Hello, Are You Listening?

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0716

Upon reflection, one of my biggest challenges is listening to the game. I’m not paying enough attention to my players.

For example, how many plot hooks did I pick up from my players last session?


The trick to being a happy game master is being present during games. Being in the present.

If I’m busy thinking about what’s happened before, I’m stuck dwelling on that which I cannot change. Reflection must happen before the game, not during it.

If I’m busy thinking about what’s going to happen next, I’m chasing something that does not yet exist. The future always remains just out of reach.

The only time in which I can make a difference during the game is the present.

So I challenge myself next game to the following:

  • Get at least one hook from each player from something they mention during the game
  • Note at least one moment when each player was excited (any why)
  • Note one moment when each player didn’t seem to enjoy the game (and why)
  • Add something into the game at least three times based on things the group says

Each Quest above requires me to be present, observing, and listening.

Another approach, which I teach in my Faster Combat online course, is to take a few session measurements and to analyze your players.

You know how your friend gets a new car and you suddenly see that colour or model everywhere?

This works the same way. By measuring and noting a few things you will notice them during gameplay more often. You can fix what you notice when you notice it.

The goal of all this is to be a better GM by getting out of my own head and putting it into the moment. I’ll let you know how it goes.