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Dealing with play over Skype, Discord, and Zoom?

Nemsoli

Member
Wizard of Adventure
So at today's game (one where I'm a player, but I also GM other games) the topic of talking over each other came up. This is particularly notable now, but happens even in person.

So what tips and tricks do you have? Someone suggested a baton, but I pointed out this is difficult to do.
 

ELF

Generator Sage
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Faster Combatant
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This has been a recurring problem in all our VTT games as well. Some apps (well, at least Skype and Teams) have a "raise hand" feature in the pipeline, but so far I haven't seen this live in any apps I have used. It could solve at least some of the problems. If are using video (I'm not), you could of course raise your hand the old fashioned way.

This is no longer as bad as in the beginning, as people have learned to give more room to others. It's still common for two people to start speaking at the same time, but usually one of them quickly stops. Longish pauses (maybe 1 second) between each comment also help a bit.

One very simple trick is to always address each character (or player) by name when talking to them, so that others know who is expected to comment.
 

JohnnFour

Game Master
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Demonplague Author
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Add it to your social contract and remind people about it.

When people talk at once, most stop and it's no big deal. Some keep talking, though. Remind those folks.

I like @ELF's trick.

I also watch who got drowned out, and next gap I ask them what they were going to say.

You can also use Turn Order or other VTT initiative.

The biggest thing is to not reward the behaviour. If people learn that the fastest person to open their mouth and makes noise gets the prize, you'll be fostering a group culture of interruption.

If you slow things down a bit and ensure everyone gets heard, people will be less worried about being first.

Example 1: The player who talks first gets the GM's ok to perform an action right away. Instead, ask what each player is doing, and then adjudicate.

Example 2: Jokes. I used to be guilty of this. Quickest reply or quip gets all the laughs. So players compete to get the fastest joke in. Running a more serious tone might help, but this is probably best dealt with a group-wide request to hold back if you think of something funny.
 

ELF

Generator Sage
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Faster Combatant
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Example 2: Jokes. I used to be guilty of this. Quickest reply or quip gets all the laughs. So players compete to get the fastest joke in. Running a more serious tone might help, but this is probably best dealt with a group-wide request to hold back if you think of something funny.
Oh yes, that's an important point.

Some groups have ruled that only in-character talk is allowed on the voice chat. So it's only characters speaking, and everything said aloud happens in the game.

Shared text chat is reserved for out-of-character talk, including jokes. Private text messages between GMs and players are for sharing private information, like things that only one character is aware of.

Using the voice chat only for in-game talk has the additional benefit of making the game feel more intense. If the players are roleplaying well, the session sounds almost like listening to a radio drama.
 
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Nemsoli

Member
Wizard of Adventure
Thanks guys, I'll keep these tips in mind for my game (interestingly enough, I think I was already doing this a lot already), and will pass along to my GM.
 
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