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Jon_Dahl
2013-03-07, 01:46 AM
Well, I must say that I'm pretty upset right now.

One of my players wanted a druid of the Old Faith. That was fine. I sent him a 675-word introduction to the faith (this text was all written by me, no copy&paste) and also one secret of the faith, which his character's mentor had revealed to him. He replied to the e-mail and said that everything was clear.

Another player wanted to create a Seeker of the Arcane. I sent him a very short introduction to the society and also bios of two NPC contacts that he has in the society.

Now the druid's player claims that he has never heard of the druidic secret. I show him the e-mail and he says that he has completely missed that information. I feel like bursting. Your character's mentor has revealed just ONE secret to your character and you didn't even see it, even though you said that everything was clear. I felt like flipping the table over and going AAAAAARGH

The player of the Seeker of the Arcane can't remember the name of his character's other NPC contact. He said that the reason is that he couldn't print it out. Seriously, print it out? Your character has to remember names of TWO NPCs and you can't remember them because you don't have a printer at your disposal? I really had to stare him in the eye for a moment, just to make sure he wasn't pulling my leg.

Has anyone else have this sort of experience? That you e-mail information about the game to your players and it gets flushed down the toilet? Is this common? What should I do in the future? If someone wants to play a character who has to understand or remember A, B and C, what can I do as a gamemaster in order to make sure that it will work? Should I just ban all organizations and have orphan PCs with no contacts and memberships?

AClockworkMelon
2013-03-07, 02:13 AM
There's nothing you can do as a DM to ensure that people care as much as you do about the world you've created other than to relax and realize that it's all vanity. They're going to refer to major villains as "that guy," they're going to mix up the races of their characters' adoptive parents, and they might even forget the names of their characters' gods. Maybe with time and exposure to your world that'll change, or maybe it wont. That wouldn't be a tragedy and it shouldn't get you worked up.

Logic
2013-03-07, 03:16 AM
*snip*
Please don't take what I am about to say next as a criticism on your part, this is just how I do things, and thought you might like a suggestion for use in the future.

Go ahead and send the documents like you had before, but bold the names of the NPCs as well as a quick description up front (blond elf tall male loud annoying) before their slightly more detailed description.

Do the same bold technique for the secret. It is a little more conspicuous and at that point your players have little leeway in saying "I didn't notice."

"I can't remember" is unfortunately still a valid excuse.

Jon_Dahl
2013-03-07, 03:24 AM
Please don't take what I am about to say next as a criticism on your part, this is just how I do things, and thought you might like a suggestion for use in the future.

Go ahead and send the documents like you had before, but bold the names of the NPCs as well as a quick description up front (blond elf tall male loud annoying) before their slightly more detailed description.

Do the same bold technique for the secret. It is a little more conspicuous and at that point your players have little leeway in saying "I didn't notice."

"I can't remember" is unfortunately still a valid excuse.

This is a very good idea. E-mails still may have hope after all.

endoperez
2013-03-07, 03:33 AM
The players should put this information on their character sheets.

There's probably something like "Notes" in there somewhere.

Contact: Guy A
Contact: Guy B


Information: Druidic Secret (don't tell others)


That's a small, constant reminder that there's something like that the characters knows about it. The more interesting thing is the fact that character sheets will probably be seen by other players, and they'll hopefully be "Dude, your character knows a secret! Cool! What's it about?" and then he'll probably spill the beans.

nedz
2013-03-07, 03:59 AM
I've had similar things happen.

I had a guy joining an existing campaign, so before the session I emailed him the houserules, campaign background etc. He designed a character and in a short series of email exchanges we ironed out the details. In my final email I described how he had joined the party. This allowed me to start him in media res without wasting too much game time.

Towards the end of the session, we tend to run over a whole weekend, I got the comment. "I've just read your last email and now I understand what's going on. I was a bit confused at first.". He had simply missed the email, and I hadn't realised.

There's not much you can do I'm afraid, other than give them a hard copy at the start of the session but there's no guarantee that they will bother to read that either. :smallsigh:

hymer
2013-03-07, 04:49 AM
A lot is, of course, dependent on the player. I have one player who I consider notorious for not reading up on anything - rules, handouts, the lot. And this is not because he's dyslexic or anything like that. So the obvious solution is not to give him any handouts longer than two lines, and not having the session depend on him having read what I've sent him before it.
I have a heavy to industrial strength dyslexic player, too, who also needs special consideration. Whenever possible, I make sure he's not the only one with the handout if it's that important, I use short words and sentences if I expect him to get it - and I prefer to take him aside and read it to him.

But you know, most of my players read what they're supposed to read. Three of them even swallow anything I send them eagerly.

geeky_monkey
2013-03-07, 05:08 AM
The average person spends less than 15 seconds reading an email.

If they need to know something don't bury it in a 675 word email.

Either send it seperately, or if you have to send it with the wall of text put it at the top of the email in bold.

Jon_Dahl
2013-03-07, 05:15 AM
The average person spends less than 15 seconds reading an email.

