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Being a Good Audience

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Under COVID, most of my games have moved to Roll20. We use Discord for voice, but there's also the text chat. And it's interesting to me how posting funny junk where everyone can see it seems to work better than doing the same in a face-to-face game with a personal device.

In a weird way, commenting on the game with relevant memes seems to work in that kind of environment, showing that the player is interested and engaged with the action. I guess maybe it has something to do with being in a separate digital space than the Roll20 tabletop. It easier to partition "funny asides" and "the actual game" that way.
I could see that, for sure. I don't enjoy online gaming at all so don't have much experience, but i'd guess the fact you are already looking at a flat screen rather than around a table means the memes popping up in the chat window aren't taking your attention away from something else like they would in person since sending a Dramatic Groundhog GIF achieves the same result as typing out "Holy Moly, the ghost was really the caretaker in disguise this whole time!"
 

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Knowing how to make the most of your time in the spotlight while not overstaying your welcome is definitely an important part of being a good player. It's also important for players to let the other players have their time. It's not right to interject with a comedic response while another PC is having a serious emotional moment. Great players, however, know how to both uplift other PCs while they're in the spotlight and to make other players part of their spotlight time.

With larger groups, spotlight time is really hard to manage. Especially in shorter sessions, it becomes impossible for everyone to get their time to shine, and it just takes too long to come back around to you in combat.
 

Yeah, in Discord, being able to post funny GIFs reacting to in-game events has been an unexpected delight.

Under COVID, most of my games have moved to Roll20. We use Discord for voice, but there's also the text chat. And it's interesting to me how posting funny junk where everyone can see it seems to work better than doing the same in a face-to-face game with a personal device.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Under COVID, most of my games have moved to Roll20. We use Discord for voice, but there's also the text chat. And it's interesting to me how posting funny junk where everyone can see it seems to work better than doing the same in a face-to-face game with a personal device.
This isn't the first time I've seen mention of people running on Roll20 but using something else, like Discord, for voice. Why, if I may ask, do you use a separate tool for voice? I thought Roll20 offered video, but is it just not up to snuff?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
This isn't the first time I've seen mention of people running on Roll20 but using something else, like Discord, for voice. Why, if I may ask, do you use a separate tool for voice? I thought Roll20 offered video, but is it just not up to snuff?
Can't speak for anyone else, but a group I played with tried to use the voice-chat in Roll20 and found it ... unusable. Laggy and buggy and several people had issues getting it to work at all. Voice over Discord has worked pretty consistently. The campaigns I run, I run in Discord: most of the game is in voice, but there's a text channel where I can post pictures to help with descriptions; in combat, I post pics of the battlemat on my gaming table whenever the situation changes enough to demand a new pic.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
This isn't the first time I've seen mention of people running on Roll20 but using something else, like Discord, for voice. Why, if I may ask, do you use a separate tool for voice? I thought Roll20 offered video, but is it just not up to snuff?
We started with Roll20's built-in A/V but it became buggy, especially as traffic ramped up in April. We typically use zoom for voice/video and Roll20 for illustrations and the battlemap (if needed). I've encouraged people to use the text-chat in Roll20 for game-relevant information since it is archived and I can search it later. Memes and meta-commentary can be in the zoom chat. It's working tolerably well, though I find as GM that I can't pay attention to the text (especially the memes and whatnot) until after the game. Not enough brain-cycles available.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In D&D 5e, there's nothing that says anyone but the DM may decide there is an ability check and nothing suggesting players ask to make one ....
So, I know a lot of people are very much in the "tell the GM what you intend to do, and what is your goal, and the GM decides what rolls to make," mindset. But we are talking about communication between imaginative humans in what is generally considered to be a casual entertainment.

I mean, really, if a player has the unmitigated gall and temerity of asking, what do you intend to do? Smack them with a rolled-up newspaper? Eject them from the table?
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Can't speak for anyone else, but a group I played with tried to use the voice-chat in Roll20 and found it ... unusable. Laggy and buggy and several people had issues getting it to work at all. Voice over Discord has worked pretty consistently.
Interestingly, I have had exactly the opposite experience. Discord has horrible sound that doesn't recognize that my HDMI monitor has speakers I'd rather use, while Roll20 is clear and I only occaisionaly (like, once every other session) have to click to reconnect the AV stream.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So, I know a lot of people are very much in the "tell the GM what you intend to do, and what is your goal, and the GM decides what rolls to make," mindset. But we are talking about communication between imaginative humans in what is generally considered to be a casual entertainment.

I mean, really, if a player has the unmitigated gall and temerity of asking, what do you intend to do? Smack them with a rolled-up newspaper? Eject them from the table?
Smack them with a rolled-up newspaper? Really, moderator?

I ask them not to ask for ability checks please and I explain why that's important. I've done this quite a bit when breaking players of this habit.
 


jasper

Rotten DM
Smack them with a rolled-up newspaper? Really, moderator?

