"When in doubt, imagine there is no table."

This is a really simple trick to make it easier for people to interact at the table. I'm surprised how often I see tables that don't do this, so I'm sharing.

Story Games 101: Angle the Chairs

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Comments

  • edited September 2016
    Nice! My solution is to own small couches that smoosh people right up next to each other. :P
    (In all seriousness, I think closer is better is another good rule of thumb.)

    I think I've occasionally done this diagonal orientation thing, table legs permitting. Definitely nice to equalize the interactions, so you're not just bouncing back and forth between the person next to you and the people across from you, risking forgetting one or the other.
  • edited September 2016
    This is a really simple trick to make it easier for people to interact at the table. I'm surprised how often I see tables that don't do this, so I'm sharing.
    You know, positioning never crossed my mind much...I think I will do my best to always play on a square round (per Rafu's advice) table if I'm hosting or use this technique from now on. It would definitely help people to be more engaged and hopefully help people to quit staring at the table! I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who ever looks at the GM :) Thanks :)

  • We have a round table at home, and it's the best. Small, square tables are also pretty good for groups of four people - but the round table allows for three or five (which are, by the way, our most common numbers) much more smoothly.
    When I get a rectangular table at a convention, one thing I've started doing is, as a facilitator/GM I never sit at the head of the table anymore. I try to sit in the middle of a long side.
  • A weird thought from the Mirror Universe where we all wear goatees:

    In miniatures heavy games, it works better if no one sits at the table at all.

    You'll still want chairs nearby to relax on, but keeping them at least 3' or so away means people play standing up. Which means moving around physically. It helps create more dynamic situations, as people change perspective more regularly.
  • @Rafu I've heard the "long side" advice for rectangular tables before. We have a rectangular table at home, and due to reasons of access/hosting duties, I'm on one of the long sides (and also usually GM). However, I've found that this means I'm mostly looking directly at the person seated opposite, and it's a real effort to turn to those seated at the ends. Plus if I half-turn so I'm facing two people, I'm basically giving the third person the cold shoulder.

    Any insights on how/why the "long edge" works for you? Does it depend on the number of people?

    I usually prefer sitting at the end because it's easier for me to see everyone and change my attention at a glance, but I can see how it prevents the players from interacting with each other – they're all focussed on the GM at the end!
  • I've had the same experience, so I'd love to hear how to work with/around this!
  • Well, even when you sit in the midpoint of the long side, the idea is still to make the table into a circle, so do angle the chairs as Ben recommends, and nobody should be sitting at either end of the table. Also, if I'm facilitating or MCing or GMing a game, I do tend to look around a lot, continually turning my head and my eyes to look into everyone else's face in turn, and incessantly moving from one face to another.
  • What also helps is tilting the table within the room. You automatically create a different, more dynamic arrangement.
  • edited September 2016
    I have at times opted to game on the living room furniture, it can make people feel more comfortable an engaged, hell it makes me feel less pressure sometimes. That being said the vast majority of times are at my huge whiteboard table. Funny enough I usually stand a lot of the time. When I'm really engaged I just prefer to be standing or moving around.

    *Edit*
    Oh looking at the image on the site makes me think I should try just ditching the table, and have everyone sit in a circle. For dice everyone just rolls giant fuzzy dice (this would work for D6 at least).
  • edited September 2016

    Oh looking at the image on the site makes me think I should try just ditching the table, and have everyone sit in a circle. For dice everyone just rolls giant fuzzy dice (this would work for D6 at least).
    That sounds super cool and fun :)
  • What also helps for me is changing the location from time to time.
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