One of the less mentioned benefits of the early editions of D&D, especially compared to the latest edition, is the vast reduction in stuff required to play. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a great acquirer of gaming related stuff. I shudder to think of how much money I’ve spent on silly gaming paraphernalia. That said, I definitely prefer that stuff to be optional, and find that I’ll gladly eschew it if it negatively impacts speed of play at all.
With recent editions there is a lot more stuff. The most obvious space consumer is the required use of miniatures, which then tend to bring along large monster miniature collections, fancy terrain, etc. However, there’s also a lot more books, and now cards in the latest edition. Then of course you need space to keep and organize all that stuff, and along comes Geek Chic to sell you big expensive stuff to hold your other stuff.
I really don’t want to be too critical of Geek Chic. I bought a GM’s valet from them myself, and they really do exquisite work. Of course, I bought the valet as I thought it was the only really practical item they sell. I used to keep a TV tray or similar next to my chair to hold some extra books and whatnot, so having a rolling surface with drawers to keep those books in all the time, well, that sounds great to me.
My boss bought a couple tables from Geek Chic for our office, including a really gorgeous sultan. That said, there’s really no good reason for the sunken surface and all those fancy drawers for my game. The sunken surface is totally unused by us, and ultimately just makes the tabletop that much higher, decreasing visibility of the other players. The pull-down desk surfaces are nice, but there are only six of them, and we usually have 7 or 8 players at our table. The battletech guys, they love the table, but for us it’s just a little over the top.
All we really need is a big flat table with plenty of seating. When I asked the guys this week if they wanted to use the fancy table again or go back to our old space, they universally replied that they’d rather play at the old space. It’s just an empty conference room with a big table, plenty of chairs, and a white-board. Every now and then I use the white-board, but mostly I just rely on my players’ imaginations. And isn’t that what the game is really all about?