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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Dealing with Disruptive Players

    In the group that I play with, most of the guys have a habit of going off topic at the slightest hint of a tangential topic, or decide to talk to one another when nothing is happening to their characters. Plus one keeps messing with his phone, and another on his laptop but I can just fix that. My issue is, of course, with the tangential people that don't stay immersed in the game and as a result it delays everything. For my upcoming first time GMing, I was wondering about ways to keep them from doing things like this and my first instinct is to punish them in some way within the game that will get them to comply (and of course telling them about these kinds of things before starting) but if that's too cruel, then how? and if it's not going to be effective, then what else? I already know how to create an atmosphere, but just in case I mess up, I want to have a fallback plan. any Ideas?

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Your first instinct is wrong. This is an OOC issue, and you should never punish OOC issues with IC measures.

    The simplest thing to do is ban electronic devices at the table. No cellphones unless someone calls you. No laptops at all, except for looking up rules if you have pdf books. If you're here to play a game, then play the game.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Your first instinct is wrong. This is an OOC issue, and you should never punish OOC issues with IC measures.

    The simplest thing to do is ban electronic devices at the table. No cellphones unless someone calls you. No laptops at all, except for looking up rules if you have pdf books. If you're here to play a game, then play the game.
    All of that. The rule at my group' stable is that electronics are there only for references, nothing else.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Or just ban devices outright. They don't need to look stuff up, particularly that monster you just sprang on them. Just make sure you've got a hard copy of whatever books you want players to have access to. As for phones...if you can be so strict, simply have them left in the car. If something comes up, it can wait.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Whilst you could view this as an OOC problem, it could also be that you are not grabbing their attention with your game.

    The solution may be to effect a faster pacing, though really you need to create dramatic tension. Now this is hard, very hard, to do and I don't know how to teach it ó go and watch some theatre perhaps, or better still do some live drama.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelalex242 View Post
    Or just ban devices outright. They don't need to look stuff up, particularly that monster you just sprang on them. Just make sure you've got a hard copy of whatever books you want players to have access to. As for phones...if you can be so strict, simply have them left in the car. If something comes up, it can wait.
    And what about those of us who have PDFs rather than books? I just want to be able to double check what I can spend inspiration points on at this level, and how many points it costs. Players don't always cheat.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I don't like talking to people out side the game. I feel that if they act badly, they are too far gone to even bother talking too.

    In game punishments are the way too go.

    Player 1-beep beeep blip beeep on his phone
    DM-''Player 1 it's your turn''
    Player 1-''Hun? What?'' beep beep on his phone
    DM-"Nevermind, the dragon tail slaps your character for 66 damage and send you flying off the ledge into the pool of water!''
    Player 1-"What?" beep beep beep on his phone

    Though I also use the carrot....keep the game fast paced and intresting. And not let any player slow things down.

    DM-"Ahead you can see the marketplace. Your typical wood stalls and tents...but not so typical piles of dead bodies. Most look quite fresh, even as you approch you see a halfling say ''I wil sell it for 100,000 gold!'' and he suddenly screams in pain as something unseen slices into his body...a couple seconds later his dead body falls to the ground. Everyone looks or glances, but does not move or react much. No one goes near the halflings body, or any of the others.''

    Problem Player-"I roll my skill checks, DM tell me what is going on."
    DM-"Your character falls asleep."
    Good Player-"I'll walk into the market place, careful to stay away from the dead bodies and look for a stall that sells daggers....."

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    In game punishments are the way too go.
    Bad advice, bad grammar. Not surprising.

    Why in-game punishments for OOC matters are bad:
    1. They create an antagonistic atmosphere at the table. After an OOC problem is resolved out of the game, you can return to it without bad blood. If you resolve it in the game, the bad blood remains, because the punishment is a part of the game.
    2. Some players might not realize why are you punishing them, and think you are out to get them just because you're mean. The problem is not fixed, but bad blood intensifies.
    3. Other players, on the other hand, might try to work around the IC punishments you're giving them, or even try to turn them to their advantage. Not only the problem is not fixed, but they actively make the situation worse.

