Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday Quick Tip - Never give up a session

Organizing a night of tabletop is hard. Getting four to eight adults in the same room to celebrate a special occasion is hard enough, but getting the same people to meet up every week for a few hours to play Dungeons and Dragons or your favourite RPG can be near impossible.

Too many times I have had games cancelled because one friend at the last minute has to take his kid to soccer practice, someone has a last minute deadline, or is starting to get a cold. I'm not saying these aren't valid reasons, its irrational to think everyone is going to be able to attend every game. The problem is if everyone misses a different game every two months, and you cancel the game each time, you're left with only a handful of games. Sporadic gameplay, not TPKs (Total Party Kills) is what kills campaigns more often than not.

This is why recently I have become an advocate for multiple backups. I wrote a recent post at Master of Dungeons about campaign themes, and making your multiple games feel different. This was spurred by a new game that I ran last minute because of a cancellation. My main game tends to be more serious, with long term character development and the safety of the entire world at stake. When one of my players couldn't attend, instead of calling the night off, as we usually do, I told anyone who could make it to attend. We started a new campaign, with brand new characters, and ended up doing more wacky crazy stuff than we normally do. This campaign was to be less serious, as we didn't know when we would play the characters next. Players were playing Centaurs and Pixies, and it was a ton of fun.

I had very little planned for that night, having only found out that we couldn't play our main game at the last minute. Sometimes when a player can't attend I run the main game with their character on a sort of auto-pilot, however we had come to a very important crossroads in the campaign and I didn't want the player to miss out. By creating a new campaign we were able to play, as well as keep the routine of meeting every week going.

There are all sorts of added benefits to multiple games. Not only do you get to mix things up, and play a different style of game, but if you play in the same universe you give your players backup characters they can use if their main character dies. You can also organize crossover events, or have the consequences of one campaign appear in the other. This makes your world feel more alive.

It's hard to make a game last minute. When there is a cancellation, don't worry about planning a large intricate campaign (although I usually don't advocate for doing that anyway). Simply get an idea, draw up a couple simple encounters, and see where things take you. There is always inspiration and quick adventure ideas on the Master of Dungeons blog, (like this week's Skeptic's guide to the realms inspiration). Who knows, maybe something that comes up in a spur of the moment backup adventure, will start a long term campaign for your main group.

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