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  1. #1

    Looking for some advice

    Hi folks,

    My group and I just finished playing the first adventure in the Scales of War 4e Adventure Path in Fantasy Grounds and I'd like to ask the fellow DMs here (and players for that matter) about one particular issue that keeps cropping up.

    In between battles, where there is no intiative order, the dialogue can get a bit... busy. Everyone starts typing at the same time and my NPC is hit with 2-4 questions at once. I pick one to reply to, and we get into a whole conversation about that particular topic, and the other questions or comments are lost to the wind. The same thing happens to follow-up questions.

    This problem doesn't exist in tabletop DnD because obviously people speak much faster than they can type, and if players are playing their character correctly, their natural voice volume and strength of character will drown out the others, who then shut up. In other words, when not using chat, the dialogue becomes a lot more realistic.

    I've considered several solutions to this problem but don't want to foist them on my players unless other groups can tell me these strategies work and enhance the RP.

    1) Use initiative for RPing, too. Sounds strange at first but it would be nice because it would resolve the problem of who gets to talk, while at the same time nudging players who don't RP as much to spend more time at it and making sure everyone gets a fair chance. On the OTHER hand, I feel like it could be annoying, especially if one character is trying to carry on a dialogue with an NPC... the rest might not want to say anything for a time. Plus, it's a game mechanic where none should be needed.

    2) Tell my players to keep an eye on the icons above the portraits that indicate someone is typing. This would be the most "realistic" way to handle it. If someone else is talking, you don't say anything until they're done and gotten their reply. But I get the feeling this could slow down RPing, which I really don't want to do... RPing is the last thing that needs to be stifled.

    How do you folks handle this, if at all? Or should I keep everything the same (no rules) and just tell players they should get used to occassionally being ignored, and do my best to respond to as many people as possible?

  2. #2
    MurghBpurn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Plymouth, UK.
    Quote Originally Posted by EugeneZ
    2) Tell my players to keep an eye on the icons above the portraits that indicate someone is typing. This would be the most "realistic" way to handle it. If someone else is talking, you don't say anything until they're done and gotten their reply. But I get the feeling this could slow down RPing, which I really don't want to do... RPing is the last thing that needs to be stifled.
    The lack of speech bubbles has been one of the major things that has put me off other VTs. I mostly GM and and find the speech bubbles invaluable. Without them you don't know if people are finished and the plot should move on or if they are still typing...

    If folk don't take note of the bubbles it's not going to slow things down, but the opposite I think. If everyone types and there are multiple conversations, it takes longer to get your head around whats going on and who is talking to who and replying to whoever!

    Last edited by MurghBpurn; October 14th, 2008 at 19:56.

  3. #3
    Are you using voice at all?

    We use Teamspeak, which is almost as good as being around the table. Occasionally you get more than one person speaking at once, and then everyone stops, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

    A lot of people here use voice for out of character, and text chat for in-character. We use voice for everything. Personal preference, I suppose.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    You experiment with the DM Talking back in character, but having the players type also. That would allow you to respond to several conversations while the players could all be typing. I haven't tried this, though.

    I think the going around the table, ie RP initiative would work too. I wouldn't actually have them roll initiative though - just go in portrait order in the top left and make sure everyone has a chance to say something.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Astinus
    Are you using voice at all?
    Yes, we use it for OOC talk. I think that people tend to RP far better when typing. It's much easier for most people (myself included) to write a role than to act it. Even with the problems I mentioned in the OP, the RP in chat is much better than in my regular tabletop groups...

    Thanks for the advice so far. It's definitely already useful. Keep it coming...

  6. #6
    My players decided to elect a party leader who deals with most dialogues with NPC's they all get a chance to talk still but the leader deals with most the core of the dialogue and then asks his party if there is anything else.

    We also use TS for OOC rules (makes games 1000x faster) but should any one want to place input during a conversation they just say OOC and the party leader lets them speak. I'm not saying this is a system that works for everyone but my group is happy using its elected leader to do most of the talking. Also as mentioned already the speech bubbles are AMAZING! I can tell when the players are done with what they want and then can reply.

    Just thought of this typing that last line as well. As a DM I tend to wait for everyone to ask their questions and know they are paused waiting for an answer then try and answer them all in one dialogue burst, a little slower as you get a wait between text but no one ever complains.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States
    Unless you want to unnaturally stilt conversation, some of your players' questions/comments are going to go unanswered. I tend towards making sure there is only one NPC conversing with the party at a time; this lends itself well to the development of a natural rhythm of back and forth.

    If your players are all spewing forth at the same time then they perhaps haven't developed a good hierarchy of speakers yet. It's not unusual for different characters to be better suited to different situations, so that they can take the lead in some interrogations, and in others they step aside so that other party members can bring their particular expertise to bear.

    In addition, I do spend chunks of time furiously multi-tasking, and quite often I will switch back and forth from character to character with answers. It's a bit of work, but I've found that players appreciate the effort.

    I've also noticed that it's easy to miss a question/comment when it's initially offered, and with a lot of back and forth it disappears above the top of the chat window. I always remind players that if I haven't responded to them, it's probably because I missed it for precisely the above reason. In this case I tell players to send a whisper because the bolded purple text stands out in sharp contrast to the black, red, and green itallics.

    I'm not a fan of restricting groups to having an assigned party diplomat, as it is often only by working together in an interrogation that they hit upon the important questions.
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