The History of the Grand and Fantastic World
according to Oracle Artist
The fantastic World has seen many, many ages but all these ages were ages of darkness of which little, if anything, is known... until the Age of Seventies. For it is during that age that the Teleological Seer's Republic, TSR in common parlance, came to power. (Teleological: of or pertaining to Teleology, the doctrine of final causes; the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature - determined by the Republic as a willful act of chance, as that of purposefully rolling a die.) This first of the two great republics was headed by two far seeing wise men, men who could envision a grand world such as man had never seen before. These great men took it upon themselves to understand every aspect of Man and Beast and thus wrote the Laws of Rules which all intelligent and civilized men yearn to obey. Greatly were they successful and thus was born the modern World.
During this same period, many brave explorers of artistic skills set out to carve and sculpt the faces of the creatures of the World into life-like, albeit smaller, images. Amongst these many brave skilled, the greatest were Fig the most brave Halfling; Archive the curious and brave librarian; the dungeon dwelling historian Heritage and the goodly demon, Reaper, who fed off his soul; Sir Grenadier the Golden; the Workshop's Citadel; the great adventurer and hereo Ral Partha; and even the two republics (TSR and WOTC) themselves.
Upon the formation of the Teleological Seer's Republic, one of the first calls of duty was to see to it that all the mysterious and monstrous denizens of the world be correctly known. To fulfill this great duty, the Republic sought out the brave and artistic explorers to carve, out of lead and metal, the definitive faces of the World's creatures. Of greatest renown at the time was Fig the Halfling, known affectionately as Minifig by those who knew him. The bravery of Minifig was unheard of in any Halfling, even unheard of in any man or creature, for Minifig himself went into the bowels of the Abyss and Hell to record in his carvings fearful demons and devils, even the great and terrible Orcus. A great task was this, something no one before him had done, or even foolishly considered doing, however, his ventures to these terrible planes left him little time to carve the faces of closer denizens of the World and so his works are relatively few, though of great importance. At the close of the Age of Seventies the glory of Minifig became reduced in the face of many more perfect works being produced by equally brave, though more skilled explorer/artists.
Upon the dawning of the Age of Eighties the Teleological Seer's Republic came to its greatest glory after having advanced the Laws of Rules at the end of the Age of Seventies. This being the golden age of that first republic, a new face was desired to be put to the creatures of the world, most particularly due to growing public dissatisfaction with the renditions of Fig the Halfling. First interviewed was Heritage the historian who, dwelling in dungeons for many years carved vast faces of near perfection. Venturing even into the Hells and Abyss this grand historian even captured the face of Asmodeus - a feat not done since. Heritage, being a rare historian of precise truth and never one to embellish a story or choose the winning side, sculpted the most accurate representations of the denizens of the World. For some reason, though Heritage's interview was promising, the Republic chose instead Sir Grenadier the Golden. (Some would say that Sir Grenadier received this commission more for who he knew than for his artistic skills, but such are always the rumors in governmental decisions.) Though Sir Grenadier's bravery and honor were beyond question, his artistic ability was somewhat questionable and his carvings had a playful and childish nature, for which reason Sir Grenadier was sometimes, though not often, called Goofy Grenadier (though never to his face of course!). How far and to where Sir Grenadier traveled in his quest for faces to carve is not known, however, it appears that he did travel to far away places, places in which the denizens and people had little if any interaction with others of their kind for many of the faces carved by Sir Grenadier during this time have a curious similarity which causes one to think that the people he carved must have had a long history of inbreeding. Fortunately, Sir Grenadier's stint with the republic was relatively short, only two to three years. (Quitting the republic was perhaps the best thing to happen to Sir Grenadier's career for after that his artistic ability flourished and he skillfully carved vast amounts of faces of the benign and of monsters never seen before.)
As a result of tension experienced with commissioning explorer/artists, the Teleological Seer's Republic chose, upon the dismissal of Sir Grenadier, to instead carve their own faces. As is the norm with bureaucracy, things were done poorly and so the public had to suffer two years of poor workmanship in the faces of the people and monsters carved by TSR. Many monsters did not even appear as described in the Republic's Laws of Rules, confusing many students and adventurers, and leading to many deaths due to poor recognition of dangerous monsters.
