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One of my players is constantly scribbling the current scene or location and characters the PCs encounter. Of course I am happy that he seems to be very engaged in the world and he himself doesn't have a problem to keep listening to me (the GM) or the other players.

But he is nonetheless disrupting other players by showing them his drawings (or they want to see it themselves). I have the feeling that it negatively impacts the immersion of the other players.

Additionally I am not a fan that he draws locations and characters, because I would prefer keeping some stuff up for imagination and his artstyle is very comical and therefore tends to change the atmosphere at the table in often unwanted directions.

As a sidenote: most of my players are Designers and/or Artists, but he seems to be the only one having this problem.

Also in the last game we played I tried to solve this problem by encouraging him to let his PC be an artist that makes the drawings from his perspective (effectively solving some of the problems) but this is not an option in this new game. Also I don't enjoy making my players play how I see it fit.

To sum it all up : How do I make one of my players stop constantly drawing without making him quit the group?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is possible your player has ADD (the disorder, not the game) or something like it. It can actually enhance focus for some people to scribble/doodle while performing tasks that do not use their hands. I have a player in my current campaign that fits into this category. \$\endgroup\$ – BlackVegetable Feb 23 '17 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you discussed this issue directly with the player?? If so what were the results? Surely that should have been the first step before even posting this question. \$\endgroup\$ – user34296 Feb 23 '17 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlackVegetable, yes that might very well be the case, like I stated in the first paragraph he himself does not have a problem focusing while drawing (it might even help him) but it distracts the others :) \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 25 '17 at 9:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DoritoStyle, we had somewhat of an agreement for the last p&p game stated in the last paragraph (him playing the artist etc.). It is somewhat of a habit he can't easily shake off though. He might agree with me before the session but ends up drawing unconciously anyways. Therefore I was asking for another solution :) \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 25 '17 at 9:24
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Are you sure the player is the problem? This sounds like an issue that can be easily resolved by simply asking them.

But he is nonetheless disrupting other players by showing them his drawings (or they want to see it themselves). I have the feeling that it negatively impacts the immersion of the other players.

The first thing you need to do is ask the other players if they feel he is being disruptive with this behaviour. If they don't, then the problem isn't where you think it is.

From the outside, this sounds like you personally dislike the activity because you have a picture of how you think the group should be playing, and they're not fitting inside of this. This is fairly common when you're in the DM position. For instance, you want them to be taking something incredibly seriously, but the players are acting whimsical and unfocussed.

The bottom line is that this is meant to be a game played for fun. The most important question you need to ask yourself is, "Are the players having fun?"

If they answer is yes, then start evaluating why you are not having fun, and discuss this with the players to see if you can form a resolution. Ultimately, you can't make somebody stop drawing. You can ask them to. But primarily, you should be discussing it with the other players to get their opinion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yup, sounds obvious but you are definitely right. Will do! Thanks :) \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 23 '17 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I really like this answer. You reminded them (and me) that the purpose of this is to let your players enjoy this. While it is important that you enjoy the game, you won't have a game if your players leave. \$\endgroup\$ – C Anderson Feb 23 '17 at 22:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning that for many people, they find it much easier to focus on listening if they are doing something to keep their hands busy. Do they actually fail to notice when it's their turn to do something in game? Do they regularly not catch what is said? Or is the drawing just giving you the impression that they aren't paying attention? \$\endgroup\$ – Shufflepants Feb 24 '17 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shufflepants if you reread the question you will probably notice that I mentioned the other players being distracted, while he himself doesn't have any problems focusing on the story etc. while drawing. \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 26 '17 at 14:44
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I play with a bunch of artists who are often sketching parts of the game during the session. There's one understanding we have somehow organically arrived at that makes it tenable: sharing is for after the session. We never have art appreciation moments disrupt our game.

In my experience, and in your question, the drawing activity isn't itself a problem, just the interruptions caused by sharing its results. Ask your player to keep the drawings "under wraps" until the end of the session. Unless there's another problem compounding this that would make simply requesting insufficient, you'll get your more focused, less interrupted sessions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is correct, to my mind. If he takes OP's suggestion - that the art is made by his character - the its cartoonish nature could even make for a good running gag with the other PCs... those are the kinds of things that make a campaign memorable. Bad form to do away with it, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – Conduit Feb 23 '17 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will definitely incorperate the ruling that sharing is for after the session! Thanks! And yes, I do not want to forbid him from drawing! \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 23 '17 at 17:03
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It seems to me that the "core problem" here is not so much about the fact that he's making these drawings, but rather the style of the drawings. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. You dislike the drawings because they are more light-hearted and comical, and after seeing these, it changes how the players perceive the characters and events of the game, and how they react to the world and the story you're trying to tell.

You could try asking the player politely if he could try drawing things in a more serious tone. Something that establishes the correct mood that you're hoping for. In this way, the player still gets to draw (which he enjoys), the other players still get to watch (which they enjoy) and you get to more firmly establish an atmosphere befitting the game you want to run (which you will hopefully enjoy.)

