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Creative Ideas When You Run Out of Miniatures

Written by katelynscarlett - Published on September 10, 2010

Creative Ideas When You Run Out of Miniatures

Creative Ideas When You Run Out of Miniatures

How to Get Cheap (and Delicious!) Minis

I’m sure this has happened to a DM some time or another. You’re drawing out your map, as sloppily quick or as precisely detailed as you need it to be, and you start populating it with hordes of enemies. As long as they are the right size category, you don’t care if you have an Elf Archer, an Ice Archon, and a Gnoll Marauder pretending to be Human Fighters. Then the unthinkable happens.

You run out of minis.

Creative DMs won’t let this hinder them in the least—you can use spare dice, counters, coins, or basically anything the fits within the grid. I distinctly remember using a plastic cup to simulate a Gargantuan-sized Fiendish Scorpion once.

But why not make slaughtering a band of baddies a treat?

Granted that you have sanitized your playing surface (or just don’t care), you can use food as minis! My group tried this in a Dark Heresy game involving the Inquisition and a lot of dying heretics; the players got to eat whatever they killed. In this case, we used goldfish crackers. I was playing a demolitions expert, so I ended up devouring handfuls of enemies at a time. While cutting down the amount of times people need to get up to get snacks, it also gives the players who shy from combat more incentive to jump in. Don’t let someone else hog all the goldfish!

Here are some recommended foodstuffs:

  • Goldfish Crackers. Teddy Grahams, Animal Crackers, etc. (These come in a variety of flavors/colors to differentiate between baddies!)
  • Japanese Rice Crackers (they come in different shapes)
  • Cookies (home made meringue cookies can be tailored to any size and generally don’t expand when cooked)
  • Cupcakes, muffins, etc. (for the bigger baddies)
  • Popcorn (Plain or some sort of non-sticky coating)
  • Marshmellows (Large or small work)
  • Hershey’s Kisses or Hugs (Exposed chocolate might melt, so these are great to keep things clean)
  • Skittles, M&Ms, Jelly Beans (anything with a candy coating works)
  • Dried fruit like banana chips or raisins (for you healthy types)
  • Shot glasses filled with some drink (to make combat a drinking game!)

Basically, anything that doesn’t leave a residue will work great! That means I do not recommend cheese puffs or funyuns. Chips generally don’t have a uniform shape or fit into one square. Using a cube of lime-flavored gelatin as a gelatinous cube, while messy, is hilarious.

But what if you use markers? Or those chips that stack under a mini to tell status effects? Well, I came up with a tasty solution that will work for the sweeter edible minis: decorating icing.

Seriously, just buy a pack of cake decorating icing, the kind that comes in small tubes and multiple colors. Use a tiny dot of icing to mark if there are status effects. If the effects end, just wipe off the icing with a cooking utensil or a napkin. Or if you have enough of the edible minis, swap it out with a clean one and eat the old one! This works great with cookies and graham crackers. Licking it outright is kind of disgusting and then the player that “wins” the treat has to deal with your cooties.

There is another upside to this edible minis thing. How much does a pack of miniatures cost? $20? A single orc might be $3 alone. AND that’s if you have a gaming store nearby or enough money for shipping. A carton of goldfish crackers with at least over a hundred crackers? $2.00 and you can find them virtually anywhere snacks are sold. Sweet deal.

If you’re kitchen savvy, you can whip out your “Kiss the DM” apron and start baking up your own batch of goodies, custom sized and delicious! Here’s a recipe for chocolate meringue cookies from Allrecipes.com, which can be colored, flavored, and custom-sized.

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla. Beat until the whites form soft peaks. Slowly add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form, and mixture becomes glossy. Fold in cocoa and chocolate chips.
  3. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls on to a greased cookie sheet. (I personally suggest using a pastry bag, omitting the chocolate chips, to get the size just right!) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

If you can think of other great edible mini ideas, leave a comment!

Katelyn Sweigart is a journalism student, writer, and gamer from not-so-sunny California. She’s been playing tabletop RPGs since 2007 but has been dreaming up stories about dragons since the toddler days.

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Written by katelynscarlett

Katelyn Sweigart is a journalism student, writer, and gamer from not-so-sunny California. She’s been playing tabletop RPGs since 2007 but has been dreaming up stories about dragons since the toddler days.

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12 Responses to “Creative Ideas When You Run Out of Miniatures”
  1. Reading this made me hungry. And made me sad I haven’t been reaping cookie rewards whenever I fireballed some biatches.

  2. OnlineDM says:

    This is so funny, because it’s how I accidentally got my start as a dungeon master. The full details are on my blog (July 10 entry), but my first DM experience was after a friend’s wedding when I had no supplies – no battle mat, no dice, no minis, just my laptop. We drew a grid on paper, used coins for PC tokens and used dried fruit (blueberries, pineapples, bananas) for enemies. Eating the bad guys you killed was a ton of fun, and it made for a memorable experience.

  3. ecgriffy says:

    i plan on using this at my next D&D session it should make for a fun night i will post on any ideas that we come up with. thanks for the article

  4. potatocubed says:

    I heard a similar story recently of a guy who used a glass of water to represent a Huge water elemental, and as the elemental took damage he’d drink some of the water.

    Probably best to avoid vodka elementals, though.

  5. Tiorn says:

    I could see using a glass of firewater as a fire elemental as well… and having to be careful with that. Mudslides for earth elementals? heh Or for non-alcohol options, spicy v-8 (fire) and chocolate yoohoo (earth).

  6. Katelynscarlett says:

    @Tiorn: Earth elemental would be chocolate pudding with crushed up oreos and gummy worms!

  7. potatocubed says:

    Possibly relevant to your interests: an edible model of Helm’s Deep.


  8. Katelynscarlett says:

    @potatocubed: The best thing in that is the lollipop catapults.

  9. TheWhite says:

    Heh… I’m in the process of writing an evil based campaign, I’m thinking that my players would probably enjoy eating the innocent citizens of a few towns

  10. Michael says:

    While not an edible option, I swung by the crafting area of a large department store and picked up a bag of those colored stones meant to put at the bottom of a flower vase. It was 3 dollars for a huge number of stones, which I’ve taken to sometime using for hordes of minions, difficult rocky terrain, or all kinds of things.

    Also in the crafting area, I snagged a bag of assorted color pipe cleaners which are great for bending into little rings and tossing over minis to represent conditions.

  11. Like the previous comment, I don’t use food, I just dig into my huge tub of LEGO minifigures. Then you can give them weapons and stuff, and they’re also humanoid, which adds to the realism more than goldfish crackers.

  12. Phaetallia says:

    I always use edible baddies. Last week, I used gummy bears and starburst. My players thought it was awesome because they were fighting hobgoblin worg riders, among other things. For the worg riders, I put a gummy bear on top of the starburst, they thought it was greatS

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