    OOC problems should be solved through OOC means, and with clear OOC communication. That is the key to a successful game.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Bad advice, bad grammar. Not surprising.

    Why in-game punishments for OOC matters are bad:
    1. They create an antagonistic atmosphere at the table. After an OOC problem is resolved out of the game, you can return to it without bad blood. If you resolve it in the game, the bad blood remains, because the punishment is a part of the game.
    Just as you talk and shake hands and hug does not mean you won't have the ''antagonistic atmosphere at the table''. The bad blood can still remain...



    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post

    2. Some players might not realize why are you punishing them, and think you are out to get them just because you're mean. The problem is not fixed, but bad blood intensifies.
    I really doubt any player in my game did not realize they were being punished. I make it very clear. No ''kid gloves''.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post

    3. Other players, on the other hand, might try to work around the IC punishments you're giving them, or even try to turn them to their advantage. Not only the problem is not fixed, but they actively make the situation worse.
    Only if your punishment is half baked.

    Take DM Dumbledoor: "Ok, guyz, if I see you on your phone I'm gonna roll for a random encounter!'' And if the players are ''kill, loot, repeat '' robots, they will be on the phone all the time. ''Ok, guyz, we were going to have a role play encounter with the elven king...but Chaz was on his phone so...war trolls teleport in!''

    Now take my punishment:

    ME:"If I think your on your phone, your primary ability score will drop to 3 for the rest of this game. I suggest you put your phone in the red bowl, and the battery in the blue one."

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    So now you're suggesting giving extremely harsh punishments for minor misconducts, and acting like an authoritarian *******. Thanks for reinforcing my point about creating an antagonistic atmosphere.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    So now you're suggesting giving extremely harsh punishments for minor misconducts, and acting like an authoritarian *******. Thanks for reinforcing my point about creating an antagonistic atmosphere.
    This is fairly typical for a Jedipotter post.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    So now you're suggesting giving extremely harsh punishments for minor misconducts, and acting like an authoritarian *******. Thanks for reinforcing my point about creating an antagonistic atmosphere.
    Well, see, we don't have the same view. My punishment was not harsh......my harsh ones are much worse.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Can we all pretend the troll doesn't exist? He went from being a cute curiosity to being a simple nuisance.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Bad advice, bad grammar. Not surprising.

    Why in-game punishments for OOC matters are bad:
    1. They create an antagonistic atmosphere at the table. After an OOC problem is resolved out of the game, you can return to it without bad blood. If you resolve it in the game, the bad blood remains, because the punishment is a part of the game.
    Well that's of course making the statement implicitly that antagonistic atmosphere is always bad. It's not, there are games where that's quite accepted. Paranoia is expected to be completely antagonistic (and encourages IC punishments for OOC issues). Several of the older AD&D folks (Gygax in some of his articles for example) had the same thoughts, or similar.

    Furthermore, your statement makes the assumption that resolving an OOC problem OOCly is going to create an environment with no bad blood or defensiveness which is simply not true. OOC resolutions in my experience tend to run like interventions and that's something nobody enjoys. An IC solution, on the other hand, can be tongue-in-cheek and is seen as less severe, since you are affecting their character in a game, rather than deriding them personally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    2. Some players might not realize why are you punishing them, and think you are out to get them just because you're mean. The problem is not fixed, but bad blood intensifies.
    Well you should probably state why it is that they're being punished, again this sort of thing is almost always tongue in cheek, "Well maybe if your character hadn't been busy on his iScroll", or what-not, as long as it's clear.

    Furthermore this is still making the assumption that gaming shouldn't have any antagonism, which isn't always true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    3. Other players, on the other hand, might try to work around the IC punishments you're giving them, or even try to turn them to their advantage. Not only the problem is not fixed, but they actively make the situation worse.
    And trying to manipulate the rules to one's advantage is a clear part of Paranoia, AD&D, 3.5 and many other games, playing with rules is part of the tone. So that makes the problem more fun. If it is creating such a disruption that it needs to be addressed OOC it's already very very serious, if it can be addressed on a non-serious note, then escalation is a bad idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    OOC problems should be solved through OOC means, and with clear OOC communication. That is the key to a successful game.
    In your opinion.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by AMFV View Post
    In your opinion.
    You realize you're on a discussion board, right? Literally everything you see on here is assumed to be Opinion. It can be a widely held opinion, and might reference facts, but it's still going to be an opinion.

