Back to the beginning, I needed some plans. I browsed the net, taking bits of a few different designs, and ended up designing a 10 person table with a lighted, raised rail. The majority of the table is built using 3/4" maple plywood.
I documented the entire build process in an imgur album. If you want to have a go at it and the pictures don't explain the process well enough, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to clarify. There are a bit many steps to go through each one here.
In the end, I spent a little over $500, plus the cost of the tools I needed but didn't yet have. A mostly-complete list of materials and their prices is available here.