Whether or not you’re using a table, or what kind of table you’re using, you should definitely pay attention to who sits where. Do you have a pair of wisecrackers sitting next to each other, making jokes while the game is going on? Does your Alpha Player sit right next to the GM, cutting off all conversation whenever possible? Does the Wallflower sit at the far end, nose buried in a book or laptop?
The following guidelines might be helpful:
- The GM sits at the head of the table, usually defined as “the end with the least traffic and most storage”.
- Newer or quieter players sit closer to the GM, and louder or more experienced players sit farther away, although a novice may be paired with an experienced player/coach.
- Party Leader or Alpha Player types sits at the foot of the table, as far as possible from the GM. If the Party Leader position changes, so does the seating. Everyone is now privy to the GM-Party Leader conversations. I also unexpectedly found out that a good Party Leader will keep the chatterboxes focused.
- Cliques are broken up whenever possible. The obvious exception is when a novice player’s preferred ‘coach’ is also their significant other or best friend.
I make it very clear early on that seating may be assigned for these reasons. In the few times that I’ve actually had to assign seating, the results and the feedback have both been overwhelmingly positive. If your group has any of the above issues, try mixing up the seating; you might be surprised at the results.