View Full Version : LCD TV Gaming Table

2008-12-15, 11:13 AM
So I now have a 46 LCD TV that happens to be on the opposite side of the room I DM in. A thread on the Wizards forum suggested using LCD TVs as virtual maps and the nerd within me screamed at an alarmingly high level to make this happen. I think there might even be some benefit outside of the coolness factor.

*My skills at designing maps on a PC vs hand drawing are outweighed about a bajillion to one
*We have limited room on our game table and a huge sheet of graph paper makes all books, dice and beverages abandon ship
*This would force me to prepare my games more and would probably speed up the game

The thought:

Get virtual tabletop software (TBD) and install it on my laptop
Use a wireless mouse to pass around to each player when its their turn so they can show what theyre doing on the game table

The issue:

Are there any virtual tabletops that allow you to solo a game without showing all the juicey DM details on the screen? I do have a desktop near the TV that could double but Id like to keep this simple.

Im looking for any suggestions, feedback, advice etc.


2008-12-15, 11:16 AM
On most laptops (at least the newer ones), you can show different things on different screens.

For example, you could have the map showing on the lcd tv, while having your notes on the laptop screen.

I don't know if that what's you were after, but it's what I'm going to to when I finally get enough money to buy a new TV.

2008-12-15, 11:24 AM
What I'm trying to find is software that can run solo and doesn't require a "DM" and a "Player" client. That way I can have all my DM notes hidden and only reveal a little at a time?

That might take two computers I guess but somewhere out there I know there's someone doing exactly this already.

2008-12-15, 11:28 AM
You can just run both the DM server and player client at the same time, with the client on the big screen and the server on your laptop screen with your notes. I've done this with MapTool and it worked fine except that the picture quality on the TV was rather poor which made detail a bit hard to see.

This lets you reveal/hide things using the server and send the updates to the main screen, so the players don't have to look away while you redraw the map or anything like that.

2008-12-15, 11:49 AM
Having separate clients for DM and PC seems like overkill. I think you'd be best off running the map from a graphics program like the gimp. Put each PC or NPC icon on its own layer and drag them around. To reveal the map to the players, have a separate layer of black appear above everything else and erase it as they see terrain.

Hmm. Why not hook the desktop up to the TV and run the gimp (or whatever you use for showing the map) there and VNC (or windows remote desktop connection) to that machine from your laptop. Over a LAN your connection should be fast enough for graphics editing and there'd be no chance of your notes spilling over to the TV display. Also you wouldn't have to deal with setting up multiple monitors on your laptop. Just run what you like from the desktop and VNC in to that.

BTW, if you haven't already hooked up the TV to a computer make sure you use a digital cable rather than an analog one. HDMI or DVI (or a converter between the two) is the best way to go here.

Mando Knight
2008-12-15, 12:09 PM
You may want to look into this (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tutorials/tabletopprojection/)...

2008-12-15, 12:45 PM
Are there any virtual tabletops that allow you to solo a game without showing all the juicey DM details on the screen? I do have a desktop near the TV that could double but Id like to keep this simple.Fantasy Grounds 2 allows the GM to mask portions of a map (fog of war style) and to set individual tokens as invisible to PCs. However, that assumes the display uses a client connection. The GM's server still sees through masks and sees invisible tokens.

I suspect other VTTs may have similar capabilities, but I haven't used them myself.

2008-12-15, 01:39 PM
While I haven't gone to this extreme, I have used my LCD TV for a few things - mostly for area maps when the characters already know the terrain (for example, when they had to recapture their own headquarters). I use the Wii's Photo Channel in "doodle" mode and pass out Wiimotes so everyone can annotate the map however they see fit.

I have considered doing a virtual tabletop, though I don't find that much advantage to it over a battlemat. One way I considered doing it was to open up the map in Opera and direct Opera to reload the page every few seconds. Then I'd use whatever program to edit the map, and shortly after I saved it, Opera would display the changes. Firefox might have a similar feature.

2008-12-15, 02:50 PM
Greenbrowser will let you refresh as well, so building a .jpg even with MSPaint would work.

Excel would work if it could display new pages. Powerpoint might as well.

2008-12-15, 03:05 PM
I'm doing this exact thing right now! The campaign starts in January and I am psyched!

I am using a 23" Samsung LCD computer monitor that is about as rectangular as I could find. I lay that down, face up, in a self-made wooden stand (step-dad always jumps at a chance for woodworking projects), with a very thin sheet of plexiglass placed over the monitor screen to prevent scratching from minis.

I make my maps using Dundjinni, and export that into photoshop for lighting and "fog-of-war" effects. I then hook my laptop up and use the LCD as a second monitor.

I've already run a few brief adventures and it works awesome! Dungeon crawls especially feel very claustrophobic if you only let the PC's see, 1. what they've already explored and, 2. only what they light source lets them see.