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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Excessive player chatting

    So I GM for a good bunch of people, all friends, all get along very well. Only problem is that there is almost always some sort of chatter going on at the table. I've tried the trick of give then the time before a session to chat, and they use that (to the point that we actually start to play about an hour after everyone gets there). But it rarely stops after the game starts. There are usually a lot of interruptions during narration. Most people talk to each other whenever it isn't their turn. "Anyway!" has become one of my most common phrases at the table to bring everyone's focus back. I sometimes have to talk over people to read narration.

    It's also slowing down play by a great deal, apart from the hour long pre-game (which I also think is excessive) we generally get about one encounter done in about 3 or 4 hours (dnd 4e) and maybe a skill challenge. I don't know if this is a particular issue in 4e but I'd prefer being able to accomplish a little more per session.

    On one hand I know I won't be gaming with them as often anymore what with most of us going to college, but I still wonder if it's something I'm doing wrong or if I just have a very chatty group. Either way I'd like to know some ways people deal with excessive table chat in case my hypothetical college group suffers the same problem.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    I go along with a fair amount of chat because I RPG for social purposes as well as for the game itself. When it annoys me, the action continues with the people that are listening and the others miss opportunities.
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2013-08-02 at 01:14 AM.
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    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Hmmmm.. .a few thoughts:
    1) This IS a social game as well, people like to chat and catch up, most time it's fine, it may seem excessive in your case as you describe it though. I'd suggest to talk about this with the group- do they also feel they aren't accomplishing enough? maybe they are not that aware? Or are they fine with it and it bothers you mostly?
    2) Narration is BAD... In all the groups I played, players automatically tune out when a long piece of narration is coming, and are later surprised about missing details. (Except for maybe 1 player who likes to keep notes, and listens on EVERYTHING). I suggest to forgo narration. Instead, give a quick summary of the place, no more than 3 sentences (I mean it! no more!) and let the players be active by asking questions and exploring your little scene. Instead of pouring them the info/ expo/ whatever, let them find it and explore it. They will feel more engaged then. For example, instead of:
    "You come to the black harbor of X, the docks are filthy, many fisherman carry their loads of the day to harbor, giving it it's stink. Mostly strange black crabs, giving the place it's name. You can see a few local guards, with the symbol of the Merchant guild on their shields- a coin as a sun over a green field. One of them, a stenr looking bearded dwarf is talking loudly to another man, a shifty looking human in ragged working clothes. There are two inns at the harbot- One sounds a low down place, called the Drunken eel, from which a lot of merry sounds can be heard. Another is a bit far of place, with the mysterious name of "The wink". You have heard it might functons as a small brothel as well."

    Instead of: "You arrive at the black harbor. The stink is immense! Some guards or militia are looking after the fisherman at their work."
    Player 1: "The stink is more than usual, why?"
    Player 2: "I wanna drink! Where is the nearest tavern?"
    Player 3: "wait, Why is it called the black harbor? any necromancers associtated? maybe that's why it stinks so much- corpses hidden?"
    Player 4: "Look, we need to focus on what we came for- are there any people who look to be in authority?"

    In short- give your players a bit to be interested, and have them dig further.

    3) I have played but a little D&D4, but I remember tha battles taking reeeeeaaalll long. I heard this is probably due to the hp- monster and heroes have a lot, and they are causing little damage considering. A common fix is to half the monster's hp, but double their damage. It makes battles short, and a bit more edgy and dangerous. I think both are welcome changes.

    Also, even in other systems my team abides by the 30 seconds rule. Once it's your turn- thew clock starts ticking- you got 30 seconds to state what your character does. after that you can resolve the rolls, but you must declare in 30 seconds. it helped keep our players focused. (Since if you don't declare than your character is just overcome by the heat of the battle and does nothing. And you need to stay focused to make good decisons, especially in 4e)

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    While it's hard to say if your slow encounters are because of talking, slow players, group composition or something else entirely there is one piece of advice the 4e forums will give you: don't use MM1 or 2. The monsters are all high health and low damage, but the creatures in MM3 and MV are much better designed.

