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Like the title says, two players engage in mostly quiet small talk amongst themselves. However, they miss what the other characters are saying, both to the DM and to each other, meaning either I or the player then has to reiterate everything that just happened.

The other players are great. They listen to everyone and RP when applicable, but the "problem two" have formed a bond and just love to giggle and talk AS SOON as someone other than one of the two of them starts talking.

I'm looking for ideas on how to change this. It's a game where everyone should feel involved. I realize a roster change is an option, but it's my last resort. We all started together, and I don't want to go that path if I can avoid it. I've also tried adjusting the seating arrangements with no luck.

One of my players is unhappy, as am I as DM, and one of my ex players won't return due to this. Not paying attention, what's the point of roleplaying your character if only the DM hears you? Or for that matter, pulling off some sweet move to a bad guy? Whats even the point of being there if you're ignored?

Any ideas or suggestions is helpful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You said you tried adjusting the seating arrangements, if you put them at different ends of a table od they still do it? Yell over everyone else? Do they know it bothers other players? \$\endgroup\$
    – Affaltar
    Feb 17, 2023 at 5:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you tell us a little more about how that looks like at your table, how do they behave when the other one roleplays and the DM interacts with them? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Feb 17, 2023 at 6:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are they talking about non-game stuff, like a running Star Wars conversation occasionally interrupted by your game? Or are they actually reacting to stuff that happens in-game -- like when the town guards say "halt" they giggle about rent-a-cop farm boys? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2023 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Has anyone even mentioned this to them as a problem, to see if they're interested in changing their behaviour? Do they know they were the reason for one of your player quitting the group? It seems to me that there's a big difference between not realizing when they're getting carried away chatting too much, vs. willfully continuing after being asked to limit it. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19, 2023 at 3:29

3 Answers 3

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Talk to your players

There is no magic solution, here. I might (might!) have suggested seating arrangements if you had not already brought this up yourself, but that is a solution reminiscent of elementary school.

Talk to your players and tell them politely but firmly that this constant cross-chatter is rude (because it is, both to you and the other players in different ways), distracting (because it is) time-wasting (because it is), and makes the whole thing a lot less fun for everyone else (because it does).

In short, set the expectations for the table, and when they do it again (I predict they will) point out what they're doing and ask them to stop.

It is your choice whether to involve the other unhappy players in this discussion; the only advice that I can give there is, don't involve the other players without warning them and making sure you have their support. Nobody likes to be put on the spot like that.

But here's the thing: You have very few ways to enforce compliance on this. In theory, you can go Full Gygax and punish the players through their characters. But in my experience that's a poor solution that just generates resentment and a growing sense of injustice. Constantly pointing it out, as recommended above, might help. But if it continues for too long, then it is clearly not working and may eventually be just as annoying as the problem it is trying to solve.

In the long run-- and this is probably best kept as implied for the moment-- the only real, ultimate recourse is, "I don't want to run this game anymore [with you in it constantly distracting me.]"

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    \$\begingroup\$ In my youth at my LGS, actually had the random arrow hits you "solution" done. It was a pretty lighthearted game with too many players cramped in too few a space though \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Feb 17, 2023 at 8:20
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Meet up some time before actual game starts

My group had a similar issue when adult life showed its teeth and we didn't meet up as often as before. So everyone had to catch up which disrupted the game significantly. So our solution was to just meet up hour or two before we start playing, so we get that out of the system. That significantly reduced the chit-chat in-game.

Change seating arrangement

While this is straight out of elementary school teacher's playbook, it can certainly work! If players don't have self-control to stop chattering then just remove the temptation. In my group two players aren't allowed to sit together, because as soon as their concentration falters, they will start engaging each other at the expense of other players/DM. Talking about it didn't help as they are aware of the problem, so changing seats was the solution.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - just asking them to stop might ruin the enjoyable social experience that they get out of the game, and while it's tempting to think "but they're the ones being rude, why should we accomodate them?", meeting up for a chat before the game starts lets them have their fun anyway and then maybe still enjoy the game - certainly worth a try! \$\endgroup\$
    – komodosp
    Feb 17, 2023 at 16:29
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Stop telling them what they missed. If they're RPing with each other, their characters missed what was going on. Their fellow PCs are probably sick of it in game, and random NPCs have no reason to stand for it, especially if they're in a position of power.

Keep in mind, this should only occur after an OOC discussion with them about how rude their behavior is for everybody else.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Feb 21, 2023 at 20:22

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