Friday, December 11, 2009

paper sci-fi

Chock full o' crazy awesome.Does everyone here read Something Awful's ongoing series WTF, D&D!? I think it's a hoot. The recent two-parter covering the original Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader was a stroll down memory lane. The parallels between 1987's Rogue Trader and OD&D are pretty strong, at least in that they were incomplete crazy-ass funfests. As a kid I could only afford figures for one miniatures game and BattleTech got to me first, so for years 40K remained my favorite minis game that I didn't play. I don't like the regimented, competitive orientation of modern 40K, but I still like the crazy energy and over-the-top violence of the original book. And some days I really want to run some of the crazy ass plots found in the random scenario generator section. From the Something Awful piece:

That's just three of dozens of equally dubious scenarios. Note that this section of the book would work just dandy for an Encounter Critical campaign.

The thing is, as much as I like W40K:RT I'm probably never going to ever amass a bunch of lead or plastic minis for it. I just don't have the money or the patience to get any good at painting the wee buggers. So if I ever wanted to put together some crazy sci-fi battles paper figures look like the way to go. Here are some of the best options I've found so far.

Sparks - S. John Ross's idea of formatting miniatures as a font was a frickin' stroke of genius. Putting together a slew of them is as easy as typing on your keyboard and scaling them is easy as pie. And the artwork is topnotch. The Watch the Skies! set is a good starting place for sci-fi shenanigans, but lots of other stuff from other sets could be used as well. Do yourself a favor and click through just to read the amusing ad copy describing each figure. Ross basically hides a mini-campaign in the flavor text of each set.

Fonts by Greywolf
- Swipes Ross's idea for paper minis and makes 'em for free. Two sets of sci-fi characters.

Crow's Stuff - Free color minis for Traveller, Star Trek, Stargate and Dr. Who. Am I the only one contemplating Hivers versus Cybermen, using 40K rules?

One Monk - Lots of gorgeous full color minis, mostly sold thru RPGNow at 3 dollars a set.The "Future Battle" and "Mutants and Death Ray Guns" lines look perfect for Rogue Trader throwdowns. These figures are more complicated to put together and look like they require a lot of trimming with an exacto knife to get them done up properly. But when finished they'd look better than many half-painted half-ass metal & plastic 40K armies I've seen.

MicroTactix - I tend to think of these folks as the makers of great paper scenery, but their Cheap Folks line of figures look pretty neat and some of their alien armies look like a lot of fun. The Squarn are just awesome.

Precis Intermedia's Disposable Heroes - I like the clean look of these figures and Precis Intermedia offers a "customizable download" option for a premium. Need 20 space marine figure individually numbered? They can hook you up!

Patrick's Cardboard Warriors
- Thank goodness the Internet Wayback machine saved this page! You should all go grab copies of Patrick's fun little guys right now.

Slick's Miniatures - Slick only offers a few items, but his N.C.C. Troopers would make pretty decent Imperial Army dudes. Which is my favorite faction from the original game. They're basically poor pathetic sons of bitches who have been drafted into sci-fi fucking Viet Nam.

Stuff to Beat Up 1: Tech Terrors - Horrible things to kill those Imperial Army conscripts.

Arion Games - This outfit is using poser-type graphics for its figures. I don't normally dig on that, but I must admit that their little bug aliens are pretty cool. I'd love to see some Space Marines blow the crap out of them. They also got several sets of other aliens, including sci-fi civilians and a set of outer space villains.


  1. I've been using Crow's stuff for years now. Thanks to Photoshop and my own artistic skills I've managed to use his Star Trek mini-maker to generate hundreds of paper minatures including Starfleet Officers from other alien species and even Romulans.

  2. WTF, D&D?!?!? is so good I don't even try to be funny about D&D on my blog anymore. Those two have it covered.

  3. Junior General has lots of paper minis useful in RPGs:

    I've also used the Magic Realm font to make stand-up counters: (bottom of the page)

  4. I'll trade you 40k minis for old modules and stuff....

  5. Re Patrick's Cardboard Figures; this page still exists, at

  6. Ha, I'm just about to start a campaign for the new Rogue Trader, but GW don't do miniatures for it. I was just looking around this morning to see if there were alternatives, and thought I'd take a break to check my favourite blogs, and what are the chances? Thanks Jeff!

  7. Re Patrick's Cardboard Figures; this page still exists, at

    Huh. I wonder what I was doing wrong in my search for them.

  8. I just discovered WTF, D&D?!?!? yesterday as I was working on an upcoming blog post about some Rifts books I bought to steal ideas from for my Mutant Future campaign. They did a review of Rifts that had me laughing out loud in front of the laptop and my bemused girlfriend.

  9. This post on another blog has a similar subject:

  10. Anonymous8:39 PM

    Ah, Kelvin Green, GW used to make miniatures for the first Rogue Trader, I think when they weren't sure which way to take the premise. Sadly, they made 4E D&D and called it Warhammer 40K very much ahead of their time.

    Alas, GW WAS a great company, back when they didn't take themselves too seriously.

  11. *sigh* I'd love to find a PDF of that old scenario table, but with the release of the new fully-RPG Rogue Trader and later Warhammer 40,000 scenarios being more tournament friendly (and much lamer), my google search abilities are failing me. I can't think of any good keywords to differentiate from mid-late 80s RT/40K and late oughts RT/40K.

  12. Ancientvaults, I'm well aware (and a big fan) of the original RT line, but those figures are difficult to find, and expensive to buy if found!

  13. I love Rogue Trader; I think I bought it at age 13 or so, never got tired of reading it. I still remember the feeling of awe I had reading it back then.