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View Full Version : How does a GM improve his soliloquizing?



Kato
2013-12-04, 12:42 PM
Not in the "my players don't pay attention to me" kind of way but the "NPCs talk to each other and I need to make this work for my PCs" way.

My gaming group switches around the GM every once in a while and since its my turn again and it is something all of us are more or less bothered by when it happens.
Sometimes it's easy enough to just say "X tells Y stuff" and so circumvent the problem. But sometimes it kind of is the issue between either having a lengthy, important conversation with yourself or condensing it into a very impersonal sentence summarizing the dialogue. Which... are kind of the two ways of going about it I'm aware of and we tend to use. Obviously another alternative is to twist the conversation in a way to talk to a PC instead of the NPC but it often feels like something that should be told in different way.


So, since we have a whole lot of experience here, I was going to ask if someone knows a nifty way to do dialogues between NPCs I'm not thinking of. I know it's likely not something everyone has a problem with but I thought I'd ask anyway.

Honest Tiefling
2013-12-04, 01:05 PM
1) Have one of the NPCs turn to the PCs and ask what they think?

2) Have the PCs ask questions instead of the NPC just infodumping?

Passer-by
2013-12-04, 01:20 PM
In my experience, players won't mind watching you speak to yourself as long as you can be theatrical about it. You may have players that watch The Walking Dead, or Smallville. Do you think they can't withstand some NPCs speaking to each other?

Obvioulsy, you have to make it look like a TV show. Make NPCs have interesting interactions. Maybe one character hates another, but they work together, and the can be snarky about what the other says. Think of it as if it was a script for a movie. You need dynamic interactions. While seeing this, your players may even think they're not doing enough with their character's interaction, and will be encouraged to make their own dialogue more interesting.

Also, like you said, you can't make these conversations last too long. You'll know when to stop. One NPC may briefly interrupt the other, but soon they will look at the PCs and ask for their opinion.

So, this is my advice: Theatricality and some sense of drama, and you can monologue for entire minutes.

valadil
2013-12-04, 01:44 PM
I have a stupid trick. I never put two informed NPCs in the same room at the same time. Ok, never isn't fair. It's a general rule that I break sometimes. But if I want the spotlight to be on the PCs it needs to be on their interaction with each of the NPCs. Making them watch the NPCs detracts from that.

Coming up with ways to keep NPCs apart is easy if you're willing to do it in a contrived way. I'd rather have a game that seems contrived than a game where the players aren't in the limelight.


In my experience, players won't mind watching you speak to yourself as long as you can be theatrical about it. You may have players that watch The Walking Dead, or Smallville. Do you think they can't withstand some NPCs speaking to each other?


They don't mind, but that doesn't mean it's good for them. When I talk for too long, my players pay attention but stop participating. They enter audience mode, and I'm not talking about a Rocky Horror style audience. They just sit back and listen. Then when I want them to interact, I have to fight to bring them back to active participant status.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-12-04, 02:15 PM
Have one of your players play the less-important NPC. Give him a notecard with the vital info and mannerisms (if the character is recurring) and talk to him. Rotate between which players you use in this manner.

Kato
2013-12-04, 02:45 PM
1) Have one of the NPCs turn to the PCs and ask what they think?

2) Have the PCs ask questions instead of the NPC just infodumping?

Well, obviously I(/we) do that when possible but there are justinstances when it doesn't work like that.


e.g. when they have rescued a family's child and bring it back, instead of properly acting out both parties' emotions I just say "they are glad to be back together" it feels like there is lot lost of what the PCs accomplished. Granted, this is something we don't usually do.

Something I'm planning on doing is putting them in a hostage situation. And to prevent them from getting any funny ideas I'd thought about having an NPC try to "play the hero" and get killed to show the situation is serious instead of... well, killing a PC to do so. Or seriously injuring him or her.


I guess passer-by's idea of making it really dramatic could work although I don't think I'm that good an actor (well, not even a decent actor) but maybe I'd actually try something like that.

Grod's idea is interesting for a few situations as well, i guess, but on the other hand I'd feel like making my PCs do something they don't want to do by turning them into my NPCs..

