Sunday, October 11, 2009

The ideal RPG table shape. and a short rant about crappy journalism.

Sunday mornings, I like to get my giant, steaming cup of coffee, a note book to jot down any stray thoughts on gaming, make myself comfy on the couch with the dog at my feet, and yell at the TV.
I switch back and forth on the various talk/news shows, or what passes for news nowadays, and Meet the Press is second only to that smarmy gnome Stephanopoloulos for raising my ire.
If the media would like to know how they can stop losing ground to internet blogs and radio shows, my suggestion would be to do real journalism.
In the eighth grade, Mrs Black taught me that a story was, who, what, when, why, and how.
Not lies, spin, innuendo, revisionism, and disingenuousness. Contemporary TV news is a parade of nit-wits asking stupid questions about the wrong stories of mendacious, self-serving government stooges and snake oil selling experts.
I play a game of predicting just how the anchor intends to slant the presentation of the story to serve his views, or the views he has been given to represent by his corporate masters and The Party.
Meet the press has always been easily predictable in this regard, both with Russert, and the new guy, what'shisname. I don't even bother with FOX news. When they lie, it's too obvious, no challenge.
The lefty news is much better at candy coating their bull so that people will swallow it. It does seem that they've become more open and less artful about it since the democrat wing of The Party got the upper hand.

They do, however, have a very nice table.

I've seen lots of ultimate game table designs and projects on line, but this is more about the shape of the top. I don't really need lots of bells and whistles on a game table. We have a simple style of play. Electronics and message tubes and sunken mats are just too much gimmickry for us. I don't think that I'd have cupholders or anything like that in the table itself.

Maybe in the chairs. I don't like food or drinks on the table during the game.

Role playing is a face to face endeavor, and I want the table to support and maximize that.
As you can see in the pics, it's a six sided design, like a superman emblem, but with the bottom point clipped off.
The interviewer sits at the top, or the head of the table, and the guests face him along the long sides. I think this would make an excellent arrangement for role playing gaming, since the outer players face the GM as well as the inner players do. Also, the GM can see everyone else clearly too.
Now, the Meet the Press table is wider at the interviewer's end and narrower at the guest's end than I would have it as a game table. It's built that way so the cameras have room to get unobstructed views of the guests faces while they spin and lie.

On a game table version, I'd make the table a bit longer and both wider at the end, and narrower at the head. Almost a classic coffin shape.
I don't know that I'd make it for more than 4-6 players, but that's my preferred size for a group. I have a hard time handling more than that in a game at the same time.

This is all, of course, concerning a gaming only table. If you don't have the room for a dedicated table just for the game, then I think a normal rectangle is fine.
I think the style of play you prefer makes the difference in deciding what your "ultimate game table" is going to be like. Lot's of gamers like the conversation pit type set up, couches around a coffee table, but I find that a bit too relaxed. When I've played that way, the game often turned into a gab session.

I know lots of you guys use laptops at the table now too, but the presence of electronics is a deal breaker for me. No real world technology in my fantasy world simulation thank you. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm saying this on a freaken blog on the internet, I don't have a problem with double standards. Good for talking about the game, not good for playing the game.

Materials make a big difference as well, the table would have to be solid wood, preferably a hardwood. And dark and scarred. I like things to look old and well used. Like a hundred year old pub table. I might put a leather insert in the middle of the surface.
Man made materials, fiberboard, linoleum, plywood, are also right out. Just like the electronics, they jar against my sense of immersion.

Here's the table from the other end, sans weasles. I'd like to know the actual measurments of the studio table to see just how much I'd have to tweek it for gaming.
I've also never gotton a look at the support system, so I don't know if it's a fixed pedestal, or a trestle set up of some sort.
Any table that has to deal with excited gamers beating on it needs to have strong support. And maybe a bolt-to-the-floor option to avoid those TPK table flips.


Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

Jeff Rients sold me on circle.

Everyone is facing and can see everyone else, not just the DM. Less of DM is dictator, listen to me and more we're playing a game together roleplay amongst yourselves while I finish figuring out what the hell I'm gonna do this session.

Unknown said...

I really, REALLY like this setup. And I agree about construction materials and immersion as well. At least that show is worth SOMEthing.

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, I like the circle too, Norman. Like I said, I think the shape of the table, or the lack of the table, depends on the groups prefered style of play. My guys won't do much roleplay amongst themselves if I don't nudge them. Except for fighting each other. And, while I don't do the DM/dictator thing, I do have to exercise the rod of authority occasionally to keep the game in motion.
A circle, or maybe a kidney bean shape would be good for a more egalitarian group of role players who inhabit their characters, I agree.
My group is more High Hack/my character is me, at the moment. Real life relationships and rivalries carry through into the game.

Thanks J, Glad you like it! I build furniture as a side business, and a game table is something I've been kicking around for a while.

I've been thinking about decoration on it, and I like the idea of a dungeon delving scene wrapped around the edge. I might try burning it in. Like those scenes of the adventuring party encountering different monsters in the random dungeon generation section of the 1E DMG by Sutherland.

Robert said...

My parents had one of those octagonal bumper pool tables with the removable top as the dining room table. Pretty much a circle. That probably worked better than any other table I’ve gamed at.

I think I’d like this a bit better.

Rusty said...

The seats in the back would work well for those whose character had met their demise.

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, dead soldier's chairs.

Joseph said...

"Smarmy gnome". Heh...