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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    It's not my job to suck people in.
    It literally is:
    1. The DM's job is to create engaging content.
    2. The player's job is to be engaged.

    Unfortunately, that's not how it works on the player's side. Because it's the players who have agency. Players can't be engaged if your content sucks, for whatever given value they have, not the value that you have. You don't use your content. The players use your content, and once your players don't want to use your content anymore, you've lost them. Otherwise you end up railroading them into the content they don't want to deal with. If your players aren't engaged by your content. First step, don't force them to. Second step is to write better and/or more relevant content for your players. How you go about doing that, is up to you.

    Before you is a waterfall that...
    'Lame. We go around it.'
    Oh. Okay. I mean I wrote some text for this...
    'Yeah, and we're skipping it. Waterfalls don't interest us. We have a princess to save and screwing around in a waterfall doesn't get us closer.'
    Uhh...Sure, I guess. *Throws two pages of scenario in the trash.*

    'If you build it, they will come,' just isn't true.
    Last edited by Cheesegear; 2021-09-10 at 05:22 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    Writing off the raft of responses you've received as 'group think' is just disrespectful at best.

    This has nothing to do with mechanics, please don't extend it there. This has to do with your expectations of your players.

    Being on board with the game, and interested in everyone's fun is in no way shape or form exclusive from not having 100% attention and engagement across multiple hours.

    I will put this out there though:

    What makes you think that your opinion and experience are the way that things should be done? What drives you to put your own thoughts on a pedestal and write off the masses that don't agree with you as group think?

    If you look up the term you keep bandying around you'll find that part of the definition that comes up is a lack of critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives.

    Reading through this thread the lack of reasoning and considering alternatives doesn't seem to be coming from the majority of posters that are writing posts discussing the topic, relating their experiences and drawing parallels to education.

    In this thread the one that seems to not be evaluating things critically and considering alternatives is the one dismissing anything that doesn't match what they think. Y'know: You.

    And my games run well with high levels of player satisfaction all round, so thanks but I don't think I'll do that.
    They are the majority of posters here. On a board where like minded people post and people who are not like minded typically don't.

    This board makes up .001% of the 5e player base.

    The idea that just because 10 people agree on something that it makes up the majority is preposterous.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    It literally is:
    1. The DM's job is to create engaging content.
    2. The player's job is to be engaged.

    Unfortunately, that's not how it works on the player's side. Because it's the players who have agency. Players can't be engaged if your content sucks, for whatever given value they have, not the value that you have. You don't use your content. The players use your content, and once your players don't want to use your content anymore, you've lost them. Otherwise you end up railroading them into the content they don't want to deal with. If your players aren't engaged by your content. First step, don't force them to. Second step is to write better and/or more relevant content for your players. How you go about doing that, is up to you.

    Before you is a waterfall that...
    'Lame. We go around it.'
    Oh. Okay. I mean I wrote some text for this...
    'Yeah, and we're skipping it. Waterfalls don't interest us. We have a princess to save and screwing around in a waterfall doesn't get us closer.'
    Uhh...Sure, I guess. *Throws two pages of scenario in the trash.*

    'If you build it, they will come,' just isn't true.
    Yikes.

    They better pay me $50/hr if they want that kind of treatment.
    Last edited by ad_hoc; 2021-09-10 at 05:39 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    Yikes.

    They better pay me $50/hr if they want that kind of treatment.
    Ah. I see. You're not actually interested in engaging your players. You expect your players to be engaged no matter what you do. Because you spent time and effort creating content and now the players are obligated to run at it whether or not it's actually good and/or interesting content. The players must be engaged because you made it. Understandable motive. You spent time and effort on something and the players don't give a ****. How hurtful, that sucks.

    Am I so out of touch?
    No. It's the players who are wrong.

    Now the thread makes sense.
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    They are the majority of posters here. On a board where like minded people post and people who are not like minded typically don't.

    This board makes up .001% of the 5e player base.

    The idea that just because 10 people agree on something that it makes up the majority is preposterous.
    The idea that because people disagree with you it's wrong and 'group think' is preposterous.

    Was there a reason you decided to highlight the posters here? You posted on this forum, I posted that reply on this forum. Though I'm pretty sure you'd receive similar responses on any other board, because what you're basically doing is labelling an unrealistic expectation as 'badwrongfun'

    Yikes.

    They better pay me $50/hr if they want that kind of treatment.
    As a paid DM, I don't think you really understand what DMing as a service means.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Ah. I see. You're not actually interested in engaging your players. You expect your players to be engaged no matter what you do. Because you spent time and effort creating content and now the players are obligated to run at it whether or not it's actually good and/or interesting content. The players must be engaged because you made it. Understandable motive. You spent time and effort on something and the players don't give a ****. How hurtful, that sucks.

