I see, almost weekly, many posts online describing how some people struggle to schedule a game of DnD, and to keep that group together long-term. In this article, I will explain 4 tips (ordered from most to least impactful) I have used to establish consistent and lasting groups for any roleplaying games, not just DnD.
Note: If you do not have access to potential players, then I suggest you go and make some friends then come back here or take up solo games.
Set a weekly time to play DnD with your group
Choose a time and day that makes sense every week which most people will usually have available. Now, play every week during that time even if some players do not show up.
And when I say play, I do not mean some random one shot because you are worried the missing players will miss out. Too bad. This is the schedule! Run the game as normal because they can catch up next week.
You are not going to be able to accommodate everyone’s schedule, so the easiest solution is to make them accommodate. If you keep your DnD schedule consistent, eventually the players who want to be there will be there (most of the time because life happens).
Once the group is more established, you can become more flexible with this rule. That is, if some players do not show up then it is okay to skip a session here or there, or maybe play something else that week instead of the usual DnD game.
However, do not, EVER, change the scheduled time for a week. Doing so undermines the initial precedent and you might be confronted with players wanting to change the time more often which will ruin the longevity of the group. Play into the comfort. Play into the routine. Humans like routine.
Keep your DnD sessions short
We all have busy lives because we keep promising ourselves to new obligations and DnD is another one, so make it an easy commit by keeping your DnD sessions short.
When I say short, I mean you should aim for about 2 hours of play. At first, this might not seem like a lot of time, but with practice, you and your players will start to love it.
- Every moment matters which means, over time, you will all learn to focus your sessions on elements you all enjoy rather than boring crap like buying equipment.
- Everyone will be more engaged because they find each scene interesting.
- Everyone is less likely to feel exhausted after the game which means you will have more time to excitedly chat about what happened afterwards.
- It’s easier for people to commit to 1 or 2 hours instead of 4 hours.
- The game master does not have to prepare as much material.
Just like the last tip, you can be a little flexible with this rule as a campaign progresses. If you are on the last session or in the middle of an encounter, but close to a good moment to end the session, then it might be okay to run a little over time.
However, only do this after checking with everyone first, we value each other’s time, so demonstrate that by asking if it would be okay. But keep it infrequent and for those crucial moments.
Play DnD online instead of in-person
Playing DnD online can be more flexible for some people and if this is all it takes for some people to consistently show up every week, then you have just expanded your pool of potential players.
Some people have major commitments like pets, children, or lonely houses that require constant compliments which means it can be difficult to leave the house for large chunks of time. To accommodate for this, play DnD online instead, so that they can join in on the fun.
If you are going to play online, then everyone needs to do 3 things:
- Use a webcam and show your lovely face to the group.
- Wait your turn to speak, just like with in-person conversations. (Bonus tip: try directing questions to specific players online to prompt them to speak near the start of the group. They’ll learn).
- Use a mic with good quality and if you are prone to loud background noises, then use push-to-talk.
Some people really don’t like playing online and that’s okay. Tell those people to go find another group. Problem solved.
Rotate game masters with short DnD campaigns
To hold people’s attention we need to change things up, so try running shorter campaigns or even just an adventure or two before changing to a new game.
By short campaigns, I mean around 8 to 12 sessions. It’s a real sweet spot for time and with some practice, you will be able to fit in some satisfying plot arcs and character development.
When only a few sessions remain in the campaign, try suggesting someone else try running a game for everyone. The game can be in a different setting, using a different system (please play something other than DnD), and does not have to go for the full 8 to 12 sessions either if they’re new to it.
And with this tip, you can always return to a previous campaign to continue where you left off after everyone is refreshed. It works! Shorter campaigns work wonders for the attention span of our brains.
I have established many DnD groups using these tips and all of them are still running, even without me too! Even if some of these tips seem odd or are awkward at first, just give them a short and see what happens. What do you have to lose? You’re already not playing consistently anyway.
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