I’d like to know how you guys manage when one of your players cannot make it to a game

I’d like to know how you guys manage when one of your players cannot make it to a game

I’d like to know how you guys manage when one of your players cannot make it to a game ? Do you play them as NPC ? If so, how ? Or do you play them as a temporary hireling ? Or any other way ?

23 thoughts on “I’d like to know how you guys manage when one of your players cannot make it to a game”

  1. Not really helpful here, but it’s great fun to sms the person who couldn’t come, writing something along the line of “The game took a harsh turn tonight. Your character died 🙁 “

  2. My idea would be to let one of the other players control him, but let that character take “background action” if possible. Ask the other players for a feasible reason to temporarely remove the character from the party and let him return at the end of the session.

  3. It really depends on the feel of the game. I have two settings for this. The first is “Leave no one behind”, in this setting the game does not go forward unless everyone is there. I only do this for special games. The other setting is “They were always here”, where it is assumed that everyone there has always been there and anyone missing was never there. This gets a bit wonky at times but is seen as a bit humorous when the weirdness hits so is ok.

  4. I like your second option, Josh. But it happens that the missing player is the cleric and the party might need a healer, as they are walking in zombieland at the moment. That’s why I envisioned having that character be played as a priest hireling while its player was away, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.

  5. Josh Mannon Last session, Philip used “They were always here” in a special way. The player was absent but the character was there, in a sort of comatose sleep. We had to carry the cleric on our backs the whole journey :/

  6. The hireling goes to the leader of the group. Lay it out just like that and see who takes it. Make sure they know that it is up to them to choose themselves.

  7. We had a player who couldn’t make it to a game, the week before he said that instead of sleeping in the Inn he would turn into a squirrel and go sleep in the forest…well apparently he slept in.  Next time he shows up I’ll just have him explain to the group what he was up too.


  8. When I GM I shuffle missing players off on the first available side quest – scout ahead or go hunt to re supply. I let the party pick up the slack. I think killing a missing character is a quick way to lose a player and I want the heroes to be the characters of the players who showed.

  9. It makes a difference whether you’re in a dungeon or in a city when the session starts. I try to begin and end my sessions at points where if a character can’t make it, there is a reasonable reason for it – called away by family, down the plague, etc. It’s tougher in a dungeon. Then I usually just knock the character out, and the rest of the party has to drag him around. That usually gives the players a reason to police themselves. 

    I got burned early on by having a plot point revolve around a player who was then very late to the session. Now I try to keep the world independent enough that I can keep going if a character is missing.

    Heck, the missing character can provide its own plot point!

  10. It’s fun to invent reasons. Where was the ranger? Scouting. The wizard? He accidentally was traveling the astral plane. The thief? Looting. The fighter? He heard a sound and went to investigate. Or maybe he drank too much grog. There has to be a discussion.Then roll 2d plus the most appropriate stat for whatever the player’s intent was for the sole move he gets to make for the time he was missing when he returns to the game.

  11. I think the people who play games like DW are a lot different than people who only play trad games Philip Espi. Personally, if my GM gave me the amount of sudden spotlight Gil Colgate suggests, I’d be more than thrilled to comply 😉

  12. Me too, but some of my players are still trad gamers and they may need time to adjust to this new “paradigm” (that failing a roll is awesome and that danger should be embraced and not avoided).

  13. One of your GM moves is “Separate them”. So at the start of a session, either have them need to go off by themselves on a personal quest, or have a cave-in or other obstacle actually separate them from the main party for the duration.

    When the player comes back, ask them about the dangers they encountered while on their own

  14. As for it leaving a gap in the party, just modify the challenges to cater to your current lineup, or challenge them to think creatively.

    Perhaps let them find some potions to fill in for the cleric, a faithful beast to replace the fighter, etc

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