I recently decided to run a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign as the Dungeon Master (DM). I had been going back and forth on deciding if I was going to do this for well over a year. Running these things is a massive commitment, yet exciting. Shows like Critical Role helped get me excited to role play again.
At one time, I had crazy amounts of dwarfs, humans, goblins, monsters, and other fantasy creatures. That’s just inevitable when you are an avid Warhammer collector. However, when Warhammer Fantasy Battles came to an end, I came to realize that there was less and less of an opportunity to use them. Because of this, I sold most of my massive collection off.
This meant that I needed to expand my miniatures collection as a Dungeon Master. With a couple of months before the first session I dug out my Reaper Bones Kickstarter models and started through the game store in search of models I did not have and would need.
Kobolds, Goblins and Beasts
One of the things you will most certainly need as a DM is a small collection of kobolds, goblins, orcs, gnolls, general creatures, and other miscellaneous beasts. These are great opponents for lower level characters. Starting a first level D&D campaign, if there is an area you should focus on early in the campaign, it is low level creatures. Of course, I would rather paint dragons, heroes, and other epic fantasy creatures, but these are a necessity.
Since one of the two first adventures I was planning to run the player characters (PCs) on was going to need goblins and polar bears, I figured that was a great place to start the painting. Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures from Wizkids has a great line up of unpainted goblins, wolves, and polar bears. After picking some up, I painted them all pretty quickly. The goal was just a tabletop paint job, nothing amazing here.
I also needed humanoids to represent a merchant caravan, made up of more bandits than actual merchants. This would help set me up to be ready as I was giving the players a decision as to which adventure they wanted to start off on. They would still be able to do this adventure later if they choose. This merchant caravan was going to be led by a hill dwarf and have a possessed human who has an affinity for the cold. Beyond that, I needed more rogue like characters to make up the company of Torgs.
D&D Adventurers and Collection Growth
I had backed Reaper Miniatures Bones II Kickstarter quite some time ago, so this gave me a pile of humanoid adventurer figures that I could use for bandits, rogues, wizards, and more. I did want to have a few extra bandits, so I picked up the Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures female rogues. This provides me some real flexibility with the types of models and characters that I use to fill out a random encounter or several of the keyed encounters that are part of the adventure.
When I think of cold, northern climates and winter predators there is nothing more fierce then a pack of wolves. So I definitely needed to make sure my wolf pack was filled out. Adding to this I had a hag miniature from the Reaper Bones Kickstarter contents that looked cool. Since I am posting pictures of all of the painted models and have them on display in my game room, I wanted to paint up a variety of figures to keep the players off guard.
Bigger, Better, and Monstrous
There’s always a need for monsters that the heroes can take on. Also, I needed something a bit more exciting to paint up. Picking up the WizKids Pathfinder Adult White Dragon miniature was the perfect excuse. This model I painted using a combination of airbrush and hand brushing techniques. The initial coat of paint was a deeper blue shade that I then did several air brush layers of gradually lighter colors. The finished look is one that I am quite happy with.
While shopping at a Local Game Store (LGS), I was looking at the figures they have with the role playing products and found this Ice Troll. The model is from Reaper Miniatures. Blue is such a great color to work with for shading and highlighting. Working with this pretty basic color pallet I am really happy with how this model turned out.
I don’t know if you can have an adventure set in the cold north and not have a frost giant. I picked up this WizKids Pathfinder Frost Giant and went to work. I really like the sculpt and how menacing it is. Not my favorite paint job though. I think it’s the tone of the skin. It’s good enough for the D&D table and I know my players will be excited, and terrified, when they face it.
D&D Collector’s Series
There are plenty of models that Gale Force Nine did in special resin for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. I wanted to collect and paint up a number of these figures. Having a few of the higher quality sculpts from the official line of figures for this game would be special for everyone involved.
Auril, the goddess of winter and the frostmaiden, was one of the first ones I accquired. After all, it’s her humanoid owl form that graces the cover of the book! Her cool blues go well with the overall white and stone rocky bases that are included with the figures. Her three forms all look very impressive standing next to each other on the gaming shelf.
I have picked up a few more of these kits, but most of them come up later in the campaign, so I have not focused my time on painting them yet. I will say the resin material that is used for these figures is easy to work with and has good detail.
What figures do you find are really important for a new DM to have?
Do you have a source of inexpensive, high quality figures that you use for your D&D games? Reach out and let us know on our social media or shoot us an email.
While you are at it, check out Conesy’s DM thoughts about getting started with Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.
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