LEGO D&D – I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!
It’s no secret that official Dungeons & Dragons minis are quite expensive (as are its equivalents). That’s especially true if you want to build an army of goblins or cultists, or if you are looking for a very specific or rare figurine. I’m not saying that Icons of the Realms or Pathfinder Battles miniatures aren’t worthwhile–quite the opposite–but it may take some time and cost to source the ones you need.
Of course, there are many more expedient and cost-effective options available to cash-strapped Dungeon Masters (DMs) out there. These range from 2D or 3D paper minis that you can print out and use to bulk bags of zombies for an undead army. But if you’re anything like me, you might already have a substantial resource of minis at your disposal without even realizing it.
Ever since I was very young, LEGO has played a significant part in my life. From the early days when every weekend I would repeatedly force my older brother to build me a Tracy Island from Thunderbirds to my 30th birthday when my wife and friends clubbed together to buy me a LEGO Death Star, I have always been able to waste hour after hour building spaceships and castles and everything in between.
So, when I recently began DMing D&D games for a group of friends, it made absolute sense to incorporate my other favorite hobby. After all, it was a resource I had in plentiful supply.
Benefits of LEGO D&D
So, having used LEGO in my D&D games for a while, I can see that there are some serious benefits to this approach:
- It provides an added element of fun to character creation–you can really go to town in customizing your LEGO mini; there are literally thousands of options to choose from. And once you’ve started a campaign, you can modify it as you go along if your characters pick up a different outfit, some cool new weapons, or even magical items.
- You can create mass armies with ease–all you need is some similarly colored torsos or weapons and suddenly you have a whole army to battle against. This is one of the best things about a LEGO D&D approach. After all, how many times have you been prepping a game and realized you only have ONE hobgoblin mini to set up an ambush?
- Building giant foes and environments–this is where the fun comes in. As any LEGO fan will tell you, there is no limit to what you can build. So from Castle Naerytar in the Mere of Dead Men from Hoard of the Dragon Queen to Feathergale Spire from Princes of the Apocalypse, it’s all possible with a little imagination.
- It’s easy to merge with traditional D&D systems–most LEGO figures with a base fit onto a 1-inch grid. You can also alter your figure to fit the size of your character–just remove the legs to create a gnome!
Where do you start?
For me, LEGO D&D all started with an already large collection of bricks, but not everyone is so lucky. So if you just want some minis to move around a grid, the LEGO Minifigures series are a great place to start. You get lots of variety, there’s now nearly 20 series of them, and each series has some ideal D&D fantasy-based characters. These include the Gladiator from series 6, Medusa from series 10, Wizard from series 12, Elf Maiden from series 17, as well as all minis from the monster series. In fact, practically any minifigure from any other series will do.
But if you’ve got something more specific in mind, or you just don’t want to risk the randomness of buying a sealed pack. Firestartoys.com has an exceptional range of both official LEGO minfigures and custom parts from companies such as Brick Warriors, Brick Forge, and minifigures.com.
For putting together monsters, LEGO Legends of Chima has a great range to choose from, and most can be sourced relatively cheaply online. The crocodile tribe makes great lizardfolk or dragonborn minis, while the raven or eagle tribe are suitable for your aarakora or kenku characters.
Terrain and Sets
For terrain and bigger locations, any LEGO Castle sets are a great starting point. But in the end, I simply resorted to buying a whole load of grey wall pieces from eBay, as these were by far the most useful. But if all you really need is some props and scenery pieces, any LEGO set will probably do. But do be careful; it’s way too easy to get carried away, spending hours building elaborate sets that, if you’re unlucky, your players may never fully appreciate or explore.
What’s truly awesome about LEGO D&D is the customizability of it all. For instance, you could buy any of the LEGO Creator sets such as the 3 in 1 Dragon, Snake, and Scorpion, or the 3 in 1 Dinosaurs, and with a little ingenuity these can be modified to suit any encounter or any foe from the D&D Monster Manual, from a hydra to a basilisk or even Tiamat Queen of Dragons herself.
However, none of this is saying that you shouldn’t buy the official D&D miniatures. A well as my LEGO collection, I have a pretty decent assortment of official Icons of the Reams figures, and I do love assembling and painting miniatures too. But there’s no reason why these can’t all be used together to enhance your next Dungeons & Dragons campaign–or any other tabletop game, for that matter.
Finally, this is a great way to get kids excited about roleplaying games too. After all, what kid doesn’t enjoy playing with LEGO?
At 7 months old, my son is still too young to really consider this, but both my niece and nephew are LEGO obsessed and both are starting to show some interest in D&D too. So what better way is there to encourage them to engage in Dungeons & Dragons? After all, it’s a game that lets them be creative and imaginative and will help empower them in a way no other game can. And so by combining it with LEGO, something they already recognize as being one of the three greatest things in the world (the other two things are sandwiches and Pusheen), it suddenly becomes way more accessible!
If you want to see more LEGO D&D be sure to check out my twitter feed @simon_yule for regular updates from our on-going campaigns.