So what is physically at your actual gaming table?

There’s another thread about what games have been metaphorically on your gaming table: what you’ve been playing recently, what you’re likely to play soon, etc.

But what about what’s literally on your gaming table? What is the actual physical space you play in like? How does that help or hinder your gameplay? What tips for organizing space have you learned over time? Gaming is an activity of real human beings, who exist in a physical space (maybe together, maybe not) and that context can have an impact on how well the game works.

Obviously, a lot of people’s gaming has moved online. But where do you sit while you’re playing online? What do you use for microphones and camera and lighting and other accoutrements to help facilitate the gameplay?

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Maybe we could call this thread something related to “gaming spaces”?

I moved this from Your Instruments to Just Chat. I’d like Your Instruments to have one instrument (whatever size, whatever scope) per thread. If any of the discussion here becomes more defined, we’ll split it there.

Just Chat is more appropriate for this kind of brainstorming. We’re figuring out if any of the stuff posted here is worthy of its own thread.

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For me, I’m a sucker for dice and I’m very precise about dice handling and the psychology it creates. I hate that I can’t do this when playing online.

When I play The Pool, I have three different colors of 6-sided dice, one for Pool dice, one for GM dice, and one for Trait dice. Usually red, green, and blue.

The GM dice I keep and hand out before conflicts. The players have 3-4 Trait dice each that they add to the roll themselves when they use Traits. The Pool dice are held by the players in a visible place, so everyone sees the level of everyone else’s pool, but the unused ones are in a big bowl in the middle of the table.

Whenever a player gets a pool die and rejects a Monologue of Victory, they physically have to take it from the cup—I don’t consider the choice made until they have done so. Whenever they lose Pool dice, I take the Pool dice that they bet on their failed roll, and put them back in the bowl.

I really like the visibility that this gives to Pool dice transactions. It helps visualize physically what’s happening with the system in play.

I demand this physical setup whether I am GMing or not, unless there’s a good reason not to.

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I like that a lot, Claudio. I also enjoy the physicality of dice.

I was doing the colour coded dice pools thing you’re describing on my own table when we played (yesterday, we got a game of the Pool going) even though it was online.

I’ve actually been surprised that there isn’t a really good ‘shared desktop’ dice roller where you can do this kind of stuff online.

Roll20 can kind of do it, but you have to roll the dice and chat and then slowly drag them over to the screen. We used to use Roll For Your Party (see link in posts below), which wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either, and would sometimes get buggy (especially if people use different levels of zoom). It was nice to be able to just create, drag around, and reroll dice in different colours, though. (It particularly made playing Sorcerer a snap! Much better than using physical dice at the table, in this case. Wow!)

There was someone at the Gauntlet who was building a good one for a while. I should try to find that and see what shape it’s in.

But most dice rollers of this type spend a lot of time on complex animations and 3d dice… when all we would need is something that allows us to do the stuff we do at the table on a shared desktop (like Claudio’s example of a bowl with dice in three colours). I don’t think that exists yet. (Except for maybe some super-elite VTT premium software, which is kind of overkill.)

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There is, it’s called Tabletop Simulator, but every player needs a $10 license.

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Right. I had a feeling there was some premium, “elite” version. But doesn’t that software go way way beyond our needs of pushing around and rerolling dice? Seems like total overkill.

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It is. But it is effective, I have played The Pool with it and replicated the abovementioned dice arrangement. It’s just that—understandably—people won’t buy it for such a small task, so either the players already have it for some other reason, or you’re toast.

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Shane’s site is actually, (no .com), but as far as I am aware he’s no longer actively maintaining it with updates do to some changes in the infrastructure (the hosting or programming language or something, I don’t remember exactly). So it will, at best stay as good as it is, or more likely slowly degrade with time as more infrastructure changes happen without appropriate updates.

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To the best of my knowledge, the best free versions available are:

We used the former for many of our online games (it was spectacular for Sorcerer, as I mentioned; much faster and easier than actual dice). I haven’t used the latter as much, but it was developed with some input from me. (We did use it asynchronously for a game of Pocket Danger Patrol, and that went really well.)

Roll For Your Party gives your “room” a unique URL, which is persistent, so that’s great for long-term play. You can set up your dice (or whatever, tokens, labels) and then keep using it. It can be a bit annoying sometimes, especially if someone hits “clear the table” (your work is undone) or if you need to select a lot of dice at once (there’s no “drag and select” functionality).

