Help Wanted – Elvish Personal Assistant For Scheduling D&D Sessions…

2007 October 10
by Dante

It is time to discuss one of the unfortunate technical details that every DM has to overcome: scheduling.

Time changes everything.

In the beginning, we had a tight knit D&D group in the start so scheduling was not difficult. We usually played on Saturday nights, and it was fairly easy to coordinate conflicts and off nights. As years went on, our group grew by three additional members and scheduling became more and more difficult.

Eventually we amended our social contract to include a “one player out” rule, which meant that if one player could not make it we would continue playing and that character would be run by some other member of the group.

In practice, however, this did not end up working so well. We have two pairs of married people in our group, so many times we were short two players at a time. In addition, fairly erratic work scheduled tended to get in the way, so the social contract needs some work.

Different strokes for different folks

My co-DM and I were used to different levels of availability in D&D: he was more used to a classical “hard-lined” approach where everyone played each week and if you weren’t there you were just out of luck for that week’s experience. I tended to gravitate more towards character-centric plots, which didn’t work so well in that mode.

Due to family reasons, one of our players requested a “three weeks on, one week off” schedule, which tended to work pretty well for our group. We could schedule which week would be our off week, and those that felt like getting together would be available to play some other game, watch a movie, or just get together and hang out. This was officially dubbed “Alternagaming Night” and persists to this day.

Once again, communication is key.

Lately, things have shifted even more and we’ve gotten into an ad-hoc mode of trying to suit everyone’s schedules. Luckily, the weeks that people have not been available have been pretty consistent throughout our group and the only thing that suffers in this mode is our campaign pacing. We’ve had some luck with having a few longer sessions to re-establish pace, however nothing can replace regular gaming sessions for keeping a good campaign rolling.

I have no idea if this is a common trend, however it seems that availability and gaming frequency tends to shift over time. I don’t believe there is any silver bullet for solving the problem of gaming schedule vs. real life responsibilities, however I believe that communication is key. Get together and agree as a group what is acceptable and go from there, a good social contract means a happy gaming group (until the fireballs come out, that is).

2 Responses leave one →
  1. ChattyDM permalink
    October 11, 2007

    My response was posted on my blog…. Touched a nerve there Dante! 🙂

  2. Fang Langford permalink
    October 11, 2007

    Perhaps you should try a Googley Eyed Elvish Personal Assistant. They can take messages from your party and make the schedule changes available instantly to everyone.

    I love mine.

    Fang Langford

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