    Re: the talking I can only agree with those suggesting you just discuss it with the group.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateWench

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Maybe they don't really want to play and just use it as an excuse to meet?

    If that is not the case they might have some attention deficiencies? Or simply not the imagination for full immersion into a medium that takes place mostly in your mind with very little visual stimuli.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Hmmmm.. .a few thoughts:
    1) This IS a social game as well, people like to chat and catch up, most time it's fine, it may seem excessive in your case as you describe it though. I'd suggest to talk about this with the group- do they also feel they aren't accomplishing enough? maybe they are not that aware? Or are they fine with it and it bothers you mostly?
    2) Narration is BAD... In all the groups I played, players automatically tune out when a long piece of narration is coming, and are later surprised about missing details. (Except for maybe 1 player who likes to keep notes, and listens on EVERYTHING). I suggest to forgo narration. Instead, give a quick summary of the place, no more than 3 sentences (I mean it! no more!) and let the players be active by asking questions and exploring your little scene. Instead of pouring them the info/ expo/ whatever, let them find it and explore it. They will feel more engaged then. For example, instead of:
    "You come to the black harbor of X, the docks are filthy, many fisherman carry their loads of the day to harbor, giving it it's stink. Mostly strange black crabs, giving the place it's name. You can see a few local guards, with the symbol of the Merchant guild on their shields- a coin as a sun over a green field. One of them, a stenr looking bearded dwarf is talking loudly to another man, a shifty looking human in ragged working clothes. There are two inns at the harbot- One sounds a low down place, called the Drunken eel, from which a lot of merry sounds can be heard. Another is a bit far of place, with the mysterious name of "The wink". You have heard it might functons as a small brothel as well."

    Instead of: "You arrive at the black harbor. The stink is immense! Some guards or militia are looking after the fisherman at their work."
    Player 1: "The stink is more than usual, why?"
    Player 2: "I wanna drink! Where is the nearest tavern?"
    Player 3: "wait, Why is it called the black harbor? any necromancers associtated? maybe that's why it stinks so much- corpses hidden?"
    Player 4: "Look, we need to focus on what we came for- are there any people who look to be in authority?"

    In short- give your players a bit to be interested, and have them dig further.

    3) I have played but a little D&D4, but I remember tha battles taking reeeeeaaalll long. I heard this is probably due to the hp- monster and heroes have a lot, and they are causing little damage considering. A common fix is to
    half the monster's hp, but double their damage. It makes battles short, and a bit more edgy and dangerous. I think both are welcome changes.

    Also, even in other systems my team abides by the 30 seconds rule. Once it's your turn- thew clock starts ticking- you got 30 seconds to state what your character does. after that you can resolve the rolls, but you must declare in 30 seconds. it helped keep our players focused. (Since if you don't declare than your character is just overcome by the heat of the battle and does nothing. And you need to stay focused to make good decisons, especially in 4e)
    1) I know it's social and I enjoy the soctal aspect, it just feels like we've gone overboard when I can't get through a sentence without someone talking.

    2) Ok narrate may be a bad term then. Generally I do do what you suggest, with a little description and then responding to the players. Still have to bring everyone's focus back far too frequently for my taste.

    3) Yeah I suppose. I was just wondering the extent of the problem, how much it was being affected. I've heard halving hp can make the initiative roll too essential to winning. The 30 second timer is an idea. I tried a 10 second timer where acting inside the limit gave you a +1 bonus to the atk roll. Most people just went without it though in favor of knowing what they wanted to do. This
    seems like the time given is more fair and the penalties harsh enough to discourage dawdlers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavran View Post
    While it's hard to say if your slow encounters are because of talking, slow players, group composition or something else entirely there is one piece of advice the 4e forums will give you: don't use MM1 or 2. The monsters are all high health and low damage, but the creatures in MM3 and MV are much better designed.

    Re: the talking I can only agree with those suggesting you just discuss it with the group.
    I've already learned to avoid the first two MM's like the plague for designing monsters, which has helped alot.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    Maybe they don't really want to play and just use it
    as an excuse to meet?