    Am I so out of touch?
    No. It's the players who are wrong.

    Now the thread makes sense.
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  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    The Dungeons and Dragons session has reached its sixth hour. The food on the table is spent, the players fatigued, but they persevere. The vigil must not be cut short. Jerry has had to pee for two hours, but he violently suppresses his urges; this is a table where only true engagement is tolerated. The dungeonmaster himself grows weary, unable to press onward with the same clarity of thought. The players step in as they can, pushing past their own weariness to come up with helpful suggestions to keep the flow of the narrative progressing. The narrative develops. The sixth hour ends, and the players sigh. Another session finished.

    But all is not well. The Dungeon Master approaches Larry after the session, before he walks out.

    "I saw you checking your phone," The DM says seriously.

    Larry winces and smiles. He already knows what's coming. "My wife's expecting," he explains. "Things are getting down to the wire, I can't just leave my phone on silent."

    The DM nods in understanding, and pats Larry on the shoulder. "Understood." He pauses. "But don't come back next week."

    Larry's choked up, but accepts it without reply and leaves into the dark of the night. The DM sighs. Moments like these are always painful, but they are required to ensure a truly engaged table, and he has to believe that this is worth it.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Ah. I see. You're not actually interested in engaging your players. You expect your players to be engaged no matter what you do. Because you spent time and effort creating content and now the players are obligated to run at it whether or not it's actually good and/or interesting content. The players must be engaged because you made it. Understandable motive. You spent time and effort on something and the players don't give a ****. How hurtful, that sucks.

    Am I so out of touch?
    No. It's the players who are wrong.

    Now the thread makes sense.
    I have no problem. Like I said earlier, I have seen players who aren't engaged in the game but they are few and far between. 95% of the people I play and have played with are great and the ones that aren't are promptly removed.

    I'm also not friends with those sorts of people outside of playing games too.

    As far as engaging in the available content in the world, no they don't need to engage with all of it. That is an entirely different type of engagement than what this thread is about. As far as the specific example of the waterfall, I would expect players would engage with that encounter more often than not because they want treasure and there is a high likelihood that there would be treasure behind a waterfall. If they instead decide that they don't want to risk an encounter that will drain their resources and potentially cause them to fail their objective that's fine too. Both decisions will have consequences and are valid choices to make.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    What drives you to put your own thoughts on a pedestal and write off the masses that don't agree with you as group think?
    I don't see any masses.

    There are 10s of millions of 5e players. 10 people on a forum are not 'the masses'.

    If your games are perfect you are free to ignore me. If you're struggling with the game, as many people here are, then this might be advice worth taking.
    Last edited by ad_hoc; 2021-09-10 at 06:29 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    Are people okay with players who 'check out' or aren't engaged during play?

    I expect everyone at the table to be engaged during play (all of it).

    The sort of player who only pays attention when it is their turn is the same sort who just waits for the chance to talk during a conversation without actually listening. I don't want to hang out with either.

    I expect everyone at the table to listen to whoever is talking and thinking about what they can do next that will enhance everyone's enjoyment.

    The quickest way for a game to die in my experience is for there to be selfish people at the table taking up space figuratively and literally.

    I have no tolerance for that sort of thing anymore (if it is their regular attitude. If they're just having a bad day or whatever that's fine).

    Are people really both okay with this sort of thing and expect it/find it common in their games?
    It really depends on the player. I have had players who I thought were checked out at my table but weren't and ones who are but still known when to engaged. its really up to how the player is at the table
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  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    I have no problem. Like I said earlier, I have seen players who aren't engaged in the game but they are few and far between. 95% of the people I play and have played with are great and the ones that aren't are promptly removed.

    I'm also not friends with those sorts of people outside of playing games too.
    It would really help if you would actually define your terms. I think everyone agrees that there's some level of player engagement that's to be expected. I further expect that a DM's expectations for engagement vary to some degree because of different table culture.
    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    I don't see any masses.

    There are 10s of millions of 5e players. 10 people on a forum are not 'the masses'.

    If your games are perfect you are free to ignore me. If you're struggling with the game, as many people here are, then this might be advice worth taking.
    This doesn't entitle you to insult others by saying "You're a drone mindlessly following this subforum's groupthink."

    Which, uh. What is this forum's groupthink, anyway? Have I missed that somehow? I didn't know we all agreed on anything beyond some extreme basics like, "The PHB ranger was a bit clunky."

