Present and Accounted for~

A dear friend, now departed, always used to swear by choosing your players very, very carefully. This morning, as I read this post at Geek Related and again a little while later as it was followed up with this post, I could not help but be reminded of those words. The entries today by mxyzplk were dealing with the concept of how to ensure and regulate attendance at your games. The flake player with sporadic attendance was not something that my friend had to worry about.

 

While I totally agree with the initial conclusions being reached in mxyzplk’s posts this morning, as my own day is winding down to a close, a little introspection and thought is leading me to a parallel conclusion, that while different, does not refute the groundwork he is laying.

 

It strikes me now that, from another point of view, just two things will assure player attendance, but in an almost biblical way, those two things are really just one thing.

 

Thing the first: Use your invitations carefully

Before planning and starting a game, choose the players carefully. Tailor the time, duration, frequency, genre, and style of play to those hand-picked players. Eliminate surprises by being informed about their play style, level of participation, dedication, and their interests.

 

As GI Joe tells us, knowing is half the battle. Optimists and pessimists will disagree on whether this is a positive or negative comment, but either way, it leads us to the realization that there is another half of this battle out there somewhere.

 

Thing the second: Tell a good tale

In a nutshell, know your audience, and always leave them wanting more. Engage them, challenge them, beguile and entice them, scare and unsettle them, thrill and excite them. Build your stories for the characters your players make, and shape them to involve not just the attention of the character, but the player as well. Get inside their heads and figure out what they like to do, help them to realize it for themselves, and guide the group toward a platform of mutually assured diversion.

 

 

Two Sides, One Coin

As you can readily see, both pieces of advice, such as they are, are really just variations on the theme of ‘know your players’ with a sprinkling of ‘plan wisely’ over the top.

 

For those who are trying to set up a new game now, this is of no real use, except to maybe convince you to take your time and work more carefully toward the game you want to start. Meet people first, game with them as a player, get into discussions at your FLGS or other places where ‘your kind of people’ congregate in the flesh or online. Get a sense of them, and the people they know. Treat it like a casting call for a feature film.

 

Once our original groups have faded away, we all have to start over again with strangers, and each move, schedule change, lifestyle change, hot TV show, plague, and disaster can upset things so that we have to repeat this cycle again and again over the years. This leaves us with two choices: jump right in and hope for the best, or plan things out in hope of building what we want. If what we want is a good group of regular players, in my opinion, the choice is clear.

 

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