A while back, I was involved in a thread discussing whether maps were good or bad for play, and I got a bit bitchy when some of the discussion turned to minis use. One of the other posters asked to, rather than being bitchy, write something positive about why I like dminis or tips for using them.
Fair play and a good suggestion, so here's my attempt at giving a couple of tips that I do think are positive.
Before you do anything else, beore you make characters, before you start figuring out the game's mechanics for postioning and movement, or whatever else is usually associated with minis use, go pick up a miniature that catches your eye and look at it.
You don't even have to own. Next time you're at the FLGS, take a wander over by the minis racks, scan around a bit, and pick a mini in the pack that catches your attention.
Pull it up close enough to make out some details, and then really look at it.
The first things you'll notice are the obvious things. It's this sort of character from that sort of setting.
Look at its gear and clothes, its expression, its pose.
Just drink in the visual, and then let your mind wander. it will remind you inevitably of something. A character from some other source material or maybe someone you've met. It will give you some sort of inspiration and mental references.
Got that? Great. Now just embroider on that mentally a bit. Think up a name, a personality trait, a job, just one or two things about the character that seem obvious to you from what you're getting visually and the mental connections you're making.
Don't get really in depth.
Now that you've got that down, do the same excersise again with another miniature. Or pick a multi mini pack. Whatever.
Do that with 3-5 different miniatures.I'm not talking long, like a few seconds for each one. Maybe a whole minute.
Maybe take those packs of minis and set them down side b y side and let your brain wander and connect the ideas you've already gotten earlier. How do all of these weird things fit their individual stories together?
Done? Okay, now go for the bonus round advanced step: Look around at the terrain your FLGS has available. if they're selling minis, chances are high they also have some kind of tables for minis wargaming and associated terrain toys.
Just mentally pick out a few items and imagine they form the setting that those chosen character minis you just did the excersise with inhabit. It's where the main action of a story with those mix of characters would take place.
Cool. I appreciate you playing along with me through this post, and I hope you actually do try that excersise next time you're at the FLGS. My recommendation is to avoid trying it with fantasy minis. Choose the Reaper company Chronoscope Line Rack instead. You'll likely get even weirder ( and possibly more interesting) ideas.
When I'm in a thread, and I'm talking about minis use being more than just for tactical positioning and the fiddliness of that sort of thing, the ideas you get from the method I've just written up here are what I'm trying to get at.
It's about using them as inspiration for starting off a story set up, the way you might use another sort of visual art, like a painting or illustration, except that ypu can continue to manipulate these physical bits of art, re-arranging them as desired, during play.
It's entirely agnostic in approach to the question of whether one will use them with very fiddly measurement and positioning in the traditon that comes down to us from miniatures wargaming, or use them more in a casual fashion in that regard and only make roll offs for clarification as one tends to in non-minis using approaches to gaming.
I will emphasize though that i do consider this Step One!
If you start with this method when, for example, creating a character, you will feel less disconnect than if you'd made a character first, imagined all sorts of things about them, then chosen a miniature after that. There is lways a bit of a disconnect between player and character when miniatures are involved, but that gap is vastly greater if you choose a mini after the fact.
Well, that's me blabbering enough. Thoughts? Comments? Questions?