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It's been a long time coming, but it appears that my primary gaming group is no more. As GM, you wonder if any of it was your fault. You review the facts and can't find fault with your actions. Sadly, the players themselves caused the problem.

Originally, I started with six players. Which is a pretty good size. It meant that if someone couldn't make it, it would be a problem. Or so I thought, but I'll get to that later. They were a diverse group of players. One player was my wife. One player was old gamer friend, subject A, who was asked by his last group to not come back. I took pity on subject A and invited him to play. Subject B and C, were a boyfriend and girlfriend time. Subject D was a friend of B and C. Finally there was Subject E, a nice quiet guy with little gaming experience. All in all, I've had worse groups.

A while after we started playing, we started to have to cancel some sessions. Subject E and D, both had jobs. This meant they sometimes couldn't make it. That was no problem, because I could still have four players. The problem was that sometimes Subject B and C couldn't come because of some odd sounding excuse, usually at the last moment. While bad, we still go to game more often than we didn't.

So things were doing OK, then Subject E stopped showing up, because he had to work. I actually understand that and bear him no hard feelings. Then Subject A couldn't come because he could afford gas. Again this is one I understand as Subject A is on a fixed income and with gas pricing getting high, he could no longer afford to come. I was now down to four players, but now there was problem, if B and C couldn't show, the session was canceled. (B and C were a package deal, you could have one without the other, so if one of them couldn't come, neither did). While I could have done something with just two players, most of the material I had was for at least of party of four.

The final straw came when B and C showed up to the session an hour late and then about two hours into the session, announced that they had to go. They should have told us about the time issues before we started. It wasn't fair to anyone. Of course now comes the Christmas hiatus that many groups suffer.
That along with B and C's attitude plus D's work schedule has put a lance into the heart of the gaming group.

So the question is what to do now? Luckily, I have a secondary group that I have been playing with, so I'm covered, but my wife isn't covered. Since my secondary group is a night game with some old gaming buddies and someone has to watch my son.

Well like all things, I have to go back to the beginning. It's time to form a new group. I have to recruit players to my game. I have to advertise my group and I have look at postings of players that need a group. I have to talk to other gamers I know and find out if they know of people that are looking to game. On the plus side, I've been in the cycle of recruitment for sometime now. Originally, I has thought I was just need to add a player or two. Now I have to completely reform the group. Of course this is a bit of an upside, there is no baggage for the new player to deal with since almost everyone will be new to the group.

So, I wonder how many of you have suffered through group vaporization and I wonder what you have done afterwards. Please let me know.

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Samuel Van Der Wall's picture

Gaming Groups

Finding different gaming groups sucks. Building a new one sucks even more. Take it as an opportunity to build a better group though, and make new friends. There are good gamers out there that don't have groups.

Samuel Van Der Wall's last blog post... Sundered Skies and Savage Worlds

bonemaster's picture


@Samuel - basically that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to use it as chance to get a better group.

Restless's picture

Have you considered doing a

Have you considered doing a game similar to Ben Robbins' West Marches? One of the keys is taking advantage of player proactivity to make them schedule sessions, and also tapping a large player pool so that if not everyone shows up you can still play.

There are several articles there regarding the style of game, and definitely read the comments, they're very enlightening, too. If you search around on the regular forums, you can likely find quite a bit more information, too.

Wyatt's picture

Lost Gaming Group

Though I game online mainly, I lost an old group mostly due to a combination of internal dislikes and, somewhat like your experience, people being slightly discourteous about their absences. Since then, I've mostly been a traveler on the old internet, a lone wolf without much of a gaming home, though I've now established myself on a few forums and am slowly getting back into the groove of things. I started RPG Blogging as a way to cope with this sort of thing though. Designing stuff has always been more fun for me than using it...partially because it's been so difficult lately for me to use my stuff!

Wyatt's last blog post... Might of Eden Preview: Casters

bonemaster's picture


@Restless - That is a very interesting way to play. Sadly since I'm usually the GM, I don't have the same flexibility. Also, for some reason the player pool is a bit small here for some really odd reason.

