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RPG Tables
One of the most important pieces, and also most variable parts, of table top roleplaying is the table top. I've played at a wide variety of tables with different shapes, sizes, and forms. From no table at all, to a coffee table in a living room, to dining room tables, to fold up tables at a convention. I've played on round tables, square tables, even once played in a game that used a pool table for its surface.

I suppose it's inevitable that at some point we start looking for tables to suit the game rather than suiting the game to the table. There are a couple cases online of folks building their own tables here and here. There's even a company that sells a custom RPG table. I've put some thought into what I'd want if I built my own table. It changes frequently, but here are my current thoughts.

First, shape -- I'd want it to be semi-circular. I know, kind of strange. The idea is that the GM would sit in the center of the straight edge, while the players would sit around the curved edge. This has two advantages. First, each player is equidistant from the GM. No player should feel like he's stuck far off in the corner, out of sight of the GM. Second, the GM will have substantially more table edge than any player. The GM usually needs a bit more space than the players with all his paraphernalia.

I've never played on a table of this shape, but I have played at a rectangular table where I as GM took up on entire long end of the table and forced the players to sit at the opposite long end or on the short ends. This was pretty close to ideal for me, though the layout of the room and table in question made it a bit troublesome. I suspect the half circle shape will be perfect, so long as the room can contain it well.

Next, the surface. I like the surface to be pretty much flat, and there to not be too much bulk to the table. But I also want to maximize both space for players to have their various books and papers at hand while still having plenty of play space for battle mats and the like. So I'm going with a two layered approach. The top layer will be standard wood, either finished nicely or with some kind of felt or similar surfacing. On top of this at various points will be small supports at strategic points to hold up the second layer, hopefully small enough to be out of the way and give the general illusion of the top layer floating about 3-6' above the bottom. The top layer will be clear glass or plastic (probably plexiglas to keep the cost down).

This should give enough room to put a variety of things between the layers. Perhaps a large flat panel monitor in the center of the table for my digital battle mat. Or a simple riser to put maps upon that will hold them up close to the transparent layer. Something that can be swapped out would be ideal. For the players, there should be enough room to put a book underneath and be able to flip the pages without too much trouble. The idea is to be able to look through the top layer down to the bottom layer as needed, but still be able to stack things on top as necessary. This strikes me as the most adaptable system, giving players double their normal surface area. Plus, by it nature, the top layer will support wet and/or dry erase marker.

That's my plan. I'd probably have to experiment with the height between layers, and the total size of the table to get it right. The latter would probably be more heavily influenced by the size and shape of the room I have to deal with.

For now though, it's the dining room table for us.
April 20th, 2009 - 11:49 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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