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44

First, the generic advice: Plan for it. [You do this.] Set aside the first 30-60 minutes for chat. Hold your players' interest with an exciting game. [You are doing this.] If they're chatting, frankly, then they'd rather be chatting than playing. Make them more interested in playing than chatting by making your game more interesting. Is there a lot of ...


29

One of my all-time favorite solutions for this was a DM who would have NPCs react to OOC conversation as if it had been directed to them. Generally at very inopportune times. Or the party would miss an opportunity because game time would continue to pass while the chatter went on. He impressed upon us the concept that the OOC chatter had a cost, and we ...


18

Here is something a little different to try. Give the 3 most vocal players each a task. The least vocal of the 3 should be the keeper of time. It is their job to know how much time has passed 'in game time'. i.e. "That combat and the short rest that followed took our party 40 minutes of character time". They should keep a written record of this. They ...


18

One thing we did was lead off each session with dinner. Currently we meet at a local restaurant and we take about an hour before going to our host's house to play the game. This serves to get a lot of the OOC chat out of our system. Previously, we've gotten pizza or other food delivered. It was clearly understood that while we were eating, there wasn't ...


13

Actually libraries and pubs are both good choices. Our local historical mini's club routinely uses the library and The Escapist sponsors Terra Libris, a project to play RPGs in libraries. A local group plays in a 24/7 McDonalds on Friday. We have a local university sponsored club. I've played quite a bit in coffee shops. Just keep buying refills and the ...


11

After years of being plagued from the same problem, we started to keep all the characters in a single folder, which is either kept by the DM or where we usually play. My backup option is: "wing it". it's not really a problem if your skills are a bit off for a single session :) On top of that, I always keep a "character cheat sheet" for all characters with ...


10

1) Ask them to stop. They might not be aware that you think it's a problem. For some folks (I'm one), the social aspect of the game is often the best part. Others could just be coasting on habits from other games. Make your expectations clear - you're the GM, after all. 2) Give the adventures more/less social content. Your GMing style probably leans toward ...


10

If you have a good gaming store, they may be willing to host your gaming group, especially if you are good customers of the store. It depends on their space--but I've managed a Saturday game at a local game store for several months. This is usually a better option if your game is open to new players, but it can be useful in all cases.


9

I allow them to reconstruct it during play. To a degree, this depends on the game, but even in the more complex games it's the end results that matter more than the formulas. For example, if I know that my energy blaster in Champions has a big energy blast with a bunch of different options, I can probably get away with saying I do 12d6 with a single-target ...


7

At my table, we developed a catchphrase. During a game of L5R we were having a training scene in a dojo, and when anyone (even myself) got sidetracked and it was realized, I would say "Back to the dojo." It was both hilarious and effective. Nowadays, I still say "[Back to the] Dojo" if any table is being particularly noisy/tangential/sidetracked, and it's ...


6

I have a DnD insider subscription and require all players to enter their character in to the character builder. This way I can print off a spare copy if it is ever needed. However, this does not take in to account their inventory, however, it's usually good enough for us to get by, or have someone else take control of an absent player's character.


5

Lots of great answers to the main question, so I won't elaborate on that. However, I am the lone smoker in my group, so I thought it might be useful to hear some advice from that perspective. First, as one person commented above, be proactive about the smoker's breaks. If a situation is coming up that will require everyone's, or just my, attention for a ...


4

For me, I'd ask myself the question ... are people enjoying the game ? If they are, then I'm tempted to go with the old adage ... if it ain't broke, don't fix it Past that, maybe have a talk with people on what they want from the game, are they happy with the "non-game" time, etc.


4

What I did in one campaign (which admittedly might be a bit of a specialized answer) was spawn Kobolds. This particular part of this particular campaign had the players sneaking/running through a forest infested with Kobolds; their goal was to get out quickly and quietly. Every time the game bogged down (either because of OOC chatter or IC disagreements ...


4

Libraries and public universities often have reservable private spaces that members of the community can use. Pubs and restaurants similarly often have "private rooms," if you are going to be spending money on food and drink and not just freeloading. Many privately owned public spaces (malls, etc.) will tolerate you depending on your behavior, especially ...


3

I'm currently running D&D 4e at the moment, so if someone shows up with a character sheet fail I can just stick them in front of the D&DI Character Creator software to re-create and print their sheet while we get on with the game. The only awkward bit is keeping track of their inventory, but we can normally piece that back together from the notes I ...


3

I keep all of the Char sheets on Obsidian Portal. Then we simply print up our char sheets before the session. That way there is no way to forget it. When the players leave, any notes written on the sheet I update on the digital copy. Nice and easy. Hope it helps!


3

The player's sheet makes a great memory aid, a place for notes, and a way to track progressive things like XP and damage, but the character sheet "of record" is the one that the game-master has. It's the responsibility of the player to make sure that any changes he or she wants to make are reflected on your copy.


3

Some people are interested more in socializing than gaming or vice versa. First thing you need to do is discuss it with your players. "I feel like we're not enjoying the game as much as we could because we never get into the groove of it without disruption. What do you all think about trying to stay in character and not chat about other stuff when at the ...


3

Adam Dray had, as part of his answer, "Create a ritual for starting play". I would like to expand on this: Create a ritual for starting play at an interesting moment. In a Star Wars campaign, I started each session with playing the soundtrack Main Title, and reading a prepared text on top of that re-capping the storyline so far (in that ...


2

Get a bell. When you want to restart game, give it a good ring. It get's people's attention. Even now (years later) that bell has long died, but someone will hold their hand parallel to the table/ground and push their hand down while saying, "Ding." as a sign we use now. If someone starts talking right as you hit the bell, they get to finish, then on to ...


2

We as a group, keep the master copies of the characters sheets, on a wiki, so they can be references / updated as needed, the players are then resonible for bringing, having access to these for the sessions. Having them online works for out group as most of the players are playing over skype anyway.


2

I favor simpler systems because (among other reasons) my group has a few players who invariably lose their character sheets. If the system's simple enough (FATE, WR&M, that sort of thing), I can easily keep my own records of their character's stats. If the system is more complex, I prefer to keep the sheets myself. D&D3.5, though... we all know it ...



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