Boppin’ and Blog Hoppin’ Day Thirteen

Describe the first miniature(s) you used for D&D.

Like, I imagine, many gamers my age I started with HeroQuest. I was never much for being bound by available resources, though, so my multitude of goblins might be skeletons (though I had the expansion focused on the undead, so skellies weren’t usually in too short a supply). I also employed pennies, dimes, nickels, and anything else handy–a lot of those early game fights were horde-based, in particular because 2e didn’t use a CR system so bigger battles tended to involve accruing lots of minions and rank-and-file fellows to deplete party resources. Which I loved, and even though 4th introduced the actual minion concept I don’t feel that it was necessarily as effective as intended. Having the level numbers had a subtle restrictive influence on things.

My late grandfather (pre-late at the time) also collected the occasional pewter figure; primarily ones with wee crystals that you’d see in a gas station or on QVC. That meant I had a few wizards and–inexplicably–a minotaur to also play with. But mostly it was HeroQuest! As I got a bit older and more adventurous I started toying with modifying the HQ minis, which made for easily-distinguished characters for bosses and so forth. I never did much of it though, just a few goblins and orcs; it’s only been in recent months that I finally have the necessary combination of guts, time, and finances to really get into models.

The other major distinction of back-in-the-day-gaming was that we didn’t really use boards of any sort. Mostly we played on gridded paper, or just laid everything out on the carpet and estimated things. Fights tended to be far less tactical back then, but in a way that I brought into 4th by combining skill challenges with actual encounters. The party might face down 400 goblins, but have the opportunity to set up pit traps, spikes, and a variety of other measures that turned nickels into pennies as they whittled the attacking force down to something a bit more manageable. We also played faster and looser with crits and excess damage, a way of aping earlier editions giving fighters extra attacks when flanked by weaker enemies. A character with a longsword could thus easily sweep three goblins under with a single swing. At one memorable point one of the party dropped something in the neighborhood of 200 “snow elves” with a pair of thrown, returning magical artifact blades because his damage was simply ridiculous.

So yeah! My first minis were largely whatever was handy, but the big HQ made it all possible. And…holy shit I haven’t thought about this in years…Tower of the muthaWizardfu King! That game provided many of the pc figures, and was the source of a half-dozen earlier game-system attempts I built myself. Incredible stuff, and the sort of game I wish I’d had more people around willing to play as a kid.

Sometimes you turned into a skeleton! Sometimes a dragon! Sometimes an elllllllf.

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