    I'm going to throw my support behind Tengu_temp's advice. Unless you actively want to engender animosity and contention between your Players and the DM (you), don't try to hand out punishments in-game for out-of-game things.

    Instead, bring up the subject bluntly. Ask your players to calm the heck down with unrelated topics whilst playing the game. If necessary glare at them when they interrupt you, if they're your friends or respect you then they'll reduce their out-of-game talk (don't expect it to disappear, that isn't going to happen).

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I think it's generally best to handle OOC but 'must only handle OOC' is going a bit far. If you've talked to the player and they are still not paying attention, skipping rapidly over their turn can redirect their focus. It's going to depend on the game and the people involved.
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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.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidmen View Post
    You realize you're on a discussion board, right? Literally everything you see on here is assumed to be Opinion. It can be a widely held opinion, and might reference facts, but it's still going to be an opinion.
    I do, I was insuring that this was not treated as fact when it is not though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidmen View Post
    I'm going to throw my support behind Tengu_temp's advice. Unless you actively want to engender animosity and contention between your Players and the DM (you), don't try to hand out punishments in-game for out-of-game things.
    Right... because confronting people in person never engenders animosity and contention. People tend to be happy when people point out their flaws, particularly bluntly, and particularly in front of a group of their peers.

    Also some games thrive off said contention as I pointed out earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidmen View Post
    Instead, bring up the subject bluntly. Ask your players to calm the heck down with unrelated topics whilst playing the game. If necessary glare at them when they interrupt you, if they're your friends or respect you then they'll reduce their out-of-game talk (don't expect it to disappear, that isn't going to happen).
    The problem is that that is the ultimatum, that's a confrontation which may not be the best solution. The issue with ultimatums like that is that after that you have no further recourse, basically if they don't cut the chatter, you then have to either start kicking people from the group or play. An out of character ultimatum is going nuclear in essence, the best way to deal with something is to try to deal with it on a smaller level rather than a large scale blunt confrontation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
    I think it's generally best to handle OOC but 'must only handle OOC' is going a bit far. If you've talked to the player and they are still not paying attention, skipping rapidly over their turn can redirect their focus. It's going to depend on the game and the people involved.
    I concur. It really does depend on the game and the people involved.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I actually find that some OOC behaviors CAN be resolved through IC means. Some need to be resolved OOC. Humans react adequately to conditioning and training, even if they don't like to think of it as such (and hate having it be spelled out as such).

    There isn't a strong, unbreakable divide between OOC and IC - they're both delivered through the same medium, and signals from one can affect signals from the other. When you're at the table, you're playing the game, regardless of whether you're talking about what Bob The Fighter is doing now on his turn, or how awesome Guardians of the Galaxy is (The answer, of course, is "incredibly awesome", and there ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough to keep everyone from going to see it if they haven't already). Most OOC/IC issues, I feel, are a problem with presentation, on one or both sides of the DM screen. Presentation matters.

    Since the problem here is "distracted gamers", a sudden initiative roll can return people's attention to the game. Electronics are easy to fix - "Hey, close the laptop, put the phone face-down". Once the screen stops being visible, most people ignore it (However, if the screen IS visible, it's a strong distraction). Cutting people's tangents off as soon as they start to form might be something worth practicing, though.

    Tangents happen

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I'm afraid I have to disagree on the "OOC issues should never be handled IC" viewpoint, or at least the "never" part, when it comes to players not paying attention to the game. Granted, they could be bored by what's going on or something like that, so talking to them about it first is likely the best course. If it turns out that they're not bored or anything like that and they're just choosing to pay attention to something other than the game, it's reasonable to get frustrated over having to constantly repeat yourself for the one person who wasn't paying attention.

