[RPG] Does the GM or Players move the session


Last sunday I experienced my first session playing a TRPG (D&D 5e Curse of Strahd), and after think about the session I found something that I didn't understand exactly.

The session started with all the players (me, another first time player, and a beginner) in a tavern. The GM said there was a barman, a few persons eating and some guards with shiny armor there, then… silence. … he didn't say anything … noone said anything … I tried to break the ice asking to the guards why they were in such small village (with only 4 houses), they said something about a mist, then… silence.

Our druid tried to fill the gap asking to the barman about the mist, he said that everyone would die after night, then… silence. I tried to also speak to the barman and I asked where mist comes from. He said something about a bridge and then the druid asked some other people if the barman wasn't crazy (the GM used the voice of crazy man to talk as the barman). The said he was just a bit crazy and then I don't remember how exactly but I think the GM noticed that the session was going wrong. The guards left the tavern, so the druid follow them, I follow the druid, and the other player follow me… and then there was a combat that isn't important here.

I want to know about the silences.

Our GM said that the session was a bit improvised because it was a basic introduction to TTRPGs and the campaign, but I think the silence was done on purpose to obligate us to talk and move the conversation. (I read a bit of that as a GM technique. I am not sure if it was used properly. I felt that a bit akward). Is that true?
Was our GM trying to force us to take action or it just was an error?

Or maybe he just was giving us time to think?
Do we (players) or the GM have to move the conversation?

The GM was trying to give that work to us, but I am not sure if that is our duty as players.

Is there any suggestion to me (as player) to improve the flow of the game?
"Just make more questions" isn't a good idea, because as new player I wasn't sure what to do, I take too much time thinking about what things can I do, determine the best action and think if that idea could bring problems or not for the group or GM.

I don't want to ask unnecessary (trivial) questions because the GM would be forced to think answers for them.

Best Answer

Don't worry

It's not uncommon for first sessions to be a little rough around the edges.

The whole point of a role playing game is for players to make choices and decisions which lead to interesting things and adventures

Given that you are new to the hobby, it is not unusual to take a few sessions to get the hang of it.

  • Your DM is probably unwilling to railroad his players: that is a term that means that the DM makes too many decisions for the players.

  • Finding the "just right" balance point for a given group of players - between nudging them forward into a plot, and letting them explore the world on their own - can take a few sessions. That is not unusual at all.

  • Each table will be a little bit different.

What your DM was allowing to happen was to make the story unfold as a reaction to your choices and decisions, be it talk to the barman, talk to the guard, get rip-roaring drunk at the tavern, or whatever your characters choose to do.

That you found it awkward isn't a bad thing: once again, when you are new to an RPG, getting the rhythm of play to work at a given table sometimes takes "trial and error" on the part of both the players and the DM.

Keep playing, and enjoy the adventure.

Your DM is giving you the reins to explore the unknown, which is a core appeal to this kind of game.

To answer your title question

Does the GM or the players move the session?


After each game session, it is a best practice to have a discussion between players and DM to discuss "this went well" and "this was difficult" and "what the heck was this?" for the occasional goof-up that will now and again happen. You are in this together to have fun, So have fun with it. This is a conversation you need to be having with your DM, and your fellow players. The result of the conversation is to help to get the rhythm of play to be just right for your table.

About asking questions

In the fantasy world that you enter when a DM runs the game, asking questions is a key way for you to get information that helps you make decisions and choices for what to do, or what not to do. In that sense, not asking questions may be an obstacle to the game progressing since you can't make a decision unless you have an idea of what is around you. It is better to err toward asking a few more questions, than asking fewer questions, until you are all more comfortable with the flow of the game at your table.