Organising the game...

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Mage
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Organising the game...

Postby Mage » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:03 pm

I know this subject has been done to death in GMs guides and the likes, but I would like to address my own personal example with the community as I nearly lost my temper today over trying to organise a game.

My group are mainly wargamers, some of which are experienced roll-players (50-50 split). We are all in our early twenties to early early thirties.

To protect identity, I will use the player's character description instead of the names:

The Pirate
The Sun Knight
The Water Knight
The Goblin
The Wood Elf
The Noob
The younger Noob
The Dark Elf


I organise a game for this Friday starting between 20:00 and 20:30, until about 23:00, maybe a little later. I text everyone last Friday.

The Pirate answers straight away. He answers when I send the last reminder text.

The Sun Knight I text several times, ring, and text again before I get an 'unlikely he can play'.

The Water Knight I end up ringing a few days alter over something else, then ask if he can make it. He says he will try, but is most likely a 'yes', but putting off the start time a little will help.
The Wood Elf never got back in touch with me, and him and the Sun Knight are room mates. Several texts, called twice, another text. More on this in a minute.

The Dark Elf never made a game in ages, but one of his relatives are expecting to give birth to a child. Fair enough.

The Goblin asks if the younger noob can join, I say yes. The Goblin says they can both make it. I send a reminder text earlier today. The Goblin says he was talking to the Water Knight, who said he might be able to make it, and told the Goblin (not me) he is playing Friday Night Magic at a game store. I did not know this. Rather than tell me this, The Goblin seems to assume the game was cancelled, the younger noob makes other plans, and never spoke to me or got in touch about it, instead bringing it up when I sent the reminder text.

I was a little angry at the Goblin, who I texted a little back and forth. At this stage, I was so frustrated I was afraid I would lose my temper, and simply text him 'forget it' thinking he did not want to play. For a person who is highly intelligent, the Goblin's choice here to me was silly, since I let people know when a game has to be cancelled and why.

At this point, I want to point out I do shift work, sometimes we get 4 games in in a month, sometimes 1.

So anyway, the Goblin reiterates he still wants to play, we clear the air between us, and he says he would rather not play a game with a minimum of 3 players (the minimum I will always run a game with) because he thinks the game is too epic to play without all the players in the group (which is sometimes impossible considering how large the group is). Still trying to 'salvage the piece of paper from the fire' I confirm with the Pirate who said he can attend, pushed the Sun Knight for a more definitive answer explaining things somewhat, still got no answer from the Wood Elf, asked the Pirates brother if he was up for a game (would have loved to play but has other plans) and asked the older Noob who I haven't seen in a while if he was up for a game (he said maybe, he is off but could get asked to cover at work, and he had reduced hours this week so would say yes in this eventuallity.

I then texted the Goblin the updates, haven't heard from him since again, but intend to ring/text him later.

What is your take on this? I really need advice, this is so frustrating...
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby Faelan Niall » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:39 pm

1. When I did shift work, I had similar problems, except I realized that I was the problem. I was the one with a screwed up schedule, and had no right expecting everyone else to behave in a logical fashion when the time and day was a moving target, because of me. People are creatures of habit, if you can't commit to a regular date and time you have to accept that you probably are not going to be able to get a weekly game going and once a month is more likely the result with you jumping throuhg hoops.

2. It's just a game, you should be having fun. When it starts feeling like a job just trying to get it together it is probably time to back off, and take a break.

3. Consider shrinking the size of the group. Four players has always seemed to be the ideal balance for me as a GM as far as meshing schedules and organizing game dates.

4. No matter how much you try to plan, remember sometimes **** just does not work out.

5. You are sending way too many texts. Send one email. Maybe one text. If they don't reply assume they are not coming, they are adults, treat them that way, and if they bitch about you gaming without them make sure they know you are not their mommy, and they need to get themselves to show up on time or not.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby Olaus Petrus » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:55 pm

We created our own mailing list for our group and we also occasionally use Doodle to determine which is best time to hold a session. It's much easier to organize the sessions and communicate with the group when everyone gets the same messages. But I assume that you could do the same thing with Google+ or Facebook etc. if everyone uses the same social networking service.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby sdavies2720 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:12 am

We have a standing Friday game, but revolving/evolving set of GMs. It's at a game store, so the owner sorta keeps track of who is coming, but doesn't have a lot of time to spend on it.

When I'm running, I just call up that afternoon to find out how many players I have, and who they are likely to be. I then adjust the adventure to suit. Not perfect, but I'd rather run for a couple of people (I've had as few as 2, to as many as a dozen) than not run.

I used to stress about continuity ("Wait, your weren't here last week so your character isn't on the boat -- just sit there until I can figure out a way to get you on board"), but now we just arm-wave it ("You were on the boat, but just cowering in the hold until now" or even worse "You were in a zombie death sleep, walking along with everyone, and you just woke up").

People do respond to what they see. So if you say, "I'm going to send out one email, you need to confirm that you're going to be there, if I have fewer than 3 players then the game is cancelled and I'll send you an email to that effect the night before." They will respond if they want to play. If they don't care, then you can decide whether it's important to you to hunt them down.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby DamonJynx » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:09 am

I feel your pain, Mage.

