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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    In a land far, far away
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    Male

    Default How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    I have been DMing a game for the better part of two years. We’ve met on a weekly basis, first in person and then online starting about last March. There were some technical issues as one of the players is a little older than me and needs some guidance on using technology for meeting online.

    Recently, with the holidays and such, we’ve met less frequently. There have also been some occasions where for various reasons (illness, work, other obligations), we haven’t had enough players to justify meeting in my eyes (I prefer to have at least four of my six players present before running a session). This means we haven’t really games in this campaign for the past two months.

    After our last session was cancelled due to a couple of player having familial obligations, the older player expressed frustration at how infrequently we’ve been meeting and complained that we should just hold off meeting until we can meet in person again. For what I hope are obvious reasons, that is not going to be anytime soon and I told him as much.

    I’m at a loss as to what to do. I do still have an overarching story which I have gotten feedback from players that they really like. I also have a completely unrelated story which players have also expressed enthusiasm for, workshopping new characters as soon as I introduced the concept. I want to finish the current story out, but I worry people’s enthusiasm for it has waned.

    TL,DR: my gaming group hasn’t met in 2 months and one of my players is real cheesed about it. Should I continue with my current story or try to switch to a different one? Should I offer a new day to hold sessions on?
    Yes my name is misspelled. No I don't care. There, problem solved.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    It can't hurt to check if there's a better time to schedule games, and to make sure people don't want to finish the current game early, but... Overall, I think your "older player" just has to deal. Sometimes life happens. I'm in a three-player campaign, and we were only just able to play last week after a month of missed sessions.

    It's entirely possible your player is lonely, though, what with the pandemic and all. One thing you could do is try to have something on the nights when you have low attendance--have someone run a one-shot, play a multilayer video game together, even just hang out in voice chat together and talk. That way you can still have some friend time, even if you can't continue the main game.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Anxe's Avatar

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    Jul 2005
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    Davis, California
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    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Aren't you going to have all the same scheduling issues once you can meet in person again anyways? Holidays get in the way, it happens. My group also typically takes a break then and a bit during the summer too for vacations. A two month hiatus is longer than usual, but its not that extraordinary. If I was in your position and the older player really wanted to take a break until you can meet in person, I would play on without them

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Batcathat's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2019

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anxe View Post
    Aren't you going to have all the same scheduling issues once you can meet in person again anyways? Holidays get in the way, it happens. My group also typically takes a break then and a bit during the summer too for vacations. A two month hiatus is longer than usual, but its not that extraordinary. If I was in your position and the older player really wanted to take a break until you can meet in person, I would play on without them
    Yeah, this was my thought as well. If anything, meeting online should make things easier since you "just" need the actual play time free since there's no travel, etc.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    As other people said, hollydays are a difficult time to set up sessions. On top of that breaking momentum can sometime means it can be difficult to find the rythme again. If part of the group is available I would suggest to play another tabletop rpg with the available people in the meanwhile. Using a simpler system might be refreshing for your players, and some system allow gm to basically wing it. The 2 I have in mind are Agon (good for small campaign and one shot, where the players play Greek heroes trying to get home while most at see, pretty much like in the odyssey), or blades in the dark (very good system where players play a gang of scoundrels in a city clad in eternal night, a favorite of my players this day, both simple and elegant). I'm sure other people might provides other systems that could fit the job.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Male

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    No game in two months? Sounds like your game is already on the rocks.

    Like others have already said: try to find a new time and new day to play. Sadly, if your older player cannot make it you may have to replace them.

    Another alternative would be to launch another game with a subplot to your original game. Same game world, etc. So at least for those that can make it you all can game without waiting for those who chronically cannot make the original game.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PirateGirl

    Join Date
    Apr 2015

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Maybe it’s a little bit harsh, but that’s the way I learnt to say “I only need two players to run the game”.
    And you start learning techniques to run the game in a more modular way, learning how to handle and justify characters getting in and out and how to plan without needing a particular PC to be present.
    That’s why I also learnt to only prepare the next sesion and nothing more, and more in the way of vague adventure ideas.
    Eventually, the ones truly interested, will show up more often and those are the ones with whom is worth playing.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Dallas, TX
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    Male

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    It's often hard to pick back up after a lull. That's normal. Also, some people don't want to play a game that isn't on a firm schedule. You cannot change that. You might lose some people either to the past period of lesser activity or to expected future unpredictability. If I had reserved time to play a game several times, only to have it fall apart again and again, I'd consider dropping out, simply because planning for it and not getting it prevents other activities that need to be planned in advance.

    Also, there comes a time in life when other things wind up taking more time. I gamed more in college and the next five or so years than I will ever game again. It took me awhile to realize the difference -- that I was no longer building a real life around my games and hobbies, but trying to fit my games and hobbies around my real life.

    So the problem may be unsolvable. It may not be possible for this group to meet regularly right now. If so, move on. There are lots of other fun things to do.

    My one suggestion is this. Of the various difficulties, the only one you can control is yourself. So focus on that. Commit to running the game on a set schedule, and then schedule *nothing* over it. Just make it your only priority for that timeslot. That includes running a game regardless of who shows up.

    Perhaps this means adding a few side-quests for only or or two or three PCs, if those are the players who show up. Remember that a side-quest of this sort must end at the end of the session, or you need a way for players to join or leave in the middle, since you don't know who will show up next time. Or you might have them create different characters for separate one shots.

