Advice for a DM




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  1. #1
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    Ignore Asmodeus

    Advice for a DM

    Howdy,

    I have a dilemma with one of my players. No he is not a PK, evil character or any of the simple troll feed post. The player in question has a problem paying attention in the game. Its not like he keeps getting distracted or is bored and such. He just simply gets lost in whats happening.

    Lets say I'm foreshadowing a scene where the main baddie enters in a grand style. He trash talks with the palyers and summons some of his minions. During this time the palyer is paying attention dutifully or at the least seems too. But when I ask for everyone to roll initiative, all of a sudden hestarts asking whats happening, who are they fighting and why. When he deos this, it totally ruins the pacing my game and sends the rest of the players chuckling. Now at first I found it funny but when it kept up for abotu 6-7 scenes, I got very frustrated.

    Now i have asked him to pay mroe attention to the game or think aobut what is going on and such. He says it because he did not have enough sleep the night before and such but I have my doubts. This is because it has happened before in other people's game but never to such a degree. Maybe it could be because my games are full of speeches and descriptive text and such. Any advice?

    Thanks in advance for any help provided.

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    Ignore Percy
    If the guy is relatively new to roleplaying, he could be lost in the game mechanics and not understand the narrative element. When I started playing, I was more worried about what all the numbers on the character sheet might mean, and found it hard to integrate what the DM was saying into all those strange statistics.

    The player could be shy in role-playing situations. It isn't uncommon, even in a group of close friends. Putting someone on the spot can make their mind go completely blank, even if you are sure they should know what's going on. Try putting the party in situations with a little less pressure for immediate decisions. He may turn out to be an excellent planner, rather than someone who "thinks on their feet", for example. You can gradually up the pressure in later adventures once he builds his confidence.

    You could possibly get him more involved by handing him a sheet of paper and asking him to write an ongoing adventure record... Where the party went, who they met, WHY they're doing stuff. He'd have to pay more heed to the adventure if he was writing it down.

    You might also encourage him to take part by having NPC protagonists approach HIS player character, rather than the long established ones in the group, when an adventure is beginning. If he is actively told the bits and pieces of importance to the scenario, maybe he'll feel more included and will have the confidence to participate.

    Of course, as you mention the fact that your game tends to be "full of speeches and descriptive text and such", maybe you already suspect he may have a problem with this. Instead of describing things, maybe you could act them out more often. Jumping around in character with menacing and funny voices may be hard work, but it makes for a memorable game.

    Or he could have Attention Deficit Disorder, which means he isn't able to pay attention over long periods. You'll just have to work a little harder to keep him onside, and ask your players not to chuckle so much at what is a recognised medical problem.

    Hope this helps a bit.
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    Thanks Percy for the sound advice.

    He has been playing for about 2-3 mnoths now and we have straightened out most of the rules based questions and he does say he enjoys roleplaying his character.

    In previous games he has had a small journal kept for talknig down NPC names and palces. Maybe that helped him out too. I will try most of your ideas in my next session. The laughing bit I'm not too sure since he is willnig to laugh along with them when such moments comeup. I really hope its not ADD.

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    Some people take more notice and are more attentive when they take notes.
    It also makes them less prone to slacking off periodically.


    I certainly do! I always try to have a notebook in front of my when playing.
    It is probably an accupational diseaese from too much studying!
    Henrix

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    Our group rotates DM'ing, and one of the guys gave it a go for the first time ever last year. The main problem we found with his games had nothing to do with rules, lack of experience, or game knowledge -- quite simply, his style was overly narrative and our interest level waned. After a while, we had a group discussion and asked our friend to tell us less and offer fewer scenarios where the action was dictated to us. We suggested providing more situations that required the party to act, think, and question what was taking shape around us to solve the dilemma.

    I am not blaming you for this plare's short attention span, but I have found that on occasion a lack of open interaction between DM and players can be a problem. Insert more opportunities for your group (the "lost" player in particular) to make decisions, ask questions, tell you what they're doing, or make various skill checks. The extra activity on their end will likely keep them mored focused as events unfold.

    Beyond that, Percy has made some very solid observations and suggestions. Hopefully you'll find the solution you seek .
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    This may seem a bit cheap but offer him a 100XP bonus each session for being the keeper of the party journal.

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    Yes, a xp bonus to whoever keepsthe journal is fine.

    In a campaign I'm a player in (Talislanta, sadly not d20), the GM gives bonus xp to all who write a personal account of what happened.
    This is great fun, not the least all the in-character poking at the others, but it might not be everybody's bag of tricks.
    Henrix

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    Ignore Hulkamaniac
    Suggest that he take a few small notes during play to remember, it may be that he has ADD or sumthin and the note-taking could help.

    And if that doesn't work then try caffine pills.
    "Randy Giles? You might as well call me Desperate-for-a-Shag Giles" -Spike(BtVS)

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    Perhaps something else entirely...

    If you take a look at studies on how people remember and learn, most show that very few do well with just aural stimulation. Most people learn/retain information that is presented in visual format or, better yet, a combination of aural and visual.

    IIRC, people remember about 20% of what they hear and about 40% of what they see. If you combine the two, however, the retention rate shoots up to about 70%.

    If it isn't too much trouble for you as the DM, I suggest throwing in a couple of visuals (floor plans, pictures/photos that represent the locale, monster/npc pictures) as you are describing the scene or encounter. If you aren't using some type of physical representation (battlemat or white board with minis), that my help as well. A couple of cool props like that may really help hold his attention better.

    Good luck!

    ~ Old One

    PS - I agree that keeping a journal isn't a bad idea either!
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