The Togetherness Table (second link) tries to fix those issues and has all kinds of cool features (like the Dynamic Trays, which you can reroll at once or use to sort dice and count successes). However, it doesn’t generate a unique URL that’s persistent across sessions.

Both are quite useable but not 100% satisfying or reliable. (We could use one for our next game, if you like, Claudio. It would work for our purposes.)

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Everything is online for me these days.

My (video) games set up is a splurge and also makes my VTT RPG life better. Ultra wide monitor, good lighting, good camera, good audio treatment (audio panels hot glued to a cardboard tri-fold get you far!), good mic.

On the monitor, Foundry VTT, Google Docs of notes, Discord video, any PDFs of rules. Foundry handles character sheets, dice rolling, atmospheric scenes and maps and minis scenes.

In person, I love my All Rolled Up dice bag, with pencils and index cards and my laminated Script Change cards. I’ve got a fold up dry erase board too that I might start bringing now that I’ve learned to love maps of I ever get regular in person stuff again.

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RFYP that Yoshi mentioned was one possibility for this, but as he mentioned, it’s no longer being maintained. But you also may have been thinking of Roll With Me. Worth checking out!

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Thanks, Rob!

That’s another alternative to the two I linked. Very similar in functionality! Probably uses some of the same code.

What I like: clean design, relatively easy UI.

Seems like it would maintain a consistent “room”, like Roll For Your Party. (Although I don’t know her persistent it is.)

What I don’t like: very small “play area” - not enough for piles of dice and such, less flexibility (no tokens or cards, for example), and, like Roll For Your Party, multiple select is a pain. I convinced the Togetherness Table creator make a “drag and select” function, but it doesn’t work great, because it requires you to select the entire object, which is hard to do.

A good alternative to those others! Nice.

We play on an open porch around a shitty plastic folding table, sitting on whatever. Most recently, on the table: A name list, a sort of group character sheet, pencils and sharpies, index cards we didn’t need, and a six-sided Chessex die.

Being outdoors is not ideal - there is noise and heat - but it is as permissive as any of us are comfortable with. On the other hand, it’s nice to hear the bullfrogs froggin’ and the owls hootin’, and to see the sun slowly set.

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These days I’m pretty much spending half of my play time online and half of it at a physical table.

When playing online, it’s my laptop with an external monitor, so I can keep Discord on one screen for the chat, voice, and cam (if we have it on, based on the group’s taste) and whatever else is called for by the game du jour, like Google Sheets or Google Slides for playbooks, Roll20, Jamboard, just a form fillable PDF, you name it. Then I have a mic shaped like a ball with a spit screen (which is not against spit, but I don’t recall its proper name).

When playing in person, most of the times is in one of three venues I regularly attend with my association. In these cases I drop a cheap dice bag on the table, I have dry erase index cards and markers for character sheets, and usually I have the one page RPG or tiny booklet home printed for reference at the table. When playing Fantasy World, which is the game heaviest on material I ran lately, we have the printouts of playbooks, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers, but also the dry erase index cards with characters’ names, plus laminated base move references, threats and sandglasses sheets. I also have the iPad handy in case we need to reference anything on the manual. On top of all this, there’s beer, sodas, and fried mushrooms if we’re lucky enough and the bar didn’t run out.

Anyhow I have this RPG backpack always with me when I’m out to play. There are two dice bags, one with 100d6, one with nineteen full polyhedral sets, then a deck of French playing cards, a deck of Italian playing cards, fish tank glass beads, plastic tokens. For writing purposes: dry erase index cards, notepads, index card size post-its, pencils, erasers, dry erase markers. Mostly I also have one or two short games in print and the iPad for longer manuals that wouldn’t be practical to print at home.

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Could I ask you how the hell you buy “index cards” in Italy or what they’re called? I thought our stationery stores didn’t have the concept. Or have they been introduced since I left?


You strike a deal with the devil: Apostrophe Games Erase cartoncini Carte

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I see, they’re sold as gaming material. That makes sense.

A pop filter! (I’m always happy to nerd out over audio tech, elsewhere, any time.)

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You might also look for A7 or ISO 7810/ID-3 cardstock.

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