HIPS Deep in Miniature Gaming

Or: How to build a model citizen

Paul A. DeStefano
8 min readFeb 11, 2021


Something awesome this way comes

My job is story and lore. When you lift that hefty book of adventures for Oathsworn: Into The Deepwood (Shadowborne Games), a healthy chunk of the words crammed in there are from the same PC I’m writing this on.

The heart stopping miniatures of the game come from the absurdly talented digital paintbrush of Toby O’Hara. Since I’m a words guy and Toby’s a 3D artist, I’m going to step in and do some words for him.

The Cur. We’ll dissect his mini later on.

When I was writing tales and scenes for Oathsworn, I fell deeply in love with the dark and flawed swashbuckling anti-hero we call The Cur. The editors had to stop me from putting in too many moments where The Cur became some super ninja powerhouse of stealth that stole the show. I saw the artwork from Dongjun Lu (of WETA effects house) and that’s it. I was finished. Why the heck am I even writing stories with all of these other dudes when THAT’S our Cur?

I watched Toby at work in his virtual world, sculpting minis with a tablet (and a dog on his feet, but that’s a different story). I was transfixed.

I’ve worked for companies on miniature based games since 2004. But things have changed. Technologies and expectations are different. I was familiar with centrifuges of vulcanized rubber filled with molten pewter. I understood the process. Then came HIPS.

HIPS: High Impact PolyStyrene.

Personally, I take issue with the S in HIPS coming from the middle of a word, but I wasn’t around to object when someone designed the acronym.

Let’s go back a bit, back when miniatures gaming was a new thing. If we go back far enough, the things were made of lead. Yes, that lead, the poisonous kind. Back then, we painted and played with lead toys at our fingertips for hours. Until someone decided lead might be, you know, contact toxic, and just maybe that was a bad idea.

Lead was replaced with pewter, another fairly soft metal with an even lower melting point. Lead melts around 327C(621F), where pewter goes liquid at 170C(340F). That meant pewter models didn’t require…



Paul A. DeStefano

Author, Board Gamer/Designer. Paul D’s Tainted Dragon Inn on FB for geeky stuff. Represented by B Swanson The Purcell Agency. Riftsiders. www.PaulADestefano.com