[Your Advice] No Game? Problem.

My group missed its game tonight, bringing down our average this summer to less than 1 game per 3 weeks. I would love to keep gaming week after week but real life keeps getting in the way. My younger self believed that we could keep the gang together by getting together for a game, movie, or have a guest DM.

The problem we’ve had with the guest DM situation is that it takes time to prep a game. I’ve had a backup adventure in the back of my head for a few months. Unfortunately it’s not fleshed out enough to deliver on a few days notice. It also doesn’t want to fit into one night of gaming, making hard to do it for a one-shot. Even if I ran an encounter straight out of a module, it still takes time to read through the adventure, and pick out maps, minis, tokens, etc. In additions I like to prep monster cards and take some notes to let the game go smoothly. Even if someone was able to run a game completely off-the-cuff, if we’re down one or two players, it’s tough to run any adventure. And if we’re down our hosts then there are logistical and cleaning issues in the way of getting together elsewhere.

And if we wanted to punt on the game and just get together, we have to fight inertia and being tired after a whole day of work…

What do you do to keep going and keep momentum up? If your game gets canceled how do you spend your free evening? For myself, I’m blogging and reading some Robert Jordan, but somehow it’s not scratching that itch tonight…

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4 thoughts on “[Your Advice] No Game? Problem.

  1. I only get to game about once a week, sometimes every two weeks, and canceling is a big issue for my group as well. Since a cancel usually comes at next-to no notice, it leaves a sudden gaping hole. Usually, I spend that time prepping for the next time I have a game, so that I’m ready when it happens. This way, I still feel like I’m doing something with gaming, since I’m designing a session, and it helps if a sudden opening comes up where everyone is unexpectedly free.

  2. Unfortunately, if it’s on short notice it’s hard to schedule a replacement activity.

    Our group has a standing rule that we’ll go ahead minus one player. The players are used to it and know that they’ll occasionally get run as NPCs. Usually (as DM) I have that player sick, distracted, or otherwise unavailable and adjust encounter difficulty appropriately. Occasionally, if I don’t feel overburdened with other stuff, I’ll run them. I also hand out XP accordingly. . none if they’re indisposed and half if they’re an NPC. It’s a small incentive to only cancel when necessary.

    Another trick is to have your players contact you directly when they want to cancel, rather than sending a blast out to the group. The problem is that when someone cancels in a broadcast, you’ll often get ‘me too’ cancels from people who were borderline about showing but feel like someone else canceling gives them cover. If they have to actually show up before finding out someone else canceled, that gets reduced a lot. (Though obviously if two people cancel privately, you notify the group).

    And if all that fails and you still get stuck with an unexpected evening free, you could set up maps in MapTool for use in the next session, listen to the Icosahedrophelia podcast, setup a PbeM campaign, or read through the Kingmaker Adventure Path for Pathfinder and wish you had a group to run it with.

  3. I have yet to conquer this problem.
    I have not had a game in over 3 years because I cannot get a group of people together to play all at the same time.

    Its like herding cats!

    Before the current 3-year drought, I was running 3.5 ed World’s Largest Dungeon which was fine, except we averaged about a game a month.

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