For OSRCon, I acquired a mini-whiteboard, and it worked really well during Con play for quickly drawing a room layout or diagramming a combat scenario.
But then I got back from Toronto and saw the above picture of James Maliszeski's Crystal Caste "combat mat" and then read this comment where he tells exactly where to buy it [and more recently, some other folks have jumped on the trend]. I got really inspired by this, for I realized that a flexible mat like that would be great for on-the-road DM'ing, and it even has gridlines and hexes on alternate sides to boot. So now, thirty bucks (with shipping) later, I have a flexible combat mat on its way to my house.
Oddly, at the time I ordered the mat, the revelation I share in the next paragraph literally did not occur to me at all. It was not until after I ordered the mat and reflected upon my consumerist victory that this related idea emerged and I realized (too late!) that I may have inadvertently taken a step toward creating a huge monster.
For the purchase of this combat mat inevitably leads me to the topic of miniatures, an aspect of our beloved hobby with which I have never directly engaged. Yes, you read that right, I have never owned nor painted a single miniature. I have gamed a small handful of times using them, but only when someone else brought them along. I don't dislike using them if they're on hand; I have just never felt the need to actively seek them out. I have an ambivalent relationship with fantasy miniatures.
But now I have that damn battle mat coming, and there's also this recent news about a line of miniatures being released specifically to complement Labyrinth Lord. I have to admit, that second set of soon-to-be-released minis shown here, the "Level Two Monsters" box, looks kind of badassed:
So should I invest in a few minis (for practical purposes if nothing else) since I have already thrown down for the combat mat? Or is this how a horrible obsession starts? It just seems like having a few minis to accompany the mat would make a smart combination of practical materials for quickly sorting out combat situations at Cons and the like, when (real-world) time is a factor.
I think the biggest down side to my collecting any minis at all is that I have no interest in painting them. Sitting around painting minis does not (at this juncture) strike me as much of a good time. But then again, once you buy them, have you not taken that critical first step toward the dark side?