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    It would really help if you would actually define your terms. I think everyone agrees that there's some level of player engagement that's to be expected. I further expect that a DM's expectations for engagement vary to some degree because of different table culture.
    In another thread I talked about Charisma checks as group checks. Everyone in the social encounter being part of the check. Someone responded and then had agreement with a couple others that it is expected for people to 'check out' during social encounters and it is a punishment to have them roll.

    I wasn't prepared for that response. It was bizarre to me that it was a thing that would be not only acceptable but expected in a game. I got the feeling that they had not thought of playing the game in a different way either.

    So I figured I would make a new thread and see if that is the experience of others on the board and to offer up a different way of playing.

    To me it is like people who don't really listen during a conversation, they just wait for their turn to speak. When I play D&D I expect everyone at the table to be engaged, listening to each other, and working towards others' fun and enjoyment.

    Seems like that is not the case with most people on this board.


    This doesn't entitle you to insult others by saying "You're a drone mindlessly following this subforum's groupthink."

    Which, uh. What is this forum's groupthink, anyway? Have I missed that somehow? I didn't know we all agreed on anything beyond some extreme basics like, "The PHB ranger was a bit clunky."

    This forum is largely an echo chamber.

    Which is fine, it's just weird when some people think the style of play and views represent the 5e player base as a whole. That's where the group think comes in. Not playing the game a certain way, but thinking that is the only way to play because of a lack of exposure to other things outside of the group.


    To be clear a group could be right about things or have the best take on something. Everyone having the same or similar experience doesn't mean they are wrong. I also pop in here from time to time to expose myself to this different perspective and experience. Why I'm here.
    Last edited by ad_hoc; 2021-09-10 at 07:00 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    This forum is largely an echo chamber.
    Forums are always an echo chamber when people disagree with you.
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  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    In another thread I talked about Charisma checks as group checks. Everyone in the social encounter being part of the check.
    What I said was that I wouldn't punish the other players for something that another player and/or character, is bad at. That's what a group check, is. 50% of you must pass or the whole group fails. It is collective punishment, and collective reward. That's why group checks often feel unfair to players who have built their character around a specific concept. Being good at something is waste of time if the DM consistently forces group checks.

    A Noble Bard with 16+ Charisma with Proficiency/Expertise in Deception and Persuasion is forced to make a group check with the Wizard and the Barbarian who both used Charisma as a dump stat. That's so weird. That makes the Bard pointless. The group may as well just draw steel since they're better at that as a group.

    However, I find it weird that you compare the earlier waterfall scenario, differently:

    A player or party can opt out of the waterfall.
    But they can't opt out of the conversation.

    Both the waterfall, and the conversation, are content, that your players are free to disengage from, if they so choose.

    Now, there is a contention of why your players disengage:

    There is the very real 'People are human, people have lives' reason. The players aren't engaged in your content, because they have other things to worry about. I think almost everyone can agree with that - and if you don't agree with that, I wouldn't want to play at your table.

    But, there is the second reason people check out; The DM sucks. Not all the time. Not every session. But this scene. This encounter. The DM has just dropped the ball and the players couldn't give a ****. It doesn't matter if it's a combat, social or exploration.

    A player or party ignores the waterfall. Go around it. Exploration is dumb.
    A player or party is invited to a banquet. They ignore it. Roleplaying is dumb.
    A player or party is subjected to fight Kobolds when they're Level 11. This is so dumb.

    All of these things are the same thing. The player(s) are checking out because they're not interested in the DM's content. Full stop. If you want them to be engaged, you have to give them content they want.

    Your job is to provide engaging content. Not the content you want to make. If the content you want to make, doesn't engage your players, you probably shouldn't be the DM. If you consistently make content that doesn't engage an individual player, they'll usually leave of their own accord. I see no reason to kick them. As I said the first time. If a player shows up, they care, even if just a little bit. If they care to show up, and they're not disruptive, they're welcome at my table. End.
    Last edited by Cheesegear; 2021-09-10 at 07:14 PM.
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  12. - Top - End - #72
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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Forums are always an echo chamber when people disagree with you.
    Yeah, and forum are always echo chambers when... wait, ALMOST GOT ME THERE!

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    If the content you want to make, doesn't engage your players, you probably shouldn't be the DM.
    Alternate recommendation: find a different group with tastes that more closely align with yours.

    And, if the first group is your friends group, then you may also want to consider that your friends don't have to be your D&D group. Obviously, playing D&D with your friends and is common and valid, but it is not the One True Way.

    ...

    As for the rest of this thread, I think people have different ideas of what checking out means and different standards for everyone's contribution, and I think that's fine. Some games go so far as to declare the DM "just another player," and write rules to ensure the players get to dictate what the villain can and cannot do. Those rules make me wonder if those game designers had a lot of real awful GMs in their formative gaming experiences, but I digress. There are many styles of how to play.

