Now and Then… (Planning for Extended Intermittent Games)

Temple of Shadows - Tease

Not every gaming group gets to stay together indefinitely, but often times it is possible to run sporadic games for “older groups” over a longer period of time. Planning can spread these intermittent games on “as can” basis and in a broad array of locations, allowing groups to reunite from time to time to continue an adventure. The logistics of this kind of game are in many ways more demanding than more regular games.There are lot of techniques and practices that can make these games smoother and more likely to be enjoyable despite irregular sessions…

Intermittent Session Gaming

When you know that you won’t be playing a specific campaign again for an indefinite period there are a lot of pitfalls to avoid. Having a grip on these possible snags can help a group evade them. Here are a few:

  • We are fighting the… who.. for the ..what? – Irregular gaming can cause the play group to lose even the broad strokes of a game’s plot line.
  • I am … someone… and I use.. something to do… stuff – Worse even than plot loss is character unfamiliarity. Expect that long term gaps in a game may diminish people’s understanding of character mechanics.
  • The gang’s all here… almost. – Irregular gaming can result in varied play time, location and other logistic concerns  which in turn may mean getting sparse and inconsistent attendance.
  • Where is it? – The physical reality of long term irregular gaming means that things can be left behind, lost or destroy (in floods, fire or at the hands of toddlers).

Prepping for the Irregular

With some of the above issues in mind there are a lot of ways to combat the issues pervasive in the interruptive or irregular game sessions. Here are a few ideas to help keep things flowing:

  • Digital Backups – Between travel, schedules, work logistics and the like it is very likely someone will forget, lose or accidentally destroy their character sheet or maybe even the adventure. Scanning,  taking pictures or otherwise authoring digital versions of the game assets can be life saving (or time saving at least) measures to help keep people ready to play. As an added bonus, players and GMs can check up on these characters for planning purposes to keep the story, characters and plots fresh.
  • Simpler or Repeating Storylines – Classic mythic patterns, repeating story elements and reprising villain groups or organization is rarely “too common” for the irregular game experience. Reinforcing an army, invasion or other threat over the course of several sparse play sessions helps unify disparate sessions. Don’t be afraid of clean, basic setups.
  • No Special Snowflakes – Avoid at all costs mechanics or story-lines that require any one or grouping of players to be present. Characters that are parts of larger affiliations of adventurers, explorers or mercenaries can help define larger plot momentum without being the sole focus or prophesied messiah.
  • Social Media Groups or Wikis – Custom social media groups or wikis can help organize play times and create a mnemonic repository of images,  gamequotes, and other virtual memorabilia that can keep the game fresh and living in the minds of engaged players. Additionally, these groups can provide touch-point for rapid re-familiarization in preparation for an upcoming reprise session.
  • Adventure Paths or Strong Ongoing Theme – Utilizing a published adventure path (like these) or highly recognizable concept (like a specific adventuring guild or lodge) for the game. The stronger concept or more recognizable the “brand” of the adventure path is, the easier it becomes

Just because a gaming group changes or evolves doesn’t mean the games have to end if you don’t want them to. Don’t be afraid to dust off the dice and older character sheets and create a campaign to span the years.

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