As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I am predominantly a digital DM. However, in recent months I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to playing in person at a physical table. Partly this has been driven by running the odd game for my son and his friends, but also because many of the players in my online games, while not exactly local, are at least able to travel into the same city to meet up, so we do get the occasional game in person at the table.
I’ve also been drawn back as a result of picking up various play aids including the the official D&D 5e Dungeon and Wilderness Tiles, D&D Monster Cards, The Deck of Beasts and the D&D 5e Spellbook Cards (some of which I’ll review in upcoming blog posts). I’ve also started picking up minis to use with some great Pathfinder battlemats I’ve had for a while. I’ve even begun (amateurishly) to try painting the miniatures.
The attraction of playing at the table is huge. It’s a throwback to what made me fall in love with the game in the first place. There’s also the added social aspect of all sitting around a table, playing and shooting the breeze. Our games via Fantasy Grounds and Discord are great, and we laugh constantly, but there’s something great about the highly tactile nature of real dice, miniature figures and dungeon tiles.
As a DM playing at a physical table, things like fog of war are more difficult to do. Maps need more preparation
It’s one thing returning to the physical table as the DM, but a couple of weekends ago I had the fantastic experience of playing as a player in a game – for the first time since we did the 24 hour charity RPG marathon. I played the humorously named “Explodo Badguts”, a Halfling Warlock. A curious combination for sure, but it gave me a great opportunity to play a spellcaster, which I’ve not done since the 1980s. It’s certainly a different experience now than it was then. Firstly, there’s a lot more going on with the characters. It’s not just melee, ranged or the one spell a day that B/X allowed you to cast. Suddenly I had a range of cantrips and spells at my fingertips. Obviously as a DM, I’m used to the players having those options at their disposal, but I’ve never really had to think about how I’d use them myself and I always had to go searching for them in the Player’s Handbook.
I’ve got a couple of conventions coming up and I’m both DMing and playing at both of them. I’m also running a game for my son and some of his friends. I’ll not be ditching Fantasy Grounds any time soon but I’m definitely enjoying more time at the table.
I am a 40 something DM/GM located in Scotland. In 2016, I rediscovered the joys of tabletop role-playing games. This blog documents my journey back into the fold.