Note: Some may argue that the correct plural of “Lego” is “Lego,” and not “Legos.” Feel free to continue arguing.
The Bricks After Ragnarok
In 2009, The Day After Ragnarok was announced, and I was very, very excited. I want to run a DAR campaign as soon as the book was available. (Sooner, even. I pestered Kenneth Hite for a preview, and he was gracious in offering us a peek of early chapters.) Savage Worlds uses miniatures by default, so what should we use? Pulp miniatures would be appropriate, and are out there, but I didn’t own any, and the outlay would be expensive. Plus, you have to paint minis if you want them to look good, and once they’re painted, they’re done. They don’t change to reflect your character changing. There are also a plethora of pulp-appropriate figure flats, a colorful and less expensive option, but flat tokens ain’t really my thang.
Legos are configurable, moderately posable, and come pre-painted! Once painted, a miniature represents the same character or recurring archetype. A Lego minifig, on the other hand, can become someone else entirely with a simple swap of heads and parts. Lego sets come in a variety of genres. There’s even a company called BrickArms that produces Lego-proportioned weapons, perfectly and compatible with Lego dimensions.
We acquired sets from the Indiana Jones line, since the accompanying minifigs look perfect for a pulp game, and my buddy Keenan also managed to score some sets from the similarly appropriate, sadly discontinued Lego Adventurers line. The Motorcycle Chase set supplied bikes. The Flying Wing set gave us the flying wing plane (which I flipped the engines around to turn into an RAF rocket plane) and a fuel truck that became part of the party’s convoy in the campaign, and later served as a flatbed with the tank removed. The Race for the Stolen Treasure set provided a cargo truck that became our 2.5-ton truck and a troop car that became our Jeep.
From BrickArms, (who no longer sells direct, but instead through resellers) I ordered one of their big modern packs, their era-appropriate “World at War” pack, and a pack of blades, and we were almost set. The Day After Ragnarok still needed its iconic monsters: the brood of Jormungandr’s blood, giant serpents. I commissioned my friend, the exceptionally talented Kelice Penney at Careful, It Bites, to sew me some plush snakes of appropriate scale. I was more than pleased with the result.
The campaign ended up being a lot of fun, and I was pleased with how well Legos functioned as RPG minis. I’ve kept them around and use them as minis for most of the convention games I run, and for the ones I play in for which the provided miniatures aren’t quite as accurate or as fun as using Legos.
Some Suggestions For Using Legos In Your Game
- Lego minifigs tend to fall over, especially when laden with props. Stick them on a thin 2×2 or 2×4 base for stability.
- Be creative with mix-and-matching. This Army Men on Patrol set from the Toy Story line of all places provided a handful of minifigs that, with a simple head swap, turned into great-looking soldier types. Plus, now I’ve got green heads for sticking on other minifigs to make orcs, mutants, or what-have-you.
- The other Legos in your sets can be adapted into props and furniture for the characters to interact with on the battlefield. Tables to flip over for cover, barrels to hide behind or target, altars to lay victims on, treasure chests to fight towards. The tank off the back of the fuel truck, with attached hose, became a prop for a character to interact with during the DAR con game, spraying snakes down with caustic fluids.
- Keep your parts organized. I move my gaming Legos around in a clear-sided parts separator, with separate compartments for minifigs, vehicles, headgear, accessories, tools, melee weapons, and my bags from BrickArms. I keep the BrickArms weapons in their original tiny bags, since they’re small enough to slip between the compartment walls and the closed lid.
- With Legos, a little prep goes a long way. I’ve wasted a lot of my players’ time making them wait for me to pick out minifigs, pick out their weapons, and snap them on bases. On the other hand, I’m a mostly improvisational GM, so that’s hard to avoid. But if you’ve prepared your encounters, take a few minutes to put the NPCs together. It’s way less work than painting up minis, and you’ll be able to keep up the tempo during your game.
- Don’t consider Legos cheaper than metal miniatures. They aren’t. They are, however, customizable and reusable, and potentially a greater value.
- If you’re running a con game, let the players put their own minifig together. It’s playing with Legos! Who doesn’t want to play with Legos?
- Try not to get too obsessed with making things perfect or perfectly representing the situation. They’re Legos! Have fun!
That’s it for now! Share your thoughts on using Legos as minis in the comments. Are there other customizable mini options that you’re fond of?