According to the Alton Vocabulary:
Punitivation(Pu-ni-ti-va-tion) is a form of player punitive measures to motivate players to perform at the game table in order to hasten or quicken their turn in the spotlight.
I think every gaming group at one time or another have problems with their players. Sometimes I wish I could wring their necks and throw them out on the streets. I am not that type of person.
I have on occasion, imposed a few motivational punishments (punitivations) in order to try to speed up combat. Here are a few of them that are not too harsh on the players and will perk them up to be ready to act in the following round.
Delay the Player
If the player is not ready to act on their turn, delay them to a point in the round when they are ready to act. Let that player act when they are ready to use their turn.
Give the Players a Time Limit
Giving the players a time limit is in my opinion a good thing. I could not find it, but some people argue that a combat round should last no more than approximately 10-15 minutes. Now I cannot confirm this cause our combat rounds seem to last 40 minutes or so. It is such a drag.
Imposing time limits to player turn is a blessing in disguise. Limit them to 2 minutes a person, maybe 3 for controllers. If you have the necessary tools then burst, blast and zones should be no problem. I am aiming here for a 15 min time limit.
Giving a time limit can also increase urgency at the table...let's face it you are in heated combat and should not have much time to think about what you are going to use. If you need to think about it so long, then you deserve to be readied. If the player cannot act within reason, pass them over and allow them to ready an action and move to the next person. Humming and hawing is something I do not like when people plan their strategies when it gets to their turn. Whenever I catch myself doing this, I berate myself, apologize to the group and move on.
Players who Cheat
I didn't know if I should add this to the list of punitivations but then thought "What the Hell!" we can always have arguments about whether it was worth it or not. We all know that there are different levels of cheating: fudged dice roll, the pickup and look at their dice roll, the fudge the character stats (especially in 3.5), slipping magical weapons onto your person etc...
We are going to speak about the dice only. The others are punishable by kick out. As for the dice, I have caught people cheating with dice and I am not a big fan of it. I thought long and hard about what we should do with players who consistently cheat. I used to get mad at them and that seemed not to work. So I told them to roll in front of everyone from now on in the open. We all roll in the open, but books get in the way and pencil cases and bottles and such. I mean roll and let everyone see the roll. The player has to do this for the next 3 sessions. I know it's probably a little degrading and humiliating, but since then has seemed to have played a little more fairly. That is my punitivation.
Create a Code of Conduct for the Players at the Table
We in our group, have a written a list of do's and don'ts for our gaming session. These lay out the expectations that the whole group decides together in a democratic fashion. No surprises when some punitive measure is put into place. Thing that can be included in the Code of Conduct are the following:
-Keep speaking a minimum. Interruptions lead to slowness and a -1 penalty to saving throws till the end of their next turn
-Don't interrupt other players. See above.
-Do not insult anyone...it is just not nice...period. No punishment just angry glares from all around the players.
Dice on the Floor
I know that some DMs do not like when dice hit the floor and some even automatically roll a 1. I personally do not think this should be punished, because in the heat of the moment, some players get excited and anything can happen. Although I do not punish the die on the floor, my rule is not to touch it. If they do they lose their turn. People will argue that they should get to reroll yadda, yadda, yadda. TFB! You touch it before seeing the result, you lose your turn; simple as that!
Keep things simple and discuss the table rules you make up with your players, and things should run smoothly.
Do you have any other things you would like to add something to the list? Do you agree or disagree with these punitivations or not? Leave a comment and share your opinions.