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View Full Version : Long Discussions - good or bad



MrStabby
2015-12-14, 08:03 PM
So this weekend I ran another session in my campaign and it gave rise to an odd discussion.

By odd, I mean long.

It was almost 50 minutes of debate (IC) about how to move the plot forward (which side to take, who could be persuaded of what, who would be the better ally, which places could be journied to in time etc.. Lots of detail was raised, some of it relevant, some of it less so to decide where to take the campaign.

Now I really enjoyed it as a DM, getting to see the whole world through other people's eyes (sometimes groaning at things I missed, sometimes groaning at things they missed) but I would rather avoid this happening too often. One player at least likes a hefty amount of combat and it was supposed to be action heavy rather than diplomacy focussed. My players seemed to have fun but were keen to follow through with some violence pretty swiftly when it was decided.

Now I don't know how to adjust. Did I give them a good amount of information as there was a lot to discuss interpret and compare (they were smart and were able to build up a bigger picture from a number of smaller pieces) or did I give them too much information that bogged them down and included irrelevant detail.

Should I have stepped into the discussion to speed it up, or does it work following its natural course? Generally is an occasional break from "the usual" good or is it the usual as it is what people like and deviating from that is suboptimal?

It was odd to watch, I was wondering what the views of more experienced DMs are?

ReaderAt2046
2015-12-14, 09:47 PM
I think that this is a great thing. Wonderful sign that your players are achieving immersion and have strong characters. And of course they were eager to go kill something once they'd finished arguing. That's exactly what their characters would feel in those circumstances, assuming that I'm picturing your party correctly.

Darth Ultron
2015-12-14, 10:13 PM
Bad.

In most discussions everything worth saying is done right at the start, and then it just drags on uselessly.

It sounds good by default to say ''let people discuss things forever'', but that does not really work out in reality.

So sure, you want to little the players debate....a little bit, but then get them to wrap it up.

TheRedFox201
2015-12-14, 10:23 PM
As with most things, moderation is key. Problems start when one of two things happen: people get on different pages, and all progress halts.
If Adam, Bill, and Claire all are having fun (or are at least immersed and or engaged) then things are golden. If Bob decides that it's time to stop the talking and go kill some bad's, and not everybody agrees, there will be issue. However, if the whole session starts and ends with "what do we do about bbeg and the political climate?", then nothing is getting done. Soon, like a plane losing speed, your campaign will stall and crash.

My advice is to get them to put their plan in action, and be ready as a dm to do so.

Slipperychicken
2015-12-14, 10:32 PM
It's mainly a problem with the genre. In-universe, the characters often have hours, if not days or longer, to calm down and mull these things over to make a good decision. IRL, their players don't have that kind of time (usually a few minutes. Maybe some hours at most), and their minds are often taxed by exhaustion, excitement, and out-of-game concerns. Plus, their decision-making ability is further hobbled by very low-quality information, as all their information is necessarily secondhand or third-hand, having been communicated verbally by a single imperfect source (the GM) instead of experienced directly. That means there is a huge potential to misinterpret, forget, or simply fail to notice important details, especially if the GM is being stingy with details and reminders, or if any players (including the GM) are growing impatient.

So, I have some causes for the issue, but no good solutions have come to my mind yet.

hifidelity2
2015-12-15, 04:52 AM
So long as this is not happening at every session then there are no problems indeed as stated above its shows they are engaged. Its (to me as DM) fun to see the players engaged and use some of their (erroneous) assumptions as new plot hooks or make a note to give them more pointers to areas of the plot they missed

Mastikator
2015-12-15, 05:26 AM
Bad.

In most discussions everything worth saying is done right at the start, and then it just drags on uselessly.

It sounds good by default to say ''let people discuss things forever'', but that does not really work out in reality.

So sure, you want to little the players debate....a little bit, but then get them to wrap it up.

This, once you hear people repeating themselves things are only going to go down hill. As a DM you probably shouldn't really weigh in on which side is right, but you could try to compel a decision out of them.

themaque
2015-12-15, 06:41 AM
GOOD

Actually, what you just described is often my favorite part of the game both as player and as GM. Talking in character, planing out the next stages, trying to get a grip on the situation and understanding of our role in the world.

