Last time, I took you on a quick tour of the Download Central page at OneMonk.com, where we found more free cardstock minis than we could possibly download in a week. Today, we’re going to DriveThruRPG.com, the internet’s leading PDF game store, to amass another trove of legit free miniatures.
You’ll Need Adobe Reader
In case you missed my last blog post, let me get you up to speed. We’re going to be collecting printable cardstock miniatures in the form of PDF files, which you can legally print out as many times as you like. In order to do that, you’ll need a good PDF file reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is by far the most widely-used PDF reader today, and it’s probably already installed on your computer.
Off to the DriveThru!
Navigate to drivethrurpg.com in your favorite browser. DriveThruRPG is part of the One Bookshelf family of websites, which also includes DriveThruComics, DriveThruFiction, DriveThruCards, WargameVault, DMsGuild, and RPGNow. In fact, RPGNow and DriveThruRPG have the exact same content—the only difference is the logo and color scheme! In any case, if you already have an account with any of these sites, you can use that account to log into all of them. And if you don’t have an account, go ahead and sign up for one now. They won’t ask for a credit card unless you actually spend money, but you can’t download the miniatures we’re going to collect without an account.
Let the Pillaging Commence!
Go ahead and log into your DriveThruRPG account so we can start collecting. First I’ll show you how to search for free cardstock minis on the site, then I’ll point you towards a basketful of them that you won’t want to miss.
On the front page of DriveThruRPG, you’ll find a Browse menu in the left-hand sidebar. To home in on free miniatures by selecting Product Type, then Maps and Play Aids, and finally Paper Minis & Standups. The items on display will refresh, showing nothing but products that include printable miniatures. To get to the free ones, though, scroll down the Browse sidebar and under Price, select either Pay What You Want, or Free. If you select both PWYW and Free at the same time, the DriveThru search engine seems to only show PWYW titles, so we’ll have to search for each category separately.
Paying What We Want
We’ll start with Pay What You Want. Scroll down to the “Products found in this section…” panel to find the actual search results. The top two bars of products will show paid products, so we’ll ignore those. Several of the top results under Pay What You Want Paper Minis will be the sample sets from Kev’s Lounge, which are gorgeous figures. Pick out a few of his sampler sets and add them to your cart—Swords for Hire is a great one to start.
When you click Add to Cart, DTRPG will prompt you to enter a price to support the publisher. It’s fine to enter a zero here. Most publishers offer PWYW products as free samples, to introduce you to their lines. Of course, you can punch in any amount you want—DTRPG will often suggest an amount. Or you can log back into DTRPG later and “repurchase” the PWYW products that were valuable to you, and make a contribution then. I’ll post about the offers, opportunities, obligations, and ethics associated with PWYW products soon, but for now, help yourself and don’t feel bad about it. They want you to use and enjoy these products, so you’ll come back and buy the rest of their line with real money!
Feel free to scroll down and see what else is available. At the end of this post, I’ll give you a list of specific sets you should definitely pick up. For now, though, help yourself to the sets that appeal to you. A few 3D papercraft terrain sets will pop up in the list along with the minis; if you see one you like, scoop it up and save it for later.
The Land of the Free
Once you’ve looked through the PWYW offerings, go back to the Browse sidebar and reset your search criteria to Maps & Play Aids > Paper Minis & Standups > Free. (Free is found in the Price panel of the Browse sidebar, of course!) This will resort the paper mini offerings to show you only products that are offered for absolutely free, so you’ll see a lot of products that didn’t appear on the PWYW list.
At the top of the list, you’ll find several offerings from OkumArts, another top-tier paper-mini creator. Add everything of his that’s Free to your cart. It was actually David Okum’s free sets that introduced me to cardstock minis as a viable alternative to metal figures, so his little folks have a special place in my heart and on my table. You might find his Zombie Santa and the Elves of Doom figure set a little bit niche, but definitely pick up the Fae is Fowl set—the fairies in that set can be used without wings to represent spunky elf maidens! In particular, be sure to snag his Darkfast Classic Fantasy Set Zero: Basic Adventure. This set covers several archetypal FRP classes, including both male and female versions of each class, and by itself covers the needs of most PC adventuring parties.
