Discussion:How do you keep players' attention while DMing?
From D&D Wiki
How do you keep players' attention while DMing?
18.104.22.168 01:05, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I am the DM of a Group of players who are easily distracted. While I know that it is natural to get distracted every once and a while, this is becoming an increasingly frequent problem. How do you suggest that I keep them attentive when I need to tell them information?
Green Dragon 03:24, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
It could be any number of problems.
The most likely is that they do not find what their character is doing is as interesting as whatever they want to say to each other. To stop this their are any numbers of options.
- Add some "Horror" (HoH) into the campaign - sometimes this make the players wonder about the rules of D&D once again, eliciting interest and many times outrage; but at least not distraction.
- Move (boat, teleport, etc) the players into a more interesting part of the world - maybe where they currently are is just to simple for them. Do not break the rules of course - if you do the players will have even less interest (fake).
- Do a dungeon with A LOT of thinking needed - such as a trap filled dungeon. They have to take actions and not just rolling however it is still combat oriented.
- Do something epic for them - like having them have to destroy a small town for some reason. I find that characters like epic things and it keeps them on their toes.
Most of all I would say do not take any actions for them. Make them have to think. For example do not let them just know who to speak to - make them have to say "I go to the shrine to talk to the priest" and then when there, of course, make them speak. NPCs live in D&D - they don't metagame.
I have a group of kids playing that really don't know how to role play very well and try to play like it's a video game. So I have found that using this simple rule of dming helps to keep players focused. At the beginning of a session I tell them, "What you say can and will be used against you." this just helps them remember that when playing "table talk" is not appreciated. When the distracted talk gets out of hand I tend to throw some random distraction [an encounter that fits into the session] at them, hopefully nothing that will kill their character but something to make them stop and think. This can be something as simple as having them roll a reflex save. At the same time as the dm I also realize they need to do some "table talking" and I allow for those moments as well so when things might bog down I give them something to talk about. It might be as simple as having them discuss what just happened and having them devise their next plan of action.
It depends really how you DM, I good way to DM is to try and make the characters have to do certain checks, such as knowledge checks. Of course it is also wise to have a good amount of Roleplaying and Combat to keep all the players interested, add a twist to the campaign or do a spin-off if the current campaign is starting to drag. --"To live on and not regret something which cannot be changed" - ZappiestTom (talk) 17:09, 13 July 2013 (MDT)
My players get distracted all the time, and I have different ways of dealing with it...
I give notes to my players to give them important information. If this info is for everyone, I tell them I need their attention. (A bell, or empty soda can with a pencil can help). I buy loads of papers and sticky notes from the dollar store, and use them for EVERYTHING. (Ex: PCs make Spot checks, only two succeed, write note of what the two characters see, give the note to one person, and tell the other that they are allowed to also read the note. The others are told that they see nothing, or minimum for Spot).
It does take a little time to get used to it. Another thing is getting used to separating Character knowledge from player knowledge. (Ex: I'm a DM, so I know my character can never make the Jump check I'm asked to do; My character fails to judge the distance, and believes they will make it. I'll have to make the character Jump anyway, because that's what the character would do). Point out when players are mixing their own knowledge with their characters, certain players (like one I have) will be angry for this, but it usually gets looked over quickly. Other times, some Players will cover their ears while I tell information to the others so they would never have the information anyway.
I also give XP for character development. If a character decides to follow a deity, calming a round of rowdy Dwarves in the tavern, giving their character background story, seeking out history of towns or royalty. Even stealing can be true to a character's personality. Minor XP rewards are awesome for persuading Players to do things. 50xp, 100xp, later 200xp... It may seem like a little, but it adds up. And if you have pets that jump up on your lap, you can do what I do, and roll "Doggy of Doom, or Kitty of Chaos. lol. Have everyone roll a d20, while you roll one too. Whoever gets closest gets bonus xp at the end of the game. After a while I didn't have to remind the Players, but they will begin paying attention to you, because at the end of the game when you announce the bonus xp, they will feel left out.
[Yesh, I can be a silly DM... but it keeps everyone happy and having a good time.]
When dealing with players who refuse to role play, I'd set up a campaign that is more character based (kinda political). It can be hard to hook the characters into such a campaign, but it can be easy if you don't mind being the NPC who cried "Direwolf"! XD
[Cool adventure plot I just made up... A boy runs in crying Direwolf, the PCs go to check it out; There are no wolves, but the boy is now missing. PCs find out (if they do not pursue the boy themselves, have an NPC woman come up to them after they discover it was a false alarm), the NPC woman is the boys mother, and he had been missing for months with no sign, she begs the PCs for help. If this isn't enough to motivate your Players, have the woman offer a trinket for their help [possibly an amulet or ring, possibly magical, and worth their while]. If the PCs begin traveling into the woods (or wherever they're not supposed to) have a traveler pass by them (a smart PC will inquire if the traveler had seen the boy) The traveler can point them in any direction you want (this is a covert way to lead a party of characters). The adventure should eventually lead back into town. Place clues at several key points (an Innkeeper, a Tavern owner, a Stableboy, wherever you like), the characters must now use their Charisma and People skills to find the boy. You may even have some minor battles scattered around. (Ex: for information, the Tavern Owner may ask the PCs to kill some vermin that have decided to take over his distant ale brewery). Then you can have the PCs running around for hours, and hopefully interested. ^_^ At the end, give experience for the challenge. (Ad Hoc) Probably, if the adventure took the entire night, you'd want to give them XP equal to a decent challenge. At the end, if it didn't take long enough, or the players are complaining with not enough to do... after getting their reward for the boy, the boy can tell them that there really is a Direwolf pack, and leads them to it. It can be wolves, direwolves, werewolves, zombie wolves, or legendary wolves, whatever you want, but make it challenging so in the end it felt as though it was worth the while. Even so, you can add whatever twists you want. The wolves could have been an illusion set up to keep people away from a certain ruin... and an evil sorcerer could be there, or an entire dungeon to explore later, leaving PCs eager for the next game.
[I realize I wrote a lot here... I'm sorry, I get carried away sometimes.]