    It does suck when your table doesn't share near the level of investment that you do, and that's why I totally recommend shopping around for a group that shares your wants and standards. That doesn't mean the other groups are invalid, though, just not for you.

    Nobody needs to make everyone else play their way. I mean, I don't care what most people here think about the Gritty Realism rest variant. You're not at my table, and you can use the objectively inferior standard resting rules if that's what floats your boat.
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  14. - Top - End - #74
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Townopolis View Post
    I think people have different ideas of what checking out means and different standards for everyone's contribution, and I think that's fine.
    A player chooses to do nothing because:

    They might choose to do nothing because another player has a really good idea, or is roleplaying really well, and it would actually ruin the flow or the scenario if another player was to interrupt.
    They might choose to do nothing because another player, mechanically, is just handling the challenge better than they would.
    They might choose to do nothing because what they want to do is the same as what another player wants to do, and the DM just called on the other player, first. Sometimes two characters can't do the same thing because it's a one-person job. A lot of DMs frown upon dogpiling Skill checks (myself included). If I wanted a group check, I would've asked for one.
    They might choose to do nothing because of paralysis of indecision. They are simply waiting for the DM to give a prompt that interests them, or they're waiting for another player to 'overrule' and decide on a course of action that they can actually latch onto.

    The player is not participating in the encounter because for whatever reason, they are choosing not to. On purpose. They actually are using their agency...To do nothing. Players can do that.
    Alright, that's Player A. Player B, what did you want to say?
    'Player A already said everything I wanted to say. I have no questions. Are we done, here?'

    A player checks out, when they do nothing because they don't even care to do anything. It's not simply that they aren't participating in a scenario. It's that they aren't even paying attention. However, in my experience, a player is who literally 100% not paying attention, is very rare. A player might be on their phone the entire time.
    Alright, Player A was talking for six minutes. Player B, pay attention.
    'Yeah. Dude wants us to rescue his daughter. Gnolls. Probably some demon involved. Reward when we get back. Got it.'

    Well, yes. That's the entire last six minutes summed up concisely. He doesn't know the father's name. He doesn't know the daughter's name. He doesn't know what the reward is. But he knows what to do and where to go. Yep. You got it. As other posters have said, being on your phone doesn't necessarily mean that you're not listening.

    It does suck when your table doesn't share near the level of investment that you do, and that's why I totally recommend shopping around for a group that shares your wants and standards.
    Some people don't have the freedom of choosing who they play with. Sometimes, a player is the host. You can't kick out the host. Sometimes, you've kicked out too many players already. Kick out one more and the group might start to resent you and/or fall apart. Sometimes you have partners - if you kick one out you kick both out, and you actually like one of them. Sometimes, you live somewhere where the group you have, is the group you've got. The pool of players in your area just isn't that big. You can compromise, and try to make both content you want to make, and content your players care about.

    Or, you can go the other way; 'Bad D&D is worse than no D&D,' and just quit, I guess.
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Understandable motive. You spent time and effort on something and the players don't give a ****. How hurtful, that sucks.

    Am I so out of touch?
    No. It's the players who are wrong.
    I shouldnt have laughed, but I did.

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    I don't see any masses.

    There are 10s of millions of 5e players. 10 people on a forum are not 'the masses'.

    If your games are perfect you are free to ignore me. If you're struggling with the game, as many people here are, then this might be advice worth taking.
    Once again I wish for some sort of poll/vote function on this forum.

    Edit: ad_hoc, do you have breaks during a session for smokes, food, toilet etc?
    Last edited by Kane0; 2021-09-10 at 08:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Of course there are reasons you may not be able to shop around, or even after shopping can't find the group that's just right. My point is only that if you can shop around, you should.

    And, if you choose not to, that's your choice. I'm not your mother (and, even if I were, mother does not always know best).
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Ah. I see. You're not actually interested in engaging your players. You expect your players to be engaged no matter what you do. Because you spent time and effort creating content and now the players are obligated to run at it whether or not it's actually good and/or interesting content. The players must be engaged because you made it. Understandable motive. You spent time and effort on something and the players don't give a ****. How hurtful, that sucks.

    Am I so out of touch?
    No. It's the players who are wrong.

    Now the thread makes sense.
    I mean, I can sympathize with a lot of parties in this thread including OP. Have I stacked dice and spun dice like a top? Many times. Sometimes the other players are having a scene I don't find entertaining, not a big deal. But I've also never needed a catch-up as a player. That behavior is super rude in my book.

