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Lately, it has become more difficult to ignore that one of the other players in my D&D 5e group takes an excruciatingly large amount of the group's time. What I mean is that they'll get locked into a conversation with a NPC and talk for literally hours.

There have been multiple occasions where they have talked for upwards of four hours (real world hours, not in game), trying to gain info, while we all sit and wait. This often results in things never going according to plan, even after all the insight and planning on their part. Meanwhile, the whole game's atmosphere gets thrown off.

What is the best way to approach this, so that I can bring it up with the DM?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you told this person that it is bothering you, harming your game experience? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 12 '17 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I removed or rewrote the sentences that said “turns” since you seem to be talking about “taking turns talking” but it's being misunderstood as combat turns. I am pretty sure I preserved your meaning, but can you double-check that this edited version of your question is accurate to what you want to ask? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 12 '17 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't this just a specific case of How do you deal with a player slowing the group because of excessive RP? \$\endgroup\$ – smci May 12 '17 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Any reason why you can't play your NPC as becoming annoyed and walking away after a while? This passes the message while staying in-game. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Code Monkey May 13 '17 at 6:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DrunkenCodeMonkey They're not the DM \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil May 13 '17 at 16:42
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Assuming you have spoken with the other players without fruit, I would suggest exercising some player agency. Announce to your GM, while he is talking to this person, I would like to do X". It's helpful if "X" is something more intriguing than conversation, like "explore the dungeon", "see the king", "fight some kobolds".

From how you have reacted the story, your GM has either lost control of the action or no one else is suffering from the undue spotlight. If talking does not work, you will need to be more aggressive in your approach. You have as much right to game time as everyone else.

If you have not brought this up to the group, your post above does an admirable job of stating your case. You could come ready with some solutions, so that it doesn't sound like just a complaint: "Hey, these long conversations are only entertaining for the players involved. Can we have a time cap on them, or can we cut back and forth between this conversation and what the rest of the party would like to be doing?"

With a statement of the problem and some proposed solutions, you should be able to open a conversation on the subject. It's possible the GM and the player do not even realize what they are doing because no one is objecting.

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It’s really the DM

…and you might need to find a new table

You are asking about a problem player who talks too much, but your bigger problem is the DM is holding just as long a conversation. It’s the DM’s game to run, and to set the pace of the game. It’s simple enough for an NPC to stop talking to a loquacious PC — if the GM wants to.

The two of them, at least, seem to be having a fine time doing deep role-playing. It’s a legitimate play style — everyone finds their fun differently.

Appealing to “realism” won’t work

Imagine you and your friends were really going to confront a squad of evildoers tomorrow, in a life or death struggle. You might stay up and go over your plan again and again, just because you can’t sleep.

And this isn’t necessarily bad narrative. Henry V, Act III spends several scenes on the conversations of soldiers and knights on the eve of battle, discussing military protocol, the ethics of warfare, and boasting about their horses.

If the NPC in question has a personal interest in the outcome of the fight, it’s not unreasonable they would be willing to abide with the heroes for hours.

For you, the long conversation bore you and breaks immersion. For your co-player, it seems to do the opposite.

What do the other players think?

You haven’t mentioned the reactions of other players at the table. If you are not 100% sure what they think of these long talks, find out. If everyone but you is having fun the way the game is now, then it’s probably time to just move on.

On the other hand, if a good portion of the table is seriously bored during these talks and is champing at the bit to start rolling dice, then you (as a group) might speak to the DM about speeding things up a bit.

Finding a compromise

Out of game, just say that you’d have more fun if the game had a higher action-to-talk ratio. In game, when a “strategy session” has been going on for a good long time, your character can point out when you think things are sufficiently hashed out, and since things never seem to go as planned anyway, you might as well get to it while you’re still fresh and can think on your feet.

Be aware, though, that there will always be a compromise at this table between those who get a charge out of strategy sessions and other long talks, and those who prefer to pick up the dice sooner.

Dropping Hints at the Table

You seem pretty steamed right now; you probably want to get in a more amicable mindset before broaching the subject with your GM and co-player.

If you come to an agreement-in-principle that everyone will try to limit pre-battle talk, your characters can remind folks when you are ready to move on. A few lines I’ve heard:

  1. A swashbuckler (predictably asks): “You do-na' thing we could-a speed things up?“
  2. A barbarian interrupts: “Conversation is silver, violence is golden.”
  3. A slightly-unhinged paladin cheerfully agrees: “All’s well that ends violently.”
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    \$\begingroup\$ Congrats on 10k! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 13 '17 at 18:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ So true. In videogames NPC interactions are almost shockingly short, when they have a complex message they usually hand you a book. In the real world, bored raconteurs who will spend an hour talking do exist, but are rare. Most people have days to get on with. If all the NPCs are raconteurs that is not realistic. \$\endgroup\$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 0:07
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In real life people won't just give you four hours of their time in most situations.

As the GM, be ready and willing to have the NPC cut the conversation off for all the same in-character reasons that people would do this in real life.

The player sounds like someone who is in it for the roleplaying, so, they should be familiar with the concept of ICA->ICC (in-character consequences for in-character actions).

