sitting down and playing for hours on ends, sometimes not rolling dice or having to do anything for long periods of times, it was hard to keep your concentration and remain focused on the story. But moving miniatures on a map or having story acted out visual in front of you; this is more likely to keep you focused for longer.

However, the main reason for this evolution is availability. There has been a massive rise in companies producing miniatures. Previously it wasn’t as easy or affordable to purchase miniatures. But Pazio now produce their own miniatures for Pathfinder, Wizards of the Coast now produce their own miniatures for Dungeons & Dragons. Not to mention that these miniatures have been pre painted, so are a great starting point .


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There are also several other companies such as Reaper Miniature, Avatars of War, Impact! Miniature (these ones are so cute, very anime style RPG miniatures), Dark age and Scibor Miniatures. These companies all do unpainted and a little more intricate miniatures. As an avid painter (remember I said avid, not good), I prefer these, as I get to put my heart into the miniature and connect more with my character by taking the time to paint it.


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In my new pathfinder campaign, I’m playing a dwarf sea captain with a battle mace/hammer. Couldn’t find anything close to what I was after, until talking to a fellow RPG friend who mentioned a website, Hero Forge.


Gimrin Blackhood, my drunken dwarf sea Captain

Gimrin Blackhood, my drunken dwarf sea Captain


Hero Forge was originally a Kickstarter and she mentioned they do custom RPG character miniatures. I won’t lie, I didn’t know what to expect, but I know her well enough to know that if she is excited about this site, it’s definitely worth checking out. And man was she right. I will post a review on the miniatures and process involved in making and customising your piece once I receive the miniature. But man is this an amazing idea, and if the miniature is as good as it looks online, this website will change the RPG world for the better and is a must see for all RPG players.



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