They spent and hour doing this? Unless they where complaining I don't see a problem honestly. By your description they got to the action pretty quickly after. As stated above in character they have hours if not days to hash this stuff out but IRL?

ImNotTrevor
2015-12-15, 10:24 AM
If they were bored while planning, then it was bad.

If everyone was attentive, having a good time, and animated about things, then it was good.

Having this happen on occasion is fine. Having it happen every single session is bad.

Sometimes, listening to character personalities clash is serious fun. Sometimes it's a drag.

With a social game like trpgs, one thing to bear in mind is this:
How players FEEL about what is happening is more important than what is happening.

If the players are having fun debating and arguing, lots of smiles and in-character passion, then it's totally fine. If the players look bored and tired and stressed by the decisionmaking, then things should be simplified.

If Grokunk the Barbarian is crushing goblin skulls and ripping spines out of bugbears, but Steve (who plays him) seems bored, then something is wrong.

If Grokunk is watching everyone argue about allegiances and picking his nose while he makes uninformed comments, but Steve is all smiles, then something has gone terribly right.

DireSickFish
2015-12-15, 11:16 AM
I like this as a DM. It means they are taking my world seriously and that I've presented them with a problem that has solutions but isn't easy to solve. It also gives me a break from speaking and having to give out details about everything. Make sure you stay involved in the discussion however to correct details or highlight consequences you think they aren't considering to make sure they're making the most informed decision they can.

That said if you -do- feel that it's dragging on to long for one reason or another there are things you can do. Interrupt the conversation with some action. Perhaps they get ambushed by some thugs, or they hear word that a plot critical PC has been murdered. Light a fire under them and give them something pressing, at the very least they can mull over decisions in there head while they're dealing with the urgent problem so might come to a conclusion easier once they re-start the discussion.

Quertus
2015-12-15, 11:49 AM
Really, only your players can answer that question. But, based on my experiences, I'll weigh in on the side of guessing "good".

AMFV
2015-12-15, 12:05 PM
It depends, if it's a long discussion that all the players are involved in that's increasing their immersion. I would say very good. If it's two players arguing angrily while the others sit by and twiddle their thumbs uncomfortably bad.

I would disagree that moderation is key, rather the appropriateness of the discussion.

Honest Tiefling
2015-12-15, 01:15 PM
Did you enjoy it? Did they? Then mission accomplished if everyone at the table had fun. If you have worries about it, I'd address the issue to the players themselves and see how they feel about it. Heck, the combat-focused character might enjoy talking of tactics now and again.

MrStabby
2015-12-15, 06:17 PM
Did you enjoy it? Did they? Then mission accomplished if everyone at the table had fun. If you have worries about it, I'd address the issue to the players themselves and see how they feel about it. Heck, the combat-focused character might enjoy talking of tactics now and again.

Yeah, I loved it. It was actually very informative for me to see how the players viewed the world and the characters. I have made some revisions based on it.

Did they enjoy it? Hard to tell, but I think so. They were animated and cooperative but it did sometimes feel like some classes didn't have the out of combat abilities to contribute to strategic plans. They were still discussing them though and seemed happy.

Being new to DMing I was wondering if this was normal or if it was a good sign or a bad sign. It seems views are mixed; I shall watch these trends though.

I am also pretty sure I can drop a brief side quest that can also give some information that leads to some more discussions and i can time it for when one of the people who was a bit quieter is away.

AMFV
2015-12-16, 06:33 PM
Being new to DMing I was wondering if this was normal or if it was a good sign or a bad sign. It seems views are mixed; I shall watch these trends though.

I think new DMs tend to overreact to things. Sometimes sitting and watching something can be a good plan. Or if worst case comes to worst, just ask the players if they're enjoying something. Since at different tables, different people enjoy different things.

TheIronGolem
2015-12-16, 06:41 PM
Is the discussion getting personal and resulting in hurt feelings OOC?

Are other players getting ignored or feeling left out of the discussion?

If the answer to either of those questions is "yes", then there's a problem. But either way, the length of the discussion isn't important. What matters is the effect it's having on the enjoyment of the game.