A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by TyGuy View Post
    A major source of my current bout of DM-burnout is the fact that my table has different people wanting different games. ... I'd rather start over with a table of people that generally want the same experience.
    I'm sorry about this....I've been there. My main D&D group consists of friends that have played together for over 20 years....and honestly this group,( in a campaign that at this point has been going on for 7 years), is so fractious it drives me nuts as a DM.

    The nigh same group, with different characters, in a campaign ran concurrently with the aforementioned campaign...runs smoothly.

    Even if you fire your current group, and assemble the 'Dream Team' of D&D players, there are no guarantees that the social dynamics will remain the same for future games.

    As a practical minded DM, I would like practical advice...and sadly this thread is missing it. Should another thread be started so we can share this type of advice?
    Last edited by Thunderous Mojo; 2021-09-11 at 06:42 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post
    I'm sorry about this....I've been there. My main D&D group consists of friends that have played together for over 20 years....and honestly this group,( in a campaign that at this point has been going on for 7 years), is so fractious it drives me nuts as a DM.

    The nigh same group, with different characters, in a campaign ran concurrently with the aforementioned campaign...runs smoothly.

    Even if you fire your current group, and assemble the 'Dream Team' of D&D players, there are no guarantees that the social dynamics will remain the same for future games.

    As a practical minded DM, I would like practical advice...and sadly this thread is missing it. Should another thread be started so we can share this type of advice?

    My advice is that you're not going to find game specific advice that will address these things.

    It's not always fun but it's good and helpful both in D&D and in life to have open conversations with friends (and family) about what everyone wants, what is acceptable behaviour, etc.

    For example, when forming a new D&D group one of the things I talk about is what people's goals are. Then I say that I would like everyone's goal to be to have everyone else at the table have fun. Then we talk about that.

    Don't play with selfish people. Try your best to distance yourself from them. If able to let them know why their behaviour is not acceptable and how they can change. But don't accept or endorse it.

    This isn't D&D advice. It's relationship advice. People have toxic relationships with each other and learning how to have healthy ones takes skill and work.

    You're not really going to get it on a D&D forum.
    If you are trying to abuse the game; Don't. And you're probably wrong anyway.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    I have--honestly--been able to use the "part ways" strategy to deal any problem player or DM I've encountered who doesn't want to change.

    I also think that "part ways" comes up so often because threads asking for advice often start with the person asking having already tried everything else and being at their wits' end.

    Oh, and most people's practical understanding of how to deal with problem players and disagreements at the table boils down to the following generalized concepts.

    -First, talk to the person you're having a problem with--preferably outside scheduled session time. Nobody likes being called into the principle's office, and that's what being pulled aside feels like; it's a good way to get someone to dig in their heels, so really only useful if you want to justify kicking them out later with "well, I tried" later.

    -Try to figure out what The Problem is from their perspective. Depending on how able/willing you are to part ways with this player, you may have to accept that the problem isn't something you can make go away. Examples include: they're always exhausted from work, they have small children they need to take care of, they just don't want what you want and are unwilling to make concessions and are fully aware of the fact that you cannot part ways and are willing to abuse that fact because they don't actually care about you at all. Obviously, some of these examples are more sympathetic than others.

    -If the problem is one that can be dealt with, strategize with the other person on how the two of you are going to deal with it. Come up with a plan that gets buy-in from both of you.

    -Only involve the rest of the group if it seems useful and if the other person is cool with it. Even if other players are the ones bringing up The Problem, if you're the group member taking on tackling The Problem, it should be between you and whomever is having The Problem.

    -Check in with the other person later. Again, this should preferably happen outside normal game time. See how they think things are going. If either of you are dissatisfied with how things are going, go back to strategizing. If things have improved, and they're not miserable with the changes, checking in is still important so that you can thank them for working on it and reinforce how much better things are.

    -Be open to the possibility that you are the problem, especially if the other person suggests so. Do not immediately accept it, but take time to reflect when you're away from them and ask AITA? If you realize you are, then figure out how to strategize from this perspective. Involve as many members of your group as you're comfortable with in this strategy, and still follow up with them if you're able later to see if any problematic behavior you have discovered in yourself has improved.

    -If the problem cannot be solved, and it isn't a problem with your own behavior, strategize with yourself on how you're going to protect yourself from it. This will likely involve reframing game night for yourself--perhaps from "I'm going to run an epic campaign" to "I'm going to throw some encounters together that the gang can stomp on while exchanging questionable jokes and tagging each-other in memes"--and may well involve reducing the amount of energy you commit to the game. Those aren't the only options though, and you should take some time to think about what specific strategy will work best for you.

