Impractical Applications (Why Not To Wait)

My game’s one of the things that taught me the most about the dangers of waiting for the proper moment. It’s pretty much inevitable when you’ve got a game full of people who all have latent hammish qualities, a wide range of typing speeds, and nearly no communication outside of the primary IC and OOC chat windows. Is it any wonder, then, that one person would wait for the right moment and the others would happen to do such things as would prevent the right moment from ever occurring?

One of the more notable examples of this was last week. The duplicate versions of the primary NPC had been a conundrum most of the group wasn’t entirely sure how to handle, and my newest player had gotten an idea for what sounded like an extremely nifty (if somewhat difficult to adjudicate) dreamshaping gambit that might give him an answer. The problem was, he wanted someone to come up with a line that could give the character the idea, and the players were busily talking about something else. Even in explicitly asking for a cue, he didn’t give them much of an idea what he was doing. I think they would have gotten to the right point eventually, but by that time one of the other players had come up with a considerably simpler strategy, in the form of a question he knew the fake wouldn’t have an answer to because even half the party didn’t know the answer. It was a pity; resolving the original idea could have been interesting.

The other major example of waiting for the right moment and missing it was mine, a few months ago. For various reasons, the group had found themselves in a place the center of which was a storm of magical energy the likes of which they had never before seen. To be exact, it was about on eye level with a tower they were walking into because it housed one of the machines that was creating the storm, one with conveniently near-360 picture windows. All I was waiting for was for people to look out said windows, since it’d seemed logical to me that they’d be concerned enough with the machine to have to actively look to see it.

For me, the problem wasn’t so much missing the moment as that everyone had the moment individually. One looked up almost immediately. Others, slightly later. Others, later than that. With the result that instead of one big glorious post in the IC window, I delivered that particular bit of exposition as individual posts in the different IM windows as the characters looked up one by one. At least, until near the last character, when I finally got sick of it and posted the whole thing in the main window just for the sake of record continuity. This despite having rather strongly (or at least, so I thought) hinted that out the window was where people’s attention should go.

The take-home lesson? If you’re going to wait for the right moment, be explicit about the moment you’re waiting for. They can’t give it to you if they don’t know what it is.

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