2007 October 20
by Vanir

We played D&D for the first time in about a month last night due to various family commitments and certain martially artsy activities that required us to be out of town. It was a weird, unproductive session that I’m sure every gaming group sees once in awhile. The DM’s (by their own admission) hadn’t adequately planned, and it certainly didn’t help that we were all so wound up for one reason or another that we mostly just hung out and talked for the majority of the night. This happens a lot when we haven’t played for awhile, and it always makes the sessions around the holiday season…. interesting. There was a lot of interrupting important stuff with dumb comments by several people (me included), and nobody was really engaged in the game. It’s not that nobody had fun, because we all did. It’s just that we didn’t play D&D worth a crap the whole night.

After I got home, I realized one reason I think this happens: D&D isn’t just something you show up and drop into. (At least, you don’t if you don’t want last night’s kind of session.) I don’t think one person at the table, DM or player alike, really had their heart into it. Even if somebody did, they were quickly drowned out by the rest of us. The thought occurs to me that maybe before we game and want to have an exciting session where a lot of “stuff gets done”, we need to get into the right mindset and remember why we’re there – and act accordingly.

Unless, of course, your group wants to dick around all night and have fun some other way. Which there’s nothing wrong with either – but as we have been known to say here there are other people at the table so work it out with everyone. If looking at auctions on Ebay for frightening adult Atari 2600 games sounds like more fun to everyone than playing right then, by all means go for it. But don’t let me know about it. I’m still trying to scrub the memories from my cranium from last night.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Zybron permalink
    October 21, 2007

    I think the best solution when a group hasn’t played in a while is to schedule a get together shortly before the actual game session. All of us get together for games to socialize and have fun playing the game. When it has been a while since the last session, it seems the priority is on the socialize part. Everyone wants to catch up and talk about what has happened in their lives and such. So, take the stress off of trying to fit a game around catching up with friends and do that outside of the game session.

  2. DNAphil permalink
    October 21, 2007

    Our group meets for 30 min to an hour before game to socialize and to vent any of the week’s frustrations. That helps us clear everything, and then dive into the game.

    While we are hanging out and chatting, I usually have some music playing on my laptop. The playlist is part of the soundtrack for our campaign, and that too helps to set the mood. Finally, before we play, I (the GM) read a re-cap of the past session. Or if we have not played in a while, a recap that covers the current arc, or even the whole campaign

    When we have not played in a while, we typically start a discussion about the upcoming game by email to give everyone a lead in before the actual session. This gets people asking questions, and in the right mindset for playing. A recap can be done by email as well, but typically I like to use the emails for player-to-player, or player-to-npc discussions. Those discussions tend to get the players more focused and re-invested in the game.

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