If they need to know something don't bury it in a 675 word email.

Either send it seperately, or if you have to send it with the wall of text put it at the top of the email in bold.

First I sent 300-word e-mail and he replied to have understood it.
Then I sent another 300-word e-mail and he replied to have understood it.
Bolding is a good idea!

GAThraawn
2013-03-07, 07:30 AM
First I sent 300-word e-mail and he replied to have understood it.
Then I sent another 300-word e-mail and he replied to have understood it.
Bolding is a good idea!

Understanding something is one thing, remembering specifically the information you want them to is another thing. Don't forget, while they may have forgotten the only relevant piece of information you gave them, as far as you are concerned, you don't know how much of the rest of the stuff they did retain. Human brains are tricky like that, especially if they don't know beforehand what they're supposed to remember. It's possible your druid remembers 500 of the 675 words you wrote him, which would be incredibly impressive if he only read it once or twice, just not the secret.
Maybe he read it at 3 in the morning, noted that the secret was important, and forgot about it the next day. If you've ever been involved in taking or grading standardized tests, you'll know that even the brightest and most dedicated minds forget things that they have been actively studying; and I doubt you want your players to feel like your D&D sessions are a standardized test.

In other words, it happens, there's tricks you can use to help people remember things, but don't take it personally if they don't. More likely than that they think your world is unengaging and boring, they probably just forgot.

GnomeFighter
2013-03-07, 08:49 AM
I have a heavy to industrial strength dyslexic player, too, who also needs special consideration. Whenever possible, I make sure he's not the only one with the handout if it's that important, I use short words and sentences if I expect him to get it - and I prefer to take him aside and read it to him.


Sugestion for a dyslexic from a dyslexic... Bullit point the important bits. Explain verbaly and give him a bullit point summery as a reminder.

Surfnerd
2013-03-07, 08:59 AM
You are not alone. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you will probably have to shoot it for being stubborn.....

I have an Obsidian Portal for my campaign, but really its just for me. I get the "Oh, thats awesome!" "I will check it out" "Oh really I'm going to get caught up".... I'm just glad it doesn't have a counter for traffic, then I'd know no one but me ever goes there.

I blog session synopsis and my two most avid readers are friends that don't even play in our group!!!!!

Thus in conclusion, Vulcan Mind Meld or Jedi Mind Meld(its new some sort of presidential magic). Its the only way to know for sure.

Slipperychicken
2013-03-07, 09:06 AM
People are busy, not everyone has time to read an email, especially if it isn't formatted. I bet he skimmed the email, tragically skipping over the Druidic secret.

Minitroll
2013-03-07, 09:16 AM
I personally think you should of bolded or made large that druidic secret. As for the names, he should of written them down, but I still forget name's sometimes in my campaign as a PC, so he's got a fair alabi. Sure, the druid should of read in more depth, but a few size, color and bold buttons could of relieved both sides of annoyance.

valadil
2013-03-07, 09:21 AM
I have two hints.

If you want players to read the email, put rewards in there too. I send out XP and loot in email. Players never miss those emails.

Limit how much you write. I don't give anyone more than a single page. More than that and they'll put it off.

Synovia
2013-03-07, 10:14 AM
Please don't take what I am about to say next as a criticism on your part, this is just how I do things, and thought you might like a suggestion for use in the future.

Go ahead and send the documents like you had before, but bold the names of the NPCs as well as a quick description up front (blond elf tall male loud annoying) before their slightly more detailed description.

Do the same bold technique for the secret. It is a little more conspicuous and at that point your players have little leeway in saying "I didn't notice."

"I can't remember" is unfortunately still a valid excuse.

A agree with this. If you send me something thats almost 1000 words, I'm going to just skim it unless you're Hemingway.

Either bold everything thats important, or break it down into a bulleted list.

hymer
2013-03-07, 10:18 AM
@ GnomeFighter: Thanks, duly noted.

GungHo
2013-03-07, 10:53 AM
How old are the players and what else do they have going on in their lives?

Sometimes people get afflicted with situational CRS. Sometimes people skim because they're in a hurry. If you asked me to tell you the last three things I read on this forum I probably couldn't tell you. It's not because I'm necessarily a fool... I just got interrupted 3 times while writing this post.

Lord Torath
2013-03-07, 12:54 PM
If something looks hard to read, it is hard to read.

Put your most important parts up front, and repeat them at the end.

Try to keep your paragraphs short (2-3 lines, no more the 7-8 lines. Try to use short sentences and also use short words when you can. ("when you can" is better than "when possible")

Bullet points are a good idea, but don't include more than 6-7 points in one list.

If you make it look easy to read, your players are more likely to remember what you want them to.

Sutremaine
2013-03-07, 01:10 PM
The player of the Seeker of the Arcane can't remember the name of his character's other NPC contact. He said that the reason is that he couldn't print it out. Seriously, print it out? Your character has to remember names of TWO NPCs and you can't remember them because you don't have a printer at your disposal?
Tell him to write it out on a piece of paper. If he's that reliant on electronics, maybe it never occurred to him.

