Tabletop Projection

Combine the dynamic, visually rich experience of a video game with the fun and intense social interaction of a face-to-face, pen and paper game.

Our Setup

The photographs here don't really do justice to the appearance of the projected map. They are clear and colorful in when you view them in person.

The Gaming Lounge

The Gaming Lounge

Our gaming area is in the basement. This made mounting the projector a lot less intrusive than if it were in a main living area. I don't think my wife would have been to keen on me permanently affixing it to our dining room ceiling.

The Game Table

The Game Table

Half of the game table has a dry-erase grid glued to it. We use a piece of foam core as a nice surface for map projection. The projector is about 5 ft. from the table surface.

Our projector rig

Our projector rig

I purchased a used Infocus 425z projector from eBay for $500. I've seen the same projector sell for as little as $270. It took us only a half-hour to mount it using some weather stripping, a few screws, a hook, and a chain.

Laptop = DM Screen

Laptop is DM Screen

I keep a spreadsheet open on my laptop to keep track of combat, NPCs, character wealth, spell effects, etc. Of course I use The Hypertext d20 SRD as a quick rules reference. The map is projected from the same laptop via monitor spanning.

Scaling

Scaling

I create a 24 square rectangle in my map image to use as a scaling reference. As you can see this map is very high resolution to begin with. Through trial and error, I then resize the map image until the 24 square long rectangle is 24 inches long. For this map, the magic number was 36.7% of the original size.

Entering The Map

Entering The Map

I begin the map with as much or as little revealed as is appropriate. I find that the compass (showing north) and map scale (1 square = 10 ft. in this example) info is helpful to players.

Exploration begins

Exploration begins

I use the eraser tool (the circle in the picture is the eraser cursor) to reveal line of sight map info. For small areas, I do this freehand.

The Map Takes Shape

The Map Takes Shape

As the adventurers explore, more of the map is revealed. This lucky rogue has Goggles of Night, allowing him to see 60 ft. into what appears to be a large room.

Avert Your Eyes!

Avert Your Eyes!

When I have to reveal larger or more complex areas of the map, I have the players look away and I reduce the opacity of the mask layer. This allows me to see the map below and quickly edit the mask layer. Here I'm revealing a whole room by selecting it with the marquee tool.

Now You Don't See It…

Now You Don't See It...

Our trusty rogue explores what appears to be an empty hallway.

Now You Do!

Now You Do!

A couple of successful search checks later, and I reveal some map features. The secret door and trap shown here are on separate layers that I show when they are discovered. You can show nice spell effects using layers also.