If you’re like me, you don’t have time to paint miniatures, and even if you could find or make the time, they’d eventually look like you painted them with a hammer while recovering from having your head kicked off by 35 beers. Prepainted minis, cardboard chits, and slotted-base figures are godsends for people like me, who enjoy a visual artifact at the game table, but who can’t quite muster the skill to create them myself.
Here’s a great photo from Benoist Poire, showing the use of a piece of non-gaming “terrain” that creates a great effect. It’s a fish-tank accessory, but when placed on the gaming table, it’s a buried titan’s corpse, or the entrance to a fearsome temple, or the relic of an ancient culture of giants, a fetish left by a non-terrestrial society, or an idol crafted by slaves to honor one of the original race of vampiric blood-gods. Whatever it is, it’s begging to be explored.
I love coming across this sort of thing, the repurposing of something entirely ordinary that, when shifted in scale or perspective, becomes the foundation of a game session or even an entire campaign or chronicle. Look at this! An entire megadungeon could exist below it, or it may be the last shrine that still contains a complete translation of the Book of Nod in Aramaic. You don’t even have to use the thing at the table (Vampire doesn’t usually require miniatures…), you just have to have seen it in context. Marvelous! Makes me want to stop at Petsmart on the way home to see what other amazing artifacts line the aquarium aisle.