Did you provide any other details about the contact but the name? If the contact has a random fantasy name (or even a regular name) and a little yellowy dog that they like to take everywhere possible, I'm more likely to remember them even if the name slips my mind. I'm really bad with names.

Thajocoth
2013-03-07, 01:22 PM
I wouldn't remember them either...

But I would create a cheat sheet with the few important details of what was in that e-mail. If it's that long, then a lot of it is likely obvious or fluff. The important parts I'll actually need should fit in list form on an index card.

In one campaign I played in, the party's psion would routinely take out an index card that listed everyone we knew & how we knew them, referring to the card as his character's memory.

I, personally, don't want to memorize things to play. I want to just play. There's a reason I've been leaning towards barbarians... Planning? Tactics? Nope... HULK SMASH! (or intimidate). I also do not like playing anything normal. I refuse to play humans entirely, and don't like dwarves, elves, etc... Even an orc or a minotaur are a bit too normal. Maybe an intelligent humanoid ooze creature or at least a naga or something... I'm still waiting to play my 4e character I made, Grizz, the Bugbear Barbearian. His backstory has plenty of people a DM could use if they wanted to, but they all fit on an index card I can keep with me (and most of their names mean "bear" in various languages).

Short version: Keep in mind who your players are. Some people want a heavy roleplaying memorize everything type of game. Some want a break from thinking.

NichG
2013-03-07, 01:52 PM
To follow up on memory stuff. Memory comes from connecting things to other things you know. So you remember a secret if, when reading it, you understand why it is a secret and why it is important. If the secret is just 'EGTHZ is the magic word' then you'll forget it, because it has no connection to anything else so it just tends to get lost.

Same for contact information. If the information is 'Name 1 is in place name 2' you'll forget it. I've forgotten things like the name of my character's parents, which I myself determined and wrote down, because after character generation it never came up until at one point I wanted to make a comment about it and realized I'd forgotten. It wasn't connected to anything actually in-play.

So if you want someone to remember something, tie it in to things they already know. Make sure its relevant to something they not only know, but care about in some way. Its hard to do this before play even begins, which may be what you ran into. In this case I'd suggest having a 'pilot' session before doing any of this background stuff, where you establish the world, the party, big NPCs, etc in the minds of the player. Then send this stuff out before session 2, making sure to link it to things in session 1.

hiryuu
2013-03-07, 04:11 PM
I have an Obsidian Portal for my campaign, but really its just for me. I get the "Oh, thats awesome!" "I will check it out" "Oh really I'm going to get caught up".... I'm just glad it doesn't have a counter for traffic, then I'd know no one but me ever goes there.

I blog session synopsis and my two most avid readers are friends that don't even play in our group!

I have this same problem. Everyone is interested, tangents are at almost nil, and everyone is tripping over themselves trying to get to game on time - but only one player actually bothered to read my e-mails.

Actually, this is kind of a funny story. Here is the e-mail I sent:


Here's the deal: I'd like to try running a nWoD game, either off and on or full on.

What I'd like to do is have people start out as mortals/Hunter Tier 1 to Tier 2 types with minimal knowledge of the supernatural; some is ok (and the Occult skill is perfectly fine (talk to me, I have a specialties list)), but for the most part, the supernatural is unknown because A) Clarke's Law and B) I've said it before: in this "setting," the books are all lies and any knowledge you have of how the canon setting "works" is not how it works. As time goes on, the nature of things will hopefully be slowly peeled away and movement up tiers and even templates will occur. This will be a heavy RP/investigation type game, and I am looking for normal people. Police officers, investigators, and other such "situation pokers" are ok. I'd like a short write up of friends and family and the sorts of thing your character does on their time off. If you have trouble, contact myself or (other player) who can help you.

Places of inspiration for the theme and tone of the setting I'm going for include:
Twin Peaks (TV series)
The Addams Family (TV series/films)
Persona (video game series)
Blue Velvet (film)
X-Files (TV series)
Ray Bradbury Theater (TV series)
Ink (film)
SCP Series (internet meta-fiction)
The Machinist (film)

...hopefully that's enough.

The game will take place in the fictional town of Fort Coral, based on a combination of Ft. Myers and New Orleans, a once proud tourist community now wracked with extensive hurricane damage and surrounded by urban decay, degenerating into a small town as time passes.

The characters I received were:

A slightly "off" FBI/VASCU agent with some minor psionic abilities related to investigation (not exactly what I asked for, but...No, please. Don't take abilities that let me feed you information in the investigation heavy game. He's 50% Dale Cooper, 50% Fox Mulder. SCORE!)

An Addams. Well, "van Buren," but he lives in a creepy house in a creepy swamp in a creepy orange grove and has a creepy family. They're disturbingly wholesome and awesome (SCORE!)

And then: "ex-marine sniper, uses smg" is the entirety of his backstory. His character sheet has all his dots in Firearms, Brawl, and Weaponry. Intimidate, Animal Ken (Big Dogs). All mental dots in Medicine. He did bother to indicate that his old unit is in town and they hang out on the weekends.

