Alongside my love of RPG’s I am also an avid fan of tabletop wargaming, specifically, if not surprisingly, Warhammer. Games Workshop’s premier product is ubiquitous in the wargaming world and, regardless of what you think of the GeeDubs themselves, they do produce some lovely miniatures. One of the main draws of Warhammer for me was the opportunity to paint and convert my minis, the act of creation and personalization made everything so much more immersive and this was something I wanted to introduce my players to.
Since the guys have all recently decided to go out and buy a character mini, I took this to be a sign that they are starting to own their characters, I figured a group painting session was on the cards and took care to acquire the most important of supplies, no not paints or brushes…… doughnuts!
With my little jam filled minions on deck, my players arrived and, after a brief period of acclimatisation to this new aspect of the hobby, set about painting with gusto. I was very impressed with what they managed to produce. Bearing in mind the fact that this was their first ever mini painting session, their models are excellent. I know people in the wargaming world who have been painting for years and would kill to produce something on this level. And when I was clearing up afterwards (always the DM’s duty apparently) a few thoughts struck me, which I’d like to share with you.
- The Art of our Hobby is often Hidden – It’s important that you keep things secret from your players. They like plot twists, big reveals, new toys and kick-ass monsters, and you should give them what they want. But often these are prepared in isolation. I squirrel myself away from my players, terrified that they might catch a glimpse of something which might spoil the next session for them and as a consequence, a lot of the art and preparation that goes into a game goes unnoticed. You might spend a whole week crafting a scenario, painting minis, contracting props and terrain and practising your NPC voices, only for your encounter to run for a grand total of 3 turns or sidestepped altogether. But do you need to hide away from your players and craft away alone……well, no, and here’s why.
- The Craft is Part of the Fun – Most players aren’t stupid, they know there is stuff you can’t tell them and they, for the most part, don’t want to know. The like the surprise. But it damages your campaign very little to enlist them in them in making terrain, painting minis and constructing stuff that is not plot pivotal and the use of their crafting and artistic talents links them heavily to your game, it immerses them. I once recruited my girlfriend to help me paint 175 Warhammer fantasy zombies for a local tournament, it was a slog. But we got it done and the next day she surprised me by wanting to accompany me to see how “her” zombies did on the field*. And she does not care one iota about Warhammer, not a bloody jot. It was the outlay of effort and artistic talent that connected her to the game, and the same can work for your players.
*FYI, they did nothing, they bravely filled out my compulsory core choices while my Vampire Blender Lord on Zombie Dragon cheesed his way to victory after victory. If you’ve played Warhammer Fantasy (sniff, RIP, sniff) you’ll know what kind of person that makes me…..I am not proud.
- Communal Tasks are Bonding Exercises – Everyone had a blast this evening, there was a good atmosphere and bad junk food. Everyone left happy and looking forward to the next session. I mention this because, at some point, all gaming groups experience some form of tension. Tempers flare and arguments break out, it’s natural. If you’ve had a particularly bad tempered session it might be an idea to throw in some kind of crafting evening before the next session. The act of group creation could very well settle things down better than the stern pre-game lecture I normally deploy. Even if they are just building trees then at least when those trees hit the table next session they won’t be bickering, they’ll be thinking “Yeah, those are our fucking trees!”
These are just a few quick thoughts before I head off to bed, but there is plenty to discuss here. Would you be willing to share creation duties with you players? Do you think it would link them more firmly to the game? And most importantly…..do you even paint bro??
Some come along and join the convo on Twitter @1d4damage I have a friendly bet with my good friend Joe over at @RiktorBernan about who will reach 1000 followers first. The prize at stake is a Pathfinder dragon mini. If I win I will be giving my dragon away to one lucky follower, so if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours…….with a dragon