    I'm also hella burnt out by my lazy selfish players. They offer little more than their presence. I've tried so many times and in so many ways to get feedback. They offer so little input. Most responses are "I like whatever" "whatever's good" "I'm down with whatever". But then the sessions are filled with one or more person being deeply distracted or tuned out. The way they often play D&D like a videogame combined with their behavior makes me think they really expect an experience like a videogame or movie where I'm expected to show up with entertaining content that they can interact with and that's how the fun happens.

    I think I've seen enough tables to understand just how much the players are capable of elevating and draining the game. While the DM does have to do the heavy lifting because of worldbuilding/ running the adventure, there's so much more players can do than what I've seen in my average table experience.

    Ultimately, everyone gets out what they put in. And I don't think that's fully understood by most casual players. So I understand OP's low threshold because I've seen the downward spiral from each little slowdown and mental checkout.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    1. Opting Out
    This is when the DM presents a scenario that the player(s) simply don't want to do.

    The Duke has invited you to a banquet; They're not going.
    The party comes across a waterfall; Who cares, ignore it.
    The party comes across an Ogre attacking a man and a woman on a cart; Not their problem, they Stealth around and continue to their destination.

    This is typically rare. Usually, if the DM puts a scenario in front of the players, they're usually going to be incentivised to run it through. Story, XP or Loot. The vast majority of situations a party faces, the DM makes them face intentionally for a reason. However, when a DM makes the player(s) go into a scenario that they've already chosen not to do, that's called railroading. It's bad.

    However, it does suck when you've spent 45 minutes designing a scenario and your players just consciously or unconsciously ignore it. Suck it up. Move on. Hopefully you can Quantum Ogre the scenario back into the game (if they've ignored unconsciously and don't know what they just skipped), or you can use your excellent DMing skills to make up a different scenario with the same CR on the fly to replace it.

    2. Non-Participation
    The player(s) have chosen to participate in the scenario. But due to lack of IRL player intelligence, charisma or empathy, they don't know what to do. Due to lack of in-game, mechanical ability, they feel - rightly or wrongly - that if they chose to do something, that they would fail at that thing, or make things worse. Let other player(s) handle the situation - for now. If there's a chance that the player ends up being able to have input later on in the scenario, they'll do it, then. But right now? They're standing in the corner, doing and saying nothing, they're letting another player take the lead. Yes. There's even a chance that even though the player is in the scene, they might end up doing literally nothing the entire time, because they simply have nothing to add or say to the scenario. They're staying out of the combat because they have low HPs and are trying not to present themselves as a threat. They will wait at the foot of the waterfall in case somebody slips and falls - they don't want to slip and fall.

    When you punish player(s) for non-participation, they can grow resentful. When you punish other player(s) for other player(s) non-participation...That's really bizarre.

    However, it does suck when you've spent 45 minutes designing a scenario in which that character uses their Backstory and/or mechanical ability (e.g; Paladin's Divine Sense) that you feel that the player(s) could easily defeat. But they make the challenge so much more difficult than it needs to be because they lost track of what they and/or their character can actually do in any given situation.
    (e.g; Don't you have Mending? Couldn't you have solved this like five minutes ago? '****! I forgot I had that. I never use it.')

    3. Checking Out
    a) The player is otherwise occupied and not paying attention. Why? There are many reasons for this. You'd have to talk to them.

    b) The DM is not creating interesting content and they don't care, even when they're in the scene. Why? There are many reasons for this. You'd have to talk to them.
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  19. - Top - End - #79
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    If your games are perfect you are free to ignore me. If you're struggling with the game, as many people here are, then this might be advice worth taking.
    Earlier, upthread, I truly thought the patronizing tone of your post was unintentional. You have since clarified that it is a deliberate choice, in response to a chorus of unexpected replies in another thread.

    I'm going to skip the expected, chimpanzee-esque, verbal beatdown of a self anointed savior, come to teach us savages here at GitPG, how to play correctly, and point out you haven't actually provided any advice.

    Only Play with Self Motivated Players, that have no other distractions and remove anyone else, isn't exactly a technique to improve one's DM-craft.

    It is more akin to buying a Sid Meier Civilization Strategy Guide and finding all the guide contains is the following: " Restart the game until you have perfect conditions".

    As a practical minded DM, I actually would love to have a thread where we discuss techniques to increase engagement during conversations.

    My 5e specific advice is:

    * Encourage PCs to have a balanced allotment of skills.

    * DM's should use reasonable DCs. Nothing disincentives someone more than realizing that you can't succeed.

    * For Social/Exploration a DM should have failure on an interaction open up another avenue to explore. Examples:

    A rude dismissal by Duke Downton, because a PC failed to follow etiquette, might make the Footman, (that secretly wants to abolish the caste system), Friendly towards the group.