And an ex-Army Airborne sniper. His backstory is a four-page gear list (with prices listed and what websites he bought them from!). He has no family or friends, use a post office box to get his mail, and squats in a warehouse that has closed-circuit cameras that uplink to a cloud server that broadcasts motion changes to his phone. He hunts rats and fishes in the river, foraging for all his food, and has trapped his warehouse out the rear end. He has a couple decent hooks in his two-sentence backstory, so it's workable.

I re-sent the e-mail, just to double check and asked if those were the characters they wanted. They sent be back some confirmations. Those last two waited until the day of the game to tell me they'd never seen any of the media listed as inspirations. Once game got underway, they told me they did not know this would be a heavy investigation game. That last guy actually deliberately went the other way when I threw hooks directly related to his backstory at him.

I think from this point on I am just going to add "no ex-[military branch] anything" to my list of PCs that will not be approved.

T_T

JoshuaZ
2013-03-07, 04:48 PM
hiryuu, it sounds there like some of your players just didn't want to play the sort of game you were intending. I'm puzzled though by their not at least looking at some of the media. Maybe when they said they weren't familiar with it you could have pointed to say the SCP list which is at least online?

It seems like this varies a lot by players. My players are fine with emailed info. The most serious issue I've had is a background issue in the first session; the players were supposed to have made characters with a connection to a specific noble family in a 3.5/PF game, and one player had a backstry that worked fine except that they thought the family was the imperial royal line- so it took a few minor adjustments to get it to work.

Saph
2013-03-07, 05:00 PM
If you want players to read the email, put rewards in there too. I send out XP and loot in email. Players never miss those emails.

If only. Every time I send out XP in emails, I get the following conversation:

Player: "Did we get XP for last week?"
Me: "Yeah, I sent an email."
Player: "How much did I get?"
Me: "I don't know, check the email."
Player: "Did we level up?"
Me: "I don't know, check the email."
Player: "Could you just tell me?"
Me: "I did, in the email."
Player: "I can't find it, could you tell me again?"

So I go back and look up the email and tell them their XP value, and they write it down. Within a couple of weeks they've lost the piece of paper and the whole conversation repeats again.

valadil
2013-03-07, 05:09 PM
If only. Every time I send out XP in emails, I get the following conversation:


In my games, those players don't level.

hymer
2013-03-07, 05:18 PM
@ Saph: Suggest to your players they keep their XP total in a file on their computer, so they can copy/paste it over when they see the mail. One guy actually got huffy when I (politely) berated him for not keeping his records straight. Apparently, it was the finding of his character that tripped him up, somehow.

Saph
2013-03-07, 05:23 PM
Oh, it's not a big deal. More of an amusement really.

I just find it hilarious that players will spend hours picking through books and databases for the best possible feats and alternate class features for their character, but can't be bothered to figure out when they level up. :smallbiggrin:

hiryuu
2013-03-07, 05:37 PM
hiryuu, it sounds there like some of your players just didn't want to play the sort of game you were intending. I'm puzzled though by their not at least looking at some of the media. Maybe when they said they weren't familiar with it you could have pointed to say the SCP list which is at least online?

I did. Even offered to lend DVDs, send links to synopses and theme ideas, or send files. If they weren't interested in playing that sort of game, I'd have been happy to alter things - I even tried a few times to inject a few more combat scenarios into it (and ones in which being a sniper/sharpshooter type would let them get the drop on the enemies), which those last two players actually outright attempted to avoid or flee entirely, rather than, say, do what their PCs were good at.

If they didn't want to play that game, they could have just said something (especially when I asked for confirmation if this was okay, and got back "yes" several times). There was literally just no communication despite repeated attempts by me to open dialogue.

SoC175
2013-03-07, 06:06 PM
Is this common?Absolutely.


What should I do in the future?Learn to live with it


what can I do as a gamemaster in order to make sure that it will work? Get used to remind him regularly

ngilop
2013-03-07, 06:39 PM
So, what i got fromt his is players no longer write down important/what they feel might be important tidbits of infromation anymore?

I really need to get to this modern age it seems.. I still old school pen and paper and hey that NPc has shown up a couple of time time to writ ehis name down a a few short quips about what/who he is with my pencil on this thing called a notpad.

nedz
2013-03-07, 07:00 PM
Oh, it's not a big deal. More of an amusement really.

I just find it hilarious that players will spend hours picking through books and databases for the best possible feats and alternate class features for their character, but can't be bothered to figure out when they level up. :smallbiggrin:

I suspect that if you had threatened to withdraw the xp he would have found the email. :smallamused:

Talakeal
2013-03-07, 07:10 PM
I suspect that if you had threatened to withdraw the xp he would have found the email. :smallamused:

In my experience (no pun intended) if you withhold or penalize so the players simply reject your authority, either by writing down the so anyway or simply walking away from the table, perhaps for good.

AClockworkMelon
2013-03-07, 11:12 PM
So, what i got fromt his is players no longer write down important/what they feel might be important tidbits of infromation anymore?

