The miniature may seem like a simple place marker for games. Whether it is the Monopoly Boot or a Lego style miniature they all mean different things to different players. It is no different for Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games. The miniature can just be a place marker or it can be the player’s alter ego. It all depends on perspective.
For many, the miniature is a simple place marker to ensure that rules are followed and to visually see what happens. The miniature is painted simply with no real idea for clothing or special details. They are only there to represent the actions that take place in the game. Most times, I find, that this kind of person only really does this if miniatures are being used by the table. They are usually fine with not even using a miniature since there can be other place markers like tokens, skinny minis, drawings, or stickers.
There are those that use miniatures to track growth. I have a player at our table that has three miniature for our last campaign’s character. He had an original miniature that is very simple, then he added a city/casual version, and for his final form he has a bigger, more intricate miniature. These are ways to track the growth of your character during the game and can be super fun to see the unfolding of character progression. They are as placeholders for memories of how your character grew throughout the game and you can always look back through that journey.
DM only miniatures are a thing. Sometimes the Dungeons Master does want to control all aspects of gameplay. Mostly it’s done to make it easier on the players and ensure that everything is moved properly. Many of the DM’s that do this are the ones that paint the miniatures and make terrain themselves. As a miniature painter I know how protective we can be about our pieces. I always remind my husband to hold them by the base not the body to preserve the paint job. DM miniatures cover everything not just NPC’s but they also take care of buying and painting Character Player minis sometimes too.
Hyper-realism has made a huge stride in role playing games. From virtual reality games to miniatures, realistic representations in those worlds matter to a lot of players. There are those players and DM’s alike that need their miniatures and terrain to look as exact as possible. They will alter miniatures to fit their descriptions and make sure everything they have is on them. If the character has two swords and a dagger than that miniature must have two swords and a dagger. The paint will be perfectly matched to ensure that everything fits together. I will confess to being a bit like this. I make sure all my minis look as real as possible.
Miniatures don’t always seem important, more like additions to a greater game. Parts rather than the whole, but there is a microcosm of preferences for those miniatures that help many players find their strides in a game. They can help people get into the role playing or just add to the table’s atmosphere. Either way miniatures are super important and I had to write about it! Let me know what you think in the comments below. How do you use or not use miniatures at your table?