Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Seven Reasons I Prefer Tabletop (even as my state is probably going to go full lockdown again...)

 Talking about why one does or does not like VTT (virtual tabletop) gaming can be a tricky thing.....what usually happens is you are really critiquing VTT in ways that it fails to replicate the experience at a live tabletop, or you critique the extras that it brings to the tabletop which may only be possible in VTT, but done better in other ways.

My recent return to gaming in a live environment has helped me to clarify significant reasons as to why live tabletop gaming provides for a more fulfilling experience, using seven short and easy reasons:

1. You can actually look at someone who is talking to show you are focusing on what they are saying. Even better, the table can see this and other players will react in context.

2. More than one conversation can be had at once (with people recognizing when they need to talk quietly about plans on the side and such).

3. If you did not plan to TPK the party and would prefer the dice fall where you want them to to insure a good time is had by all rather than watch the group disintegrate under a wave of arbitrary RNG misfortune, you can do so.

4. If someone has an issue or is upset/unhappy/needs help you can easily identify that through a range of visual and verbal queues.

5. You will (almost) never feel like you are talking in to the void at the game table. You see who you are talking to, and you know who is listening (and not playing a video game on a second screen).

6. If you are in a public space when gaming you can meet actual new humans who may want to join your game. The vetting process is much more empathic and efficient due to the actual range of physical and verbal communication at play.

7. Small talk before/after a game can be about fun stuff instead of technical issues.


8. Don't ask why, but TotM (theater of the mind) style combat/event resolution seems to go much, much more efficiently at the live table.* On VTT the white space demanding you fill it with virtual maps and minis is like a black hole into which all creativity is crunched up and spat out in the form of nominal tactical gains and amazing lighting effects (at the potential expense of an interesting mental picture and narrative).

*Presumably for my style of DMing, but as always YMMV.


  1. requiring webcams fixes a lot of this but even that isn't quiet the same. Also, most VTTs have 'hidden dice roll' features and your the DM, just roll your dice at home. That is what I do - I even let my players roll their dice at home. Like we used to say 'if you're cheating at D&D you probably have other problems you need to deal with.' Webcams also become an issue if you have crappy internet.

    1. Although I wrote this in earnest, there are also some really cool VTT perks....will post on those soon....