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5E What's Your Table Look Like?

DM Howard

Explorer
I don't mean your actual table, but rather whether you use a mat or not? Do you use miniatures, tokens, or even spare change? Do you go full on theater of the mind or some combination? Do you use some method I'm not even thinking of?

I tend to use a mixture of theater of the mind and the D&D Adventure Grid to organize my encounters. I make little tokens for the majority of monsters, while having miniatures for special NPCs and the heroes.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I run combats and most exploration on a grid with tokens. Some exploration and social interaction will be theater of the mind, but I will usually present visual elements such as cool, evocative pictures and the like to support and and inspire play.

I usually run online these days, but even when I do an in-person game, we're using a virtual table top such as Roll20. So the actual table at an in-person game will just be a bunch of laptops, a power strip, and bottles of booze.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I use the store mat(player donated to store) or store grid (Player build a grid box the length of the table), or my own grid squares (think role 4 initiative squares). Minis sometimes which actually match the monster or tokens. Some times theatre of the mind if it is going to be a short fight.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I use different techniques for different encounters. In my opinion, “theater of the mind” (or rather, combat without visual aid) and combat with map and minis (whether physical or digital) are both tools that DMs would do well to use for the appropriate jobs, and disregard at their own peril. For small, quick battles, I go without visual aid to simplify and speed things along. For combats where relative positioning is important I’ll bust out the minis and we’ll use rough distances on the table. For big set-piece encounters, I’ll prepare a map.
 

DEFCON 1

Hero
Most of my game is 'theater of the mind' as we use narrative description for locations and dialogue is usually first-person banter between myself and the characters. Smaller combats are also 'theater of the mind' if there are not a lot of terrain difficulties or large numbers of enemies.

My table itself has a 3' x 4' Chessex 1" grid mat with a full sheet of plexi laid on top of it. This allows me to hand-draw some maps over the Chessex grid using dry-erase markers on the plexi (usually drawing the map in reverse so I can flip the plexi sheet over so the dry-erase is on the bottom side.) The plexi sheet also allows me to lay out poster maps and/or dungeon tiles independently or together and then cover them with the plexi so that none of them slide or move around when the minis are used on top of them.

I have a good supply of the WotC pre-painted minis for both the PCs and the monsters when I use full 1" grid maps. But for the times I want to print pre-drawn maps on my color printer that are so large that expanding them to 1" squares would be too much of a waste, I'll print them at about 1/2" squares and then use my supply of meeples for the PCs and a bin of small tokens in various colors for my monsters.
 
I have one of those vinyl grid mats that sits on the table, but mostly I run theater of the mind. When we do use the grid, there is a mish-mash of minis, some from the old heroquest board game, some from other sources, meeples (the vaguely person-shaped tokens from Carcassone and similar games) and coins.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
I use a mixture of Chessex Mats with wet-erase markers, D&D Terrain tiles, miniatures (either purchased for RPG playing or ripped from the awful, awful, awful Magic: The Gathering wargame), and Chessex die boxes for flying creatures.
 
Theatre of the Mind, totally. If we need to clarify positioning or what something looks like, I jot a quick (and utterly horrible) sketch and work from there, but that’s rare.
 

Ed Laprade

Villager
Vinal battlemat with minis all the way. (Unless I get my hands on a nice gridded paper map that fits what I'm running.)
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I don't mean your actual table, but rather whether you use a mat or not?
Heh, I was gonna say "classic mid-century, moderate-poor condition."

Yes, typically use a frayed-around-the-creases poster map, or a Paizo flip-mat. Don't often use a Chessex battlemat because they flip-mats are more convenient to tuck into a bag with the books, and there's a /lot/ of 'em, so you can have somewhat appropriate, nicely drawn, terrain without resorting to markers.

Do you use miniatures, tokens, or even spare change?
Minatures for PC & allies, tokens for enemies/monsters. Reduces confusion. Plus, I've got all these monster tokens from old Encounters and Lair Assault sets, and the MV. And some of my players like to paint minis.

Do you go full on theater of the mind?
For simple/unimportant combats, downtime, and social/interaction encounters.
 

DM Howard

Explorer
I can't get my players to use computers. They are mostly computer professionals who hate using computers.

So we still use floorplans and miniatures.
I'm a Help Desk Technician, so I can totally understand where your players are coming from. I still prefer physical books for RPGs and for reading, and I am not a personal fan of virtual tabletops because I spend at least eight hours every day staring at a screen and my eyes need a rest.

