I recently completed a few months of public play that went far better than I’d imagined.

On Wednesdays last fall, we played D&D Encounters. At my table, I had a drop-in-group of 4 or 5 pretty consistent players, with several more who showed up for a session or two. They completed the Encounters storyline in early December, then travel and holidays reared their head–along with confusion as to what we’d tackle next.

When we broke, the GMs were divided on the next step since we had run through the storyline. Each GM had players that congealed into a core group that showed up most weeks, and a few floaters and new players. One GM was was prepared to continue the adventure into Episode 4 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, encouraged by a player who really wanted to experience high level play. After committing to the campaign, life reared up and that player was rescheduled at work, unable to attend Wednesdays at all.

New Year, New Characters

In the new year, the three GMs began with a common plan. We each broke out Lost Mines of Phandelver and started to run. Attendance was light at first; the holiday break had weakened the association of D&D with Wednesday. The first week I had five brand new players and a veteran from the previous season. (I never saw that group of players again; I hope roleplaying proved to be a fun experience.) The next week a few more veterans attended, forming a core of three.

They drew characters with bold lines and bright personalities.
Therian was a hard drinking, pious, and very earnest Paladin; Belmont was a deadly archer with a strong reluctance to close, while Crichett was a warlock who drove men mad. The first big twist was their reaction to defeat at the hands of a goblin ambush… the result of terrible die rolls. Their resulting drive to prove themselves drove interesting characterization for weeks. Mau Hock joined them the next evening, a tough barbarian who scoffed at his new allies’ lack of wilderness survival skills and tracked the goblins to their lair. Other heroes, Grumpkin, Oryn, and Rinn, joined them in the ensuing weeks.

After many sessions, they had forged a bond–as characters, but also as players. As the interlude game wound to its end, they got serious about continuing together as players. One of the players volunteered to GM and sent out some background information; the other players are working on back-stories to fit his custom world.

The End of the Beginning

Wednesday night was the finale for these characters; they hit Cragmaw Castle hard. The characterization was bold, their feats daring… a great ending for a fun batch of characters.

Next week we’ll build characters for the new season of Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse. New heroes will stride forth, ready to embrace adventure. I wonder what groups will form from next season’s mix.

Play and Recruiting

It seems like a truism, but playing games gives you the players you need to build a group. How do you prefer to recruit new players these days? Have you had any luck recruiting from meetups and cons, or does it take repeated play to really forge a group? Tell us about how players came together to form your current game groups.