P is for Pumpkin-Head Guys on a Base

Today’s monster is special because it doesn’t exist. Or, rather, they don’t exist. They’re not in any rulebook, there’s no official mini for them, and as far as I know they aren’t even in a D&D video game. Because of this I can’t give you a second-paragraph description of the monster and how the designers intend it. Instead we go right into story time.

We like miniatures in our local gaming circle. We’re of the opinion that anything can be a miniature as long as it does the job a miniature does, which is to give a visual reference to everybody at the table. During our campaigns we’ve used action figures as giants, an upside-down glass as a Leever, a crab souvenir as a literal giant enemy crab, and an actual My Little Pony toy as the evil homebrew pony Sprinkle Gore. We especially like stealing miniatures from other games as long as they’re of an appropriate size, and at any given time I’m only a few inches away from springing for the Doom board game and convincing somebody to paint the miniatures so I can run some one-shots. We don’t care what an object’s origin is as long as we can use it.

At once point our FLGS owner liquidated the stock from some defunct miniatures games and essentially dropped several handfuls of weird miniatures in my lap. Some are very close to D&D, like the barbarian wielding a bone club, and some are not, like the screaming pillar made of worms or the most perfect mini for a Super Metroid space pirate you will ever see. Among this pile of strange was a set of the Knight of Autumn Gate minis from Dreamblade, large-sized people in dark armor with flaming swords and grinning pumpkin faces. I love Halloween and just about everything that goes with it, so I immediately set to finding a way to use them.

Boy did I. Those pumpkin-head minis have found their way into just about every campaign I’ve run since. Sometimes they’re just an ogre with a flaming sword, but more often they’re actual pumpkins of some variety. The first time was in the Tower Campaign where each floor of the tower was its own demiplane and the whole thing was curated by a set of, essentially, DMs. We often have an abbreviated player roster during summer months in a college town, and I decided to run a gaiden, a side story concurrent with but separate from the proper plot. In it, the pumpkins were rejected creatures from a Halloween-based floor who wanted to get back at the players who no longer had to fight them. The party fought their way through six of them (well, they fought five and befriended a sixth, because my players consider any plan of mine a challenge to them and they knew forcing me to use the same miniature for both an ally and an enemy at once would cause me physical distress) before making it to the arc villain, which meant I got more leverage out of that mini than I have from most.

Most recently they acted as guards in a prison made of glass and agate. I found a good picture of a tower with a strong Halloween motif, and when I showed it to the players, this exchange occurred:

Me: When you come over the hill, you see this.
Player 1: Neat.
Player 2: But it’s not even Halloween.
Player 3: Why is this a pumpkin tower if it’s not Halloween?
Me: Because I wanted to use the pumpkin minis.
Player 3: Yeah that’s fair.

The lesson here is the same as with the kruthik but stronger (take a much larger sip from that same beverage, which I assume you’ve kept handy for a week). Just as reskinning a creature but keeping the stats works, it works to keep just the look and change all the stats. Heck, that’s basically the entire design philosophy behind our Saturday campaign.

I will admit I’m not the first person to have this idea. Almost ten years ago to the day, Wizards posted an article about adapting Dreamblade minis to D&D, including a picture of the exact miniature I have. It should be noted that the article was published about eight months after Dreamblade came out and about six months before Wizards shut the line down, so I have to assume their motives were not entirely creative.

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