Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tables (the physical kind)

As should be obvious to many longtime gamers, the table one uses to play can literally make or break a session. Too long and skinny, and no one has room for their sheets, notes, or miniatures (if they're used), not to mention drinks; too round, and the "space" of each participant gets squashed; too few chairs, and there's no room to put books, food, or other elements of the DM's toolkit.

The surface of the table is also a major factor; excessively soft wood is poorly suited for writing, as are tables with rough surfaces - the typical plastic fold-out table is a prime offender in the latter case. The stability and weight of the playing surface are also crucial, since a poorly timed lean might send the dungeon sliding to its demise on the linoleum. (Depending on how messy your players are, carpet may or may not be the best option for flooring.)

For a while, I thought about making a custom pool table like the one Cole had made in PvP. As nice as that would be (plus, it could be used as a pool table!) I realize that it's not economical at this point. My next idea originally came from the one and only John Eric Holmes, who wrote in his article "Confessions of a Dungeon Master" that he used a table covered in chalkboard paint, to spatially map out encounters. And my friend has a chalkboard table, so wouldn't that be perfect?

The only issue is that chalk creates dust - a lot of it. So, I'm thinking a whiteboard table would be the best option, since we could then use wet or dry erase markers on it; I might put some crosses to draw out squares, or even an offset "SquareHex" arrangement of crosses based on the one that Fitz made.

This is sort of a moot point at the moment, since I don't have the room yet; but once I move into an actual house with my partner, there'll certainly be a spot picked out for a table and chairs.


  1. I have zero experience with the types of games you will be using the table for, BUT - I agree having the right type of table (once you figure out what that is) will improve your experience. I liken it to having the right shoe for your sport of choice. You might not think it would make that much difference. You would be wrong. As for the dry erase, I love the idea but I wonder if it will smear too easily with the other items and players on the perimeter. Maybe if you draw a boundary in the middle for your mapping/playing and keep elbows and papers and such outside the margins.

    1. I did think of making only the center of the table writable, with a wood or plastic outside border; the downside of this is that it would require much more craftsmanship than I have either the tools or money for at this point. For now, I'm willing to stick with a foldable dry-erase mat on a well-proportioned normal table.

  2. This extendable table from Ikea works fairly well for a gaming table, if you can get it. It certainly better than the average fold-out table, though it costs more.


    Just a recommendation.

    1. That does look like a good table for my purposes. It also helps that it's uglier than a newborn mole, so I wouldn't feel too broken up about bolting or gluing things to it. :D
      Thanks for sharing the link!