One of the worst things that can happen in a D&D game. The players get bored, but what should you do as a DM?

There are a few signs of boredom that plays display and you, as the DM, should look out for. The signs described below are also useful for everyday life, if you're chatting to a friend or chatting up someone you like, you should look out for these signs and react appropriately by changing the subject of conversation.

The signs to look out for:

The player is looking around a lot -- He or she is looking at everything else but the board game. Everything in the room suddenly becomes more interesting then the game at hand. The behaviour can be amplified if there are distractions in the room such as a radio and TV playing in the background. The player is very bored if they keep looking at the door as well. Whenever the player performs this behaviour, it is as if to say "I want to exit from this situation, because I am bored".

Hand to the cheek gesture -- You maybe aware of this one. Whenever a player has his cheek in his hand, then it displays boredom. The more the face is resting on the hand, the more bored they are. Usually the gesture starts with hand on the chin, and then gradually the hand moves to the face...you should realise they are bored when they have fallen asleep!

Having a "half-arsed" attitude -- Being "half-arsed" means only putting half the effort in. When the player is asked to do something such as rolling the dice or role playing they may perform the action lazily. They can't be bothered playing the game anymore.

The problem is, because we humans are empathic, we tend to mimic other people's behaviour. In other words...when one person is bored, it's most likely other people will be bored too! Have you ever seen someone yawn, only to yawn yourself? That's a form of empathy. So it's important to remedy that bored player as soon as possible before it spreads to the other players, and even you! But how does one do that? Well there are some tips for that as well, just below:

Take a break -- Probably one of the best tips out there. Regardless of any activities we do, we need a break at some point! Even if we are doing something we enjoy we still need to take a break because we get tired. We change activities so our mind can think differently about things. Have you ever had a really hard math problem, only to dwell on it for an hour...then you take a mini-break and then realise how to answer it? This is the idea I'm getting at. Take a break, do anything else apart from the game for 10 minutes, don't even talk about it!

Rearrange the game -- Yup, nothing is stopping you from re-arranging the game...yes it can be frustrating because you spent hours preparing the adventure but on the other hand you don't need to do any preparation for when your group meets up next! I think this should be a last resort.

Change the pace -- Yup, you could be going too slowly and some players would like you to speed up to get on with the story. On the other hand you could be going fast and you could have some players lost...then again it's better to be confused then to be bored!

Have a sudden change in story -- This sometimes does work and doesn't work, it depends on how bored the players are. Just have a subtle change like 3 goblins suddenly jump out of a bush and attack, a bar fight suddenly occurs or a tumble of rocks suddenly rush towards the players (which could knock one or two off the edge and some of the players could have to save them!).

So try and counter boredom as soon as possible, as this can spread to other players and make it a boring experience for everyone. If you are in doubt if the players are bored then you should ask them to react accordingly. If the players are continually bored, then maybe you should change the story or maybe look for a new set of players.

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24/4/2011 02:48:40 pm

great post

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