When Shall We <Three> Meet Again?
<Insert your group-Number here>
So, the group has decided upon a Game. The setting has been chosen, and tailored to the player’s whims. The system has been house-ruled beyond recognition. Character sheets are produced, dice are procured. Everyone is in high spirits, looking forward to the game. And then someone has to spoil it by asking “So, Friday then?”.
Everyone stops. A hush drops over the room. A draught whips up as if from nowhere, the piano player pauses mid-refrain, and a distant door creaks. Eventually someone breaks the silence: “I can’t do Friday. I have to see my family”. It is as if a dam has broken, and everyone is now able to rush forth!
“Tuesday is good for me”
“I can do this Tuesday, but next week I’m away on business”
“I can only do every other Thursday”
“Most Thursdays, but I might be late – Work, y’know”
“Our band meets on Mondays, but if they cancel, I can come”
And so it begins …
I am in the extremely privileged position of being in a regular group, with regular players. We meet once a week, every week. We have scheduled our other commitments around Games Night. Even if we are missing players, if we have quorum, we will play our usual RPG. If not, the few who do attend will break out Small World (or occasionally, with much protesting, some other game).
The other group I am in, on the other hand, is irregular to the point of collapse.
I don’t think I’ve seen a session where all of the players have attended. We meet every couple of months (at best), and only after a flurry of emails and Facebook posts trying to find a date that enough people can make.
This group has at least three games on the go, and I am only in one of them. One would have thought that they could find a date that at least some players can make, and decide which game from there. But alas, dear reader, it is not so. Some players only want to play certain games. Some want to GM, and some do not. Sometimes, despite the wait, a game is not ready. Another may be drawing to a climax, and need as many players as possible, or be at a crux point that needs a certain player(s) involvement.
And the months do pass …
(There is a small amount of Email Play, where the GM effectively runs a mini Play-by-Post game to fill in some gaps, and prepare for the next session. But this is an aside, rather than a major point)
(Yes, I am in THREE rpg groups!)
This group was specifically built to accommodate players not making every session. An old-school D&D game where we take the part of Adventurers, plundering a local cave-system that houses kobolds, goblins, and worse!
At the end of each session, we make it back to the local town to sell our loot, resupply, and see what other brave souls may be interested in joining our merry band!
So far, this has worked well. The DM has every 2nd Sunday of the month free, and will run the game for whom so ever may turn up at the pub. (This month, being Just-after-Xmas, we have postponed until later in the month, due to a lot of potential players having other commitments).
This is still quite a new group (5 sessions?), and we are yet to see how people’s endurance holds up.
One of our players has a mid-week game. I think. And some of our friends run intermittent twice-yearly full-day games.
There is the Demon Games Club (or whatever the Polytechnic Games Soc is calling itself these days), and the yearly Student National Championships. But I have little involvement these days (on account of not having been a student for <cough> years).
Solutions (or otherwise)
One would have thought that Instant Global Communication, the Information Superhighway, videophones, flying cars and all of the other Golden Future sci-fi technology we now posses (ok, I lied about the flying cars) would make arranging games easier.
I (or whoever happens to be GMing the current game) send out an SMS each week, confirming the date for the next game, and once enough players have RSVPed, another to finalise it. My last game, we used our Forum. Groups Two and Three have Facebook pages where dates and attendance are discussed.
And yet Players have turned up on the wrong day, or not arrived on Games Night. We SMS one of our players EVERY week, checking that he is awake, has remembered it is The Game, and is wearing trousers (true story).
Some people think of RPGs as a social meeting, free-form and informal. Others find it a Way Of Life (I hesitate to say Obsession …). When all of your group are on the same page, it can work well, but in a mixed group, it is likely that someone will be disappointed.
Do you have any techniques for rounding up your players?
Or as a player, how do you feel about Regular Attendance?