of dice and short attention spans - advice ?



  • yo !
    i've dm'd for about three years now, and before i've had very little issues.
    for the most part, whenever my group got off task, i was able to steer them back towards the game and get them going again, but recently the group i've been hosting for is notorious for getting off task (sometimes for up to ten minutes). often times it's very hard to get all of them refocused, which leads to a lot of repeating myself when it comes to plot points (they have some aversion to taking notes).
    it's hard for everyone; i have to fight to keep them focused, remind them of important bits that they keep questioning, and now they're getting frustrated with the fact that we keep having to turn circles around the plot because they just aren't paying attention.
    i've tried being nice and polite, and i've tried to deter from calling people out who are causing disruptions. i know being a dm is about having a level of patience, but mine is waning.
    my players are becoming very passive-aggressive about their progress and making comments that i should have "got their attention back" from their phones/snapchats/etc. instead of leading them in circles (which i try to do). i follow a rule of not looking at my phone during hosting until a break, but they refuse to follow that as well (some of their sheets are saved to their phones, which is why i'm lenient).
    it's just becoming increasingly frustrating and i don't know what else i can do to keep everyone happy. any advice?


  • Apocalypse Martian Judge

    How well do you know these players? Have you discussed this with them and outlined your issues like you have here?


  • Wastelander of Zharr

    I heard a guy on G+ say he killed characters if they were on the phone. I'm a fan of that.

    Seriously though, this is a social contract. And your players are breaking that contract. You could ask everyone why they are there. If it's not to play, but to socialize, suggest they get with people before/after the game to socialize. "But for these 3-4 hours, we are playing a game."



  • @judge_john perfect plan, hard to miss a trap that has a instant death saving throw DC of 25 if your on your phone. Sounds like something I would do.



  • @mike
    i know two very well, and the other four a decent amount.
    i've addressed in game about getting back on task when a distraction takes over, and often times it takes a few tries to get that done. i'll reiterate at the end of the session that distractions and being off-task really needs to be saved for the break, and i'm always promised that "next time we'll do better!"
    and then later on at night someone will message the group that they had no idea what's going on, or be frustrated with the general group that there's little progress being made because i generally have to restart and repeat myself.


  • Apocalypse Martian Judge

    @judge_john said in of dice and short attention spans - advice ?:

    I heard a guy on G+ say he killed characters if they were on the phone. I'm a fan of that.

    DM: “Jessica, make a saving throw versus fiery death.”

    Jessica: “What? Why?”

    DM: “You don’t know. Whatever is coming at you doesn’t have a Twitter account.”



  • @judge_john
    i've thought about that !
    i made a mistake when i wrote these character's backstories into the campaigns (it's one of those prophecy deals, so they know their characters can't die lol).
    i'm going to bring it up again, but i've told them that.
    they do have busy lives with college, but in the beginning they told me that they were invested. it might just be a matter of not having another session until they can focus, which i'm not a fan of since it ruins the flow, but with a campaign this size i can't really afford people goofing off all the time. minimal goofing.



  • @snikket Sounds like if they are too busy to play then maybe look at scheduling and seeing if finding a better date or time will help?



  • @sin
    we pick the best day already that suits everyone's schedules.
    the problem is that they apparently don't get to hang out much with one another beyond that day,
    which may be the number one reason for getting so distracted.
    which i can understand and sympathize with, but if you're too distracted by facebook with your buddies to pay attention, you should really evaluate yourself and how you're reacting to a dragging plot i feel like, lol.
    there may not be a real answer to this, but it's still very frustrating to have people hinder the story for everyone then blame people who don't deserve the blame.



  • @snikket May just have to stop being nice about things. I've DMed a few games of my own, and you literally hold the world you created in your head, there are tons of ways to address a supposedly unkilliable player. And the fact that there is no perma death could be why their attention is flagging as well. If your invested in a character and you know you have no chance of losing him/her then they may be wondering what the point of rolling is, there are no consequences to actions. Literally throw one of them to the wolves, make a gruesome, horrible example of them, then stick by the decision, either they will shape up or the game will eventually just become unplayable.


  • Apocalypse Martian Judge

    To me, this does not sound like a problem to solve in-game. It sounds like you should just be explicit with your expectations at the table. If they don’t respect your requests and agree to them, you should ask them to leave the table for players who will.

    You should talk to your two better friends about it before bringing it to the group as a whole to get their feedback.

    Then, come up with some solutions:

    1. No phones. Period. Bring a paper sheet.
    2. Tangents happen. But, when it’s time to play it’s time to play. Respect everyone’s time.
    3. Designate roles to different players to keep them more engaged and rotate those roles. One player takes notes. One tracks treasure. One maps. One is the leader who’s job is to keep the group on task.
    4. Take regular breaks. Every hour or so take a 5-10 minute break. That’s your time to bullshit. When break time is over, time to game.


  • @mike Is a solid plan, it's definitely the mature way to do it.


  • Shadow Runner Judge

    @mike Yeah, have a discussion about it on a different day and also ask for feedback from them on how it can be more focused with less distractions.

    If you harshly punish them in game from it, they'll just revolt and you'll lose the game.


  • Shadow Runner Apocalypse Martian

    You could always have in game incentives for people paying attention. You’re not really punishing people, they’re just missing out on “bonuses.”

    Appointing one player to keep the others on track can help too.

    That being said, the group I play with most frequently (which is not often now that we all have babies) is pretty bad about staying on track.


  • Apocalypse Martian Judge

    @no1raddad said in of dice and short attention spans - advice ?:

    That being said, the group I play with most frequently (which is not often now that we all have babies) is pretty bad about staying on track.

    Right. I think this just needs to be a candid conversation. Some folks I don't think care about staying on track and actually just enjoy showing up for beer, pretzels, and dick & fart jokes while roleplaying. Some people are more focused and serious.

    Getting each player's expectations to align and the DM providing that experience is an important facet of a productive (in the sense of generating a good time) group.



  • I've always liked that everything said is assumed in character unless the player crosses their arms when they speak or does something to show that they are acting OOC. The act of recognizing when you're out of character can sometimes curb some of the side talk.

    There's also a place for candid talk and see if their hearts are really in it.


  • Adventurer

    All this talk of punishing players for being on/looking at their phones is ridiculous in TYOOL 2018 given it's very convenient to have your character sheet in a digital format. Whether via an app, or through more official means like DnDBeyond.

    This isn't about their phones, it is about their attention spans and your ability to capture that. Speak with them away from the table, one-on-one if need be. Get their opinions and take them down. Some of them may feel bored, others still might feel it's an issue with someone else at the table.

    Never assume anything until you actually have The Talk.



  • thanks to everyone for the tips !!
    before our next session i'll have another sit down with everyone before we start and go over a lot of things mentioned here, and we will go from there.
    thanks so much !!



  • @mike said in of dice and short attention spans - advice ?:

    Getting each player's expectations to align and the DM providing that experience is an important facet of a productive (in the sense of generating a good time) group.

    THIS a thousand times. Mike dropping knowledge as usual :)


  • Wastelander of Zharr

    @cawilliams said in of dice and short attention spans - advice ?:

    All this talk of punishing players for being on/looking at their phones is ridiculous in TYOOL 2018 given it's very convenient to have your character sheet in a digital format. Whether via an app, or through more official means like DnDBeyond.

    Calm down. My comment was tongue-in-cheek.


 

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