Our current social contract stipulates that if one player is missing, we play but if two aren’t there, we postpone the game. We’ve had this “clause” for about 5 years and it’s worked pretty well.
However, we’ve had people missing games on a recurrent basis for the past 4 or 5 sessions. Furthermore, there are signs that point toward it getting worse instead of better.
Having babies, children emergencies, business-traveling spouses to pick up at the airport, Friday workplace wine & cheeses and visiting parents are a reality of any adult gamers and a RPG gaming group needs to address this to keep the game going.
So chances are that having at least 2 missing players will increase. That’s why we need to reinforce the ‘roll call by Tuesday’ clause so I can plan the game accordingly.
So yesterday, I brought the subject up with Yan, Math and Franky to try to explore possibilities to allow the game to continue in a fun way for all. Here’s a rundown of our proposals and the pros and cons I see in them. Fell free to chime in with thoughts and suggestions (i.e readers, not just my own players).
Play with only 3 players present
Pros: We would probably never miss a game.
Cons: Creates a class imbalance in the party
We agreed that if we went with this approach, we would use NPC’s (controlled by players during combat) to make up for absent party roles.
We’d also rule that no player can be more than 1 level behind the highest character. So players that never miss would be rewarded with having the most powerful PC while players that miss once in a while would not be all that penalized. This actually also applies to all three solutions.
Designate Stand-in players that show up when players are missing
Pros: Makes up for missing players, brings in new blood in group. Allow for the people that gravitate around our game group to join in the fun.
Cons: Being a stand-in sucks, you can’t build a character story if you are there only every so often.
If we were to do this, in order to be fair to the stand-in, we’d call him (we have no female gamers in our circle) whenever 1 player was missing, filling out the group to 5 PCs.
(Thing is, after having played with 4 PCs in the last week, it IS the perfect setup for pacing)
Invite a permanent 6th player to the group.
Pros: We’d probably always be at least 4, the new player would be a permanent member allowing full immersion in the game.
Con: I’m sure my gaming room can’t fit 6 players (adding a panel on our table squeezes us against the room’s wall and door). A Six player game is slower and harder to handle.
If we went with this approach, we’d probably need to play at Math’s or Stef’s if all players were there.
So there we have it. Three possible solutions to the issue.
Personally, with the recent shift to a more casual game (and the concept of the extended party I’m implementing) I think we could afford to invite a new player.
I wouldn’t mind moving from my place on days that all players show up, and while the game would be slower, we also would have more social energy and have fun as pals.
Also, adding some new blood would also help fight the stagnation that is creeping up on our 9 year-old gaming group.
I’ll approach Eric and Stef with the proposals and I’ll let my players think about it.
On my side, I have 2 players in mind already but one just told me he’d rather stick to our monthly McWod/Pathfinder geek out… hopefully the other one would be interested…. plus I could use a bodyguard around that table of Masterminds!
How did you address this in your games?