Additionally, have you considered that the player wouldn't be doing this if you haven't made it fruitful to do so? On an out-of-character level, there's precisely a certain amount of info to be gained with this player's tactic. Once the well is dry, end the interaction.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer assumes the asker is the DM, but it seems like that they're actually a fellow player at the table. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire May 12 '17 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ they are indeed another player: "What is the best way to approach this, so that I can bring it up with the DM?" \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 12 '17 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great idea to present to the GM, though. This answer just needs some rephrasing. \$\endgroup\$ – Brilliand May 12 '17 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the ICC. Have them talk so long they miss the "bus", like it becomes too late in the day to travel, or opportunities are lost. \$\endgroup\$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 14 '17 at 0:10
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You haven't given enough information here to tell if:

  1. The GM likes this kind of style
  2. The GM don't know any better
  3. The GM just get caught up in the situation.

If this is the GM's style, you are kind of out of luck unless you want to fight for "face time" in front of NPCs.

For the other two, present Beanluc's answer to the GM as a suggestion. For situation #3, you might have to find a way to subtly remind the GM.

On the player side of things, The player might not realize what they are doing. You could try to bring this up with the player and do away with the need to put the GM in the middle.

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If NPCs are generally willing to endure indefinitely long interactions with a PC, then the NPCs are too boring and unconvincing. These are meant to be people, for sooth's sake!

Good practice for a GM, to deal with this and other related problems:

  • For every NPC, give them a simple motivation.
  • When the players want to interact with the NPC, make the NPC see it through the lens of that motivation.
  • When the interaction has served its purpose, make that motivation the reason the NPC wants to get on with their own thing.

This will not only help curtail pointlessly long interactions. It will also make the NPCs feel less like game objects and more like characters in the world.

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All the advice you received here are all valid and boil down to:

  • Tell the GM about the situation and what you would like to see.
  • Tell the other player (in private) that it annoys you.

The annoying player does have the right to some spotlight too, but after some time killing the discussion isn't a bad thing. You don't watch a movie when they talk about completely inane things... Unless it's a Tarantino movie... Well.. MOST movies aren't by Tarantino.

There is certainly a good medium to be reached.

I personally know that I tend to have characters that will do exactly that: Blab endlessly. However, I always make sure others understand that when they need to go to pull me away. I never fight to remain in the conversation. Perhaps the other player assumes you all are enjoying his antics.

Talk about it and find a happy medium for everyone at the table.

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If you're the GM

Let the PC know privately that this is causing a problem and you'd like them to stop. If they don't, then you're literally the god of this world, so just punish them severely for doing it until they stop. Have NPCs leave after a few moments of questioning, have people give incorrect information after 1 or 2 minutes of being repeatedly questioned, have a too-much-talking monster that materializes out of thin air and attacks the player if he won't stop asking questions, give the player a you-can-only-ask-one-question-per-hour-or-you-take-damage curse, or one of an infinite other number of possibilities.

If you're another player

Ask the GM to talk to the player (basically just read your post to the GM).

If that doesn't work

If you have access to spells, the level-2 illusion spell Silence should work here. The spell suppresses any and all sound within its area of effect (20-foot radius sphere), so cast it on the problem player and they can no longer converse with anyone without moving everyone they're talking to. It's also a ritual, so if you take the ritual caster feat you can cast it for free so the player can't just whittle down your spell slots. As a ritual it takes 10 minutes to cast and lasts for 10 minutes, so you can essentially put a hard-stop on any conversation at 10-minutes. The spell has a 40-foot diameter which is a pretty good area, and it would be very difficult for the player and every NPC they're talking to to exit the location every few minutes.

You could also try casting the necromancy spell 'Blindness/Deafness' on the NPC that the player is talking to. They get a save so it won't always work, but if they fail they're deafened for 1 minute (which would make conversations basically impossible). Doing it on an NPC would also probably terrify them so much that they run away as fast as possible. Keep in mind that the legality of doing this probably depends on the kingdom that you're in.

If you have access to higher-level spells, Dominate Person, Power Word Stun, and Modify Memory would do the trick as well.

I can't think of any way that a Martial character could forcibly silence another PC, so in that case you may just be out of luck.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do not cast silence (or anything else) on a PC in the middle of something as a “solution” to an out-of-game problem. That kind of passive-aggressive approach just sours relationships and angers people. Handle in-game problems in game, handle out-of-game problems out of game. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 12 '17 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are not having fun at the table and after talking to the person who's impairing your fun things do not improve, do not make the situation worse by actively impairing his fun. Continue to talk it over or part ways. Some people's playstyles are just incompatible. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Epsz May 12 '17 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also don't really like the idea of forcing a player to shut up in game because of out-of-game issue. Your first two points are good, the last one drops the ball I think. \$\endgroup\$ – JP Chapleau May 12 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest you remove the "If you're the GM" part of this answer, as the question has been clarified that's not the case. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant May 13 '17 at 21:37
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Murder the NPC. Thank your fellow player for distracting them.

This may not directly solve the problem in the long term (that is, your fellow player having ridiculously long conversations with NPC's), but it does cut short that interaction with that NPC.

If this happens frequently enough, and you have to deal with the consequences of it, maybe your fellow player will take the hint.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This comment was brought to you by Shiv, the shop steward of muderhobo's local #755, which carries with it the endorsement to this answer by most of the artisans and journeymen of the shop. All kidding a side, it is a method. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 12 '17 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't really +1 an answer that advocates random acts of violence, but this was pretty priceless. \$\endgroup\$ – Nat May 14 '17 at 2:36

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