I really need to get to this modern age it seems.. I still old school pen and paper and hey that NPc has shown up a couple of time time to writ ehis name down a a few short quips about what/who he is with my pencil on this thing called a notpad.Two of my players keep notes (though on their laptops). I think the incidence of note-keeping is likely as high as it ever was and, now as then, varies from group to group.

Bogardan_Mage
2013-03-08, 04:02 AM
Twin Peaks (TV series)
The Addams Family (TV series/films)
Persona (video game series)
Blue Velvet (film)
X-Files (TV series)
Ray Bradbury Theater (TV series)
Ink (film)
SCP Series (internet meta-fiction)
The Machinist (film)
I only know four of those sources, and only one of those would I say I know in enough detail to play a character based on it. Could your players be in a similar position? "X-Files, that's FBI stuff right? Ex-military would work" kind of thinking.

Really I think the lesson here is just don't give your players vital information in big blocks of text that they're expected to read themselves. This isn't necessarily an indictment of your players, just because you know it's important doesn't mean they do. If you want to assign backstories to your players, take them aside and discuss it in person. You can convey the importance of things much easier with vocal tone and body language and you can also get feedback from the player as you do. If you must have written notes make up hard copies for them, don't expect them to print or memorise emails.

Kami2awa
2013-03-08, 04:52 AM
I'd advise heavy use of bullet points to get information across for PCs.


Bolding the names of your NPCs is a really good idea.



Use humour; even lame humour draws attention.




Put in images with captions to illustrate points and break up text.


http://24.media.tumblr.com/c3abee6eca4f4616f36fafc4938e7aa4/tumblr_meqgsz9GYt1rmmsdoo1_400.jpg
Preferably ones that are relevant to what you are talking about.



If you want to reduce the amount of confusion between NPCs, give them very distinctive names and behaviours (two villains with big towers named Sauron and Saruman? What were you thinking, Tolkien?).



While on subject of names, refer to NPCs by the same name all the time, rather than have the players split up so they can search for Gandalf and Mithrandir at the same time.



While not suitable for all settings, giving NPCs titles often works better than names; consider The Doctor.

Jon_Dahl
2013-03-08, 05:32 AM
Thank you Kami2awa, all the advice you just gave will be put to use (certainly).

Roderick_BR
2013-03-08, 11:46 AM
(...) Seriously, print it out? Your character has to remember names of TWO NPCs and you can't remember them because you don't have a printer at your disposal?(...)

I can barely remember the name of my own characters and the names of the rest of the party... that's why I write it down. With pencil. On the character's sheet.

Thajocoth
2013-03-08, 02:51 PM
I only know four of those sources, and only one of those would I say I know in enough detail to play a character based on it. Could your players be in a similar position? "X-Files, that's FBI stuff right? Ex-military would work" kind of thinking.

I've only even HEARD OF two in the list. X-Files & Addams Family. This would wind up confusing me, as there's no overlap between them to use to make a character concept. FBI with some paranormal stuff, but mostly government conspiracy plus uncommon family that's close-knit & socially outcast (that I suppose some more average people might refer to as creepy).

I could easily see players not knowing the things on your list, finding it confusing & therefore ignoring it.

hiryuu
2013-03-08, 04:50 PM
I only know four of those sources, and only one of those would I say I know in enough detail to play a character based on it. Could your players be in a similar position? "X-Files, that's FBI stuff right? Ex-military would work" kind of thinking.

Yeah, but see, the difference is that you're telling me now, as opposed to day of game. And repeated e-mails to double check and make sure everything was okay and if there were questions were met with "no, everything is fine, no questions." I shouldn't be held accountable if they players don't communicate with me at all until day of.

Is it wrong of me to assume players are intelligent, articulate, reasonable people with decent reading comprehension and math skills who aren't afraid to ask questions, or at least have decent Google skills?

Synovia
2013-03-08, 05:04 PM
Yeah, but see, the difference is that you're telling me now, as opposed to day of game. And repeated e-mails to double check and make sure everything was okay and if there were questions were met with "no, everything is fine, no questions." I shouldn't be held accountable if they players don't communicate with me at all until day of.

Is it wrong of me to assume players are intelligent, articulate, reasonable people with decent reading comprehension and math skills who aren't afraid to ask questions, or at least have decent Google skills?

It was wrong of you to assume that the players don't have other important things going on in their lives.

Send it with bullits. Be clear. Bold things. This is not the place for purple prose.

Thajocoth
2013-03-08, 05:10 PM
Is it wrong of me to assume players are intelligent, articulate, reasonable people with decent reading comprehension and math skills who aren't afraid to ask questions, or at least have decent Google skills?

Always assume the average person you don't know has the mind of a 7 yr old with the attention span of a gnat & the memory of a goldfish. The factors you can't account for (their life's day to day goings on) wind up accounted for by this assumption.

Jon_Dahl
2013-03-09, 06:59 AM
It was wrong of you to assume that the players don't have other important things going on in their lives.



