D&D Miniatures
Introduction to Design 06
Unique Miniatures
by Matt Sernett

We're Smarter Now -- Honest!

As I write this article, we have folks in R&D thinking about miniatures sets that won't show up until 2007 and 2008. Why is that important? Well, this article and others in the column might present design philosophies to which the current set and past sets do not adhere. Also, any feedback you give us and the lessons we learn with the current set might not show up until a few sets down the road.

Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't take us to task for things you don't like or not praise things you enjoy. That's how we learn in the first place!

We've received a lot of great suggestions for miniatures, many of which we have in the works now for a future set. If you have an idea for a miniature you'd like to see, email it to us (dndcolumn@wizards.com). Although we can't reveal the content of future sets, I assure you that we consider every suggestion seriously and love to hear what kinds of miniatures would make your game more fun.

One of the most common requests for miniatures we get is for characters from the various D&D settings and novels. Of course, there are so many characters that we rarely see a request for the same one twice. When thinking about placing a named character in a set, we have to consider many different factors. This article describes the elements of that decision. After reading it, take a few minutes to participate in a little survey about the topic.

Named Characters and the Unique Ability

Miniatures made of named characters get the Unique ability. The Unique rule prevents you from putting more than one of that miniature in your warband. For the most part, we have the Unique rule because it seems odd that a warband would have three Elminsters in it. Yet on some occasions, we use the Unique rule to prevent you from having access to the rules of a particular miniature more than once (such as Snig, Worg Rider and his Minions ability for 42 points).

Thus far, all Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures sets have included at least one named miniature with the Unique ability. Harbinger included eight, but more recent sets include an average of four. The lower number of unique figures is due to a shift in design philosophy. We now avoid putting many named characters in a set or putting in lesser-known characters for several reasons:

  • Too many Unique miniatures might make a set less appealing to skirmish players because multiples of a Unique miniature aren't useful. Limiting the number of Unique miniatures in a set diminishes the likelihood of people getting multiples of the same Unique miniatures when they purchase boosters.

  • There are relatively few "famous names" that most D&D players know, and we feel the need to ration them so that we can use them over many sets. Fans of one setting or another know many characters in the settings of their choice, but few people know many from settings of which they aren't fans.

  • Lesser-known or unknown characters aren't a draw. Take Ulmo Lightbringer as an example. It was made up for Angelfire. Its inclusion in the set didn't make anyone more interested in D&D Miniatures, and it might have made a few people less excited about the set.

  • Non-character Unique miniatures, such as the Aspects of Nerull, are less useful in RPG play. It's easy to imagine the Elminster miniature standing in as a PC or an NPC the PCs might meet, but Nerull is too big to be a random evil druid or wizard, and the miniature's appearance doesn't match any monster.

  • Some people dislike named miniatures because they feel that each Unique miniature would have been better as an unnamed mini. Other people like them, so we try to strike a balance.

Your Unique Thoughts

I'd like to hear your thoughts about Unique miniatures. Our reasoning about unique miniatures could use a tune up, and your feedback will help. Email us at dndcolumn@wizards.com and tell us some or all of the following:

1. What are the top three named characters you'd like to see?

1
2
3

None

2. Should the Unique rule be applied to all named characters?

Yes
No

3. How many named characters would be too many in a set? Pick the number you think is the highest limit.

10
8
6
4
2
1

4. Do you use named, Unique miniatures in RPG play, and if so, how?

Yes, as that character only.
Yes, but I use them for other characters.
Yes, as both that character and as other characters.
No, I never use named minis such as Elminster for RPG play.

5. If we did aspects of deities that look like humanoids (such as the Aspect of Moradin), should they be Medium or Large-size figures?

Medium. I'd like them to be usable as RPG player characters.
Large. Aspects of deities should be large and in charge.

6. What are the top three aspects you'd like to see? (Enter "none" if you don't want aspects.)

1
2
3

None

7. Select the characters that you're familiar with.

Alias
Flint Fireforge
Tristan Kendrik
Erevis Cale
Raistlin
Jaheira
Imoen
Lord of Blades
Abdel Adrian
Lhesh Haruuc
Jarlaxle
Acererak
Manshoon
Fistandantilus
Shandril
Lady Vol
Halaster
Khelben Arunsun
Kaz
Kas
Fzoul Chembryl
Lady of Pain
Regis
Goldmoon
Arilyn Moonblade
Kyuss
Enter Your Own Famous Name


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