How do you keep the mood? And once lost, how do you try to bring everyone back? Can you? Is it even possible? And what do you do with that one player who is always the first one to crack a joke and break up the tension you’ve built to so carefully, no matter how many times you’ve asked/warned him/her not to do that?
I’ll be an arrogant bastard and say that I don’t have many problems in any of my games, but this one definately is a problem, and a big enough one by itself to make up for the absence of others.
The problem is me, at least in part: I usually can’t resist ‘making the joke’ if there’s one out there to be made. This is true of myself as a player and as a GM (although I try to curb it as a GM a little bit), and I apparently have ‘led by example’ until my players follow suit… and most of them don’t need help.
I’ve got a few players who are especially bad about this, constantly cracking jokes or quoting vaguely-related movie lines… practically anything (it seems at some points) to avoid remaining in some semblance of character for two consecutive minutes. The odd thing is that I’ve never really given any thought on how to deal with it. Major digressions cost the players experience points (or gain them experience points, if I’m the one digressing), but I’ve never focused on mood breaking, and I’m beginning to think that maybe I should.
I’ve read some of the other posts on this subject, and I like some of the ideas that have come out of it. I think my DnD game is going to see one type (mood breaks = random encounters for 0 xp) and I’ll try another one on my Star Wars group (regular breaks to allow the chit chat which that group seems to so desperately crave).
Interestingly but not surprisingly, my Oriental Adventures game doesn’t really have this sort of problem. (Then again, the nature of that sort of game means that mood is far more a central requirement in the enjoyment of the game than for most.)
Or maybe I think that, which makes it so, and if I took that attitude with the other games, I’d have a similar result.
Hmm. Bears thinking about.