I can still remember the first figure I ever bought. It was a Ral Partha barbarian figure, purchased not long after I got my first D&D books. If I painted it, it was with terrible oil based airplane model paint, and it never played a big role in what I was doing as a player. But that was a long time ago, and now things have evolved.
At one time, when I was living in North Carolina I bought and painted a figure that I then worked to create in my game. It was an Arabian Knights type of swordsman, that I gave a blue tinted skin. And then I declared that he was a sea elf, and was working as a bard. That was the first time I really got into the idea of using a miniature as inspiration for making a character.
I got into actual table top war games after that. And I had a great time taking a figure and fitting him into my armies, and then creating stories behind my armies. Probably my best example of this was when I was playing in a Warhammer Fantasy battle campaign, and using the mercenary army rules as a background for a Middle Eastern style empire. I was having a great time with that, and the trash talk was a lot of fun, right up to 9/11, then it ceased to be fun. Soon after I began to lose interest, and then time to play table top war games.
Anyway I painted in fits and starts after that. And played in various role playing games where miniatures were just not used. Not a big deal, it was just the style of the games, there was no real reason to illustrate the few battles we had.
And now I am back in the thick of it. When I started the Denver game I mad a point to go out and find a figure for my character, and then his animal companion. And I used some of my existing Warhammer figures for the boys in their game.
But when I was talking about the new game I came up with an idea. I would let the boys pick a figure from the store that fit their idea for their character, then buy it and paint it for them. I did the first one with Jimmy this week. I like his choice, but he wants to paint it. which I will let him do.
But, interestingly I came across a figure for myself that better fits the way my Denver character has evolved. So that is what I will be painting for myself. With the goal of using him up there soon.
I think that for good, experienced players in less combat oriented games miniatures are not necessary. But, for me, and I think the boys, it will actually help them to have that figure to represent them. To help them visualize what there character is. I know it helps me, seeing that archer reminded me of what I was doing. And now the new snake man will fit the way my character has changed.
And the fact that I have access to Lizardmen and Skaven instead of Orcs, Goblins etc. will definitely affect my style of campaign. This new campaign will be ruled by those races as the ‘bad guys’ and adversary races, rather than the more traditional High Fantasy races.
As you can see, miniatures are linked to my role playing for the most part. And that is why they are one of my favorite tools. And help me in playing and running my games.