    When it gets to that point, just stop repeating the information you just laid out for everyone else and let them make their decisions based on what they knew the last time they were paying attention. If they trip over the dead bodies or walk into the pool of acid because they didn't know it was there... well, they had every opportunity to find out while they were waiting for their turn to come back around, so they only really have themselves to blame for not listening to what was happening in-game.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I think that the line that should be drawn isnít between IC and OOC issues, but between gameplay issues and non-gameplay issues. If you take away a characterís treasure because you donít like her player's boyfriend, thatís addressing a social issue with a gameplay response, which is a bad thing.

    But if the players at the table donít pay attention to the game, thatís a gameplay issue, to be solved in gameplay.

    My standard approach is this:
    DM: OK, George, itís your initiative. What does Hasenpfeffer do?
    George: (looks up from phone) Sorry? Whatís the situation?
    DM: Hasenfeffer holds action and looks around to take stock of the situation. George, Iíll get back to you at the end of the round. Susan, youíre next. What does Endora do?

    Note that I said this is my standard approach, not something I do in response to the electronics.. Its prupose is to keep the game running. Itís a gampelay solution to a common gameplay problem, even if you characterize it as an IC solution to a OOC problem.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Positive reinforcements works wonders, bonus xp, loot etc are strong incentives that you can dole out and when people stand to gain, they're much more likely to buy in. This isn't a fool proof solution but its a tool.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    My GM offered a small bonus XP to players at the beginning of each session to the person who recounts what happened last time, with the value based on how much they retold.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Re: IC vs OOC - I think of turn-skipping as borderline; yeah, it's technically IC, but I think it's generally an acceptable way to handle it, provided you tell people that's how it will work. There's also the softer "If you haven't decided an action when your turn comes up, you go into Delay until you do decide one, and can take it then." which at least speeds things up.

    Re: Laptops. I have mixed feelings. They can definitely be distracting, and IME, people whose character sheets are on them tend to spend more time scrolling around than they would referencing a paper sheet. On the other hand, some systems (like Pathfinder) just have too many books for anyone to carry to a game, even they own them all. So in that case, a laptop/tablet is an (occasional) necessity to look things up.

    Re: Phones - WTF?! If people are fiddling around on them and not paying attention, then sure, tell them to quit it. But "leave them in the car" or "take the battery out"? In the case that something serious comes up, you bet your ass I'm going to be in a position to answer that call. My family trumps the hell out of a gaming session, and anyone who thinks they can proclaim otherwise is delusional about their own importance.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I think that the line that should be drawn isnít between IC and OOC issues, but between gameplay issues and non-gameplay issues. If you take away a characterís treasure because you donít like her player's boyfriend, thatís addressing a social issue with a gameplay response, which is a bad thing.

    But if the players at the table donít pay attention to the game, thatís a gameplay issue, to be solved in gameplay.

    My standard approach is this:
    DM: OK, George, itís your initiative. What does Hasenpfeffer do?
    George: (looks up from phone) Sorry? Whatís the situation?
    DM: Hasenfeffer holds action and looks around to take stock of the situation. George, Iíll get back to you at the end of the round. Susan, youíre next. What does Endora do?

    Note that I said this is my standard approach, not something I do in response to the electronics.. Its prupose is to keep the game running. Itís a gampelay solution to a common gameplay problem, even if you characterize it as an IC solution to a OOC problem.
    I used to do this, now I just threaten too. It works just as well without annoying people quite so much.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I think that the line that should be drawn isnít between IC and OOC issues, but between gameplay issues and non-gameplay issues. If you take away a characterís treasure because you donít like her player's boyfriend, thatís addressing a social issue with a gameplay response, which is a bad thing.

    But if the players at the table donít pay attention to the game, thatís a gameplay issue, to be solved in gameplay.

    My standard approach is this:
    DM: OK, George, itís your initiative. What does Hasenpfeffer do?
    George: (looks up from phone) Sorry? Whatís the situation?
    DM: Hasenfeffer holds action and looks around to take stock of the situation. George, Iíll get back to you at the end of the round. Susan, youíre next. What does Endora do?