We play a regular Saturday night game. I used to send emails, ring, text and all that jazz if there'd been a bit of a lay-off for whatever reason (i.e. Christmas).

Normally, I'd send a group email asking who is running and what (if unknown, or who is attending) and what the venue is. Some would reply, some not. There may be a little to-ing and fro-ing in the end a game would or would not be on.

My New Years resolution is to let someone else do all the crap re scheduling and whatever. I'm sick of being the one who organises the game all the time. If the others can't be bothered, well, then I've got better things to do with my time, like spend some of it with my wife!
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby Olaus Petrus » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:27 am

DamonJynx wrote:I feel your pain, Mage.

We play a regular Saturday night game. I used to send emails, ring, text and all that jazz if there'd been a bit of a lay-off for whatever reason (i.e. Christmas).

Normally, I'd send a group email asking who is running and what (if unknown, or who is attending) and what the venue is. Some would reply, some not. There may be a little to-ing and fro-ing in the end a game would or would not be on.

My New Years resolution is to let someone else do all the crap re scheduling and whatever. I'm sick of being the one who organises the game all the time. If the others can't be bothered, well, then I've got better things to do with my time, like spend some of it with my wife!
That sounds like a fine plan. It's always more fun to run the game when players have asked if you could run adventure to them and they have organised everything themselves and you just have to show up with your new adventure.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby skoll » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:20 am

As some others already replied, think about reducing the amount of players. Include only the guys, who want to play. And use Doodle.

I'm a GM for 5 players. We only play, when everybody can participate. Usually that means about twice a month. But thanks to Doodle and the commitment of the players, whenever when we have a game scheduled, I know everybody will show up.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby soltakss » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:24 pm

Our gaming group consists of 3 players and a GM, playing every Monday night, with each player taking it in turns to host, on a fortnightly rota.

We have a Yahoo Group for emails, which we haven't used for a while, which we use to communicate background information and things that would clog up the game.

One player was away for 2 years, working abroad, so we played with 2 players and a GM. At that time, if one player couldn't make it then we cancelled the game.

Currently, we check whether the game is on by text message, although we sometimes call each other if we have a possible change in venue. If one player pulls out then the game goes ahead. If we are left with one player and one GM we cancel the session. If the GM pulls out then we cancel the session.

We work on the assumption that everyone attends unless they tell us otherwise. Nobody has ever pulled out and not told one of us, although we had one week where we cancelled a game by text but one player had changed his number and didn't know.

This works for us as we have a regular game with a long-running campaign and it doesn't really matter if a player misses a session or two. We also know that even if we cancel for a couple of weeks then we will be playing again in the very near future.

But, as a long-running gaming group made up of adults, we have a very tolerant view on no-shows and so on.
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Mage
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby Mage » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:22 am

Well, we had the game, but damn it was frustrating organising it - a good time was had by all. I'll post a 'batrep' of it shortly.

The Pirate - attended
The Sun Knight - attended
The Water Knight - attended
The Goblin - attended
The Wood Elf - attended
The Noob - attended (henceforth human Lord)
The younger Noob (absent)
The Dark Elf (absent, nothing new).

So, I struggled, and got a game with six pcs. Phew.
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soltakss
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby soltakss » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:14 pm

Wow! You got 6 people to attend a game.

Believe me, that is an achievement in Itself.

Personally, with a group of that size, I would only expect 4-5 people to show for each session and would plan accordingly.

With a large gaming group, we allocated no-show PCs to the GM to run as semi-NPCs, as long as the PCs started the scenario. For a new scenario, the PCs whose players turned up would start the scenario and other PCs could join the scenario by meeting them "on the way" in future sessions.
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Re: Organising the game...

Postby Olaus Petrus » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:39 pm

soltakss wrote:Wow! You got 6 people to attend a game.

Believe me, that is an achievement in Itself.

Personally, with a group of that size, I would only expect 4-5 people to show for each session and would plan accordingly.

With a large gaming group, we allocated no-show PCs to the GM to run as semi-NPCs, as long as the PCs started the scenario. For a new scenario, the PCs whose players turned up would start the scenario and other PCs could join the scenario by meeting them "on the way" in future sessions.
I have six players in my group and I usually run the game for 3-6 PCs. Six PCs is the largest group to which I want to host the game, but to be honest I find the game best when there's only 2-4 PCs participating, because then people can actually roleplay their characters better. In large group there's less "screen time" for characters and some players might get bored if there isn't enough for their character to do. In small group even the tank characters are likely to participate in dialogue with the NPCs, but if there are several talky characters around they usually just wait when the fight starts.

I also often use no-show PCs as semi-NPCs. When party is on road they usually form a rear guard, guard the horses while others are exploring some location etc. and if party is in city they usually have their own business to attend, which explains why they aren't doing any adventuring. I keep them close, so that they are usually out of harm's way, but close enough that they could easily join to adventure if the player attends to next session. I try to avoid leaving them behind, because sometimes adventures take PCs to another country, continent or even to another dimension, but I'm also trying to avoid situations where they just follow other characters like zombies without doing anything.

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