    Failing a Dexterity: Lockpick check might break the lock on a chest, requiring someone to smash the bottom of the chest to gain access to the contents. The group automatically finds the hidden false bottom and bypasses the trapped lid.

    * if a player says something truly inspired, have them succeed...no roll required.
    Last edited by Thunderous Mojo; 2021-09-11 at 02:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post

    It is more akin to buying a Sid Meier Civilization Strategy Guide and finding all the guide contains is the following: " Restart the game until you have perfect conditions".
    But that's exactly how I used to play Civ!!

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Corey View Post
    But that's exactly how I used to play Civ!!
    Its a very common problem with speedrunners of all games too, so much so they can burn out or lose their edge on other parts beyond the start.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    3. Checking Out
    a) The player is otherwise occupied and not paying attention. Why? There are many reasons for this. You'd have to talk to them.

    b) The DM is not creating interesting content and they don't care, even when they're in the scene. Why? There are many reasons for this. You'd have to talk to them.
    And after the talks have been had. After discovering that getting the check-out players to discuss what would be more engaging is worse than pulling teeth. Or that nothing can be done, they're simply phone addicts or not that into D&D in the first place. Then what?
    Maybe I missed it, but I'm not seeing a lot of sympathy for the fact that there are problem players or simply players that aren't a good fit for every table.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post
    Only Play with Self Motivated Players, that have no other distractions and remove anyone else, isn't exactly a technique to improve one's DM-craft.
    No, but it IS a way to improve the game experience when pursuing a specific experience/atmosphere. By curating the roster, you are increasing chances that everyone is showing up to play the same type of game.

    A major source of my current bout of DM-burnout is the fact that my table has different people wanting different games. One guy's been playing for 2 years and still doesn't understand the game or care to learn it; he's just showing up to hang out with friends. One wants to "beat D&D" with softball encounters and an OP PC to flex the hardest power fantasies. One cannot and will not give the game his attention, and will check out so hard into phone games or imgur that he misses key information in combat; like his own PC getting abducted or knocked unconscious.

    There's a saying that you can't please everyone all the time, but you can please some people some of the time. But by chasing all the disparate targets for players that are going to take it for granted anyways and contribute very little, by putting in so many hours building sessions for penis drawings on the map and repeating myself because someone was starting a load of laundry... I'd rather start over with a table of people that generally want the same experience.



    If you don't like the hand your dealt, stack the deck. Ad_hoc may have a much lower threshold than what most tables find palatable. But players are major contributors to the game experience. If someone has the option to sort the table with people that get along and are on the same page, that's a legitimate strategy for a fun TTRPG experience.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by TyGuy View Post
    And after the talks have been had. After discovering that getting the check-out players to discuss what would be more engaging is worse than pulling teeth. Or that nothing can be done, they're simply phone addicts or not that into D&D in the first place. Then what?
    Maybe I missed it, but I'm not seeing a lot of sympathy for the fact that there are problem players or simply players that aren't a good fit for every table.
    Because they're not the point of the discussion. We have solutions to those people. Those solutions work. What's to talk about?

    The things worth talking about are the things there aren't good solutions for. The things that may require different approaches to understand if the problem is "I'm on my phone because I like TikTok more than breathing." or "I'm on my phone because I'm new and shy.".

    I think we can all agree that once we've understood someone is just a problem, it's okay to give them the boot. I think we all can agree that people can be a bad fit for a table/game/group/campaign, but that doesn't make them a bad faith actor.

    We might not all agree how to determine the difference between a bad faith actor, a bad fit player, or a simple lack of engagement. That's where the discussion is.
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    yeah, this is the problem of not defining terms. There's obviously players who are disruptive because they're constantly disengaging, particularly troublesome in combat when a disengaged player wastes time every single turn. It's an annoying quality, and one you want to avoid as much as possible. If someone refuses to improve in this regard after multiple conversations, I could see asking a player to stop coming back. Bad DND is worse than no DND.

    At the same time though, that's very much the nuclear option. People online act as though kicking a player is some trivial thing that can be done at a moment's notice, but imo that's just typical "internet tough guy" syndrome. "I wouldn't ever tolerate such behavior, I'd kick the player. At my table my players do as I say." I personally feel that such talk is just posturing that's impractical in real play. Kicking a player can ruin a friendship or indeed ruin an entire campaign. Sometimes the problem player is the host and kicking them would be incredibly disruptive to the group. Sometimes the player is a friend and would be personally hurt to be kicked from a game. Sometimes the player maybe be better established in the group than the DM, or sometimes they might be boinking one of the other players (or the DM!) Sometimes (I would argue, most of the time) you simply can't replace a player because there's already only three people showing up regularly.