I ask them not to ask for ability checks please and I explain why that's important. I've done this quite a bit when breaking players of this habit.
Hey I did that to a my sisters grand kid last week. Now I owe her an Ipad and not invited back. :)
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The biggest thing is being an honest to goodness fan of their character. Take an interest in what they have going on. Build connections between your characters. Ask them questions about their character. Be curious.
 

Darth Solo

Explorer
Tell your players to immerse in their characters or they won't reach role-playing.

You wouldn't be lying to them.

Immersion is the highest level of RP.

Stop being nice and drive them into what the hobby is.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Tell your players to immerse in their characters or they won't reach role-playing.

You wouldn't be lying to them.

Immersion is the highest level of RP.

Stop being nice and drive them into what the hobby is.
Can you be any more "ONE TRUE WAY"???

SOme of my best games have been people who never immerse, but make decisions from what would make for a good audience reaction...
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
It's not right to interject with a comedic response while another PC is having a serious emotional moment. Great players, however, know how to both uplift other PCs while they're in the spotlight and to make other players part of their spotlight time.
Heh. I actually have one about that issue.

Comedy is one of the hardest things, because breaking the 4th wall can sometimes be the highlight of the evening. By the same token though, stepping on someone else's big dramatic moment for the pop culture reference is not so great.

Is there better advice here than "read the room?" Is there a good rule of thumb for when-not-to-crack-wise?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
"Read the room" is the core, I think. "Don't step on someone else's moment/fun" feels as though it should be included in that. The standard "punch up, not down" advice holds some water, too, along with things like "know when to stop."

That's not just one rule of thumb, though.
 

What @prabe said, pretty much. As a DM, I'm used to looking at the tone of the game and deciding whether I need to shift things to a funny, serious, calm, or action-packed moment. The same skill can apply to players. If another PC is having a serious moment, does the game need to be lightened, or do you need to work together with that player to affirm that moment?

I guess that's the thing - you should be working with other players, not against them. Does what you're going to do build up what's going on in then game or tear it down?

Is there better advice here than "read the room?" Is there a good rule of thumb for when-not-to-crack-wise?
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Heh. I actually have one about that issue.

Comedy is one of the hardest things, because breaking the 4th wall can sometimes be the highlight of the evening. By the same token though, stepping on someone else's big dramatic moment for the pop culture reference is not so great.

Is there better advice here than "read the room?" Is there a good rule of thumb for when-not-to-crack-wise?
Reading the room is important. Reading the GM is more so, save for the GM.

It also helps to specify ahead of time the intended tone.
My friend Steve, I know that any game I run for him, or that he runs, will in fact become a strained comedy at some point. And yet, a game set for full comedy will fail.

I, myself, like comedy to arise from play naturally, not be strained efforts of a single player. It's part of why I've not gamed with Steve in about a decade.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Great thread!

Indeed this is all about being good players with a strong team spirit. I think it's a personal thing, some players still see the game as competitive, and they may compete for spotlight.

In the real world what happens is players get bored and all want to roll for every skill check to see if they can out-cleric the cleric or out-sage the wizard. HAHA...my backwoods barbarian knew more about that book than your librarian!
Yeah and why does such player get bored? Excluding a rare case when the spotlight really lasts too long and everyone else gets bored, one player gets bored by someone else's spotlight mostly because he is someone who wants the spotlight on himself all the time.

Two of our best friends are just the type who do that. We can't play ANY games with them because, unless they are "winning", they start turning the game into farse. We have noticed many years ago they do the same thing also when an evening develops into a conversation they are not skilled at... we are all quite educated people who often embark in serious conversations about anything (be it scientific, artistic or humanistic). If we hit a subject where they seem to have troubles following up (e.g. physics or math) they start joking to ruin the conversation.

They're still our friends though, so we just learned that when they are around we have to accept that if we play a game with them we should not even bother playing seriously that night.

Personally, I don't like to block PCs out of skill checks - particularly when there's no specific reason that something should only be doable or known by someone with proficiency in the skill.
I feel safer using the opposite approach: I don't allow checks unless there is a specific reason that something should be doable or known by someone without proficiency.

Heh. I actually have one about that issue.

Comedy is one of the hardest things, because breaking the 4th wall can sometimes be the highlight of the evening. By the same token though, stepping on someone else's big dramatic moment for the pop culture reference is not so great.

Is there better advice here than "read the room?" Is there a good rule of thumb for when-not-to-crack-wise?
The bitter (and somewhat trivial) truth is that the only thing that validates comedy is whether it made you laugh or not.

Should you crack a joke during someone's turn? If everyone laughs then yes, and I am pretty sure nobody's feelings will be hurt. If it leaves them cold, you should not. But how do you know beforehand? Well if one is not too young or too stupid, they should have at least figured out whether they have a good sense of humour or not.
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Reading the room is important. Reading the GM is more so, save for the GM.

It also helps to specify ahead of time the intended tone.
Weirdly, I think the same can be said for a horror game. Asking players to tone it down for the sake of mood can make a big difference in achieving a sense of creeping dread. Nervous laughter is a tricky opponent to pin down, but enlisting the group's aid in maintaining a "horror atmosphere" has a weird way of transforming players from spitball-throwing cutups to allies in the quest for good atmosphere.
 

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