    -Also, a lot of the time, no D&D is better than bad D&D.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    This isn't D&D advice. It's relationship advice. People have toxic relationships with each other and learning how to have healthy ones takes skill and work.

    You're not really going to get it on a D&D forum.
    Are we stating the DM-ing isn't a skill set, and thus one can never enhance their DM-ing skill?

    I'm certainly not got to receive advice in this thread, that is clear. 🃏

    The thread was started with the premise of players 'checking out', wasn't it? It wasn't started to discuss relationships so toxic, that severing those relationships is the only reasonable course of action.

    Do we need 4 pages+ to discuss irredeemably toxic dynamics?
    I don't think so.

    Be well all, and Good Gaming!
    Last edited by Thunderous Mojo; 2021-09-11 at 07:54 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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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?

    A rogue player at my table spends most of his time zoning out on his phone. He plays a rogue specifically because it's simple and he knows how to play it. He pays attention when he has to be involved, and otherwise doesn't pay much attention.

    He explained that he just wants to be around people having fun, and mostly just wants to relax with us.

    Sure, it's not great, but he's certainly not the worst player I've had in a party. For contrast, we have another player playing a silent Mary-Sue that is involved with every single scene and yet refuses to really interact with any of us or do anything pertaining to the mission. It's very clear she doesn't care much about working as a group or playing together.

    Between the two, I'd prefer the sleepy rogue. At least when he doesn't contribute anything, it's because he's clueless and not careless.



    Although I realize this brings up an important point of DnD: There isn't a bad way to enjoy the game, there are just bad ways to play for certain tables. I might not like our 'silent protagonist', but the table is accepting of her behavior and she's still having fun, so I'm the one that needs to get over it.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2021-09-13 at 12:51 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.

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  6. - Top - End - #96
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Well, let's just say that I play with preteens and leave it at that.

    In all seriousness, I don't mind that much...we're all good friends, so D&D is almost just a hangout day that we play D&D at. I still prefer for them to stick at the table and be engaged, but I don't push too hard. I'm not opposed to stopping the D&D and just chilling if people seem to be getting loopy. Of course, when I'm the DM, I can exercise powers I don't really have as a player, eg. pumping a player for their action, directly addressing a player who's a bit distracted, or just moving on. I'm quite proud of providing lots of opportunities for all the characters--two of the players aren't as excited role-players (their characters tend to be a little more generic and less boisterous, personality-wise) as the others, so I work very hard to engage them.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Just wanted to chime in that there's nothing wrong with bypassing optional content. I had a session where the players saw smoke on the horizon, but decided to avoid it for logical reasons. They were already somewhat concerned about other groups claiming the bounty they were after and decided they didn't wanna risk losing time getting involved in someone else's crap.

    I was a little annoyed but tbh who cares? Can't knock them for keeping their eyes on the prize. They missed some worldbuilding and a fun combat encounter but eh.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Garresh View Post
    Just wanted to chime in that there's nothing wrong with bypassing optional content. I had a session where the players saw smoke on the horizon, but decided to avoid it for logical reasons. They were already somewhat concerned about other groups claiming the bounty they were after and decided they didn't wanna risk losing time getting involved in someone else's crap.

    I was a little annoyed but tbh who cares? Can't knock them for keeping their eyes on the prize. They missed some worldbuilding and a fun combat encounter but eh.
    Iíve had my players skip the rest of an arc they were riding comfortably up until that point. How should I have known the 1% survival rate region for crazy adventurers was more interesting (and apparently less threatening) than the wereshark pirate armada?

    The main detail was that such a content skip had been established as acceptable and normal in session 0. The players knew it was an option, I knew it was a possibility, and they decided that one thing sounded more interesting than the other.
    Martialsí concepts donít evolve past the mundane
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    I am fine letting folks chat and joke around at the table together. After all, that is ultimately what we are there for.

    However, if they are disengaged, I pull them back in and get them all moving together as well. A distracted player means it is time to up the stakes, change the scene, or make something happen; preferably to the distracted player!
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    It is an issue that your group dynamics form a barrier to having fun.
    I have no idea what you are talking about, since my groups don't have this problem. I was, in part, addressing the matter that you and I seem to agree on, which is that a game can't resolve a social dynamics problem. And it can't. First step is 'resolve small group dynamics' second step is 'return to game or try a different leisure activity together'
    But for the publisher to admit, publicly, that some people have issues that are detrimental to their game form would be self defeating even if it is true. (See also grief play and toxic players in games like League of Legends that game companies take various measures to mitigate or reduce since that negative experience makes for a significant barrier to entry).

