Roleplaying games: awesome. Lego: awesome. Roleplaying games + Lego: either double awesome or awesome squared… I think I skipped the maths class on combining awesomeness. Anyway, over the last couple of years, I’ve been using Lego more and more in my D&D and Star Wars Saga Edition games, with some startling and excellent results.
The first, and possibly most obvious way of using Lego in an RPG, is as miniatures to represent the player characters. This is great if you don’t have appropriate miniature (eg: if you only own Fantasy miniatures and are playing Sci Fi), or you enjoy customizing the look of your character without having to go through all that nonsense of cutting and gluing little bits of plastic and metal. And then painting. Yeah. If you’re anything like us, you’ll have a lot of unpainted miniatures.
Just about every gamer will have, at some point in a campaign, fought a cup, some dice, a plushy toy, or some other nonsensical object that is filling in for the dragon model you don’t have. While you can purchase the proper models, the variety of monsters that you will tend to use will mean that the shopping for, and paying for each model can become impractical and also expensive. It also requires a prescience that some do not have…
When starting out with using Lego as miniatures, there are the pre-fab monsters. For example, the standard minifigures work if you’re fighting humanoids (there are some great orcs and skeletons). If you’re playing Star Wars, then the obvious choice is the Lego Stormtroopers and Clonetroopers, which are also great. There are larger custom Lego monsters, like ogres and dragons which are available as well, with the new dragons being great for Gargantuan and Colossal dragons in D&D, and the old ones being about right for the Large or Huge ones.
As good as the pre-made sets are, the real power of Lego comes from building your own monsters from scratch. At a very simple level, we have found that standard Lego bricks very useful for quickly slotting together to make summoned monsters. They’re bright and colourful, and you can easily mark them with different blocks or colours to indicate what they are, the state they’re in, or any effects that apply.
If you’ve got some time to prepare in advance, you can get a lot fancier. How about a Fire Elemental, or a Colossal Animated Object, or a (very simple) Hydra? All considerably better than fighting an empty soft drink bottle.
As an Environment
As we started using Lego more and more, particularly in our Star Wars Saga Edition game, we started realising the potential for using Lego as terrain, and as a way to set the scene. It started fairly simply, using bricks to make crates and walls for cover, but quickly got more grandiose. Having the entire environment laid out immediately started making things interesting, and worked even better than a combat grid for making sure there was no ambiguity in what exactly was going on. The visualization of the scene helped the players to come up with some quite unusual ideas, although sometimes they involved bits of Lego “magically” appearing in the play area… (“no, the dragon is not there”). It was, however, a good start.
A quick chat after the initial game resulted in some more serious inspiration. Just like the monsters, the real power of Lego is making something truly awesome in advance. One of the players described the possibility of having movable terrain that could be interacted with, recalling in particular, the droid factory scene in Attack of the Clones. This has resulted in the player starting work on a huge train environment for our next session. As you can see from the picture below, you can immediately visualise the characters in the scene. Not only is there a lot of potential for me as a GM in setting up the scene, but also for the players in believing their characters are battling in it.
Using Lego in your roleplaying game might be something you’ve never considered. We have found that it works. Not only is it great fun to build the characters, monsters and sets, but it gives everyone an opportunity to participate in the construction of props for the game. So if you’ve got Lego lying around somewhere (or, if necessary, steal the Lego off your children), why not build something for your next game. If you do, send us a picture of it, we’d love to see what people come up with.
Some Lego sets that might help you get started from Amazon…