Fair enough, but what if the player has the time to spend an evening playing RPGs, but doesn't have the time to read two e-mails and make the necessary notes, which he/she should bring to the session?

A person has to spare 5 hours to play the game, 30 minutes to travel to the place where the game is being held and 6 minutes and 20 seconds to read the e-mail that I sent to him/her.

I have never been too fond of the "I have other things in my life" explanation because if you spend 10 extra minutes to prepare for a game, it will enhance the 4-5 hours you spend playing the game. If your time is precious, you should make the best of it, not waste your time because you didn't prepare well.

Saph
2013-03-09, 07:18 AM
A person has to spare 5 hours to play the game, 30 minutes to travel to the place where the game is being held and 6 minutes and 20 seconds to read the e-mail that I sent to him/her.

Yeah, as pointed out, the "they don't have the time" explanation just isn't true. They do have the time, they just can't be bothered.

But eh, it's just a game. No point getting too worked up over it. If the players do this consistently, and the information is really important, then make a habit of printing out the relevant stuff and handing it out to them at the beginning of the session. At least that way it'll be fresh in their memory!

Bogardan_Mage
2013-03-09, 04:40 PM
Yeah, but see, the difference is that you're telling me now, as opposed to day of game. And repeated e-mails to double check and make sure everything was okay and if there were questions were met with "no, everything is fine, no questions." I shouldn't be held accountable if they players don't communicate with me at all until day of.

Is it wrong of me to assume players are intelligent, articulate, reasonable people with decent reading comprehension and math skills who aren't afraid to ask questions, or at least have decent Google skills?
Well, as I said before, the players don't know as well as you how important this stuff is going to be. They could very well make the same complaint as you, they all submitted characters and your response was to resend the same email that they didn't understand the first time. That might be a tip-off that they didn't understand, but they could have thought they understood perfectly and would not be inclined to double check the same exact email.

Also, as I said before, I'd not feel completely comfortable doing it by email at all. Maybe they waited until the day of because they wanted to talk to you in person about it. I'm not saying you're to blame for anything or that they aren't, just that communication is a two-way street, and that in the future you probably shouldn't arrange plot elements by email with those guys. It's clearly not the best way for them.

Jerthanis
2013-03-11, 03:26 PM
Another good source of information retention is repetition.

Tell them the secret in an email, then have an adventure where that information is relevant in some way, then have an NPC repeat the information back to them again, whenever the PC mentions the information, an NPC repeats it back to them.

Repetition is a powerful means of instilling information in people, so they remember it. I can quote verbatim a series of concepts that came up in a game I played 8 years ago because they were repeated so often and by different sources in different contexts. ___ is the beast that can't be tamed. Too many chefs spoil the sauce. The world is pregnant with death. Madness spreads like a disease.

Stating information a minimum of three times, and using the same basic repetition of vocabulary is I think the baseline for getting that information to really sink in. Any fewer number of times and the brain is too busy learning it or recalling it, and no time is spent really absorbing it. The more times this repetition occurs the better for information retention, but I think the minimum to expect results is three times.

Synovia
2013-03-11, 03:32 PM
Yeah, as pointed out, the "they don't have the time" explanation just isn't true. They do have the time, they just can't be bothered.

I have 5 hours on Wednesday night to play D&D. That doesn't mean I have time to read a longwinded email in the middle of the workday thats mostly just purple prose.

Some of us have important things to do when we're not playing D&D.

hymer
2013-03-11, 03:43 PM
Like posting here?
If you have a beef with the DM's style, take it up by all means, but don't puff yourself up and claim your time is more valuable than the DM's. S/he prepared the game and wrote the mail. You could take ten minutes to read that thing at some point during the day if you would.

Saph
2013-03-11, 04:02 PM
Some of us have important things to do when we're not playing D&D.

I note that you have, according to your profile, written 746 posts on this forum.

Synovia
2013-03-11, 04:08 PM
I note that you have, according to your profile, written 746 posts on this forum.

And you, 9000+.

Calmar
2013-03-11, 07:37 PM
If there's one fundamental truth about roleplaying games I've learned in my nearly ten years as DM and occasional player, then it's that nobody cares about the campaign as much as the DM.

Some players just want to hang out with their friends, make jokes and play some funny adventures,
some care about nothing than getting a feat from book X, or a PrC from book Y,
some want to act out their character, but don't give a damn about the actual style and atmosphere of the setting the DM has in mind.

And that's ok.

When you run a game you have to accept that while you may invest many hours of work for writing backgrounds and preparing adventures to make the game world run smooth, your players don't care much about it as long as they don't sit at the table to play their characters.

* * *

And as a player, I have learned not to feel any great commitment to a campaign until it has lasted for three sessions - I'm through with DMs who talk big and then flag after one, or two sessions -; till then the game is just a one shot.

king.com
2013-03-11, 09:16 PM
And you, 9000+.

Pst... the comment was about how you said something and Saph never claimed to be too busy...