Heh, I was gonna say "classic mid-century, moderate-poor condition."

Yes, typically use a frayed-around-the-creases poster map, or a Paizo flip-mat. Don't often use a Chessex battlemat because they flip-mats are more convenient to tuck into a bag with the books, and there's a /lot/ of 'em, so you can have somewhat appropriate, nicely drawn, terrain without resorting to markers.
Ha! Nice. :cool:

Interesting, do you find yourself constrained by your use of flipmats, or is it simply a matter of "Eh, this one will work well enough"?
 

ccs

39th lv DM
At the local shop I use an 8x4 (?) Chessex mat. Minitures & terrain are kept in a locked cabinet.
Players generally furnish thier own character minis.
Games run using a mix of minis, tokens, rough sketches, TotM, etc.

Games at my buddies house run the same - except the table/mat is only about 1/2 the size & there's no need to clean things up each session.
 

collin

Explorer
I use a mixture of Chessex Mats with wet-erase markers, D&D Terrain tiles, miniatures (either purchased for RPG playing or ripped from the awful, awful, awful Magic: The Gathering wargame), and Chessex die boxes for flying creatures.
We pretty much use the same set-up. We have a large Chessex wet-erase mat and terrain tiles with miniatures. We like visuals, and it helps particularly when cover, moving through/around other characters, etc. comes into play.
 

Jer

Explorer
Even if we're playing a game that doesn't need a grid, my players like miniatures. So if we're gridless I use a large dry erase board and draw rough terrain on it. I use it for 13A and for 5e, even though both games are really more theater of the mind in how the rules get applied, my players like having the visuals available (heck even for true narrative games - like Monster of the Week - they chafe at the idea of not having miniatures).

But lately I've been thinking that my 5e tables would benefit from adding back some grid play to them. One of the tables is going to be starting in on Undermountain in the next session and I think the kids in that group would benefit from the structure of a grid. So I may be breaking out my dungeon tiles and using those in the near future...
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I have multiple flip-mats so if I have a pre-planned encounter I can draw it out ahead of time with wet erase. Most encounters are more on-the fly and I use dry erase or blocks that I made out of air dry modeling clay.

I use a combination of minis, both plastic and old school painted metal minis along with a random assortment from bag-o-zombies, plastic spiders and cheap dinosaur minis.

I also made some 1-inch square wooden tokens out of wood that I painted a variety of colors to indicate ongoing effects such as fire and persistent spell area effects.

Last, but not least I use the rings from various soft drinks for things like hunter's mark and ongoing conditions.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
I have a lot of toys.

I have dozens of Vinyl mats to use for water, snow, forest, grass, desert, etc... encounters. I have things to place on them for encounters as well, including trees, rocks, hills, castles, ships, docks, etc...

I have a lot of Dwarven Forge and other terrain that I can use to build dungeons.

I also have hundreds of 2D laminated maps that I have collecte over the years that have a huge spectrum of designs on them.

When we play, I go with about 1/3 theater of the mind and 2/3 miniatures combat.
 

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
What does my table look like?

00 – 10 Theater of the mind (plain)
11 – 25 Theater of the mind (extra purple Gygaxian prose)
26 – 35 Theater of the mind (with bonus tables)
36 – 50 Theater of the mind (but in a Magocracy!)
51 – 65 Theater of the mind (but we use miniatures for paladins, so that we can burn them)
66 – 75 Theater of the mind (after a feeblemind spell)
76 – 85 Theater of the mind (but everyone has to use accents that they are horrible with, guv'nor)
86 – 90 Theater of the mind (with extra verbose hands!)
91 – 92 Theater of the mind (with close talking .... very close talking)
93 – 94 Theater of the mind (with voice immolation disorder)
95 – 98 We pull out an old Avalon Hill tactic game, stare lovingly at it for a while, and then TOTM
99 – 00 Roll twice, combine results
 
For combat mostly mats with figurines for the characters and occasionally the main enemies but generally tokens (we use to use M&Ms or nuts with whoever getting the kill getting to eat them). One of the players cut us some thin dowel of various lengths that we can use for walls etc - often just scatter 6 sided dice for trees/rocks etc. Occasionally theatre of the mind is used but generally breaks down into arguments such as, my character was no where near that one.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Powerpoint on a 55" wall-mounted TV (I guess that is not really on the table, though, huh???) is our virtual table-top for explorations and the "big stuff", otherwise theater of mind for random encounters and smaller battles. We once used hand-drawn maps on grids with minis, but those days have been gone for a while.
 

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