Game Night Blog Carnival: Table Topics

It is once again time to present an alternative game for your adventuring group as part of Roving Band of Misfits’ Game Night Blog Carvinal. For this entry, I am branching out to a product that does not fit into the traditional “game” category. However, I’m going to refer to it as a game anyway. This month’s entry is Table Topics.

Table Topics has a very simple tagline – Questions to Start Great Conversations. The game includes 135 cards; each card features a single question that can be asked. There is no right or wrong answer. The questions are engaging and aim to get people talking about interesting things in their life. For example, questions from the Original Edition include:

  • What did you get into trouble for the most when you were young?
  • Which historical sporting event would you like to witness?
  • Which is more important - intelligence or common sense?
  • If you could do something dangerous just once with no risk what would you do?
  • Where would you choose to live if you had to leave this country?

Table Topics now features 135-card sets with a variety of themes, including sets titled Family, Girls Night Out, Road Trip, College, Couples, Decades and Travel. Below, I present some ideas on how to use Table Topics to create a different atmosphere for an intriguing session with your gaming group.

Ain’t No Party Like An Avant-garde Party ‘Cause An Avant-garde Party Don’t Stop

Before using Table Topics with a group, think about the composition of the people gathering. The game may be stilted if people only come together to play games and then go their separate ways. However, a group of long-time friends can truly learn interesting things about each other through the Table Topics question cards.

I recently played with colleagues and friends that I have known for ten years. We spent the evening eating great food, drinking wine and answering questions posed by the cards. The questions range from serious and poignant to slightly silly and frivolous. But the game is what everyone playing makes of it, which could also be said for any roleplaying game.

An easy way to play the game is to have everyone sit at a table – or cozy living room if that is an option – and pass around the cube that holds the 135 question cards. One player takes out a card and reads it to the group. The group then answers the question individually in a clockwise order. After each player has answered the question, the cube is passed to the next player and he or she asks the next question. The game may sound stale, but it’s less an exam than an exploration into each of your friend’s thoughts, feelings and lifestyles.

Tailoring Table Topics to Taste

Many of the Table Topic sets may not fit perfectly with your gaming group. The Not Your Mom’s Dinner Party has fun questions like:

  • Would you rather be addicted to gambling or food?
  • What habit would you like to break?
  • What alcohol can you never drink again?

This set could be combined with questions from the 80′s Decade set, which is perfect if you’re in your 30′s like me. A couple of thoughtful examples:

  • What were the first videos you remember seeing on MTV?
  • Which character in the Breakfast Club were you most like in the ’80s?

Another excellent idea is to create your own set of questions. You likely know the interests of your gaming-group members. They likely would be engaged by questions related to geek culture; create a group of questions related to general geekdom and combine them with a set or two of Table Topics. Below is a list of geekdom questions to get you started:

  • How many hours per week would you play with LEGOs if it was socially acceptable?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve during gaming sessions?
  • Who was your first cartoon crush?
  • Who would be your ideal cast for Y: The Last Man?
  • Ignoring Twilight, what do you think dating a vampire would have really been like in high school?
  • What module would make the best Dungeons & Dragons movie?
  • Who would win in a sword fight - Madmartigan or Westley?

Who is the Greatest Swordsman to Ever Live?

  • How many hours do you estimate you have played videogames in your lifetime?
  • When was the last time your geekdom caused you to be embarassed, and why?
  • What is your explanation for the series finale of the new Battlestar Galactica?
  • How responsible is a Dungeon Master for the overall enjoyment of a gaming group?
  • Who would you construct if Wyatt and Gary from Weird Science shared their technology with you?
  • If you could rewrite Revenge of the Sith, what would your reason be for Anakin turning to The Dark Side?
  • Jareth the Goblin King – whimsical trickster or creepy pedophile?
  • What is the best geek song of all-time?
  • What is your earliest gaming memory?

A Special Note Regarding Couples

Table Topics may not be the best fit for a specific gaming group, but it is a terrific addition to any couples’ repertoire. The card sets are a fantastic item for date nights, card trips, plane rides or just a quiet night at home. My wife and I took the Honeymoon and Travel sets of cards with us while on a trip to Paris (about five years after we got married). As we sat in front of the Eiffel Tower at dusk, our picnic included wine, cheese, bread and the question cards. It was a great way to learn more about each other. I highly recommend it to those that are dating or married.

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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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