People who have thought about public speaking or presentations usually know that silence is one of the most powerful tools in conversation, speaking and negotiation. Think about any memorable speech. The power comes from pauses. Look at any accomplished comedian. They use timing. What is timing if it isn't the use of silence? Music is punctuated by silence. Storytellers will often use their pauses in very real ways, the best using it in a way that borders on hypnotism.
Yet roleplaying is a medium that, to my experience, abhors silence. Think about it, we have a group of players and usually a GM. 3 and up people. That usually means that there are one or more conversations going on at the table. Thinking back to most gaming sessions there is usually one of the following types of conversations:
- GM to all players
- GM to one player
- All players
- Player to Player
- Any breakdown above.
But I think at any gaming table I’ve ever been there hasn’t be silence. Well except for the odd moment of very uncomfortable silence and that’s usually broken very quickly.
So how do I effectively create and utilize silence in a game?