At some point nearly every role-playing session gets bogged down with out-of-character conversation, and in some cases this can bring an entire session to its knees. Although occasionally irritating, especially to a Game Master who has an important adventure planned, in most cases these diversions are tolerated and unconsciously encouraged.
This is because role-playing is social, and oftentimes it is the only opportunity we get to see our friends. Remember, one cannot role-play without other people (we call that dementia, and prescribe drugs for it). If you enjoy role-playing, it’s partially because you enjoy interacting with others.
But social fulfillment has two aspects–action (or the need to do things together) and conversation–and while role-playing readily satisfies the former, its very nature inhibits the latter. Therefore, a gaming session should reflect both these needs, and be planned accordingly. Here are some social tips for making your gaming session more enjoyable:
- Set aside time to bullshit – Preferably, everyone should arrive at a designated time. When they do, set aside as much as an hour to converse before beginning play. This time might also be useful for pre-session setup, but other distractions (such as a TV or computer) should be removed to encourage interaction.
- Take a food break – If the session lasts more than a couple hours, take a break to eat. This recess is when most campaign related discussion is likely to take place, as the game is fresh in the player’s minds, while no one has grown tired yet.
- Know when to end the session – Eventually most sessions reach a point where it becomes nearly impossible to keep the player’s attention on the game. End the session here, or (even better) beforehand. Some players may want to leave, and others just to bullshit, but they no longer want to play. Just remember not to take it personally.
Do you have a tip to keep sessions from bogging down? Let us know!