You could sit down with this player some time (off-session) and do a little art experimentation to figure out what best suits both your desires as a storyteller and his desires as an artist. Then you could give him a stack of blank cards to draw on and begin re-using pictures of characters and locations that are recurrent in the game. If I were in your position, I think this could make an already good game truly epic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like the idea of it. But yeah, like other users posted - I am pretty sure that I am the problem. Thank you nonetheless! \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 23 '17 at 17:04
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So far, others have mentioned ways to get the player to change their behaviour: asking him to draw in a different style, asking the players not to share until after the session,...

However, I have a different suggestion, or at least one that can be implemented alongside the other suggestions: make the artistic player your official cartographer, mapmaker and visual aid designer. I may not be actively in a group, but as a GM, I would love to have a player who is engrossed enough in the campaign to not only take notes, but make the effort to create drawings from those notes AND share them with the group. In addition, allowing him to turn your descriptions into visual displays of the world and its locations and inhabitants can help you find holes in your story, as well as come up with new exciting locations and people for later sessions and acts.

Your secondary problem, that the mood and style of his drawings are not serious enough for your campaign, can be solved by adjusting the mood of your campaign. The other members are obviously interested in the drawings because they ask to look at them, and I don't think you mentioned that they think the drawings are a poor fit. Of course, if your players explicitly asked for a non-funny atmosphere for the campaign, then changing the mood is not really an option. If they're open to the idea and it doesn't disturb the setting too much, having a bit lighter tone to fit the drawings could be a solution.

And even if the intended setting for the world is a crapsack world, having some levity is not necessarily a bad thing. A story that's really dark may cause players to become gloomy and moody from all the dark and sad themes. Having some lighter drawings to take the edge of the world may give your players some respite from all the negativity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your input. The campaign has indeed been adjusted accordingly :) \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 24 '17 at 23:03
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As I see it, you personally dislike what the player is doing, but the rest of the players enjoy it. This is a problem because you, the DM, are also entitled to have your fun. That said, it would be bad to have your fun at the expense of your players.

I personally have never had this issue. But, for the sake of brainstorming, here's a few things I can come up with to help, without asking him to "play how you see fit".

  1. Draw the settings and characters yourself before the session

    • If you have the time and inclination, you can prepare the visual aid beforehand. This gives you full control of the look and feel of the setting, and establishes the "canon" look and feel of the setting.
  2. Describe the setting in terms that more strongly relate to certain themes

    • By saying the town is "covered by a thin layer of fog, bathed in dim moonlight, and permeated by a chillness in the air that immediately soaks into your bones", then he cannot make a comically-styled drawing without being deliberately untrue to the feeling of the scene that you've created.
    • If he does carry on drawing in a comic style when you've very thickly laid on the setting's themes that are not comic, you can correct him and the rest of the players. If the theme is akin to the Rennaisance/high class political, for example, you can say "yes, it looks like that, but imagine as if Michaelangelo drew it". You can always correct him in a non-abrasive and fun way.
  3. Ask him to draw some pictures before the session without telling him why

    • The idea is, if he is willing and you think it's a good idea, you can get him to draw the scenes and people in advance. When the scene/people come up, whip out his drawings. This doesn't spoil him of what's coming up as long as you don't tell him why you're asking for those drawings, or where they fit into the story.
    • If you do this, the first time you bring out the picture, your player might even light up and be happy. Hopefully, since he's already drawn the scene/person, he will be less inclined to do it a second time in front of you.
  4. Let him know how you feel

    • Of course, be upfront about it and let him know your feelings, and that you think it's detracting from the game when he draws the settings you present in the comic style that he does. Let him know you're willing to work with him as long as he doesn't interrupt story moments by showing his art to others while the game is still ongoing.
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    \$\begingroup\$ "for the sake of brainstorming" indicates clearly why this answer is not what is looked for here. I have to -1 it. Interesting answer anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Feb 23 '17 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Eh, they are steps to resolving the issue other than the traditional ones that always get tossed. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Feb 24 '17 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 These all seem like legitimate ideas. I seriously doubt anyone here has had the exact same problem with the exact same group of players... so everything here is 'brain storming' to some degree. \$\endgroup\$ – GrandmasterB Feb 24 '17 at 4:36
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Why not make it part of his character?

Perhaps your friend's PC is also an aspiring artist and his insistence on pulling out his pencils and brushes in the middle of a battle is a constant source of annoyance and mirth. I say go with it! On one condition: he has to stay in character as he produces his illustrations, and the other players must do the same when they view them.

If you were a truly great DM, you'd even find a way to work artwork into the next campaign, perhaps requiring him to produce drawings to complete a quest, or presenting the party with a puzzle that can only be solved by reviewing drawings from earlier encounters. I think your friend would really appreciate it!

P.S. By working them into the storyline, you also give yourself power over them, e.g. if you are sick of them talking about a certain drawing, perhaps it could be destroyed by in-game events (the dragon ate it) and you could take the drawing away until the campaign is over.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I definitely appreciate the feedback but I specifically mentioned that I used this very method last time and it is not an option this time for several reasons. The second part is very much debatable in my opinion. It would require him changing the art style and from drawing random scribbles etc. to specific riddles and the like. Might be a "truly great DM" thing, but he would personally not appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$ – Gravetow Feb 26 '17 at 14:45

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