Anyway that list you posted was conflicting at best, heres what I know. XFiles is a serious investigation/horror/paranormal show. Then persona is an anime style rpg about kids? Then adams family is this silly show about a monster family I guess? So I'm playing an FBI agent child who is also a vampire.

I can seem them looking at the list, not understanding it but not wanting to look like an idiot and making a character but waiting until the session to see what others made to figure it out.

Talakeal
2013-03-11, 09:27 PM
Pst... the comment was about how you said something and Saph never claimed to be too busy...


Anyway that list you posted was conflicting at best, heres what I know. XFiles is a serious investigation/horror/paranormal show. Then persona is an anime style rpg about kids? Then adams family is this silly show about a monster family I guess? So I'm playing an FBI agent child who is also a vampire.

I can seem them looking at the list, not understanding it but not wanting to look like an idiot and making a character but waiting until the session to see what others made to figure it out.

That's the Munsters. The Addams family are humans, they are just very very strange humans with some ill defined connection to the occult.

scurv
2013-03-11, 09:58 PM
Print it out
Put it in their hands
Make them hide it from the groups prying eyes!

Seriously It is something about a hard copy that seems to make it real to people. Spend a little time with some flavor of office or open office or even ms paint and you can make it kinda cool looking too! Its not a perfect solution but I found it adds decently to the odds that my players will actually look at clues more then once.

king.com
2013-03-11, 09:58 PM
That's the Munsters. The Addams family are humans, they are just very very strange humans with some ill defined connection to the occult.

Either way, its a disjointed list at best, the fact that my connection to the show is remembering a weird monster uncle Fester sleeping on a bed of nails kinda works in the complete opposite manner to something like....XFiles.

GoddessSune
2013-03-12, 11:22 AM
Has anyone else have this sort of experience? That you e-mail information about the game to your players and it gets flushed down the toilet? Is this common? What should I do in the future? If someone wants to play a character who has to understand or remember A, B and C, what can I do as a gamemaster in order to make sure that it will work?

I use e-mail all the time. I have lots of pre written things to send.

First I get the players to agree to using e-mail. Often we will make game e-mail accounts, so messages don't get lost with Facebook spam and requests by Prince Nahajjadi to help him transfer a million dollars to your bank account.

But after that, it's up to the player to check the e-mail. If they forget, they forget. If they don't remember, then they don't remember.

And 'no printer'....lol. I'd introduce this person to the concept of 'paper' and 'writing'. The 'no printer' girl in our group just takes a picture of the e-mail with her phone.

BlckDv
2013-03-12, 11:43 AM
I think this is very much something that varies with your players and your expectations.

In the campaign I am running now (just over the 4 1/2 year mark, it's looking to probably wrap up just over the 5th anniversary, making it my 3rd longest Campaign to date) we have a dedicated mailing list, an online calendar, a printed new player's handout, and a website with campaign info.

XP and Treasure awards are handed out almost exclusively by email, and if a player does not see the emails, they just play the next game down that XP. Leveling up can only be done during restful periods, and players are expected to do it at home before game. Again, if they fail to do so, they play the next session down the level.

My players regularly use the email list to play out lengthy RP scenes that occur in quiet times if a game breaks at a point that is not mid-action. (If the party just found the secret door and game breaks right before they enter it, no RP unless you want to have your PCs standing in front of the door for a while.) These scenes add a lot to character richness and help flesh out personality, but we more or less know that a couple of players will sit them out and perhaps give one response over two weeks of posts. No problem there, they still make sure to check the XP and Loot emails and come to game ready to roll.

The Calendar is great for letting folks give a heads up if they will be late or miss a game, or if the DM (me) needs to shift game start on a specific session.

The new player handout has proven very effective at helping players fold into the media in media res without feeling lost, and we've even found former player's copies up for sale at used book stores in town as a campaign guide. That was pretty cool.

The website not so much; my players usually find it easier to ask me stuff that isn't in the handout, and I find that even materials I put extensive online posts about just get ignored, such is life, you never bat 1000. Having learned this, I've stopped putting effort into it and not one player has noticed/complained about the lack of updates.

I know another group that finds even emails and text messages about changes to game time are often ignored leading to more than once when some players have shown up to find a locked house with no-one home. In that group you can't expect half the players to have read emails with plot points or XP rewards. It just depends on what sort of players you have, and what they want to put into, and get out of, "extra-session" resources.

dps
2013-03-12, 04:15 PM
Pst... the comment was about how you said something and Saph never claimed to be too busy...

Timing is everything, though.

Especially for someone like me--I work a very disjointed, irregular schedule. Some days I have almost no free time, other days I've got plenty of time to kill.


Anyway that list you posted was conflicting at best, heres what I know. XFiles is a serious investigation/horror/paranormal show. Then persona is an anime style rpg about kids? Then adams family is this silly show about a monster family I guess? So I'm playing an FBI agent child who is also a vampire.

I can seem them looking at the list, not understanding it but not wanting to look like an idiot and making a character but waiting until the session to see what others made to figure it out.