Grod_The_Giant
2013-12-04, 02:57 PM
Grod's idea is interesting for a few situations as well, i guess, but on the other hand I'd feel like making my PCs do something they don't want to do by turning them into my NPCs..
You'd certainly want to ask first. Some people might be more open to the idea than others.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-12-04, 03:50 PM
I have a stupid trick. I never put two informed NPCs in the same room at the same time. Ok, never isn't fair. It's a general rule that I break sometimes. But if I want the spotlight to be on the PCs it needs to be on their interaction with each of the NPCs. Making them watch the NPCs detracts from that.

Highlighting this. It touches on a great point: if you structure the game in certain ways, you can avoid this issue altogether.

If you're having frequent problems with NPCs chatting one another up, you have to ask yourself: why is that happening? One of the players should be swapping into the spotlight pretty frequently, because staying on the sidelines and watching the action is un-engaging. (Just in my opinion, anyhow.)

So, look for ways to offer opportunities, and to break up the NPC-NPC dialogue by turning to the players to ask questions. Also, keep NPC dialogue snappy, and summarize if you must. It's okay if the players get the best lines. :smallwink:

The one time when you might want PCs to be sidelined is if you're trying to convey that they're in a situation that's way bigger than them, such as being called into the courts of high intrigue or a byzantine court system.

(That being said, what I would do is have the NPCs dismiss the PCs in an attempt to goad them into action. :smallbiggrin: )

AKA_Bait
2013-12-04, 04:44 PM
If you're having frequent problems with NPCs chatting one another up, you have to ask yourself: why is that happening? One of the players should be swapping into the spotlight pretty frequently, because staying on the sidelines and watching the action is un-engaging. (Just in my opinion, anyhow.)

So, look for ways to offer opportunities, and to break up the NPC-NPC dialogue by turning to the players to ask questions. Also, keep NPC dialogue snappy, and summarize if you must. It's okay if the players get the best lines. :smallwink:


Generally, I agree with this. Sometimes it's not easily avoidable though and that is when it's time to break out the weird voices and silly accents.

Kato
2013-12-04, 05:55 PM
Okay, I think I fixed the thread title a little :smalltongue:
I mostly know how to avoid the situation, in cases when it's possible, it's more the situation when it's not possible. (see other post)
Of course I still value every advice you guys can give me and I just wanted to point out its not like its happening all the time, it's just these occasions when it happens and i have to be more of an actor than I am that I'm unhappy with.
As i said, going really over the top might be a fun solution but I'm still open for ideas :smallsmile:

TheThan
2013-12-04, 06:01 PM
Hereís a couple of other stupid tricks:

Have the NPCs talk to the players.
Thatís right. Itís that stupid and simple. If you have a piece of important plot relevant information (IPRI for short), give it to the pcs by talking to them.

Paperwork plots:
Sometimes that IPRI canít be brought up by an NPC because itís secret plans or something. Thatís where you put a diary, a piece from a notebook, a letter, a map, battle plans or some other piece of written work in the PCís hands.
It allows you to at least info-dump on them without resorting to speeches or the like. You can make the information as cryptic as you like something like ďAt the apple orchard at the usual timeĒ will give the Pcs somewhere to go, even if they have to camp out and wait for something to happen.

Heck you can even have a lot of fun with this and make up scrolls or notes with the IPRI on it and hand it to them when they find it.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-12-04, 06:57 PM
Awesome tricks. Also, you can throw in "asides" to the PCs. NPCs might have the opportunity to pitch their own opinion to the PCs, or to covertly call for them to give their take on the situation.

nedz
2013-12-04, 08:24 PM
There are lots of tricks.

One I quite like is to have an NPC chat with just one PC (IC: in another room) and then you have one player do the info dump, or not.

You can do the same with knowledge skills etc.

Otherwise you just have to practice your acting.

Slylizard
2013-12-04, 08:27 PM
I get up and move around, generally having a different NPC in a different positon in the room (so one to the right of my chair, one to the left).

Alternatively, I give one an accent... though that risks people pidgeonholing the character "OMFG, he sounds like a mobster... that's the evil/dodgy guy!".