Saturday, March 22, 2014

What Do You Do on Game Night When You Don't Have Enough Players for the Regular Campaign?

It's Saturday night. Of your group of 6 + 1, you have only 2 players and the DM. Or maybe 4 and no DM. What do you do?

Call the session off? Push on?

Back in the wayback times, when work and family didn't prevent us from wasting a Sunday afternoon at the dining room table playing Chaos Marauders, Talisman, Nuclear War, Sega Genesis and the like, the session went one, but not the campaign.

That is a major advantage for face to face gaming, as the session (if not the campaign) can easily continue with a core chunk of players missing.

These days I play pretty much exclusively online via G+ Hangouts and Roll20. We did try, briefly, having an alternate system (T&T) when we had less than the optimal number of players, but that didn't work so well (might be that I'm probably the only member of the group well versed in T&T).

Board games are out. Drinking Quest would probably work, but each person on would probably need their own set of the rules.

For the most part, these undermanned sessions turn into amazing chat sessions, but then again, I do game with some very creative people.

So, what do you do on the game nights where you don't have enough peeps to play in the regular RPG campaign?


  1. Character sheets stay with the GM and anyone absent has their character played by a present member. Then we email or call the person sometime during the week to fill them in (we meet every Monday) so that they're ready to go for the coming Monday.

  2. Warlight via Google Hangouts or Cards Against Humanity online. I have been looking at trying out Vassal for online wargames.

  3. I use Roll20 as well. The character sheets are all built into the PC's entry in the Journal tab, so anyone could pick up the character if the owning player can't make it. We've done that a few times, but other times I don't really want to continue with the adventure unless everyone is present. One time we did do a 2-hour BS session when not everyone was there. The remaining option is to just cancel the session and I've done that as well.

    No reason why a board game can't be imported into Roll20 and I've got a few in mind that I really want to do that with. Both "beer and pretzel" type and a couple of old Avalon Hill wargames I used to play BITD. But those projects would take time and I just haven't made room for them yet.

  4. Generally we call it off, but I'll run a game for even just a pair of players if possible. If it's not, we'll sometimes play something else non-RPG related.

  5. These days I would try to talk someone into a two person story game. Mars colony, Murderous ghost or something like that.

  6. We usually do a casual one-shot of something else, usually very rules light and easy to prep or run on the fly. ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying and Dead of Night (horror) are two perennial favorites.

  7. Last week when this happened, we had an improv-heavy, combat-light bit of back story. The campaign started with characters at ~3rd level (an extension from a con game), so I took two of them back in time to when they were just barely 1st level, and we played through their meeting and some other bits of urban intrigue. Basically the equiv. of doing a side quest, without the awkwardness of pulling damaged characters out of whatever situation they are in. The only downside is that we already know the characters don't die - or if they do, they somehow find some resurrection. I had a great time learning about their backstories, and I think they enjoyed learning more about the world they are in.

  8. Face to face, we pay Fiasco when we're short on players.
    Online we just reschedule.

  9. Our GM will either have a powerful entity teleport the remaining group members away for a one-night quest (which rewards those present with extra gold and magic for having shown up) or else he will run mock combats to the death PvP so that the players can finally see who is actually tougher. ;-)

  10. We almost always know in advance who will be absent, so we either play without them or use it as an opportunity to switch out GMs and settings. Right now, we have a primary campaign, two occasional campaigns, and an every-once-in-a-while playtest on Monday nights.


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