Restoring the 4th Wall

Sometimes when playing a game out of character discussions and boredom chatter can get out of hand. Now most of the time I can ignore a good amount of it depending on the situation but my wife, who is a player mostly and a DM sometimes, can’t stand it. She requires less chaos to focus on the situation. So when that 4th wall is broken down what do you do?

Well the long and short of it is that you can’t restore it all. You can only put a little plaster on the bigger cracks. If you want to keep that wall from shattering totally make sure to engage all of your characters in the scene, keep them all on as active participants.

The problem you will run in to most is during combat. Some turns can take forever and unless you’ve got a very patient and attentive group (not usually, we nerds are a jittery lot, too much caffeine) you will absolutely get some out of character chatting. That’s fine, just ask your players to keep it down if they’re disturbing others.

With large groups this can fast become a big problem. My DM in Oregon, Kevin, used a very interesting tactic. During one session he had us polymorphed (specially crafted temporary spell) into Orcs. Every time someone spoke out of character he would count it as in character and chalk up an ‘Orc Point’. Once you got a randomly determined number (I’m guessing Con), you were permanently an Orc. Now I’ve never used a tactic like this but I’ve also never DMed for a group of 8-12 people at a time. I don’t let my groups get over 6 people usually. I am too ADHD prone to keep track of that.

Bottom line is that you have to keep it interesting.

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~ by lordnightwinter on October 25, 2011.

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