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  1. - Top - End - #301
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I mean, I can't be the only one who has had a player engrossed on their phone oblivious to the entire table staring at them waiting for them to roll initiative, am I?
    You aren't. My default in that case is to declare that the character took an emergency potty break and walks into the combat being surprised for a turn when they come back. The character is oblivious due to relief, as opposed to the player who's oblivious due to disengaging from everything that isn't combat.

    As a bonus, sometimes the player sitting next to Mr. "Wake me up for the next combat" gives them a good smack on the head.
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  2. - Top - End - #302
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Don't mix OOC and IC like that, please.
    If you have a party of five or six in the room, why do you seem to assume (uncharitably) that they all have tunnel vision? That's the kind of Gotcha DMing that gives DMs a bad name. :smallannoyed;
    Wait? What? Huh?

    When was I ever talking about IC stuff?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Are you familiar with the invisible dragon problem?
    I don't believe so.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  3. - Top - End - #303
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Don't mix OOC and IC like that, please.
    If you have a party of five or six in the room, why do you seem to assume (uncharitably) that they all have tunnel vision? That's the kind of Gotcha DMing that gives DMs a bad name.
    Are they actually saying that there's any IC consequences of this? Another poster did comment about a DM who would have the enemies gain surprise due to players not paying attention, but I don't think Talakeal said they did that.

    The read I got was that Talakeal's players either don't take notes at all, or when they do take notes then the note-taking activity detracts from their ability to actually functionally participate in the game, and Talakeal would like to figure out how to change their descriptions to make it clear what players should focus on - both in terms of paying attention, and in terms of recording things for later.

    Anyhow, I generally agree with BRC's advice so far, maybe even reversing the order of 1 and 2. So I'd probably do something like:

    Lead with the active element 'As you're about to turn the corner, notice a group of three orcs in the next room. They don't seem to have spotted you.' then go to secondary active elements 'You also noticed a treasure chest a few paces behind them'. Then start to assess the players' intentions towards the room (charge in, go around, sneak past, etc) and give details specifically relevant to their planning or declared intent: "The room is pretty wide at 50ft x 50ft or so, so you might be able to circle around them to the chest, but there's little clutter to hide behind." or "There weren't any other passages leading out of the room; its a dead end with treasure."

    Then when the party commits to an action, give the details relevant to that action a second time to again get everyone on the same page: "The room is 50x50, there's a table with an orc seated at there about 10ft from the entrance, and two other orcs sitting on stools playing dice 10ft away and on the left. 40ft behind the table, at the far end of the room, is a treasure chest on a raised platform. The lighting is dim, but the room is pretty bare."

    Then after the action resolves, fill in broad details they would have missed and prompt for any specific inquiries. Jump a little down the chain of reasoning if they start getting side-tracked and don't be coy or clever about trying to hide relevant details or make an irrelevant detail seem relevant. So if they start to ask about the color of the carpet, you can just say "The carpet isn't anything special, you can check it for secret doors or magic or whatever, but there's nothing."

  4. - Top - End - #304
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Also, to clarify, while talking about puzzles and riddles is related to the topic at hand, I want to be clear that my group detests them and I do not use either in my game.


    Of course, communication issues and paranoia often turn direct statements into riddles at my table, but that is far from intentional.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  5. - Top - End - #305
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The read I got was that Talakeal's players either don't take notes at all, or when they do take notes then the note-taking activity detracts from their ability to actually functionally participate in the game,
    The OP's "my players are {mentally deficient} {some other pejorative}" position doesn't make for a productive conversation - the assertion that players can't take notes while playing without losing track of what's going on clashes heavily with my experience in play from both sides of the screen.
    Avatar by linklele. How Teleport Works
    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

  6. - Top - End - #306
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    The OP's "my players are {mentally deficient} {some other pejorative}" position doesn't make for a productive conversation - the assertion that players can't take notes while playing without losing track of what's going on clashes heavily with my experience in play from both sides of the screen.
    I strongly disagree with the assertion that someone has to be "mentally deficient" to be distracted. I am pretty sure it is a scientific fact that people cannot process written dialogue and verbal dialogue at the same time at anywhere close to 100% efficiency. I can't count the number of times that someone has asked me something while I am writing / reading something and I respond with "Uh huh. Yeah sure." and then realize a few minutes later that I have absolutely no idea what it was I just agreed to, and I have had conversations with my brother about how he constantly gets in trouble with his wife for doing the same thing. But then again maybe mental deficiency just runs in my family.


    And that still has nothing to do with the IC / OOC divide that you seemed to be objecting to.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  7. - Top - End - #307
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Anyhow, I generally agree with BRC's advice so far, maybe even reversing the order of 1 and 2. So I'd probably do something like:

    Lead with the active element 'As you're about to turn the corner, notice a group of three orcs in the next room. They don't seem to have spotted you.' then go to secondary active elements 'You also noticed a treasure chest a few paces behind them'. Then start to assess the players' intentions towards the room (charge in, go around, sneak past, etc) and give details specifically relevant to their planning or declared intent: "The room is pretty wide at 50ft x 50ft or so, so you might be able to circle around them to the chest, but there's little clutter to hide behind." or "There weren't any other passages leading out of the room; its a dead end with treasure."