    If that is not the case they might have some attention deficiencies? Or simply not the imagination for full immersion into a medium that takes place mostly in your mind with very little visual stimuli.
    They enjoy the games, I'm sure of that, considering that a good portion of the chat is about the game itself and they all enjoy the action when I get them focussed.

    None of them have any diagnosed problems and as for imaginative, most of us also make short films of our design on occasion and two of them are in plays throughout the year, so I don't think we have an imagination deficiency.



    I also wonder if the size might be a problem. We used to be a fairly small group, so I let them run multiple characters to fill out the roles (probably not the best idea, but it's happened and is done now.) Recently our membership shot up to about 8 so could that also be slowing things down? I can't really boot people now but it would be good to know ideal numbers for group efficiency next year.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    They aren't still running multiple characters are they? :P I've most often heard about 3-5 being the magic number. I think 8 is definitely a case for two games, though their certainly are groups that pull it off. The round timers concept gets better the more players you have. It's pretty natural for people to get distracted in combat when it's not their turn, but the timer should get them thinking about their plans at least a few turns earlier. Still, I think talking to them should come first - introducing round timers when nobody else agrees there is a problem would be a bit... tyrannical.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Eight players is really a lot. Anything over 4-5 and combat really starts to drag. So players start chatting while they wait for their turns, which means they miss things, which means things slow down even more.

    I've never tried round timers, but I think it only works if players have a good deal of system mastery. Spellcasters in particular have a lot of options and often need to look at the battle map in detail to figure out areas of effect and so forth, so 30 seconds might not be anywhere near enough unless their knowledge of the rules is encyclopedic. I especially wouldn't implement a timer unless the group agrees that pace of play is a problem and agrees to it.

    Ultimately, pace of play is a playstyle thing. Just like some people enjoy heavy roleplaying and some people enjoy hack-and-slash, some people prefer to take more time in combat and have more OOC banter at the table. It's not right or wrong; the goal is to have fun during the handful of hours you're hanging out each week, not chew through as much of the adventure as possible.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGirl

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Also, even in other systems my team abides by the 30 seconds rule. Once it's your turn- thew clock starts ticking- you got 30 seconds to state what your character does. after that you can resolve the rolls, but you must declare in 30 seconds.
    I found that rule to be bothersome, once I realized that players would always start their turn by asking an elaborate tactical question to buy time to think, and get annoyed if they didn't get an answer. You really need some sort of actual mechanical timer to run down to do it that you can say "Thog, your action! *whack!* *tick tick tick tick..*"
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavran View Post
    They aren't still running multiple characters are they? :P I've most often heard about 3-5 being the magic number. I think 8 is definitely a case for two games, though their certainly are groups that pull it off. The round timers concept gets better the more players you have. It's pretty natural for people to get distracted in combat when it's not their turn, but the timer should get them thinking about their plans at least a few turns earlier. Still, I think talking to them should come first - introducing round timers when nobody else agrees there is a problem would be a bit... tyrannical.
    No just 1 each now. While splitting makes sense I don't really have the time to run two games a week. It also probably wouldn't go over well since while they do enjoy the game, they also enjoy being with each other, and splitting them up seems unfair.

    I wasn't aiming for this many, at first I was just looking for a couple more from the usual 3 (I was still under the impression that parties needed to fullfill all the roles in order to function in 4e at the time, which was why they had been using multiple characters before this). As a mixed blessing there were a great many more people who expressed interest and it felt rude to exclude people (aside from a few who I knew would cause trouble, they had been invited previously, one was a serial character creator and complained when said characters were horribly ineffective (usually due to his own tactical choices, the other was entirely uninterested with the game and was there for the company.)