I agree. I'm not familiar with some of the works but of the ones I do know:

Twin Peaks (TV series): fairly serious but quite surreal horror/crime drama

The Addams Family (TV series/films): lighthearted comedy about a family of oddballs with considerable hints of the supernatural (this applies to the TV show--I haven't seen the films)

Blue Velvet (film): very dark drama with no paranormal content at all about a young man who gets drawn into the bizarre world of a very disturbed criminal

X-Files (TV series): FBI agent investigates SF-flavored cases, some of which are more occult or fantasy than SF

Going by this, I'd expect some paranormal/fantasy/surreal elements, but an otherwise mostly mundane setting.

Frankly, I would have found the rest of the description of the setting more helpful than the list of inspirations. I'd probably have created as a character an insurance investigator who's mostly an accountant and a paper-pusher and who doesn't have any meaningful combat skills beyond being about to handle himself in a fistfight or brawl.

king.com
2013-03-12, 05:45 PM
Timing is everything, though.

Especially for someone like me--I work a very disjointed, irregular schedule. Some days I have almost no free time, other days I've got plenty of time to kill.


Yea but the comment by Saph was:


I note that you have, according to your profile, written 746 posts on this forum.

After Synonia said that they have more important things to do. It was a joke implying that Synonia had critical internet posting to be done. Hence why referring to Saph's post count was kinda pointless.

NikitaDarkstar
2013-03-13, 10:41 AM
Well, the thing about using e-mails for communication is that it actually takes some time and effort to get "right", as in formatting it in such a way that a person only needs to read it once to understand it.

First of all long winded chunks of information goes in attachments. Make a word document of it and attach it, it's not dutiable for the main body of an e-mail (in this case such things would be setting information and back-stories). This is because people often don't read e-mails in depth. They take a quick look, make a vague mental-note that they need to come back to it later if it's important and then never do. Attachments that has to be downloaded stands out as requiring more focus and attention when being read, so therefore gets more time spent on it, and you can format it the way you want to.

As has been pointed out, bullet points and bold text are your friends, when used in moderation.

Split the information up into proper paragraphs. If you're explaining what type of game you want to run have one paragraph for the mechanical aspects of the game itself, one for the mood and setting and one for what you expect from the players.

Make sure the players have all the information they need, and don't give them redundant information that may confuse. If you've explained the mood of the game and the setting you don't really need to include a list of your own, personal, sources of inspiration. Have them ready if someone asks for them, or doesn't quite understand what you're getting at, but there's no reason for such things to be in the first e-mail (unless you're going for something in that specific setting or a spin on it, but even then you don't need a long list).

And of course, make sure your players are the types that read e-mails, and after everyone agrees on an "official" means of communication put down some ground rules. If you don't intend to help them out if they forgot to check their e-mail, tell them. If you expect them to make notes/printouts to bring to the game, tell them. And so on.
But also, don't forget that you will most likely be held to the same standard. So there's no reason for the DM to not make similar notes/printouts himself.

Or you know, if you have players who have issues with e-mails, or just reading a lot of information on the screen (really, I can't be the only one who finds it far more difficult to actually, properly, READ things on a computer screen. Makes my eyes tired and gives me a headache) just print out a paper copy for them and save everyone a headache.

Synovia
2013-03-13, 10:50 AM
After Synonia said that they have more important things to do. It was a joke implying that Synonia had critical internet posting to be done. Hence why referring to Saph's post count was kinda pointless.

My referral to his post count was implying that he/she clearly has more time than I do, hence more than 10x as many posts.

People need to stop thinking about email as being like mail. Its not, its closer to text messages, or IMs. They're sent, read very quickly, and forgotten if nothing sticks out as being of vital importance.

They're usually read immediately. If I don't have 5 minutes to read your purple prose at that instant, it gets glossed over, and then never looked at again, as its not vitally important.

Think of it like a commercial: if the receiver doesn't understand exactly what you're trying to tell them in the first 15 seconds, you've failed.

illyrus
2013-03-13, 01:11 PM
For games I've played and GMed in we've put a great deal of information in email and/or google docs. Some people read them, some people don't. Usually one person has an internet connection at the game so the GM can just comment that it went out through email and someone will look it up and refer the relevant information.

Some people skip over the "purple prose" and end up doing stupid stuff due to ignorance that gets their character in hot water or killed. This can make for hilarious situations as far as I'm concerned and I've laughed about it both as a GM and a player. Part of the fun for me in gaming is watching PCs perform stupid actions without considering the consequences and then having to deal with the aftermath of them.

king.com
2013-03-13, 05:31 PM
My referral to his post count was implying that he/she clearly has more time than I do, hence more than 10x as many posts.


I dont know why i feel the need to explain this but...

You said you dont have time to waste or something like that.

She made a comment about your post count implying that you do have time to waste.

You made a comment about her post count. What doesn't work here is that she never said anything about not having time to waste. Clearly she does and never claimed to not have time to waste.

You DID comment about this time to waste. Hence why it makes sense that she made a comment about your post count but your comment about her post count doesnt make any sense. Do you understand now?