    I once ran a game with 12 players. I could never expect them all to show up, so I introduced a rule for absences. Each player was expected to choose in advance one of the following options for missed sessions.
    1. You must choose another player who can play your character, and you would get all xps and risks available that game.
    2. You won't let another player play your character. Your PC will have a minor sickness not curable with magic that prevents fighting or casting. Your character will not die, get captured, be cursed, or take other harm, but won't gain xps, either.

    By giving them the choice, they were not forced into a situation that didn't approve of, and they all knew that the game would go on in any case.

    Good luck!

    edit: 12 players, not 112.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2021-01-19 at 04:42 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    The November to January period can really be harsh on games, particularly if you have adult players with real lives and obligations. There’s not getting around Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the inevitable “welcome back to work where we now have a ton of things to do to regain any lost momentum.”

    Probably the best thing you can do is make sure that any drops and schedules are as predictable as possible, and remember to remind people when sessions are coming up if they’re low density. If people KNOW that you only think there’s going to be one session in early December, then you don’t plan on meeting again until early January, you’ve done your job. If they keep thinking “well maybe next week”, and get disappointed weekly because they only get a few days notice for the drop, you might want to look at how you do your scheduling and housekeeping.

    As to where you are now, your best effort is probably to outline the actual schedule of events between now and President’s day. You’ve got a couple long weekends coming up that are going to potentially session kill most adult players. So to make sure people know this is an expected outcome of reality, and not the game going on the rocks, put out the schedule.

    If you can regain even a bi-weekly session, it can take you into the early spring where the long weekends, holidays, etc all taper off.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Utah
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    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawgmoah View Post
    Another alternative would be to launch another game with a subplot to your original game. Same game world, etc. So at least for those that can make it you all can game without waiting for those who chronically cannot make the original game.
    This is what I do. I have a list of things that will affect the campaign that the main characters won't be in. An example is that a group of pirates would unleash an evil on the world, and eventually the players would encounter it. When there was a time that the one of the players (and it's the same one every time, because he has lots of family commitments) couldn't make it, they all created pirate characters and played the situation out. Gives us all something to play, and I think it makes the world more interesting. Everything is not just how I have made it by fiat, because it can cause things to go a different way than I would have written it.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Originally Posted by Jay R
    I once ran a game with 112 players.
    Is this really the correct number, or should this be reduced by an order of magnitude?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Belgium
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    Male

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    It depends on your group, but we've had hiatus for 2-3 months before and the campaign did go on. Of course, what we often do is having two or even three campaigns ongoing, one of which was the 'fallback' campaign we could run without all players present. We also rotate the DM duties.
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

    "Magic can turn a frog into a prince. Science can turn a frog into a Ph.D. and you still have the frog you started with." Terry Pratchett
    "I will not yield to evil, unless she's cute."

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    What my friends and I do is we have a designated "Game Night." If everyone is there then it's campaign time. If we're missing some folks we instead play various boardgames. Though now with Covid restrictions and everything we've switched to video games, but usually low graphic video games that are pretty cheap. Stuff like MTG: Arena, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride are all great for getting the people talking and having fun together even when we're not playing our normal campaign.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BardGirl

    Join Date
    Nov 2019

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    What my friends and I do is we have a designated "Game Night." If everyone is there then it's campaign time. If we're missing some folks we instead play various boardgames. Though now with Covid restrictions and everything we've switched to video games, but usually low graphic video games that are pretty cheap. Stuff like MTG: Arena, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride are all great for getting the people talking and having fun together even when we're not playing our normal campaign.
    There are also sites like Board Game Arena or Tabletopia where you can play virtual versions of board games.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Orc in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    With my group, we have at times had 2 campaigns running in parallel (with different GMs). Each with different parts of the same core group.
    As the only member of the group with full time job and wife and kids, sadly I missed out on some good games. But the rest of my life wasn't stopping the others from being able to achieve "quorum" (We've generally said we go ahead as long as only one player is missing.

    It may well have helped that the different games run have always been different systems - different settings, different styles
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Jun 2018
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    Belgium
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    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuresun View Post
    There are also sites like Board Game Arena or Tabletopia where you can play virtual versions of board games.
    We have another day where we play Gloomhaven on TableTopSimulator. It's not the same as sitting around a table, but it's better than nothing. And in some ways it's easier, as the board and monster set-up is automated (and those who have played Gloomhaven know it's often quite a thing to search for all the pieces just to set stuff up).
    Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

    "Magic can turn a frog into a prince. Science can turn a frog into a Ph.D. and you still have the frog you started with." Terry Pratchett
    "I will not yield to evil, unless she's cute."

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2016

    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Quote Originally Posted by CombatBunny View Post
    Maybe it’s a little bit harsh, but that’s the way I learnt to say “I only need two players to run the game”.
    And you start learning techniques to run the game in a more modular way, learning how to handle and justify characters getting in and out and how to plan without needing a particular PC to be present.
    That’s why I also learnt to only prepare the next sesion and nothing more, and more in the way of vague adventure ideas.
    Eventually, the ones truly interested, will show up more often and those are the ones with whom is worth playing.
    Very much this. Run the session with whomever shows up. You don't need to explain away every character absence either. People always think you do but you can just handwave it and usually their just glad not to waste time removing and bringing back the absent characters. That was the only way I could keep a consistent game session and the more consistent you keep it the better attendance becomes in my experience.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: How to Save or Revitalize My Game?

    Have you tried Zoom or Google Meet?
    "There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom" G'Kar - Babylon 5

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