As we discussed last Mini Monday, if you didn’t have miniatures, you needed at least something to represent the characters and monsters on the tabletop for Third Edition.

Back when Third Edition first came out, I just accepted this as fact. And from 2000 to 2008 or so I purchased hundreds of miniatures, and first the metallic miniatures, and then the pre-painted plastics with came out in late 2003.

But over the years my mind has changed on the use of miniatures in D&D.

I used to think: Painting miniatures and RPGs were part of the same hobby. I thought had time to do both.

Now I think: They’re two separate hobbies. When you’re painting miniatures you’re not actually playing a game. I need to manage my time wisely between the two hobbies.

I used to think: More miniatures was a good thing.

Now I think: The more miniatures you own, the more they end up owning you–especially if you don’t have time to paint them all.

I used to think: Using dice, chits, and counters to represent monsters and NPCs, was a cheap way of doing things.

Now I think: As least those dice, chits, and counters get used. I have miniatures that haven’t seen the tabletop in years.

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D&D “iconic” counters in action on a laminated battle mat.

I used to think: It was okay to find the perfect miniature for your character.

Now I think: Find whatever works. Searching and painting the perfect miniature to represent your character can be fun–but it can sting if your character dies.

I used to think: Using miniatures made for a better RPG game.

Now I think: I’d been influenced by marketing in the early days of Third Edition. Miniatures can actually detract from a game and can interfere with creativity.

Before Third Edition came along, I used miniatures in my games for two reasons: to help portray complicated encounters, and to determine party marching order.

But after Third Edition, I found myself using miniatures for the simplest encounters and wondering “why?” Do you really need to set up combat for 4 PCs and 4 orcs in a 20′ x 20′ room?

What had the game become?

As I collected more and more figures, I felt obligated to use them. I’d design adventures around them.

I used to think: this was okay.

Now I think: Why would I limit planning my adventures to the miniatures I own?

I think the answer lies, once again, in the powers of marketing in the early days of Third Edition. There’s also the question: do miniatures really inhibit creativity?

Both, however go beyond the context to this post. But the answer to the second question has something to do with Imagery and the Third Eye, but I’ve yet to adequately articulate it.

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A pile of counters from the old D&D Adventure Game introductory boxed set for 3rd Edition.