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Commitment and Scheduling

OMG, I have so much to do and time just keeps on ticking, ticking into the future…

I’ve written about the agony [1] and frustration [2] of organizing [3] a gaming group before, offering advice on how to coordinate schedules and expressing my frustration when the rest of the group isn’t on the same page. Recently, I was talking with a friend about this subject again and we were commiserating on how hard it is to get a group’s schedule to line up and how frustrating it can be when it isn’t the same level of importance to everyone involved.

“I love gaming because of the people, but dammit people make it hard to game.” 
I said, “I love gaming because of the people, but dammit people make it hard to game.”

Over the years, I’ve seen how groups live and die based on scheduling and how much the group respects that scheduling. My first group that started in high school was a loose collection of people the GM would wrangle. It all revolved around him and because of the nature of what we were playing (usually super lethal 1e and 2e D&D) there were rarely campaign concerns that needed a consistent group of players. The folks I found in college were much more static about who was involved, but there was still only one GM and he often had difficulty maintaining a commitment to any one campaign. Eventually, we all stayed close friends, but the gaming faded away as adult lives got in the way. Today I have a local group that has been going strong for well over a decade, but that has taken a lot of determination from a couple of us that are too stubborn to fail. I also have a couple of online/remote groups, but scheduling is still tough and though our campaigns are wonderful, they’re sporadic.

Over the years, to maintain my own sanity, I’ve had to accept that not everyone is going to rank their commitment to a game group as high as I do. Gaming means a lot to me and it’s a hobby I have obsessed about for literally decades. I mean, I do write for a blog about this stuff after all. Not everyone who enjoys gaming is going to hold it to the same lofty pinnacle that I do. Many of these folks are still totally worth gaming with, but they’re not going to be the ones to initiate organizing and wrangling a group into playing. There are also of plenty of folks who love gaming just as much and will do it whenever they can, but simply do not have the right temperament or skills to be good at organizing. The struggle is real.

If you’re organizing your game group:

Thumbtacks can work as darts, right?

If you’re agreeing to join a game group:

I think this is a pretty universal struggle for all of us who try and game regularly. There’s a reason there’s a ton of memes out there about the impossibility of game scheduling. I’m curious about your struggles and what you and your groups have done to get past this issue. I’d love to hear your advice on the subject.


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1 Comment To "Commitment and Scheduling"

#1 Comment By David Gates On January 18, 2019 @ 4:12 am

I just make the game optional for players that don’t think they can attend consistently. I work with them (at character creation time if possible) to figure out a reason their player can pop in and out. They’re like recurring guest characters on TV shows. The players appreciate the flexibility and not having the stress of letting down the group if they can’t make it, and we can have players that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate at all.

In the first campaign I ran, I knew from the beginning that one player was going off to school before the end of the campaign, so I hit on the idea of having his character secretly be the Big Bad of the campaign in disguise. He’d send me little notes over Discord between sessions of what his organization was doing, we had a big send-off session where he got to reveal his true nature and plots to the rest of the party, and then he got to stay involved just hearing how sessions went and directing his forces. It fit right in to his busy school schedule.

I’m starting up a couple of play-by-post campaigns where it’s like that for *everybody*. Everyone plays the head of a faction. In each round of play they get the news of what happened last round then have a couple days to send their faction on a mission. Each player also creates an NPC advisor that will act intelligently if they miss a round. It should only take a few minutes a round and it doesn’t penalize you if life’s crazy and you miss a few days, so I’m getting lots of players that would like to do a normal campaign but can’t fit it in. There will be inter-faction communication on the Discord channel for players that want to spend more time on the game, with the NPC advisors stepping in to speak for busy players.