• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D General How Do You Like Your In Person Tactical Setup?

How do you like you D&D tactical setup in person?

  • Nothing: Theater of the Mind

    Votes: 10 11.0%
  • Simple: sketches and improvised tokens (pennies, dice, M&Ms, whatever)

    Votes: 11 12.1%
  • Efficient: Dry erase or printed maps with tokens, pogs, figure flats.

    Votes: 38 41.8%
  • Spiffy: Minis and terrain, painted or not, probably DIY

    Votes: 20 22.0%
  • Baroque: Detailed terrain and painted minis of high quality and deep immersion

    Votes: 2 2.2%
  • Digital: table displays, VR, augmented reality, etc.

    Votes: 6 6.6%
  • I don't play in person and it makes me sad.

    Votes: 4 4.4%


My set up is in the middle of Theater of The Mind, and simple. I hand draw maps when I need them and everything else is Theater lol. I don't do tokens as the maps are mainly as an aid to show size and even the shape of a room. When you play with a large group some things can get lost in the talking lol.
This is kinda where I am. I'll use a dry erase board to show the general layout, but I don't want the specifics to get in the way of the fun. Of course, I prefer less tactical editions like AD&D.

log in or register to remove this ad


Between TotM and Simple. I have reMarkable 2 which is used for sketching and for map drawing. Dices are used for positioning if needed. That's it.

On the other hand, i have box full of 3d printed terrain and scenery, lots of 3d printed minifigs, and best of all, Descent board game with expansion set. But, those are rarely used these days.


I cast invisibility
I'm fine with theater of mind, simple, or efficient in general; and have done the latter two digitally of course.

But since only a single vote is allowed, I really can't vote as none of those three are preferred.

In practice, "simple" is more than good enough for DnD. I just want a visual representation of who's next to whom so we're less confused.Minis are a nice bonus but I have a hard time getting them just right so I don't fret over it.

However the only live game I'm in right now is PF2, so we need to use a grid. "Efficient" becomes the new minimum.

I would love a "baroque" game and would consider a paid dm if they offered it (while still letting me play with a custom mini for my own character).


I chose efficient. We use a wet erase battle mat, printed maps. and hand drawn maps when they are needed or its an extremely important encounter, but we also go with TotM a lot too. It's really probably a 50/50 mix but also depends on who is DMing. At this point I don't care much for counting squares and figuring out distances down to the gnats ass anymore. I'm more concerned about terrain, obstacles, and a general depiction of where creatures are located. As long as its within reason and logical we allow it. Someone trying to fire an arrow 3 miles isn't going to work.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Hmmm... No option for professional actors, set designers, and live musicians?

In actuality, my preferred mode for in-person play of a game like D&D is a horizontal digital display for battlemaps and fog of war with minis. But I'm only able to run games online these days, which kinda makes me sad. Not that I don't enjoy running games online with a VTT, I really like it. But I'm sad that I don't have more time to game and mix my online play with in-person play.


1) for quick and easy combat encounters I do theater of the mind or just randomly set the player/enemy tokens out on the map without drawing walls/features just so we can get a sense of distances.
2) for important/planned/boss encounters I'll take draw out the room on one of my dry erase map tiles while players are planning a little ahead of time (quick tip I bought a pack of a bunch of one inch white dry erase tiles from amazon for enemies and they are great. I'll generally draw a number and letter on them to distinguish enemy type and number and then keep track of the damage taken by them on the side/bottom of the map so the players can see it and I don't have to pick up the tile each time the damage an enemy. I picked up some standing ones to represent my players/important npcs and it makes setting up a quick battle map super easy)
3) If I know they are going into a big dungeon that I have the map for (Like a premade adventure) I sometimes draw it out ahead of time on my big wet erase map. I tend to do that less nowdays because to often I go through all the work and then they end up just bypassing or only exploring a small part of the dungeon.

If I could I would do a digital map via TV screen and roll 20 but since we don't run the game at my house it would be more of an annoyance then a benefit to set up.

P.S. I will say for many years before the tiles I used the remains of a lord of the rings risk game for minis and they worked great. A little on the smaller side but I got 2 colors with various small, horse, ogre, and shield figures that worked as a nice budget minis collection. If you can find any sort of fantasy themed board game on the cheap they're a great source of makeshift minis.


For minis, we used everything from cardboard cutout squares to legos, plastic army men, kinder surprise metal figures to custom 3d printed ones.

Is it nice to play with custom minis on detailed terrain? Yes. It's cool. It's also PIA to set up and takes time from the game. When we have trip to mountain cabin for gaming weekend, i'll haul all of it and take time to set it up. But i set it up Friday evening and it stays on the gaming table till Sunday afternoon, plus we have at lest 12-14 hours of play on it. For usual 3-4 hour sessions, not worth it. We rotate at hosting, sometimes we play at caffe and lot's of times location is changed at last minute, so anything beyond SImple or Efficient is not practical.

Remove ads