Cellphones, Texting and Trek RPG's

Does anyone use texting to supply players with information to prevent the “I report what he said.” exchanges between GM and players? Or for tricorder reporting etc. I hate to use dead trees (paper) to hand out the messages, but if someone can provide me a quick way to use texting it is appreciated. My texting is as slow as a 60 year old man (which I am nearly, BTW)

I don’t like players to have their phones out during a game. In my experience it only serves as a distraction.


Yes, I think so too. But if I can put them to good use - well, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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I have no experience with texting as a GM-tool. Just like @Section31, I try to ban electronic devices from my/the gaming table (with the exception of the GM’s laptop, so I / the GM can use the magic of full-text-search-able PDF).

That having said: I understand you are texting with a handheld devices (i.e. smartphone, tablet etc.)?

If your main concern is your typing speed, why not use a programme (“app[lication]”) that lets you type on your keyboard? Maybe you can use a laptop with a physical keyboard and text to your players’ phones (etc.) via internet?

And, of course, having messages prepared (e.g. within a note-keeping programme / “app” or ye good olde office suite of your choice) should certainly speed things up. This of course only works with planned adventures (I tend to improvise so this would be near to completely useless to me) where you have a very good idea, what questions your players will ask…

My group doesn’t use electronics at the table except for an ipad or ipod for music. Any comms I need to send players are done either with paper notes or discussion before the game on our game forums or email.

I occasionally send players messages via facebook during games as many of the players use laptops for their character sheets

Unless players of joining in on Roll20, no widgets of any kind are allowed at the table. I even went so far as to provide printed character sheets for my group to fill out so as to not give them and excuse for why they put their sheet on a computer.

Why would your players need an “excuse” to not print their character sheet and use a digital version instead? This seems like an archaic, arbitrary rule to preserve the sanctity of “pencil and paper”.

I personally like using my digital character sheet so I can keep it clean and update it on the fly. No extra printing if I don’t want to.

I also only bring the core rulebook to games, everything else I use on pdf, whether I am running or playing. Carrying a plethora of books is heavy and pointless in the modern age.

I do have one player that has been known to play other games on his laptop at the same time if he’s not watched closely


I used in-character texts during a Fireborn campaign about fifteen years ago, and it worked well (as it was a modern fantasy setting, so mobile phones were very much part of the setting), normally by writing the text out in advance (either pre-session, or during a moment where the players were roleplaying and didn’t need my immediate attention) and sending it on a timer later (so it could arrive in the middle of other events). Smartphones weren’t really a thing back then, but were I running a similar campaign these days, I’d probably set up a facebook messenger group or a discord channel or similar for in-character conversations, sharing handouts, and similar.

I’ve never really had issue with players using devices at the table, and if there’s a way to make the game better using tools that everyone at the table already has, I’m all for it.

I’ve not done as the original poster suggested in a Trek game yet, but most of my Trek GMing of late has been demos and one-shots rather than an ongoing campaign, so less room for experimenting with the medium.

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Quite frankly that is rude and selfish of that player. Personally I would ask that player to drop out

I have three players who don’t go anywhere without their laptops or tablets. Everything they do is on them, character sheets, dice rollers, PDFs of game books (some of which they’ve scanned in on their own). Add in that I already have a strong personal bias against the use of widgets during a game in which everyone involved are all physically present at the table. It’s not about …an archaic, arbitrary rule to preserve the sanctity of “pencil and paper”. I see sitting at a game table as a time to disconnect (no widgets) for a few hours and be wholly present with the people that are sitting across the table from you. Fortunately for me, when I spoke to my players about my views, they accepted it and don’t bring their widgets, even though it is something with which they disagreed.

Now, when it comes to those inept sessions when I am muddling my way with Roll20 or some other digital table-top, my bias is set aside.

Are you players predisposed to mess around doing not gaming things if they use their tech at the table and disrupting the game?