The Teleological Seer's Republic's work being so bad, it obviously needed work and so the Republic took themselves to the Citadel's workshop where they had much improved images carved for them, though these images still bore the stamp of the Teleological Seer's Republic. The artisans of the Citadel, being quite skilled and experienced vastly improved upon the quality of previous sculptors. The Citadel, possessing vast records of many grand heroes, sculpted many heroes images as in the beginning, middle and end of their careers, portraying the growth of greatness in these legendary figures. What else was done in the Citadel no one knows, but it must have been wonderful for all the sculptures produced for the Republic during that time appear very, very happy. Too happy one could complain. Even monsters occasionally appeared happy - a happy owlbear? Though happy, the Citadel's artisans were somehow unable to fulfill the requirements of the Republic and so the Republic turned to the greatest artist/explorer after only 18 months of the Citadel's workshop.
Thus the Teleological Seer's Republic turned to the great adventurer Ral Partha, who during his lengthy career of destroying evil wherever it may dwell saw monsters of the sort that the Republic had never imagined. During this same time, the Republic was deepening their studies into the exact causes of the world and discovering more monsters which had never been heard of before upon which the 2nd rendition of the Laws or Rules were put forth upon the public, thus bringing the world into the Age of Nineties. The increase in the Republic's knowledge paired well with the vast experience of Ral Partha and so many, many new faces were carved, including vast amounts of creatures from the dark side and from the outer planes, which perhaps no explorer other than Ral Partha could have managed to view. Additionally, Ral Partha sculpted many faces of the heroes of legend which he must have known from his adventuring days. The public held Ral Partha's works in high regard and thus a 10 year relationship ensued between the Republic and Ral Partha. This relationship may have lasted longer, but Magic was gathering...
Before telling the tale of the ill (at least for Ral Partha!) magic which brought about the demise of Ral Partha, first must be told of a very unusual, though very important event that took place during the beginning of the Age of Nineties. The unconsecrated bones of the historian Heritage, who had died at an early age during the Age of Eighties, were stumbled upon by the demon Reaper. For a wise and noble soul such as Heritage to have his bones found by a demon, an ill fate indeed, but such are the twists of the world that the demon Reaper was, in fact, not evil. Reaper was a quirk of fate - a goodly demon, who finding no happiness on any of the planes of Hell escaped to the material plane where he hid himself away in dungeons, not far from the dungeon dwelling Heritage. Resurrecting the spirit of Heritage and imbibing it within his own soul, the demon Reaper took the essence of Heritage. Thus fulfilled, Reaper began sculpting the benign and evil to a level of perfection beyond most mortal artists. Reaper, though not affiliated with the Republic, managed to produce wonderful forms for those to turn to who were not happy with the choices offered by the Republic.
...and Magic was gathering. A wizard, one of no apparent consequence, but one very skilled in the art of cards, casting binding magic upon simple playing cards spread a web of power through all that touched his cards and through this gathered great magic and power to him. Settling on the coast and inviting other wizards of like mind to join him this group of now powerful wizards looked for opportunity to expand their realm. A seemingly daunting tale... but the power of these Wizards of the Coast was a benign power - a power that gained and flew only through the joy of others tapping into their imaginations and creativity.
It was not long before opportunity presented itself for the Teleological Seer's Republic was falling apart. Infighting and misgovernment had caused the Republic to fall into deficit and ruin - while the Wizards of the Coast had grown strong. Rescuing the Republic from ruin the Wizards held the Republic as a puppet for some short while until, ready to announce their power to the world, the Wizards of the Coast made their claim upon the governance of the world and thus was born the Second Great Republic, the republic of the Wizards of the Coast, commonly known as WOTC.
