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The Fumble: Game Master Secretly Plotting Against Online Players Who Don't Use Their Mute Button

Cleveland, OH area BM (Barrow Master) Robert Sumner recently converted his weekly tabletop Barrows & Bearowls game to an online format due to the social complications of the current global pandemic. It's a change hundreds if not thousands of gaming groups are making to keep their games going until they can return to face-to-face gaming. The new opportunity isn't without its challenges, however.

crazy dungeon master eyes.jpg

"I can handle staying home," Robert shares. "I'm glad to deal with all the sacrifices and limitations since it helps stop the spread of the virus. If it helps even one person, that's amazing and I'm truly glad to do it."

"What I can't handle, however, is [censored] players who won't use their mute buttons in an online game."

"I like to think of myself as a patient BM and it's not like I haven't given everyone time and mental room to adjust. Before we started playing online we talked about the etiquette involved, such as muting your mic when you're not talking. I reminded everyone again before our first session, and then again before each session. With six players, it's really a must given background noise."

Robert throws his hands in the air. "Well, evidently it's too hard of a concept to grasp for a couple of my players."

Robert continues. "You ever tried to role-play a sinister, nuanced High Elven sub-lord whose every word might contain hope or malice when three kids are re-enacting their favorite wrestling match on one mic and a shrill little fluffy dog's yipping at the freakin' mailman on another?"

His eyes narrow. "It's not easy, my friend. It's not easy. Sub-Lord Melkor'th should have been an important, highlight moment in our current campaign but instead, I think the players barely understood the plot hook, much less all the important flavor of the scene."

"Then the other day, I just sort of snapped," he says, his eyes gleaming wildly.

"It was after my something like three millionth reminder after a mom nagging my player to take out the [censored] trash ruined yet another important game moment. I was trying to stay cool and patient, but Sarah acted surprised when I called her out personally and said please mute. Like the concept had just been introduced to her for the first time."

"That's when I knew," Robert says, full of conviction. "Those [censored] Sarah and Alonzo had to go down. But not quickly. Oh no, slowly and painfully. A death of a thousand cuts like they were inflicting on our game."

Robert continues, his eyes now somewhat feverish.

"Oh, why did that orc stay in the fight a round longer than you expected, Alonzo? MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE I'M SECRETLY GIVING IT MORE HIT POINTS. What, Sarah? Why didn't you find the secret door when you rolled so great? IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING DOWNTOWN WITH A FROWN, SISTER!!! Why the surprised, confused looks? Hm? Hmm? HMMM??"

"Look at this," He says eagerly, pulling a sheet of paper covered with convoluted math and symbols from his BM folder. It most resembles a spreadsheet found in a dark grimoire.

"I've made random tables just. For. Them."

"Every result is guaranteed to provide a mild negative consequence but in a way that stays under the radar. They know something isn't quite right, but they can't put their finger on it. It's like an annoying insect of dire math buzzing in their ears!"

Robert breaks into an actual head-back, hands-clutching-the-air mad scientist laugh as this reporter slowly backs away and thanks him for his time.

"The game?" Alonzo shrugs when asked. "It's OK, I guess. Honestly, it's not really my thing but Robert's my friend so I've been showing up to give him something to do during all this quarantine. I hope it's helping."

Sarah was too busy finally taking out the [censored] trash to respond to inquiries.

--

The Fumble is a satire/parody tabletop RPG news column. It's not real. Also, dragons might sometimes be fooled by Ring-winners and Luckwearers but very rarely by Barrel-riders.


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
 
Last edited:
Shane Stacks

Comments


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sstacks

Shane "Shane Plays" Stacks
‘You join an online game, everyone seems pleasant, yet you’ve been burned before by social habits you found rude—which eventually drove you up the wall. It’s sunny outside, you’ve got your snacks and a keyboard. It’s time for the session to begin! You log on, and a fellow player greets you by name. .... ....What do you do? .... .... .... ?’
Scream "but I never saw Venice!" and go hide in the closet.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I require my Roll20 players to use Push to Talk. It is non-negotiable.
 

Our group moved online and there’s one person in particular who is always talking in the background with an open mic. Sometimes the whole game just pauses while we wait. Sometimes it’s that player’s turn, even.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Our group moved online and there’s one person in particular who is always talking in the background with an open mic. Sometimes the whole game just pauses while we wait. Sometimes it’s that player’s turn, even.
Depending on the audio tool you are using, you may be able to mute that player as the organizer of the hangout/meeting.

[edit] you may also consider asking that player to not attend until they can manage common meeting etiquette...
 



Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
None of us. My state was pretty casual about the lockdown, only restricting congregations of greater than 9 people, so D&D continued on as normal.
Yikes. I haven’t been able to see my dad in over two months. I’ve not spoken to anybody face to face other than my wife and once a week a grocery clerk briefly in the same time. We’ve just last week been allowed to meet one single person only in an outdoor park at a distance of two meters. The lack of human contact is getting quite difficult to handle.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
Yikes. I haven’t been able to see my dad in over two months. I’ve not spoken to anybody face to face other than my wife and once a week a grocery clerk briefly in the same time. We’ve just last week been allowed to meet one single person only in an outdoor park at a distance of two meters. The lack of human contact is getting quite difficult to handle.
I have not seen my family or friends in three months.
 



Xaelvaen

Explorer
Yikes. I haven’t been able to see my dad in over two months. I’ve not spoken to anybody face to face other than my wife and once a week a grocery clerk briefly in the same time. We’ve just last week been allowed to meet one single person only in an outdoor park at a distance of two meters. The lack of human contact is getting quite difficult to handle.
I've stared at this reply blank for nearly 30 minutes trying to figure out the words to express my feelings over this matter without seeming offensive to someone somewhere because of how politics are tied to this whole situation. From across the pond, I can't fathom that level of restriction at all. I pray for your well-being, and everyone's, honestly.
 

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