    I'll introduce the idea of a the combat counter (I think I have a kitchen timer lying around) and hopefully people will work with it.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Have you brought up that this is an issue? If so, find a loud, irritating sound (like a vuvuzela) and play it whenever they start getting too off topic. You might want to warn them about this and work up to it

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    huttj509's Avatar

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravian View Post
    I know I won't be gaming with them as often anymore what with most of us going to college.
    Talk with them. Priorities may have shifted, as it sinks in that you folks will be spending a lot of time away from each other. "Getting together to DnD and hang out" may have shifted to "getting together to hang out and DnD" without some folks realizing it, and in a group that size, it only takes a couple for it to steamroll.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    My group plays 4e as well, more casually than I'd like, and there is a lot of chatter. I've cut back on this lately by using the Monster Manual 3 business card and the morale system to quicken and streamline combat, as well as familiarizing the players with their characters' abilities. Additionally, we all see each other fairly regularly outside of D&D now, so that cuts back on the socializing we bring to the table.

    However, the system isn't perfect. Our latest session was after about seven weeks of everyone being off on holiday over the summer, so there was much talking done. In fact, the group spent two full hours of our four-hour meeting just talking and making dirty jokes. I was fine with it for one hour, but two was asking a bit much. Thus, I implemented consequences in the game world, declaring that the PCs had literally wasted two hours bumming around in a dungeon chamber while the necromancer they were chasing furthered his evil schemes. They also made the mistake of wasting said time in the chamber of a powerful primal spirit who had given them the task to exterminate the necromancer; she became fed up and chased them out with a sandstorm, which separated the group. And on top of all that, the vigilantes who've been pursuing the PCs to apprehend them for crimes in a Lawful Evil dictatorship have come that much closer to catching them.

    So yeah. As the DM, I have a certain degree of leverage over the players' behaviour, because I'm in charge of the game we're playing. I don't expect too many problems like this in future.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    How big is your group? More people tends towards more extraneous chatter.

    Do you have a break in the middle (5-10 minutes)? Giving people some time off before refocusing might work to get them more on-topic.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Haven't read the whole thing through, so this may be superfluous, but:
    You could try not interrupting chatter. Go along with it. If the players ask you to move along, then you move along. After the session, evaluate with them.
    I found that most of my players want to push on most of the time, but I let them do it at their own pace. Eventually, they seem to have decided it's more fun to play after the initial round of chat.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Toofey's Avatar

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    two of my favorite strategies for dealing with his both involve feeling out in my head where the characters are and either having an NPC react to something they're saying if its possible they're saying it in character, (espescially if it's something they could be saying in character they'd rather not be discussing in public) or picking one of the players (whomever you think this'll work best with) and giving them their characters view of their surroundings and of what's going on around your character, and get them engaged in their character's surroundings, then let their play bring the rest of the players back in.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Pre-game chat time is good.

    The only thing that caught my attention in your post is you said they get chatty when it's not their turn. How much time are they spending not playing? Is it not their turn in combat, or do they have to entertain themselves in social situations too?
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    Pre-game chat time is good.

    The only thing that caught my attention in your post is you said they get chatty when it's not their turn. How much time are they spending not playing? Is it not their turn in combat, or do they have to entertain themselves in social situations too?
    Usually in combat, though occasionally the party may be split up and I'll have to jump between each of them. I try to avoid it but it happens some times. (sometimes a few end up captured in encounters that go sour so the others often have to track them down for a heroic rescue.)
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Excessive player chatting

    Some advice from my own experience:

    - frequent breaks - let people talk it out, only then start the game (we usually don't expect to start for at least an hour when everyone arrives, and take a few 20-30 min breaks during play)

    - when starting the game and after each return from a break have one of players that has been paying less attention do a recap of the current in-game situation

    - encourage in-character chat, join in as an NPC to hint at some minor extra plot hooks

    - introduce rules that streamline and simplify combat, get rid of as many unnecessary dice rolls and calculations as you can, e.g.: allow the players to use the average roll value instead of rolling the dice, don't roll initiative at all, or roll it on every second or third turn, don't roll for monster damage, just have few values ready for strong/mid/weak attack rolls)

    - introduce bonus xp for those paying attention

    - 8 players is waaay too many, ask if one of the players wants to GM, split the party and run two parallel campaigns with the other GM, rotating the players every few sessions

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