Imagine that feeling you get when your GM pulls out a couple dozen miniatures and a few trees, lays them on the table along with your characters. Now the fight can begin! I’m a great advocate for imagination-first, but sometimes you just gotta get your hands on some plastic/pewter/lead(if you have no small children around)!
And the reverse works as well!
When wargaming I find myself thinking, “Wow, I wish once this is over we could loot the corpses, share the wealth, jump into the characters’ stories, and of course deal with the geopolitical consequences and morality of bringing war to an innocent and unsuspecting swathe of land!” Well, mostly the looting and wealth sharing to be honest.
With all the thematic games brimming with character we’ve been regaled with over the past few years, this transition has to happen! That being said, here are (in no particular order) the top 5 miniature games that badly need a Role-Playing Game made for their respective universes.
From the depths of the brilliant British minds of Steve Blease and Rob Alderman we are graced with Hysterical Games’ world where our favourite fantasy races are clenched in an armed conflict for bragging rights and territorial domination. This is a universe which draws heavily upon WWI and WWII, but without all of the baggage those entail, Panzerfäuste joyfully brings traditional fantasy races to a timeline where they have seldom been seen before.
The miniatures (dwarves, orcs, gnomes, troglodytes, et. al.) representing the factions duking it out for supremacy are astounding. Amazing terrain is available, and with characters like Corporal Entwickler and his Night-Vision Frog, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting environment to live out your war-stories. I, for one, look forward to leading my Orc Highlander unit in a toe-to-toe battle with the Dwarven Alpenjager. Will we finally decide who gets control over the Gnomish pumpkin patch while they’re off training their snail calvary.
And if that hasn’t convinced you; they have Panzerbears. Giant. Armored. Turreted. Bears.
2) The Drowned Earth
Jumping into a dystopian far future, we’re met with a vibrant, plant-overgrown, giant-lizard-ruled world in which groups of intrepid adventurers lay it all on the line. These adventuring crews are in search of ancient artifacts that they will trade for fame, glory, and most importantly, the means to survive. This game includes: humanoid lizards, dvergs, Berengii (gorillas), humans, and more being developed in collaboration with the backers of the Kickstarter campaign.
Imagine a dverg holding a piece of tech in their hand, “You’ll never catch me now, haha!”, swinging off a vine down four stories, next to the ruined husk of a former glorious building. Proper main villain material right there!
The background which James Baldwin has designed for the continent of Ulaya (which means there are more continents to follow), the cinematic feel of the game, and the fan fiction available thus far only serve to reinforce the idea that TDE is a Role-Playing Game that hasn’t had its Players’ Handbook published yet.
And did we tell you it’s still on Kickstarter?
Frostgrave is a campaign skirmish game centered on evolving the two main characters in a player’s warband, i.e. the wizard and the apprentice. With a wide range of magic schools to choose from, all with varying play styles, it’s a shoe-in for Role-Playing conversion.
A rag-tag group of mercenaries led by a wizard and their protégé taking on the perils of a ruined town, long since destroyed, and which is now littered with treasure, magic, ghouls, monsters? And dealing with rival warbands? This stuff basically writes itself…
Published by Osprey Games, and based on the geek standard of utmost geekiness called a d20, several setting books already out, the Frostgrave RPG already (arguably) has available sourcebooks, and one could easily use the current content to run a campaign in Felstad.
4) Blood & Plunder
I could leave this description at “The Golden Age of Piracy” and people would flock to the opportunity to take on real-life pirates like Rivero de Pardal or Henry Morgan. All that, while making their way up the scurvy sea-dog ranks as pirates, members of the Spanish Militia, Buccaneers, or Natives with which the aforementioned had constant run-ins along their trade/plunder routes.
Firelock Games’ realistic, gritty, yet flamboyant universe stands head and shoulders above most. The game goes against the Hollywood grain of ghost ships and legends, and promotes real-life boarding, weapons, and personalities. Complete with sloops, frigates, rigging and sails, cannons, and everything else meant to put them together at almost a diorama-level scale of detail, Blood & Plunder has to be the most vivid rendition of 1700-1800s pirating life we’ve come into contact with in recent memory.
And boy, would we like to come into contact with the RPG next… Time to walk the plank and take the plunge on this one, Firelock!
Maybe come the Dutch faction Kickstarter campaign this June?
5) Burrows and Badgers
Oathsworn Miniatures blossomed onto the miniature scene with a successful Kickstarter a few years back and haven’t stopped since. Dwarves, humans, and everything in between, it’s when they hit anthropomorphic animal territory that they struck true gold. Unique without a doubt, Burrows & Badgers is what you would want to play if you’ve always dreamed a fantasy life of adventure for your Mouse Scribe, Wildcat Hustler, or Marmot Mercenary. And yes, the minis look just as amazing as those titles sound.
Taking a page out of Mouseguard, and subsequently rewriting the whole book, Burrows & Badgers offers us a tiny glance into critter-wars territory, a minute world of giant personalities, a compact setting with a grand soul behind it. I’ll stop just short of having to use ‘bijou’ to describe it all.
The RPG resulting from this could also be a great entry point for children in Role-Playing, especially since every last one of those minis looks so fluffily adorable!
Even my missus admits to grabbing a Mouse Maiden complete with basket of secret, deadly items to use against her foes, and cheese. Gotta stash the cheese.
As you can probably tell, I’m a sucker for uniqueness, twists on old formulas, and daring to be different. I feel like these are some of the most zesty examples you can find on the market today, short of buying a real-life tomato.
Do you know of any other miniature games out there that you feel would do well as an RPG setting? We’re more than happy for you to join us in delving deeper down this rabbit hole!
Writer, gamer, and - provided he’s got the time for it - loving husband, Costin does not rule out sacrifices to the Great Old Ones in order to get into the gaming industry. He’s been role-playing for the better part of 6 years, but has been a joker, gamer and storyteller for as long as he can remember.
His greatest pride is once improvising a 4-way argument between a grave digger, a dyslexic man, an adopted child and a sheep, all by himself. That moment is also the closest he’s ever come to giving himself a role-playing aneurysm... thus far.
He’s been dabbling in plenty of writing ventures lately, and you can find him hanging his words around the OhBe Wandering hangout page on Facebook
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.