    Sad fact of life: a lot of gamers have crap for social skills.

    RL experience. My son got to play D&D with his sister and friends in junior high and high school. Me DM usually. Pre 3.x. Got to college, began to play 3.x and was disgusted with the toxic environment at the game tables. More arguing than playing. He stopped playing D&D 3.x thanks to toxic behavior of people at the table.
    His musing after the fact: "Why did these people want to argue with the DM? Why didn't they just play?"
    He's played a little 5e with me off and on, but mostly his gaming is stuff like League of Legends, and a bit of WoW. He's put together teams of like-minded folks whom he likes to play with. I get to join him for LoL now and again (I am a total noob) so we play bot games and try silly builds because we do this for fun.
    For competition, he's got his teams ...

    Even online, small group dynamics informs who you play with and the overall play experience.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-09-15 at 10:14 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!

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    I recall disengaging during d&d 4e combats. Just keep an ear open for my/my character's name in case I took damage, and when the player immedately before me initative started talking scan the board to plan my turn. Then resolve my turn in under 30 seconds and wait 5-10 or more minutes for the next turn. Finished The Prince and Art of War during those combats.

    I suppose it might have made a difference if non-defenders had opportunity attacks or other players could actually follow through on combo setups. Maybe the classes I played had reaction abilities published eventually but nothing I recall during that first year of 4e.

    Had to deal a lot with a foaf player who checked out for all non-combat stuff. Seriously, all non-combat. Quite annoying, and they occasionally missed even combats or turns from being too checked out. Hard to find a polite way to tell someone they're a waste of time.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Hard to find a polite way to tell someone they're a waste of time.
    I guess offering them a t-shirt with "yes, I am an oxygen thief" on the front may not come across as polite?
    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!

  13. - Top - End - #103
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Quite annoying, and they occasionally missed even combats or turns from being too checked out. Hard to find a polite way to tell someone they're a waste of time.
    Just directly, and without insult, tell them what the problem is. I feel people get "politeness" mixed up with "etiquette" or "never say anything that could be considered hurtful" which to me sounds like the strawman someone being mean would attack to justify their actions. I think it is polite to give people a chance to fix their mistakes, but if that doesn't work, will, I don't think politeness is "getting along with everyone all the time" either.

    Also to speak in positive definitions: I think politeness is about considering/respecting other people, particularly in small day-to-day matters.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post
    I'm sorry about this....I've been there. My main D&D group consists of friends that have played together for over 20 years....and honestly this group,( in a campaign that at this point has been going on for 7 years), is so fractious it drives me nuts as a DM.

    The nigh same group, with different characters, in a campaign ran concurrently with the aforementioned campaign...runs smoothly.

    Even if you fire your current group, and assemble the 'Dream Team' of D&D players, there are no guarantees that the social dynamics will remain the same for future games.

    As a practical minded DM, I would like practical advice...and sadly this thread is missing it. Should another thread be started so we can share this type of advice?
    Try reading Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People. It has all the practical advice you need. Seriously. If you have not, please read it.

    If you do not have the book, or time to read it; use this 1-pager as a start.

    https://fs.blog/2012/07/how-to-win-f...luence-people/
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  15. - Top - End - #105
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    KorvinStarmast's Avatar

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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy e View Post
    Try reading Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People. It has all the practical advice you need. Seriously. If you have not, please read it.

    If you do not have the book, or time to read it; use this 1-pager as a start.

    https://fs.blog/2012/07/how-to-win-f...luence-people/
    Read the book in the 80's, took the course in 2009 (the one that focuses on public speaking in three minute talks) and it's good stuff mostly. But it still takes a certain approach to life in general for it to work otherwise you end up in the 'fake sincerity' trap which fools nobody.
    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!

  16. - Top - End - #106
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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?
    I'll preface by saying I have ADHD. I can focus on the scene fine when I'm involved in some way, but when no input is being asked of my character my attention does tend to wander. So I sympathize with players who are in a similar boat.

