View Full Version : Is it unusual not to play if everyone can't make it?

2011-06-10, 05:04 PM
I notice this time and again, and perhaps it's to do with group size and frequency of sessions as much as anyone else. Lots of people mention that with their larger groups its usual not to have everyone present at every session. There's discussions about what to do with the PC of a player who isn't present.

My group is comprised of five people, which is always one GM and four players. For me personally, four is a platonic ideal number of players. There's enough people for a variety of viewpoints, but not so many that loads of time is lost in "committee", which is what happens when you get more than a certain number of people involved in any task.

We meet weekly, but if for any reason someone can't make it (which is usually notified to everyone in advance), we don't meet. We're about to go on hiatus for a month because one player is on holiday, then two people are away the week he gets back. We might try some board-gaming and a one-shot in the intervening time, but the regular game is on hold until everyone can meet once more.

Is it really that unusual?

2011-06-10, 05:14 PM
I think it really depends on the group. I have two groups, both five players and me as the gm. In one group, if we have three out of five, we'll probably keep going. In the other group, if one person can't make it to the table, we don't play that night (there was a case where halfway in, a player decided he was too sick to keep going, and we just continued playing as he rested)

It's not unusual, I just think most groups don't have that dynamic. With the one group it'd feel like something was missing if we played without.

2011-06-10, 05:15 PM
It depends. Different groups I have been playing in handle it differently. -the group I'm DMing for at the moment has two campaigns, one of which we play if everyone is there or sometimes if only is missing, another for the smaller meetings and only if several people can't come we don't meet.
One of my old groups did this to the extreme, we practically had a game for every constellation of players, often not only different campaigns but even different systems.

Honest Tiefling
2011-06-10, 05:20 PM
It would likely depend on the group and how reliable everyone is, and how often they can show up. Certain jobs tend to interfere with the social calender while others are more predictable. Add in school/family emergencies, and there are a lot of variables. For instance, one player I was in a group with did construction and often was in no shape to RP if he'd done a full shift. He also had...Interesting relatives, but he did show up when he could and brought snacks.

Seb Wiers
2011-06-10, 05:39 PM
We meet weekly, but if for any reason someone can't make it (which is usually notified to everyone in advance), we don't meet. We're about to go on hiatus for a month because one player is on holiday, then two people are away the week he gets back. We might try some board-gaming and a one-shot in the intervening time, but the regular game is on hold until everyone can meet once more.

Is it really that unusual?

Its not unusual for groups with 4 or fewer players, but larger groups tend to play on when somebody is absent.
With a bigger group (say 6+ players) its not as much loss to run a session with one character absent, because you can more easily come up with things the rest would want to do as a "side mission", and they don't suffer as much from lost manpower. Also, with 6+ people showing up to game (5+gm), its a bit of an imposition for them to change their plans on account of one absence. In a larger group, I'd EXPECT people to play without me, unless I gave several days notice and there was some key reason my character needed to play out those scenes.

2011-06-10, 05:52 PM
I play with two groups of six. Our policy is to play on if only ONE person is missing, but postpone otherwise. Or if not postpone, just play board and card games instead.

Back when I was in a group of four we had to have every player.

2011-06-10, 09:57 PM
I DM one game and play in another. In the game where I am a player we have 5 players, and will play if 1 is missing. In the game I DM I have 4 players, and occasionally one of my friends drops in as a 5th. In that game it honestly depends on the circumstance, but generally if I can get a total of 4 I run it, if not I don't.

2011-06-10, 10:03 PM
Basically, from the posts here and my own experience, the larger the group is determines this. The larger the group, the more unlikely it is to have the whole group present, therefore the more likely you'll have arrangements for what to do with absent players.

2011-06-10, 10:06 PM
Yeah, people are weird, they think that things like "going to work" and "spending time with your family" is more important than the game.

Weirdos :P

2011-06-10, 11:35 PM
Both my groups will play if one person can't make it, but skip a session if two can't. We have 5 people in each group. All bets are off if someone fails to communicate though. We're not about to delay on behalf of someone who can't send an email.

2011-06-11, 12:19 AM
My group is me DMing and 5 players. We specifically aimed for a large group so we would'nt have to cancel if one person couldn't make it, which is a not infrequent occurrence. The general rule is 3 out of 5 players makes quorum and we're GO, although it's something of a hassle if there's only 3 because I'll usually need to switch into a lower gear re: that night's adventure.

2011-06-11, 01:41 AM
In my previous group we'd go with minimum 2 plus DM, the number of total players fluctuated but it was basically 3 players and the DM.

In my actual group we go with half plus one to play, we are seven, DM included, so 3 players is the bare minimum.

2011-06-11, 09:19 AM
My groups don't have a minimal we need to play. Instead if more than 2 people a missing we do not play. In the current game I'm in if we are missing 3 or more we don't, but that's because we have a total of 8 or 9 people.

Certain people are more important than others, since we always use their house for our games.

Jay R
2011-06-11, 09:45 AM
I had a game a few years ago with 12 players and a DM. It surprised me that we had all twelve p0layers there for the first three sessions. (Never again, though.)

It depends on the scenario and the player to be missing. A few months ago, we played with two players out of four missing, but we wouldn't have played that game then if the paladin had been missing, because she was crucial to that plot.

But we're also about to have our second scenario since February, because we're all in the SCA, and we have a big tourney season from March through May.

2011-06-11, 09:52 AM
Well, in our group, several of our guys have issues, so if we show up with three out of four, +GM, we just go ahead. We, too, have started a backup campaign for me and the other person who always shows up.

2011-06-11, 10:09 AM
My group only games every other weekend, so we try not to miss hanging out. Most of us make arrangements to make it b/c it's the only time we get to escape our wifes/lovers/significant others...at least for a few hours. Out of my group of 8 (Typically 7 Players and a DM) there are about 4-5 movers and shakers (read: strong roleplayers) that tend to steer the plot, either with backstory links or story arcs attached to them via DM. If any of us are missing, typically the game will be post poned.

We provide the main back bone of the group with a Fighter, Rogue, Druid, Magus, and Cleric(myself). The other two, a Scout and a Dragoon(homebrew), who will be rerolling Wizard soon, who really don't have alot of backstory nor story inputs and just kinda tag along. They have a tendency to flake out on us, so we told them they wouldn't have strong story arcs because of it.

If the GM can't make it we definately postpone or play something else. We currently have a Rifts game, a Star Wars Saga, and a D&D4e going behind the primary Pathfinder game.

2011-06-11, 10:15 AM
Like many here, it depends on how many are in the group, whether that person has any important plot coming up, and partly on the group's preferences in general.

In a D&D game with seven players, we'd probably be willing to game if the Fighter couldn't make it, but less likely if the one Wizard or Cleric was absent.

In my Infernals game with six players, I'd probably still be willing to game as long as at least four of the players were still there (and I could come up with a reason for the two missing ones to not be there).