    Then when the party commits to an action, give the details relevant to that action a second time to again get everyone on the same page: "The room is 50x50, there's a table with an orc seated at there about 10ft from the entrance, and two other orcs sitting on stools playing dice 10ft away and on the left. 40ft behind the table, at the far end of the room, is a treasure chest on a raised platform. The lighting is dim, but the room is pretty bare."

    Then after the action resolves, fill in broad details they would have missed and prompt for any specific inquiries. Jump a little down the chain of reasoning if they start getting side-tracked and don't be coy or clever about trying to hide relevant details or make an irrelevant detail seem relevant. So if they start to ask about the color of the carpet, you can just say "The carpet isn't anything special, you can check it for secret doors or magic or whatever, but there's nothing."
    I like to open with the general description of the room, if only because that helps "Set the Scene" for the action, and as soon as I get to Step 2 and start talking about Enemies, or anything else that is going to react to the PC's presence, people stop listening and start reacting.

    If I go "You turn the corner and see some Orcs", then the players mind is filled with Orcs, and I'm going to be repeating the layout of the room several times throughout the fight. If I give them the room, and THEN put orcs into it, they put the orcs in the room and it works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I strongly disagree with the assertion that someone has to be "mentally deficient" to be distracted. I am pretty sure it is a scientific fact that people cannot process written dialogue and verbal dialogue at the same time at anywhere close to 100% efficiency. I can't count the number of times that someone has asked me something while I am writing / reading something and I respond with "Uh huh. Yeah sure." and then realize a few minutes later that I have absolutely no idea what it was I just agreed to, and I have had conversations with my brother about how he constantly gets in trouble with his wife for doing the same thing. But then again maybe mental deficiency just runs in my family.
    Nah, that's definetly a thing. Recording information makes it hard to listen to different information.

    Part of my method of breaking up descriptions into Phases is that it makes it easy to stop and start as players take notes.

    "You walk into a 50x50 room with a table in the middle, a fireplace on one wall, and three doors on the opposite wall"
    (pause for Scribbling)
    "You see four Orcs at the table, and two more playing dice by the fire"
    (pause for scribbling and reactions)
    "The table sits on a large red rug with an image of a Three Headed Dragon in black on it"
    (Pause for scribbling)

    "The Fireplace has three dragon heads carved into the wall above it"


    This not only helps players pick up on important details, it also means your notes are easily broken up so if you need to repeat any details (Say, about the Rug specifically) you can easily pick them out.

    Sure, it might not be as Poetic as

    "You enter a large room, 50x50. In the center, a table sits on a red rug showing a three-headed dragon. Four orcs sit around the table, eating. Beyond the orcs, you see three doors. To the left two more orcs play dice in front of a roaring fireplace with three stone dragon heads carved into the wall above it", but it nicely breaks things up into easily consumable chunks, and contains each chunk of relevant information (Layout of room, number and position of orcs, details of rug, details of fireplace) into discreet sections.
    Last edited by BRC; 2021-08-27 at 02:46 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #308
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    I like to open with the general description of the room, if only because that helps "Set the Scene" for the action, and as soon as I get to Step 2 and start talking about Enemies, or anything else that is going to react to the PC's presence, people stop listening and start reacting.

    If I go "You turn the corner and see some Orcs", then the players mind is filled with Orcs, and I'm going to be repeating the layout of the room several times throughout the fight. If I give them the room, and THEN put orcs into it, they put the orcs in the room and it works.


    Nah, that's definetly a thing. Recording information makes it hard to listen to different information.

    Part of my method of breaking up descriptions into Phases is that it makes it easy to stop and start as players take notes.

    "You walk into a 50x50 room with a table in the middle, a fireplace on one wall, and three doors on the opposite wall"
    (pause for Scribbling)
    "You see four Orcs at the table, and two more playing dice by the fire"
    (pause for scribbling and reactions)
    "The table sits on a large red rug with an image of a Three Headed Dragon in black on it"
    (Pause for scribbling)

    "The Fireplace has three dragon heads carved into the wall above it"


    This not only helps players pick up on important details, it also means your notes are easily broken up so if you need to repeat any details (Say, about the Rug specifically) you can easily pick them out.