    What I will say is that, if your players are bored with a scene or unable to stay engaged with it, some of that may be on you as the GM. It's perfectly reasonable to have moments or even entire scenes where not every single character can be part of the action. But in those cases, I'd say it's also reasonable that the uninvolved players can let their minds drift a bit, look up something for their build, check to see if they've gotten a message from a friend or loved one, get some water etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I
    His musing after the fact: "Why did these people want to argue with the DM? Why didn't they just play?"
    I experienced it a lot in college too. I probably was one of those people, since I'm a recovering rules lawyer. I sometimes get those types in games stores I used to run games in, because they were so close to college campuses.

    IMO it comes about because you've got a bunch of people smart enough to think they know all the right answers with still young enough to not know when to shut up about being right.

    Clearly the correct thing to do is tell them "If you want to argue endlessly that you're right, take it to a forum".

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    To get back to the original OP question:

    No, I don't consider it normal. I may not be as 100% hardcore about it as ad_hoc, but yeah, I expect players to generally pay attention and at least listen on one ear, even if they are not currently doing anything in-game. It's rude to the DM and other players to do otherwise. I also expect people to be organized enough to not be distracted during play. If there is some urgent stuff you need to look after, you actually have no time to play an RPG right now, so don't agree to the timeslot.

    There is some stuff the DM has to do to mitigate the risk of people losing their energy, but players need to actually "want to play the game". If that is not given, the DM can do nothing to fix it. A RPG is actually a horrible way to "just hang out".

    DM side:

    Schedule breaks. I found that 10-15 minutes every 2 hours of game time works well. Do biobreaks, open the windows, refill beverages, take smokes etc.

    Manage spotlight time and radically shorten the intervals. 4 player group splits, and 2 of them negotiate with the prince for 30 minutes? Might as well send the other 2 to the playstation. In that situation, I would switch every 5 minutes between the two groups, no matter if the negotiations are not finished yet. I found that the "off-screen" players appreciate the time to plan their next step together in a side chat /whispering conversation or just catch their breath, or, yes, go to the loo real quick. 5 Minutes breaks are short enough to not tune out.

    Set some ground rules for combat: 10 Seconds to declare your intended action. No stalling questions. Ask your questions before your turn, and I will freely answer them. On your turn, I will become very unhelpful and curt. Have the description of the ability you want to use ready. If you don't, and I have a question regarding it that you can't answer, you can't use it this turn. I never inform people that they can do an AoO, so they need to look for them themselves. If a player takes too long for something (30+ seconds to find their attack bonus), I might step in and shorten the step to keep the action up, but I will err on the bad side for the player. Combat is frantic and should be quick. And yes, I play by the same rules as a DM.

    Manage the action yourself, so the game doesn't stall. Use stuff like "unless anyone wants to do something, let's skip ahead" freely. Inform your players that they can interrupt at any time.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post
    As a practical minded DM, I would like practical advice...and sadly this thread is missing it.
    My advice to you is to start drinking heavily
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Clearly the correct thing to do is tell them "If you want to argue endlessly that you're right, take it to a forum".
    Why the blue text? (And since he was the new guy in the two groups he tried, he also had the 'new guy wants to fit in' thing going on and didn't feel he had the standing to ask "Are we here to play or argue" so he went back to playing DotA and then League of Legends. you can squelch the {censoreds} in a game channel ... you can't really squelch the at-table-jerks...
    Quote Originally Posted by GameMaster_Phil View Post
    I may not be as 100% hardcore about it as ad_hoc, but yeah, I expect players to generally pay attention and at least listen on one ear, even if they are not currently doing anything in-game. It's rude to the DM and other players to do otherwise. I also expect people to be organized enough to not be distracted during play. If there is some urgent stuff you need to look after, you actually have no time to play an RPG right now, so don't agree to the timeslot.
    Fair position to take.
    There is some stuff the DM has to do to mitigate the risk of people losing their energy, but players need to actually "want to play the game". If that is not given, the DM can do nothing to fix it. A RPG is actually a horrible way to "just hang out".
    With the exception of on line play that connects people from California, Washington state, Texas, Chicago, Virginia, Florida, Ann Arbor MI, and Baltimore ~ yep, that's the group that I play with in the shared world with my brother. Beer and pretzels for sure, game style, as much a hang out as a D&D game.
    Schedule breaks. I found that 10-15 minutes every 2 hours of game time works well. Do biobreaks, open the windows, refill beverages, take smokes etc.
    And for some (not me) take a few hits of weed.
    Combat is frantic and should be quick.
    I like your approach on that section. Similar to mine. "Make up your mind or dodge" is occasionally heard from my lips.
    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!