One of the first acts of this new and much more powerful Republic was the termination of its relationship with Ral Partha and from this blow Ral Partha never recovered and so the hull of Ral Partha's ship was breeched and it was not long before she sank unto the ruinous depths...And so the Wizards took it upon themselves to sculpt the faces of the world and this they did most excellently (even discovering for the first time a Dwarf without a beard!). First, they honored the old republic's twenty-fifth birthday with a silver medallion and a specially sculpted line of beautiful and true forms. Next they set it upon themselves to reinterpret the old Laws of Rules and thus the Third Edition of the Laws and Rules was put before the public. Along with these rules they also sculpted many forms to near perfection.
At this time the Wizards were becoming weary of working with metals and began considering a new material, a weak and light material made of the sticky residue left by rotting vegetation and dragon carcasses. These was a cheaper material and by turning to it the Wizards hoped to entice more of the public to market. During this consideration a great war began with seven powerful factions: Demonic Gnolls, Undead, Orcs, Elves, Drow, Dwarves and the Human kingdom of Thalos. In order to document this war the Wizards set out their artist, who garbed in Chainmail to protect him from stray arrows, sculpted from the front lines of battle. His talent was great and thus his sculptures wonderful, though he often had to stop in the middle of a figure to run for safety and thus many of his figures require assembling of arms, wings and even heads.
Upon the conclusion of the war, the Wizards turned to the new material of rotten dragon carcasses and reached to the far East to hire artists to color the forms they produced. The Eastern artists, being very skilled, industrious and having eyes talented to the skill of close up painting produced volumes of fabulous forms in quantities never seen before... and thus the World was fixed in the Age of 2000's - a new era, one without metal for the metal age, it would seem, has passed. Whether this new age will be one of greatness or despair, whether the people will come to love or hate the new republic and whether the republic will hold the Laws of Rules for the people or if they themselves will be usurped will be known only when this Age itself becomes history...
1977 Minifigs D&D: Minifigs becomes the first official D&D miniature producer in 1977. Interesting enough, all the date stamps I have seen on Minifigs D&D Miniatures are 74. Some of the later models, such as the demons, do not have date stamps and may have been produced in 1977 or 78.
1979-1982 Heritage Dungeon Dwellers: Heritage was lined up to produce the next official line of D&D miniatures but negotiations fell through. Heritage produced the line anyway, labeling the line Dungeon Dwellers. Many of the models are perfect renditions of the drawings from the first edition Monster Manual. The date stamp on most Dungeon Dwellers is 1980, though a few have earlier or later dates.
1980-1982 Grenadier: Grenadier was selected as the official supplier of Dungeons and Dragons miniatures after failing negotiations with Heritage. Grenadier's official AD&D line was labeled the Solid Gold Line and came in yellow/golden boxes and blisters. Date stamps on the models range from 1980-1982.
1983-1984 TSR: TSR, the originator of Dungeons and Dragons, produced miniatures under their own label for two years. There is an unsubstantiated rumor that these miniatures were produced for TSR by Ral Partha, though the do not bear any resemblance to the style of Ral Partha miniatures of the time. Date stamps on the models range from 1983-1984.
1985 Citadel: Citadel produced a much higher quality official D&D miniature for a short 18 months. Date stamps on all models I have seen are 1985.
1987-1997 Ral Partha: In late 1986 Ral Partha contracted to produce the official AD&D miniatures, though it seems production started in 1987 as 1987 is the earliest date stamp I have seen on these models. Though Ral Partha continued as the official supplier of AD&D miniatures through part of 1997, they stopped producing miniatures for TSR in 1996 as the date stamps on the last models were 1996.
1999-2001 WOTC: Wizards of the Coast began production of their own line of miniatures shortly after purchasing TSR. WOTC produced three distinct lines of D&D Miniatures: TSR 25th Anniversary miniatures with date codes of 1999; 3rd Edition Dungeon and Dragons Miniatures with date codes of 2000 and 2001; and the Chainmail line of D&D skirmish game miniatures also with date codes of 2000 and 2001.
Please see the page on each individual miniature producer for a less colorful version of their history than that found on the left.