My Game Table Setup
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1057
Before my game last week, I took a few pictures of how I setup for TPKs. 🙂
I’m not sure if you will find this of interest. But when I saw another GM posting their game room on Reddit, I pored over the photos to see what tools and doodads they used to help their game. So perhaps you are curious about other GMs’ setups as well.
The Game Table
This would be a player’s view. I sit at the far end, by the microwave and portable game shelves in the corner.
The table is eight feet long. There’s actually shower board underneath the tablecloth that I used to draw maps on with dry erase. But these days I use large pads of graph paper, or Gaming Paper as you see in the pic.
To the left, near the door, are my minis containers. Minis are sorted by type for easier picking.
It’s great having simple amenities in this space like a microwave, fridge, cupboards for plates and glasses, and extra storage nearby for books and stuff.
The GM’s Chair
I sat in a heavy, five-wheeled office chair until one of the wooden legs broke. Now I sit in a $10 plastic lawn chair. It’s great because the chair is so light and pretty comfy with the extra cushion.
In this photo you can also see my laptop, which I keep off to the side so I have an open area in front of me for writing on my notepad and rolling dice.
There’s the gaming paper. I write names of NPCs and locations on the paper so sessions don’t turn into spelling bees.
Dice are splayed out in front on me. I prefer to roll everything in the open.
Amdist the dice are two metal balls I use as fidget toys. If you’ve got players who have trouble staying focused, consider getting them some fidget toys.
My purple dice tray. I roll in there sometimes. For key rolls, like attacks, I’ll use my big d20s you see there and try to aim for dice to stop rolling in the middle of the table. That way all players can see the result and cheer or groan.
Beside my notepad is a laser pointer and a chart pointer. The laser pointer I use to direct targets and movement paths on the battle maps. The chart pointer I use to move minis that I can’t reach, but players handle all the damage and minis management, for the most part.
To the right of my notebook are my initiative cards. These are one of my best GM tools. I have four types of cards in that short stack:
- White — Character cards
- Pink — Foes
- Green — NPCs
- Blue — Start of Round card
When players roll initiative, I order the cards and then run through the deck for the whole combat.
I think I’ll do a separate article on my initiative cards in the future. It’s a small thing, having index cards for init, but I get so much use out of them they’ve become essential. They have other uses and benefits too. So yeah, I’ll talk about these another time.
Beside the cards are a couple of published modules I’m looting for this campaign. And beside those are my water bottle and a bluetooth speaker for background music.
I’ll explain what’s on the table below, where I have a close-up photo of it.
The GM’s POV
Here’s how I see the game.
On my laptop, I run VLC for the tunes and Campaign Logger for easy reference. In Chrome I have tabs open with:
- A cheat sheet for D&D 5E rules
- D&D Beyond
- A Google Doc where players type notes in during the session
- Various generators
The Side Table
I used to put game books on this table. But my books are mostly all digital these days.
So I put my combat aids here for easy access.
In the container on the left:
- Poker chips — multi-use as Pocket Points, condition markers for large foes, simple countdown timers (as stacks)
- Knitting row counters — perfect for tracking damage per mini; players handle this job for me
- Meeples — for crowds of NPCs, bodies, and markers
Behind that container is a small stack of magnetic Alea discs for addtional larger creature tracking options.
In the mug are my pens, pencils, and markers.
Behind the mug are my spell area effect wire guides. Lay them on the battle map for exact measurements when needed.
And in the bucket on the right are some cheap plastic 1″ tiles. Perfect for condition tracking under minis, special terrain, and general utility use.
The tiles are dry erase friendly, though I sometimes have trouble getting the ink off. I’ll write numbers, symbols, and words on these for various uses during the game.
A zoomed in look at my small collection of doodads.
Not pictured in detail are my portable gaming shelves. These are wheeled and light. I put all kinds of stuff in here. Stuff I don’t think I’ve seen other GMs use. So I’ll do another article on the future about what’s in and on the shelves. I hope you found these views interesting. I’d love to see your game room set up, gadgets, tools, and doodads. Drop me an email with pics and details if you have the time.