  20. - Top - End - #110
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    I'm only on page 2 so far, but the very first reply said what I wanted to say to the opening post. So, kudos @Townopolis, for expressing that idea so well. Players should get the mental break of "benching" and decompressing during "not my scene". And kudos to @Theodoxus for pointing out that the in-character recap is a great opportunity for the GM to catch miscommunicate (also, I'll add, for the GM to "bench" and decompress). Lastly (for now), kiddos to @SirDidymus for pointing out the role-playing advantages to behaving like your character.

    (also, what spawning thread? Is it important to understand the discussion to read or know about said thread?).

    But, yeah, players checking out of things that, IC, their characters aren't involved or interested in is a good thing. Players checking out in the middle of combat and needing a "what did I miss" recap every round, or who otherwise slow down the game unnecessarily, deserve to be fed to Illithids.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunali View Post
    We use a similar rule, though it's modified a bit. You have 30 second to start to tell what you're doing or start asking questions that can't be related to you not paying attention. The first part is because sometimes it takes longer than 30 seconds to say and roll for everything in your turn and I'm pedantic. The second part is because we have newer players in the group who often have questions about their abilities or combat rules.
    Also, sometimes my character's actions are based on information obvious to them, but not stated yet (like, "what's the lighting? Are the windows opened or closed? Does the room smell of gasoline/oil? Just how flammable doesÖĒ etc).

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderous Mojo View Post
    A DM is always engaged in a D&D game. Players aren't.
    ActuallyÖ once upon a time, were had run out of snacks/drinks, and the party was having an IC planning discussion. I realized that, as GM, I was the only one not engaged, so I went and bought snacks. When I returned, I asked, "what did I miss?".

    It was great! :smallbiggrin

  21. - Top - End - #111
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Belgium
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    Indeed, in our group (we've been playing together for 20+ years), we sometimes are only half listening. As long as you don't disrupt the scene, it's okay for the GM (we rotate that duty as well), especially if your character isn't there. And sometimes players need to use the restroom as well. While that sometimes happen during a combat or other scene they are in, when I have to go, I try to wait until it's a scene I'm not in (or not actively engaged in) and then go.

    You can actually have players leaving the table work for you as GM at times:
    In fact, when we were playing Warhammer fantasy roleplay, we had one player who smoked and when his character was possessed (a magic mishap), the GM actually asked him to take a smoke brake while we played it out, so his reaction was more real when he did come back.

    And in another game (I was the GM there) we had one player, who was seperate from the group (doing some overwatch in an abandoned control tower), going to the bathroom. The others took the opportunity to place a few claymores at a guard barracks without that player (and the character, who objected to that) knowing about it. Again, a better reaction when that player got told he spotted two explosions (instead of the one he was expecting).
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

    "Magic can turn a frog into a prince. Science can turn a frog into a Ph.D. and you still have the frog you started with." Terry Pratchett
    "I will not yield to evil, unless she's cute."

  22. - Top - End - #112
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Players 'checking out'

    I wouldnít say I want or expect laser focus from everyone at the table all the time, simply because I feel strongly that an RPG session is a social and leisure activity, and I would never want it to feel like work. That said, the way I like to run games does require everyone to pay attention and stay engaged. My favourite game systems donít have initiative/turn systems, so checking out when itís not your turn in combat isnít an option because thereís no such thing as turns. And my preferred style is also to play without a predetermined campaign, so literally everything that happens at the table matters because it could potentially shape the campaign in a major way.

    The more I think about it though, the more itís not a question of being engaged and paying attention all the time, but of justÖ being interested in stuff other than oneís own character and actions. In my experience when people habitually check out when itís not their turn itís usually because thereís a shared sense that each individual player is there to do their own character stuff, whether thatís roleplaying and exploring their character concept or using their various mechanical tricks and combos. Thatís not what I want, I want an environment where everyone is invested in the campaign as a whole and in each otherís characters, not just their own. If you have that, itís fine for people to relax a bit during a session, miss certain things, and then do a meta level catch up here and there.

    The other thing that helps is shorter sessions. Two hours is about my optimal session length nowadays, personally, and itís after that point that I find I myself tend to check out more and more.

    Quick amendment: despite what I said, I do have some basic standards in this area. Of course if someone was sitting there scrolling through Twitter for a whole session I would be annoyed. I mean thatís just rude. But Iím happy to say Iíve never had that experience so far.
    Last edited by HidesHisEyes; 2021-09-19 at 01:05 PM.

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