    A player would have to represent a major disruption before I would seriously consider kicking them.

    And the key thing is, here, what's being discussed is a player who just doesn't want to interact with certain social situations because what's happening isn't interesting. That... isn't even a problem. If anything I would rather have a player who's disinterested in social interaction than a player who forces themselves into situations where they're not wanted.

    Hint: if someone's not engaged in a social interaction 4 times out of 5 its because they don't want to challenge a more confident player, regardless of what their builds look like.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    "The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery."

    "In the Dungeons & Dragons game, each player creates an adventurer (also called a character) and teams up with other adventurers (played by friends). Working together..."

    D&D 5e PHB pg 5.
    They can claim that it is about storytelling all they want. But there is no requirement for the DM to run a game in which the players make decisions about the world or events within it instead of what their characters will do.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    Yeah. One of my players is actually quite a good sketcher so its always fun to see what he doodles.
    speaking as somebody with a touch of ADD, it's possible having something to do with his hands and eyes while he's not rolling dice actually makes it *easier* for him to focus on the game!
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    I'm glad you have enough of a player pool that you can afford to be so choosy. Not all of us are so lucky.
    This right here is a part of the disconnect with the "kick the player" and "find a new group" advice I see here and at RPGSE.
    The assumption that there is a large pool of players who will fit one's game is often erroneous.
    That there are not enough DMs to go around seems to be assumed.
    And it's been my experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    "The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game
    You'd have done better to quit while you were ahead.
    The game assumes everyone is on board and are interested in each other's fun.
    The publishers do and it is both rational and self serving to do so: to publicly admit that small group dynamics is often an obstacle to fun play in this game would be counterproductive to sales numbers going up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    It literally is:
    1. The DM's job is to create engaging content.
    2. The player's job is to be engaged.
    Not job, group role. We do this as a leisure activity.
    The players use your content, and once your players don't want to use your content anymore, you've lost them.
    See my point above about DMs being in short supply.
    'If you build it, they will come,' just isn't true.
    I agree. The Alexandrian has a good idea, though: don't prep plots. That article has much good advice in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    They better pay me $50/hr if they want that kind of treatment.
    I'd like to be a DM for pay, but I have a day job so I don't pursue that dream.
    Also, my wife would be upset with me if I did that.
    Quote Originally Posted by strangebloke View Post
    The Dungeons and Dragons session has reached its sixth hour. The food on the table is spent, the players fatigued, but they persevere. The vigil must not be cut short. Jerry has had to pee for two hours, but he violently suppresses his urges; this is a table where only true engagement is tolerated.
    Normal people take breaks about around the 2 hour mark, in my experience. The scenario you set up was amusing to read, but does not reflect any group I've ever played with. DM finds "good point to take a ten minute break" between encounters if he want to keep his players engaged.
    That's also my experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    Edit: ad_hoc, do you have breaks during a session for smokes, food, toilet etc?
    I am not ad hoc, but at my age, I kinda have to at the 2 hour point, plus or minus a bit. The bladder is only gonna put up with so much stress. That was true back in the day also, when I could hold it for half a day even though I had three beers. We'd still take a break a couple of hours in, often so that the DM could get some water and reset their brain since they have to talk quite a bit.
    Quote Originally Posted by TyGuy View Post
    But I've also never needed a catch-up as a player. That behavior is super rude in my book.
    I tend to agree.
    Ultimately, everyone gets out what they put in. And I don't think that's fully understood by most casual players. So I understand OP's low threshold because I've seen the downward spiral from each little slowdown and mental checkout.
    The short attention span generation conversation won't be a useful side quest here, but my dad had similar complaints about my generation vis a vis the TV (aka idiot box aka the glass teat per Harlan Ellison).

    When someone won't pay attention, I tend to ask them why they won't (during a break, see above).
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by TyGuy View Post
    And after the talks have been had. After discovering that getting the check-out players to discuss what would be more engaging is worse than pulling teeth.
    90% of the time what's engaging is combat. Combat has very clear goals and what a player can - or can't - do is very clearly defined by way of numbers. The player knows exactly what to do, and how to do it. Engage. Make it so.

    What players who check out during roleplaying want, is combat. They want to be rolling dice, not talking about talking.

    They don't want to a meandering conversation about why the lady wont give them the key. They don't want to figure out what the lady wants, nor her hopes and dreams, and they definitely don't care about her life story or her family. She's a fictional NPC. And most likely, an NPC that they will never, ever interact with ever again.

