I woke up this morning to the sound of my illustrator giggling. When I inquired as to the cause of her mirth she blurted, “Initiative shouting!” at me. Then she showed me her phone. It was the Patreon preview version of today’s comic. One of our patrons had responded: “Omg, I’m having initiative shouting flashbacks!”

I pictured the slow PTSD zoom onto this GM’s face. It was accompanied by the sounds of nerds screaming random numbers at the top of their lungs. The Doors were layered over the top. I too  cracked up. That’s because I’ve been there. Anyone’s who’s ever sat behind a cardboard screen has been there. And we’ve all worn the same expression as Inquisitor trying to make sense of the babble of player exuberance.

In the case of initiative specifically, you can try a couple of methods for combatting this tendency. You can call on players individually. You can ask for ranges: “20 plus? Anyone on 15-20?” If you’re in a VTT you can rely on virtual initiative trackers. If you’re at an IRL table, you can ask players to write their own initiatives on wet erase magnets before sticking them onto the initiative tracker. All of this can help, but it doesn’t solve the problem. That’s because initiative is only the most common hunting ground for Interruptus Rex.

As a recovering Diva, I love nothing better than a heated exchange. Rapid fire in-character dialogue complete with interjections, quick sallies, and witty retorts are virtually made out of interruptions. But when you enjoy that style of in-character interaction, it’s easy to step on your buddies’ lines.

Same deal if you’re having side conversations. Even if a couple of players aren’t distractedly giggling over memes and actually engaged in an in-character sidebar, it can still be hard to keep track over the general din. You hate to tell ’em to shush as the GM, but meanwhile the room is dissolving into an impenetrable wall of sound. At such moments, my inner kindergarten teacher yearns for quiet coyote to come and be my co-GM.

So here’s my question for today’s discussion. Are there any easy ways to mitigate the noise and clamor of player exuberance? Obviously “be polite” is the go-to, but are there any good strats to manage common pressure points like initiative or dumb jokes during serious RP? Sound off with your own interruption mitigation strategies down in the comments!


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