If so then yes, these players should be asked to restrict their use of tech at the table. If not then I really cannot comprehend what the problem is.

The players are not predisposed to mess around. Tech has its place, but at the game table, when everyone is physically present, is not one of them. In between sessions? Yes. During the session? No. Tech makes us all more efficient, let’s us get a lot more done. When I am sitting down at a table with a group of people, whether it’s at the gaming table or elsewhere, far too often, I see faces looking at their screens more than they’re looking at the people sitting at the table - disengaged. Aggravating doesn’t even begin to cover it. Even if I know the player is using the tech strictly for whatever is occurring in the game I’m running, I don’t want the temptation for non-gaming related things present.Tech has it’s place, interacting with players at the gaming table isn’t one of them for me.

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It’s distracting to others more often than not.
It’s also a divided focus issue.
Further, at least in the games I am running, it’s a distraction to the GM.

Likewise, I don’t allow players to be perusing the book during scenes. Again, because it divides focus, requires me to repeat myself as a GM, and distracts others at the table.


I am in the camp of the tech improves the game. I play some online games that are streamed. I also GM some home games. I like having the the use of a VTT. For one, it allows me to have easy access to the PC sheets, so I can either manipulate a situation better, or even help them out if they are not sure what to do. It also allows me to use maps without having to spend the money to have them printed.

As far as private communications, I have a private Discord server that all my players are a part of. If I have something to tell someone, I will send them a private message there. One of the games I also play online does this quite extensively. Like, the GM never tells us a result if he can PM it to us. It adds to the RP, and removes the “what he said” moments.

Maybe I have been lucky and never had an issue with a player distracting the table. I have also never had the feeling that someone was not paying attention. Yes, I have players check their phones and such during games. I allow it, because there are different types of players, and some aspects of the game are more entertaining that others for people. In one of my D&D groups, I have a player that plays a fighter, and is all about the fights. When there is a lot of story or RP, he tends to be on his phone. He also plays a dumb player, so if he doesn’t catch everything, it works. I don’t recall, besides maybe once or twice having to repeat a small bit, that it has interfered with the game.

Heck, when I play, I am constantly doing other things at the table. Not because I am bored or being rude, but because I don’t always have to be paying 100% attention at every moment.


It has been my exp in any game in which cellphones, etc., have been used by players: one has to describe actions, descriptions, etc., at least once again, because they aren’t paying attention. Basically, narrate stuff again. The game slows down considerably. And the other players get very annoyed. Consider it quite rude.


I have created a website with interactive character sheets that players can use for their characters and the ship. They track stress, calculate target numbers by tapping attribute and discipline, they show all the talents and equipment etc.

So the tablets are merely used as character sheets and for note taking. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Nobody would ever think about playing another game on their tablet, that’s totally ridiculous. Would that be the case, either that person is not a good fit for the group, or I made the adventure not engaging enough.

I must contest this. There are enough examples in this thread already to make this statement objectively false. Tech can and does have a place in at the modern gaming table when used in a responsible manner.

This is a problem with the people, not with the tech that is there.

This is just plain controlling. Unless these people are somehow beholden to your authority, everyone at the table is equal and if these people are using their tech to complement their fun in a way that is not disruptive to the group then I cannot see the issue.

That is a rather blanket statement with which I cannot agree. I fail to see the difference to a group watching someone roll dice in an app to rolling manually, or checking their character sheet, or looking up a rule in a book. Indeed dice will never roll off a table and books and sheets will always take up a fixed amount of space, rather than spilling into someone else’s area.

That does not make sense. Using a digital product vs physical you are still interacting with what you were going to interact with uses a comparable amount of time and when focus is required devices can be put on standby.

That is a problem unique to you and is unfair to punish others because of it.

That is perfectly fair. During a scene when the GM is providing details, or the PCs are talking amongst themselves everyone would expect people to be focused on what is happening. Checking things should only happen if it is pertinent.