When do you game?
Is it a weekly thing?
Does the date and time change, or is it consistent, like some kind of gaming pact?
The holidays have a way of disrupting a gaming group’s routine and testing the commitment of each of its members. For some of us, from Thanksgiving to Christmas can feel like a revolving door of visiting family or friends stopping by for the holidays. In addition, how can SO many people be born in December (Sagittarius, anyone)!? It must be some kind of conspiracy to make sure December is busier than any other time of year. Add a couple three obligatory work Christmas parties and you can find yourself strapped for time to shop, let alone game. All of these distractions, albeit important, can really knock your gaming train off its track.
It happens to everyone, right? Oh well, we’ll just make the best of it…
As many of you know from experience, “making the best of it” can lead to a variety of group crippling issues from inconsistent gaming to the doubt of our next game session. An inconsistent date and time for your gaming group to get together breaks up gaming groups over time, it just does. It makes scheduling so damn difficult and stressful for those in charge of wrangling the reindeer. If you don’t set a date for the next game day before everyone leaves from the last session, you run the risk of people giving dates that work one minute, only to be gobbled up the next. Just when you think you have a day that works, one or two players have to bow out due to “prior commitments”. Not to mention, there is always the chance that someone just completely forgets the next game day. Wait, what!? We’re gaming today!?
Scheduling can be painstaking, but it is only the welcoming party. The real devil at the end of the dungeon is doubt. An inconsistent gaming schedule doesn’t just kill characters, it strangles your players’ belief in your group, it breeds doubt. Such is the true boss monster of any ongoing pursuit.
- Doubt if the game session will even occur. I don’t want to get my hopes up only to find coal in the stocking.
- Doubt if the GM will be ready to run our game. Why put so much effort into preparing if the game might not even happen?
- Doubt if enough players will attend to play our game. I don’t want to miss out on time with friends from out of town if we are just going to play a board game.
Don’t fight doubt. Let it pick on someone else’s game group. Be consistent and don’t let it in the door in the first place!
Shield Your Group
- Work with your gaming group to pick a day of the week that can become an institution to your gaming life. Pick a time that works each week where you can block off your schedule routinely for game night. This only works if everyone is committed to scheduling other commitments that arise around game night!
- Choose a day that is routinely disposable like a Monday or Tuesday. There are always birthday parties, weddings, and vacations that can fill up your weekends. Steer clear of weekends and they can’t become a roadblock for you and your friends.
- A consistent night where gaming is limited to 2-4 hours, may be good for your group. Just like a deadline, having a short amount of time on supply creates greater demand for taking advantage of it.
- If gaming every week is a deal breaker, settle on every other week, that is often more digestible for players with family or work that just doesn’t understand.
- Play with the players that you have.Â Play with the players that you have.ÂDon’t wait because you are missing players. There will always be more good times to be had.
- Have a backup RPG on the back burner in case the GM is the attendee that can’t make it on a given week.
GMing is built on hope, just like game sessions.Â We hope and dream about our characters. We share in the lives that they lead and the great deeds that we can experience through them. Our journeys as a group, a party, or a team only build on that. They allow us to visualize and achieve remarkable things in our imaginary landscapes that we couldn’t dream of doing alone. Together, we build shared memories to grow old with us and to remind us of fonder days. Do your part to help keep the dream alive, lest we replace these fond thoughts with doubt and the fear of missing out. As a GM and player, be a consistent beacon of hope for your group. Be there for them. Same place, same time, same day of the week, and if you’re missing a couple players…game on anyway!
How do you keep your players inspired about the next game session?
How do you deal with missing a player or three?
Do you schedule several sessions at a time if you can’t keep the same date and time each week/two weeks?
> Work with your gaming group to pick a day of the week that can become an institution to your gaming life.
Amen to this! We’ve been playing every Friday (with many interruptions in schedule) for over ten years. If we miss a week or two the expectation is still that Friday is game night. It really does work.
With my work schedule, I’ve had to make do with planning gaming around Friday and Saturday evenings. I’ve definitely had to deal with the pinch of other life events getting in the way. I just had to send an e-mail to the group last night about a date coming up in January where I’m hoping we can switch to Friday night instead of Saturday so I don’t have to miss gaming and can still make it to a friend’s big birthday bash.
It’s a thing you have to constantly maintain. Once you get a thing set up, it should take minimal attention to keep it moving in the right direction, but you can’t just ignore it. You have to give it some care and tending as you go along. 🙂
I hope your get your Friday night! 😀
This has been the biggest frustration for me as a GM. My table has a high proportion of professional engineers (myself included) whose schedules are pretty heavily impacted. As it stands we try to meet weekly, monday-thursday (1 day out of those) and for the last four months I haven’t been able to get more than 3 players plus my wife to be available, and even that’s unusual. Usually it’ll come down to one of two days where half the group (2 players plus my wife) are available, but it’s not the same group. IE, players A, B, and F are available on Monday and A, C, and F are available tuesday. I usually run grand campaign sandboxes at my table and it’s just the worst having such spotty attendance.
Sean, I feel for you! That can be so frustrating. How does that impact your players at the table? How does that hurt the stories you can tell collectively?