D&D General Starting your session - how to announce that the game starts?

I play on multiple tables. I'm curious how you all transition from pre-game to in-game.

On one table, the pre-game chit-chat is usually about the campaign. The game starts as soon as the DM has set up his things (we are always a few minutes early). We know the game has started once the DM joins in the conversation, and usually confirms or corrects some of our summaries on what happened previous session.

On another table, people really catch up on life in general. The pre-game chit-chat is never about D&D. And as the DM I really have to check in with people if they are ready to start, as I don't want to be rude and interrupt a conversation. It can be a little frustrating because my mind is on the game already. But the players are all busy people with busy jobs and they don't need more rules in their lives. Luckily, once we start, the game does not get interrupted a lot for off-topic chats, so I guess it's necessary to get the other topics out of the way.

How does it go at your table?

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Great Old One
At our tables, there's always at least a bit of general life chit chat, after that it's either the DM or a player starting the session, but the amount of time chatting can sometimes last a fairly long time, sometimes due to a player being late anyway...


Great Old One
That reminds me of my Wheel of Time campaign in which I played the theme song (Klendathu Drop ;) ) and started by "The wheel of time turns..." following the wind to where the adventurers where as a recap of the situation. It worked great, I should do this more but I don't have cool openings like that in my current campaigns.


There’s some chit chat but we basically get in to ‘game mode’ when the DM gets to ‘alright, so a brief recap of last time…’. Or ‘so we left off in the middle of investigating the cavern….’

so, basically by DM stating a recap, however big or small that recap is.
( well, ok when another player is DMing he won’t do the recap but calls for a player to volunteer to give a recap, but same idea)


I tend to stand up or wave my hand over the middle of the table and say something like, "Previously, our band of valiant heroes"... I sometimes say something as a recap or let one of the players, but my group tends to want me to do it.


In my regular group we usually spend 20-30 minutes chatting and touching base with each other - we only get to play about once a month and while most of us used see each other a lot more often between games, that hasn't happened nearly as much the last few years.

Then I'll usually go with an "everyone ready to start" and we'll get about 10 more minutes of joking around and goofing off and we'll get into the game with a "when we last left our intrepid band of adventurers" montage of the last session from either my notes or one of my player's notes (depending on whose there and if they were at the last session) and then dive in from where we left off.


Space Jam Confirmed
I write up recaps of each session. So the sessions generally start with me saying, "Previously on (Dungeon of the Mad Mage or whatever)" and then reading the recap, and then saying, "So what would you like to do?"

The majority of the games I run are pro games, so the players are very much there to play D&D. Pre-game chatter tends to be 1-2 minutes at most. The only game I'm a player in right now is an actual play podcast, so similarly there is a feeling of "let's not waste production time" and we generally will start immediately once everyone is there and the recording is working properly.
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Pretty much like this:
season 4 kid GIF by Portlandia

As you're all seated in a tavern, you notice a mysterious figure enter. Glinting under his cloak is the pommel of a fine sword.

Usually leads to:

Rogue: A fine sword eh, I'll Sleight of hands it and steal it
DM: He's on the other side of the tav...
Rogue: Then I shoot him. Do I get sneak attack?
DM: Wait a sec...
Necromancer: Keep his body for me, I need flesh for my animate dead spell!
DM: But the Paladin...
Paladin: He looks shady, and is obviously EVIL! DIE EVIL SCUM!
Wizard: DM, will a fireball hit any of the peasants in the tavern?
DM: Yes, it's a tightly packed room. Are you serious?
Wizard: Yes, and it's a small price to pay I guess. I'll start casting.
DM: Groan.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This is a good question, it varies between my tables a lot.

D&D 5e (online/DM): Zoom opens at 7pm. A few minutes after everyone is there (we need some time for hellos) I will either launch into a recap, or set the scene evocatively (including senses not sight) and then we get into it.

Masks: A New Generation (in-person/GM): Plays occasionally weekend day, a lot longer time frame then the other games which happen after work. Also it's for my kids, niece & nephew. Usually plan on 45-60 minutes after we get together of catch up and socialization, at which point someone will go "D&D?", a running joke from the 5e game I ran for them, and within 5 minutes they are settled and ready to play. Usually either starts with recap and setting the scene if we're picking up directly from last session, or an "In the News" if time has passed.

D&D 5e (online/player): Chat opens at 6:30pm, game starts at 7:00am. DM announces start and we go. Cleanest cut-over.

Call of Cthulhu 7e (online/player): Game is supposed to start at 8pm, but really that's when we all get online and end up chatting waiting for whomever is latest. And then for like 10-15 minutes later. During this we are handling any bookkeeping, such as if we get to make skill advancement rolls. Transition to play is sometimes a bit awkward - we all like to chat and often the first call to start gets delayed by "one more thing".


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've had some success with asking one of the players to give a summary of the last session and then following that up with a "opening crawl" giving some scene setting to get people back in the mood.
Had a DM that did this. Asked if anyone was willing to give a recap, and if it was decent granted Inspiration.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
"When last we saw our intrepid band..." [brief recap, solicit recap/recollections from players]

At home this may be accompanied by putting on some adventuresome music.

There was a great pastoral traveling music track on YouTube I used to routinely have on in the background as the players arrived, we set up and chit-chatted, but sadly it seems to be unavailable now. I should find a replacement.
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