    Sure, it might not be as Poetic as

    "You enter a large room, 50x50. In the center, a table sits on a red rug showing a three-headed dragon. Four orcs sit around the table, eating. Beyond the orcs, you see three doors. To the left two more orcs play dice in front of a roaring fireplace with three stone dragon heads carved into the wall above it", but it nicely breaks things up into easily consumable chunks, and contains each chunk of relevant information (Layout of room, number and position of orcs, details of rug, details of fireplace) into discreet sections.
    This is an absolutely solid distinction. Even the best listeners and note-takers can only reasonably absorb so much information so quickly. Plus, a little pause gives people time to ask a question (and potentially request or allow or disallow a check), which can make even introducing a room feel interactive, rather than an exposition dump.
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  9. - Top - End - #309
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I strongly disagree with the assertion that someone has to be "mentally deficient" to be distracted. I am pretty sure it is a scientific fact that people cannot process written dialogue and verbal dialogue at the same time at anywhere close to 100% efficiency.
    Given that note taking isn't writing dialogue, the rest of your post is ignored.
    Fun fact: jotting down the important bits on a kneeboard while both flying and listening to the controller is something pilots did for many decades: your "science" is not science. (Haven't flown in a while, so I'm not sure if pilots have dumbed themselves down while following the magenta line and stopped using kneeboards, but we are drifting off topic slightly. I spent a lot of years flying and training pilots).

    The above noted, yes cognitive overload is a thing - when all channels get filled up errors start to manifest; accident investigations are replete with exampled. However, simply listening to a person and jotting down the important bits is so damned easy even I as a seventh grader (back when dirt was recent) could do it.

    Your assertion that people are unable to handle two channels of information flow is suspect.

    How the speaker delivers the information (that's on you, GM) informs how hard that information is to process regardless of what else they may, or may not, be doing. Verbal delivery is a learned skill. Reading a three paragraph long box of text to describe the room, for example, is poor technique.

    Someone a few posts up mentioned pauses: yeah, do that. It helps the listener digest what's coming in as they engage the audio channel and the "paint a picture in my brain's eye" channel. (and if they are smart, jot down a note or two)
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-08-30 at 11:08 AM.
    Avatar by linklele. How Teleport Works
    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

  10. - Top - End - #310
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Given that note taking isn't writing dialogue, the rest of your post is ignored.
    Fun fact: jotting down the important bits on a kneeboard while both flying and listening to the controller is something pilots did for many decades: your "science" is not science. (Haven't flown in a while, so I'm not sure if pilots have dumbed themselves down while following the magenta line and stopped using kneeboards, but we are drifting off topic slightly. I spent a lot of years flying and training pilots).

    The above noted, yes cognitive overload is a thing - when all channels get filled up errors start to manifest; accident investigations are replete with exampled. However, simply listening to a person and jotting down the important bits is so damned easy even I as a seventh grader (back when dirt was recent) could do it.

    Your assertion that people are unable to handle two channels of information flow is suspect.

    How the speaker delivers the information (that's on you, GM) informs how hard that information is to process regardless of what else they may, or may not, be doing. Verbal delivery is a learned skill. Reading a three paragraph long box of text to describe the room, for example, is poor technique.

    Someone a few posts up mentioned pauses: yeah, do that. It helps the listener digest what's coming in as they engage the audio channel and the "paint a picture in my brain's eye" channel. (and if they are smart, jot down a note or two)
    Mostly agreed.

    Its a real problem though; like last session I have a pretty brief description (maybe 3-4 sentences) and the player immediately started writing down what I was saying, fell behind, and then said they missed the second half because they were too busy writing down the first half. I don't see anything wrong with that, to me taking notes in real time is hard, especially when trying to pick out the relevant info from the chaff.

    And yeah, I definitely could learn how to improve my process for relaying information, which is why I am asking for advice.

    But yeah, three paragraphs of boxed text is way too much. At most I limit myself to one paragraph, and even that is a bit much, generally I prefer to keep it a sentence or less. Even that can get on my players nerves though, in my last game I had two players get pissed off at me for having a villain give a 9 second "monologue".



    On a more personal note; did I say something to really upset you? If so I am sorry, that was not my intent. It just seems like you are generally one of the more wise and reasonable posters on the thread, but recently it seems like when you post one of my threads you are going out of your way to point fingers and call names.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2021-08-31 at 12:33 PM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  11. - Top - End - #311
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Its a real problem though; like last session I have a pretty brief description (maybe 3-4 sentences) and the player immediately started writing down what I was saying, feel behind, and then said they missed the second half because they were too busy writing down the first half. I don't see anything wrong with that, to me taking notes in real time is hard, especially when trying to pick out the relevant info from the chaff.

    And yeah, I definitely could learn how to improve my process for relaying information, which is why I am asking for advice.
    Like I said earlier, I suspect it will get a lot better with time. Taking notes (including knowing what to focus on) is a skill and like most skills it takes some practice to get better at it. While thinking about how you deliver the information is good, I'd be careful not to make it too structured and bite-sized since it might make the players too reliant on it.

  12. - Top - End - #312
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    Default Re: Talking to my players

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    On a more personal note; did I say something to really upset you?
    I doubt it. Maybe low caffeine index is infiltrating my prose.
    Avatar by linklele. How Teleport Works
    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!

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