    Note that I said this is my standard approach, not something I do in response to the electronics.. Its prupose is to keep the game running. Itís a gampelay solution to a common gameplay problem, even if you characterize it as an IC solution to a OOC problem.
    Exactly what i do. Its worked wonders.

    Also the OP's post suggested bored players. I've traded off weeks with other gms over the years and found some..... lacking. Not terrible or anything just not able to tell a story that was engaging for whatever reason. And I use online character sheets so my laptop was there and open anyway . So i definitely found myself playing tower defense games or solitaire in between turns from time to time. Not to be a jerk but just because I was bored. Make them not bored and it will happen a lot less.

    And to others.... when it comes to banning things or punishing them? Dont. Most adults are married or dating, some of us have work stuff that will call, email or text us. And if you dare presume to tell me that this hobby is in anyway so important I cant deal with that the second my phone goes off instead of listening to you tell someone else what happened on their turn I'm gonna tell you to sit on it and spin and then leave.Because thats compleately out of line.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    I agree with skipping turns if player isn't ready with an action on their turn due to goofing off... The delaying turn idea is actually even better, as purely skipping may just result in player resuming distraction as he thinks he has an entire round to wait through..

    I'm going to admit, I read Jedipotter's first post here without seeing that it was him. I agreed with the entire post.... Up until the point he called someone a problem player for having the character first check their memory (i.e. Knowledge check) to see if the recall anything useful before walking into a deadly situation.

    I will grant this thread is not about RAW or anything other than opinions on how to handle occ issues, so I guess I can't even grumble about it... So I will just like the record to show I disagree that playing cautiously in a world as deadly as D&D is a sign of being problematic.
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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Re: IC vs OOC - I think of turn-skipping as borderline; ....
    I don't skip turns; I delay them until the end of the round. They still get all their attacks.

    Quote Originally Posted by nedz View Post
    I used to do this, now I just threaten too. It works just as well without annoying people quite so much.
    I don't only do it for electronic distractions. When your turn comes, have an action. Nobody gets annoyed, and it usually only happens once the first session, and then rarely after that.

    If somebody complained, I'd point out that the whole round is only six seconds. But nobody has.

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    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I don't only do it for electronic distractions. When your turn comes, have an action. Nobody gets annoyed, and it usually only happens once the first session, and then rarely after that.

    If somebody complained, I'd point out that the whole round is only six seconds. But nobody has.
    Yes I agree, but I found that if you merely threaten to do it, then it only happens once the first session too. Of course you have to be prepared to go through with your threat.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' ó Actually it's worse than that.


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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    May 2006

    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    Just ask them what the five fingers said to the face.
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Sep 2013

    Default Re: Dealing with Disruptive Players

    The problem doesn't come from your family phoning in an emergency, it's the phone call to ask you to pick up milk on your way home, and another five minutes later to say you need to get a loaf of bread too, and one five minutes after that to add kitchen paper to the now growing shopping list..., or your friends calling or texting and you dealing with that, or you getting alerts off facebook or twitter, you checking the sports results or news or whatever.

    IMO, it's about respect for the rest of your group, especially the person running the game and the work they've put into setting the session up - so when I'm playing, my phone's in my pocket - it may be switched on if there's a chance I'll get an important call, but that's about it.

    Laptops for reference should be treated like the books - you have one, maybe two available if someone else brings one, you take it to look up what you're after, and then you put it back where it was and get on with what you were doing. You certainly don't start playing one of the card games, or going off to other websites.

    If it's something intrinsic to your character, rather than an edge situation you've just thought of and want to check is possible, you make a note of it on your character sheet - ideally when you obtain it, or during down time (between sessions if you've got your own access to the rules, at the start or end if you don't).

    But as for a strategy for dealing with them, I guess you could try waiting for the players to start fiddling with their devices or going off on tangents, then break out a crossword puzzle or equally obvious - when they ask you what you're doing, say something like "oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was the half hour break in the game while we all did something completely unrelated".

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