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This question already has an answer here:

I've been running a game for three sessions now, and each time I feel uncertain as to how to raise the curtains, so to speak, to let everyone know that we're entering the magic circle and it's time for me to be the dungeon master and them to be the players, as opposed to us being just friends sitting in a circle. I can of course do something like say "Okay guys we're starting now, time to get serious", but this feels to me a bit heavy-handed, and I'm not sure it would help us all get to the place we're aiming for.

This is especially important as I'm going to be moving to a new place in a few days, and any players I find in the new game I want to run then might not be experienced players and have the presence of mind to consciously put themselves in that roleplaying state of mind.

What techniques can I make use of to put everyone in the right mindset at the start of a session and to provide that rigid turning point beyond which everyone knows the game is really on?

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marked as duplicate by SevenSidedDie, Wibbs, DuckTapeAl, KRyan, doppelgreener Aug 20 '14 at 0:26

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Use Music. I have been running with a group of people and what we found helps bring out the story and get everyone into the mood, is to play related music in the background. Don't get me wrong, there is no such thing as a perfect gaming group that does not get distracted, and you may have to say "Okay guys we're starting now" but atleast this way your 'magic circle' starts when the music starts to play and not only does it help open up a story, it also helps contribute to it for the entire session.

Here is an example for a campaign I am currently running (Jade Regent) and a thread where people looked for relevant music: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2mjl1?Music-of-the-Jade-Regent

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That's a matter of personal taste and your group dynamics.

We usually make a slow immersion. If I am the GM, after a reasonable social time, I start distributing character sheets (it's a good signal, and generally forces players to think about their characters), and asking questions: "Do you remember what happened last session?" or "Your character didn't end in a good situation, have you thought how are you going to escape?" or whatever can be relevant. Other times, I ask a player to tell the rest what happened on the last session.

If I am a player and I think it's time to start, I ask the GM questions about my character, tell him about my plans, or ask another player if he would help me implementing some ideas.

Then, either as GM or player, I concatenate these questions with actions, for instance, starting a conversation, making a call (in game) or whatever involves more people than just me.

This way, instead of raising the curtains and summon the magic circle, We smoothly and seamlessly move the conversation to the game, and the magic circle slowly appears.

That's what works for us. Other people prefer abrupt change, reinforced by music, or the GM reading or narrating an introduction.

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