    Why do I care about this lady!? I just want the key!
    ...This kind of thing leads to players playing Neutral Evil, Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil characters. Who just demand the key straight up, then do an unarmed strike for 1+STR (ideally, non-lethal) damage (Commoners have 4 HPs), and then just take the key. But then you have DMs who ban this playstyle because playing a Neutral/Evil character almost always means that the players will use their agency 100% of the time, and not give a damn about the DM's story or how the plot wants to go...That can mess up the DM's pre-planned story, and DM's don't like that.

    But also see the point that's been nailed into the ground about how players might not care about your content, and they're just going to do what they want to do. Which means planning your story too far in advance is doomed to fail.

    You can exemplify this in a video game, where you just start skipping cutscenes and skipping dialogue. I don't care that the game is fully voice-acted. Can we just hurry the **** up!? I don't care about the dumb plot. I just want to kill robots and zombies! At least in a video game, the vast majority of dialogue choices are usually pre-scripted and you can just pick the one you like (and if you make a mistake, you just reload).

    In a roleplaying scenario, you have to know what to say. I know I keep bringing it up. But the player has to have intelligence, charisma and empathy. If the player doesn't have that, and they don't know what to say, they'll start getting angry or bored, or just disinterested. They don't want to be punished for saying the wrong thing. But they don't know the right thing to say and/or do, either. Just like they wouldn't in real life. They don't want to play a social game of hot potato because that's already what their real life is already. Can we please just do a simple dungeon crawl? I don't want to play your game where the Duke is evil but if we kill him we find out he's not actually evil and there's also a puppet master, but also it has to do with the price of tea, which is being inflated due to economic circumstance which is also being caused by social circumstance, which ties back to the Lich's evil plans, and he's actually doing it at the behest of a Deity who is in competition with another Deity who is trying to enrich the lives of Commoners, but they can't be enriched because the Duke at the start of the chain is Evil.

    I don't want to feel like I've been called into my boss' office, and I don't know if I'm about to be reprimanded or praised. And if I am reprimanded, I have to know what to say in order to mitigate the damage...
    Can't we just do dungeons, and fight Dragons!?

    One guy's been playing for 2 years and still doesn't understand the game or care to learn it; he's just showing up to hang out with friends.
    I have no particular issue with that. It can be annoying. But I'd rather that guy sit at our table than be alone.

    One cannot and will not give the game his attention...
    If a player is 100% not paying attention, then you ignore them. You stop giving them your attention.

    One thing I like to do is skip turns on purpose. If the player actually is paying attention, they will notice and demand to get a turn. If they don't notice that their turn was skipped, then they don't care and you continue skipping them.
    Last edited by Cheesegear; 2021-09-11 at 05:03 PM.
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    The publishers do and it is both rational and self serving to do so: to publicly admit that small group dynamics is often an obstacle to fun play in this game would be counterproductive to sales numbers going up.
    Here's the thing though.

    It isn't. Not for most people.

    That's why sales started skyrocketing in 2014 and haven't stopped.

    It is an issue that your group dynamics form a barrier to having fun. The problem isn't with the game. It's solving the group dynamics. D&D game design doesn't, shouldn't, and can't teach people social skills. Still, the act of playing is a good place for learning those skills even though it can be rough going.

    The take away message - Your group may have toxic behaviours but it doesn't have to be that way. Most people's groups aren't like that.
    If you are trying to abuse the game; Don't. And you're probably wrong anyway.

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    This right here is a part of the disconnect with the "kick the player" and "find a new group" advice I see here and at RPGSE.
    The assumption that there is a large pool of players who will fit one's game is often erroneous.
    That there are not enough DMs to go around seems to be assumed.
    And it's been my experience.
    Yeah.

    Far and away most people play with their IRL friends, and friends they make through mutual acquaintances through playing the game itself. This isn't a massive group of people. Usually only one or two people have the inclination and talent for DMing and most people will play in most of the available campaigns their friends run.

    This changes if you're running with a large pool of players, something like AL, but that itself requires you to accept everyone.

    As I said before, saying "just ban them" is typical internet tough guy posturing. The real world makes this far more difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    You'd have done better to quit while you were ahead.
    Normal people take breaks about around the 2 hour mark, in my experience. The scenario you set up was amusing to read, but does not reflect any group I've ever played with. DM finds "good point to take a ten minute break" between encounters if he want to keep his players engaged.
    Oh I agree. In fact a lot of the sessions I run are extremely quick 2-hour affairs, mostly because that's easier to fit into everyone's schedule. The scenario I was describing was mostly an argument by absurdity, taking the idea of "engagement" to a (perhaps illogical) extreme. This is a leisure activity, and if given the choice I'll always take someone who's fun to be around but has poor attentiveness and system master over a very knowledgeable and attentive jerk.

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