Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Miniature wargaming, roleplaying and me

Sometimes the blogosphere is filled with people talking about this or that game is dependant on minis, and if the gaming tables of old featured minis or if everyone just had much more imagination back in the day. Yeah, I'm making fun of the discussions. One thing nobody could possibly have missed, though, is the phenomena called Warhammer. Even if you only play rpgs, you have probably seem how your local game store have been invaded by miniatures and splatbooks. When you talk about miniatures these days, you can't ignore Warhammer.

Back when I started with these funny games where you pretend to be an elf, you could find ads for the fun hobby of using cast and mold to make your own miniature soldiers. Since the one of my friends had a father who worked in printing, we happened to get hold of a bunch of "lead" of some kind, and did try to make some minis. They looked terrible.

A few years later Warhammer 40 000 arrived, and that same friend actually bought it, and played the first scenario in the book, using paper chits. It was a very strange game, which talked about the armies of the future, but had rules for minute details of your own characters. It felt like a weird rpg. Soon newer editions were published and we bought figures and played it a bit. Somewhow I still felt that the weird first edition hinted at something much cooler to be done with this setting.

What goes around, comes around. Right? Anyhow, I finally encountered historical miniature wargaming. My present "home" game club had an enormous stack of figures, since some members used painting of tin soldiers as a way to wind down from work, and gladly let us others play with them. That way I found out how fun it was to play ancient battles with 15 mm figures, with DBA. DBA is a very slim set of rules, but with very subtle effects. It's a little bit like the OD&D, in that serious exegesis can be needed to figure out all the implications of a rule. Almost a game in itself. I have an army of visigoths, which also can be used as franks. Quite fun.

Now, since the people at my game club are fond of their minis, almost any excuse in a rpg session to break out some minis is cause for celebration. Or at least a lengthy search in the boxes for "that figure" which will be just right to represent a PC. I used to hate that part.

So, now I'm back at the beginning. By my side as I type this is Warhammer 40 000 Rogue Trader, and I'm planning to use it as a setting for a roleplaying session. Not only that, I'm also going to be very much prepared for when my players break out the minis. Am I then returning to the roots of the hobby, with table top wargame miniatures turned into a rpg?

It's no wonder it took so long for any official rpg for the setting to arrive, and that they decided to write three games. It's very hard to capture the setting in just one game.I've decided to isolate my players on a hive world, just recently the target of a major invasion of the Empire of Man. Nothing should scream WH40k as much as a warzone, right? Now I'm just going to print out a bunch of character sheets and let the war begin.  

Bless your weapons and go! For the Emperor!
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