I have run a few games over the years, and a few were successful and a few more weren’t. I play with the same five people every time, who I have been friends with for years, and this makes it difficult sometimes because we’re all too comfortable with each other. We don’t really get into the characters, we don’t do voices, they don’t really try to interact with the NPCs, and above all else they don’t interact with each other.
How can I turn this around? How can I get my friends to really fall into my world, without telling them to, which of course doesn’t work?
Great question. There are a bunch of things to unpack here.
First, your players may not want to dive deep into role-playing. They may want a social, fun experience. Perhaps they just want to unwind.
So, secondly, I would talk to your players. Find out what they want. Would they like to get more involved in the story, and to really get into their characters?
However, don’t take their replies too seriously. You’re asking them to change a fun, long-standing tradition. The result may be more fun, but they don’t know that. They’ll probably say that they’re fine with things as they are. Don’t take this to mean you can’t change.
The key is to get a sense of how resistant they are to the idea of a roleplaying-intense experience.
Let’s assume that your players are at least ambivalent, and you decide to move forward.
Make role-playing explicit. Next session, tell players that there will be a couple of intense, dramatic sequences in this session. Tell them that you’ll note this by announcing “Drama Time.” Explain that during Drama Time, they’ll need to concentrate and really think things through. Moreover, you will interpret their actions during Drama Time as their characters’ actions.
At the end of the session, ask them about it. How’d they like Drama Time?
Once they become used to Drama Time, it will continue for longer periods. Your players will find themselves drifting into it.
Hope this helps!