@Wyatt - Sorry to here that you have not found a new gaming home. While the Internet is nice, it still is no substitute for the real thing. It's funny, but I started blogging too as a way to keep my gaming sanity.

Donny_the_DM's picture

I SO hear you.

My last gaming group (12 off and on again players averaging a group of 7) disintegrated in a similar, though slightly more spectacular fashion.

Lesbians, Wiccan covens, SCA, and plain old personal rivalry destroyed a 5 year campaign as surely as a meteor strike.

My advice is definitely don't take it personally, people are what they are, that is flaky among many other things. Find a new group, and like me, you will probably stop making "last group" reference within a couple of months.

Donny_the_DM's last blog post... A little late, but a little fixed as well.

grey roco's picture

I ran a game at a local game

I ran a game at a local game store for about 2 years and I was constantly recruiting new players. And I don't mean that in a figurative kind of way. I was always open to bringing in new people and was actively recruiting whenever I could. It worked out for a while that the rate I was shedding players was just about equal to the rate that I was adding them. All in all I had about 15 players total.

Zachary's picture

I have been through this

I have been through this before. Our disintegrated due to a number of scheduling issues and some personality conflicts.

I think the most important thing for all of us was the resulting hiatus. Rather than rush in, our dedicated core had time to think what we could do better, and realize how much we missed gaming.

We recruited from other gaming friends and transfers from other groups. We spoke to folks about the planned campaign and expectations.

Our next group wasn't perfect, but we gamed regularly and had a lot of fun. I like to think the time we took to talk about what we wanted had a lot to do with that.

Wyatt's picture


I actually rather prefer the internet to "the real thing" ;)

Wyatt's last blog post... Might of Eden Preview: Casters

Kiashu's picture

game circles

What I do is to run short (8-16 session) closed-ended campaigns with about 4 players, and alternate stuff every fourth session or so. During the alternate, someone else GMs a one-off, or we watch a movie or have a BBQ or whatever - and every gamer we know is invited.

After each campaign, I rotate at least one player out - usually someone is getting married, started a new job or had a kid or something, or just wants a break, so that's easy - and bring a new player in.

The alternates mean that people get slightly less gaming than they want. This keeps them hungry, and makes them more likely to show up next week.

The alternates also extend our circle of gaming friends and mean that we always have new gamers to slot in, or other groups to join.

The alternates also give the group a chance to tactfully carry out a bloodless coup against the GM. "Hey, that game was fun, maybe we could play that next week, just postpone this other one, come back to it, honest..."

As for the closed-ended campaigns, it's hard to commit to an open-ended game, if you get annoyed with the group or system or whatever then you think "my god, this will never end..." and start slacking off. But if you know that the campaign will be complete in a month or so, you're more likely to stick it out - and actually end up having fun.

Their being closed-ended also means that players have a sense of completion that's often missing from open-ended games which (too often) end up fizzling out. This makes them more likely to want to play in the next campaign I run, or at least the one after that if they're having a break.

As for your wife, just run some one-on-one games with her, or have her GM you.

Hammer's picture

I spent most of this summer

I spent most of this summer trying to get a gaming group together, before it fell apart because I'm a final year student and just didn't have time to write a campaign and keep on top of work. Rather gutting experience.

You could be in a much worst situation though. Subjects B and C would be a far bigger problem if they broke up badly then if they were carrying on with couply shenanigans (which, lets face it we have all done at one time or another ;) )

Don't over examine for reasons behind the split. These things happen, you were probably doing things perfectly, and eventually things happen (as certainly as death and taxes).

Hammer's last blog post... You Gotta Roll With It?

About bonemaster

bonemaster's picture


Bonemaster (aka Jeff Uurtamo) is a long time RPG gamer. He started playing back in early 1980s. The Bone Scroll is his latest attempt to give something back to the gaming community.


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