Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Table Craft: Change Your Seat For More Attention

Ever feel like you weren't getting the attention or opportunities you wanted at the table? Perhaps your character is closely tied with another PC, but you're not able to role play with them as much as you want. Perhaps you have a hard time getting the GMs attention when the chips are down and the tension is high. Maybe you just can't hear what is going on, or what the GM is saying sometimes because the action is intense. All of these are common at the gaming table, but there is a solution. Amusingly enough, it's not an in game solution either but something you do actually at the table. Simply put, you sit at a different seat.

This Might Be A Revelation
but odds are the seats at your gaming table aren't assigned. Yes, the GM likely has their seat, and it is probably at the head of the table where they can see most of what is going on. Beyond that though, you probably don't have an assigned seat. And yet, you probably sit in the same spot session after session. I don't blame you. I do too. Human beings are creatures of habit, and we get used to sitting where we do, and others sitting where they do. However, you might be surprised at how much things change with a change of seating.

Side RP vs. Cross Talk
Cross Talk is bad. If you don't know what it is, cross talk is any time the direct line for sound to travel crosses through the line of another conversation. So if we take a standard compass rose as an example, if the player in N and S are talking, and the players in W and E are talking, we have cross talk. At the gaming table this is bad, particularly when you're cross talking the GM. Why? Because the GM needs to be heard, and so when the GM is talking you either need to be quiet, or need to compete with the voice of authority to be heard properly.

Because of this, if you wantto have quiet side RP with someone, you should sit next to them. This lets you talk without having to cross talk anyone, or cut a lone player off from the game. You still need to pay attention, but planning, plotting, scheming, and the amusing bits of side RP become much easier.

Also, if you can't hear the GM, you may want to sit closer to them - or at least not have people who talk while the GM does between you and the GM.

Getting Someone's Attention
At some tables, making eye contact is the best way to get someone's attention and start a conversation. A lot of small bits of RP or just sharing ideas can happen from this. In a tense moment it is also one of the better, less obnoxious ways to let the GM know you want to do something.

The easiest way to make eye contact? Sit across from the person. Ever notice the person directly across from the GM almost always gets to say something when the poop is hitting the fan? That's because as soon as the GM looks up they see that player. It's also easier for that player to make eye contact and indicate they want to do something and need attention.

Conversely, when things are tense, it can be very hard to get the GM's attention from right next to  them - especially if they aren't mindful of looking to their extreme sides when sweeping the table.

Where You Sit Shapes Your Options
Keep this in mind next time you sit at the table. While there are core factors like comfort, ease of getting out (or not getting out if you have an iron bladder) and where/what your back is pointing to, there are also in game implications. Sit close to people you RP with a lot. Give yourself a spot where you can draw the GMs attention. If not, you may have to work harder to get what you want out of the game.

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