In Which Sean Gives Up the Use of Miniatures

I've had a once-a-month-or so Pirates of the Spanish Main campaign going for a while and yesterday we had our fourth session.  The players are friends of mine from my college days a decade ago who -- with the exception of my wife Robin -- don't really have much RPG experience.  This didn't keep us from having one of the most rollicking good games I've had since the glory days of high school (where, admittedly, the only glory to be found was in gaming).

Oddly, I owe that good time to abandoning the use of miniatures.  I never used minis before taking up Savage Worlds a couple of years back, but I've used them in all of the group games I've run with various sets of gamers over the last couple of years.  I got to really enjoy them, but I realize now that they're pretty damned time-consuming.  It's amazing how many minutes you can waste counting out squares.

Because we didn't use minis, I was able to run a back-alley ambush, a brutal naval battle, a lopsided encounter with mermaids, tense negotiations with an Elder God and a fight with the damned crew of the "Jolly Roger," a fistfight, a pirate duel, the best swordfight I've had in a while, and a raid on a Jamaican plantation that involved stealthy commando work and a fight with a whip-wielding man in a nightgown.

Yeah, it was fun.

(All of this was greatly helped by George and Wendy's kind decision to drive David home so that he didn't have to catch an early bus -- thus allowing the game session to run long -- but not using miniatures let us do so much in the hours we normally would have had that nobody wanted to leave.)


  1. My group had always used minis, from D&D2 through 3.5 and into SW. When I ran a TAG Pulp adventure for a change of pace, we decided to lose the minis and go with narrative combat.

    That module was most fun I've had as a GM, and the players pulled out more tricks and unorthodox moves in those two sessions than they had in the previous year's gaming.

    Interesting discussion about this on gameplaywright recently...

    ...and the inimitable Robin Laws chimes in on this...

    1. Thanks for the links and the response. Yeah, those damned squares turn role-playing into board-gaming.

  2. ...and another good post


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