Once you’ve grabbed all the OkumArts minis you can find on the Free list, browse the list for other artists and sets that you like. As long as they’re free, just click the Add to Cart icon, and they’re yours, forever! Congratulations!
The Gotta-Have-It List
Here’s a not-too-short but certainly not exhaustive list of free and PWYW miniature sets available on DTRPG. Use the links below to jump to them directly while you are logged into the website so you can pick them up easily. I’ve curated this list so that it includes only top-quality printable miniatures with full color artwork and complete and accurate front and back views. There are lots more figures out there, from lots more artists, but many of them are black-and-white-only, or have mirrored or silhouette back views (a topic for another post!). I don’t think that black-and-white minis, or figures without “real” back view artwork are worth the time and ink to print, so I won’t ask you to download them, either.
Here are my recommendations, sorted by creator or publisher.
One Monk Miniatures by Mayhem in Paper
Here are four free sets from our host at OneMonk.com, teasing his vast line of cardstock miniatures. The Mayhem in Paper collection is especially strong for fielding entire armies of cardstock minis for tabletop wargames such as Kings of War or One-Page Warhammer.
David Okum has dozens of sets of printable minis available, covering most of the popular gaming genres. Also, be sure to check out his rules-lite roleplaying systems, including the superhero game, Save the Day, and his dungeoncrawler, Darkfast Dungeons. Here are two must-have free samples from his range:
- Darkfast Classic Fantasy Set 0: Basic Adventurers
- Darkfast Classic Fantasy Bonus Set One: Fae is Fowl
Permes work includes the largest selection of historical cardstock minis I’m aware of, but they also offer an extensive fantasy selection as well. Here are free samples of both genres:
- Free Fantasy Set
- Ancient Warriors – Free Demo Set
- Free Demo Set 3 – Fantasy
- Free Demo Set 4 – Undead Pirate Queen
8Rad only has a few sets out, but they cram a ton of personality into an inch of cardstock. Here are four free sets you must have:
We met Kev of Kev’s Lounge/Papercraft Dungeon a few paragraphs back, but now let me point out a handful of his PWYW sets you should include in your growing collection of miniatures. There are, as you may have noticed, several more free Kev’s Lounge sets on DTRPG, but I’ve limited myself to a few favorites.
Aaron of Pigmi Games has a wide array of fantasy characters with a far-out, old school flavor. Here are a couple of free samples to get you started.
This sample set consists of a Conanesque barbarian and a big six-legged lizard. Filigree has only one for-pay Lemuria set out that I am aware of, consisting of a half-dozen weird beasts including this lizard, but this free set is a can’t-miss for the Conan figure alone.
CinderPig Paper Miniatures
CinderPig is another publisher with a very limited line, but these two sets are definitely worth having.
Reijav’s line focuses on largely fantasy miniatures, including such unique sets as Faun Archers and Ant Warriors, but their free sample is a set of historical figures, Greek Hoplites.
Brave Adventurers has several fun sets of fantasy minis available on DTRPG, but this freebie consists solely of a scary prehistoric sea beast, most likely a mosasaur.
Jabbro was an important creator of printable figures several years ago, but he’s been inactive recently. Still, he has several products available on DTRPG, and this set should give you some idea of what to expect.
Anitangel produced her miniatures in cooperation with Jabbro, and her line seems to be similarly sleeping. Even so, her figures that remain on DTRPG are worth including in your collection. Here are her two free sets.
Taking the Next Step
Well, by now you’ve probably collected a great many sets of free cardstock minis, and you’re probably itching to get printing. Several of the sets you downloaded included assembly instructions; the instructions in the OkumArts and Kev’s Lounge sets are especially good. In an upcoming post, I’ll give you my own tips on printing the best-quality cardstock miniatures you can.
Until then, keep printing, and keep playing!