By Simon Powell
I don’t usually use miniatures in my games. It’s not that I don’t want miniatures in my games – I love them – it’s just the cost can sometimes be prohibitive to have these little plastic or metal models on the table. I’m not a huge fan of flat counters as these can be a little dull although they are easy to manage and get hold of, so what I’d ideally like is to have something that meets both types somewhere in the middle.
With the wonder that is the internet and colour printers DramaScape have given me the ability to do just that.
Not only have DramaScape created paper miniatures that are easy to print and make, they’ve also made floorplans. But these are floorplans with a slight difference…
First of all, let’s have a look at a selection of what’s on offer from DramaScape. Each product is a full colour PDF download that can be printed on paper and, if you like, be taped or glued to a cardboard backing. The floorplans are square, hex and VTT compatible.
The miniatures were a little fiddly as you’ve got to cut each one out. They fold four times and you’ve got a stand-up full-colour figure. It’s best to stick the paper to card, but I managed to fold normal copier paper and glue them to a simple square piece of cereal package cardboard and they were just fine. If you leave them like that they can be a little weak as the smallest gust, even from someone quickly moving past, can blow them over, so I also stuck a paperclip between the paper of the miniature and the cardboard to add a little extra weight. It made all the difference and after that I had no issues at all. There were a couple of duds thanks to my dodgy scissor skills and some glueing issues but that’s what’s great about these things; if you make any mistakes you just print them out again.
For the floorplans, I stuck my printouts to a large sheet of thick drawing paper and it worked just fine and it was handy as I could fold it away for easy storage. For the technically minded among you the print layouts are set to 1 inch (square or hex) = 3ft, and the VTT images are set to 100 ppi (1 inch = 3ft). I just printed them all out on A4, did a bit of trimming and went from there – I had no problems at all. It probably took me about fifteen minutes in total to print and stick.
There’s an added bonus in the floorplan PDFs – the 360 view. There’s a small image in the file and if you click on it you can have a 3D 360 view of the room as if you’re standing in the middle of it, and you can look up and down and zoom in and out. It’s excellent, and even though I never put it to use at my gaming table I’m sure that groups who utilise laptop and tablets at the gaming table will get some great use out of it.
The selection of PDFs I printed were:
Marines & Aliens: 48 paper miniatures of soldiers in various armours and with various weapons, and a selection of aliens for bug hunting. The detail is pretty good and you get the two faces of the figure front and back, but there’s not a lot of diversity on each page. In general it’s the same figure in different poses. That’s fine for a wargame but roleplayers may find it a little limiting, especially for a diverse group. To be honest, because the characters are on paper, my group took to drawing on the images to personalise the figures and we got some great results. Personalised armour, different weapons, even a mohican on one guy. There’s plenty of space to draw on and around the figure so you can write names on there to tell them apart if you have to. It’s great you can do that and it helps to individualise the characters. Of course, if you’re just playing a straightforward wargame then they’re perfect as they are.
Sci Fi Marines Quarters: Well, all those marines you just printed out are going to need somewhere to bunk, so here you go. The scale for all the maps is perfect for the miniatures, and you get the special 360 degree view, which is always cool.
Metro Station: This is a subway station, again with the 360 view.
The Protocursor: This one is excellent – full deckplans of a crashed starship, and you can use the plans for a normal vessel and the surrounding terrain as a normal terrain map. It’s got 360 views of the bridge and engine room. It’s great for a PC runabout.
The Tug: More starship deckplans, this time of a tugboat. You get the 360 view of the bridge of this one, too.
Med bay: This final one is a medical facility with a 360 view. I think between this and the Marines Quarters you could start to build a small base for your miniatures to live in.
Of course, I’ve only covered a part of what DramaScape do. There are plenty of other sci-fi and fantasy locations they cover and you can visit www.dramascape.net for their full catalogue, all of which you can purchase from DriveThruRPG.
This is an excellent set of really handy PDFs that will get a lot of use. If you’ve got a central location your players will be spending a lot of time at then I can recommend this. Even if they’re not going to be staying long the low prices of the PDFs make them very attractive. I found them great for what I needed them for; the crashed starship deckplans I now use for the ship my group is zipping about the galaxy in in their Star Wars game, but they’re just as good for Traveller or any other sci-fi game you can mention.
There’s more maps than miniatures so I’d like to see more of them, with more variety in the images, but I’m sure my players will get their pens out and modify them as they see fit. In that respect they’re better than proper miniatures because there’s no end to modifications you can make.