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

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I always go for: 'So during the last session...' and I keep talking until everyone is listening. I omit important details on purpose, which one player or another will mention I missed. That is when I know I have their complete attention.

Then play begins.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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?
Pre-game is usually about food and getting everyone comfortable.

When I’m running I save the catch-up for when I have everyone’s attention. I get thier attention by clapping my hands and going into announcer voice, and saying soemthing dumb like, “Last time we pretended to be these particular weirdos” or “Previously on whatever the hell this is” or “Last we met this band of dumb-***es”.

I usually get us caught up by asking players questions about what happened last time, and sometimes asking for deep cut notes references if I think they might be relevant.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
"When we 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.
I used to do that with a YouTube playlist of the tavern music from DDO.

Years later, we still make the opening bars of one particular tavern song’s lute solo whenever someone talks about playing an instrument. 😂

Three ways work really well, depending on the table:
  1. Hit play on the speaker, and have it start with the same exact song every time. Pavlov's dog and all. It really helps if the song's intro is unmistakably unmistakable. I had one DM that always started with the song below.
  2. Agree to a time. Set Alexa or a timer and once it goes off, just declare: "Ready?" This is also benefitted by the DM already having something prepared - a short intro or a set scene.
  3. The ol' recap. I think it helps to have a rotation of players do this. It provides investment for them, and you sometimes see different points of view.

James Gasik

A ready check, and anyone who isn't ready gets a 60 DKP minus. Oh wait, we're talking about D&D?

I just let them blather on until they remember why they are sitting at a table with dice and character sheets.


As a DM I found it most effective to loudly announce in a cheesy voice-over voice (think oldschool batman series)

"When last we saw our heroes...."

It quiets people down, allows me to give a recap of exactly where they are, and lets everybody know we are playing now.

Ritual phrases. That's how you resolve this sort of thing. Ritual phrases come from some RPG--I'm not sure which, perhaps it's just a PbtA thing--where invoking certain words specifies a procedure that is to follow. @Mannahnin and @Burnside have achieved the same effect.

For my own game, the ritual phrase is, "Previously, in the Desert..." When I say that, the Session Proper has begun. We don't have a ritual phrase for ending session (though I might see about developing one), since that's usually a matter of "we have to break within 30 minutes of the usual ending time for people who have RL things to do." Sometimes, the ritual phrase changes because the party isn't in the titular Desert anymore; as an example, while visiting the perpendicular plane of Zerzura (my adaptation of the very excellent Gardens of Ynn), I have said, "Previously, in Zerzura..." I didn't make any changes during their (very brief) visit to Thelitaf, an island off the coast of the Tarrakhuna, but if I were to, it would likely be "Previously, in the Sapphire Sea..." or "Previously, among the Ten Thousand Isles..."

Invoking ritual phrases in this way establishes a mood. It sets a clear demarcation of an event happening, and by being a ritual--something memorized and practiced--it induces players to genuinely think differently after it's been said. Like how practicing a piece of music enough times can lead to being able to replicate the motions even without seeing the notes before you.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Three ways work really well, depending on the table:
  1. Hit play on the speaker, and have it start with the same exact song every time. Pavlov's dog and all. It really helps if the song's intro is unmistakably unmistakable. I had one DM that always started with the song below.
The music cue thing is great. I think the first place I remember specifically seeing it recommended was in the Mekton II RPG, which suggested selecting a theme song for your "anime show"/session, and advised that the authors had used Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone. :)

Musing Mage

Pondering D&D stuff
There's only one truly reasonable response when your players are chattering and won't let the game start: :p

arnold GIF


I (player) document our adventures and post them on our private FB group, so everyone can get caught up before the session (we play twice a month). We chit-chat until the last person shows up, then usually get right to it.

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