What do you do when your gaming group meets weekly, but you can only meet every other week (or less)? Currently, I find myself in this unfortunate situation. My gaming group meets once a week for a brand new D&D 5E campaign, but I am only able to attend once or twice a month. Thankfully, this will change fairly soon. But in the mean time, the game master has to deal with me jumping in and out of the campaign. I have to deal with keeping up with the happenings in a campaign where I don’t get to see every episode. Here are some tips for how to be a great part-time player.
Advise Your Game Master When You’ll Be There
Let your game master know when you’ll be able to make it to a session. This allows them as much time as possible to plan for integrating you into the campaign for a short period of time. They may have to alter or tweak their campaign a little to get you into the session. Giving them a heads up is the polite thing to do and the right thing to do.
… or pizza, or a new gaming book, or something else to share with the group. This is my little peace-offering to the group for being inconsistent. They hate my inconsistency, I hate my inconsistency, but it is what it is. I do my best to add as much as I can to the group in the little time I have to play right now while I’m a part-time player. This is definitely not something you have to do, but it is just my own little personal touch on trying to make my appearance at the gaming table special. If you’re new to a group, it can also show them that you’re appreciative of them dealing with your part-time play.
Be Willing To Play A Role
Understand that although you may have a specific character to play in your campaign, it might not make sense for you to play that character that session. I have a Paladin for our current campaign, but in our recent session it did not make sense for him to make an appearance. The group was in the middle of a barren, uninhabited wasteland. For my character to appear and then disappear for one day (in-game) just didn’t feel right with the story.
My game master created a different character that was the sole survivor of another adventuring group that was wiped out in the area. The adventuring group stumbled upon this character in the barren wilderness. They banded together to survive a harrowing experience and at the end of the session that character left the group and went his separate way. It was fun and added something different and memorable to the campaign, as well as a potential future NPC (or backup character)!
Depending on where your group left off the previous session, it may take a little bit to get you into the game. If they stopped in the middle of a combat, it may not make sense to immediately insert you into the session until the combat finishes. Our game master is usually really good at weaving me into the story as quickly as possible, but there has been a session or two that I had to wait for a bit until the right moment to insert my character into the session appeared. So be patient…
Keep Up With The Campaign Between Sessions
I have found that one of the most frustrating things about being a part-time player is not knowing what is going on in the campaign. You will miss major events. You will not know who major NPCs are. You will not make connections in the storyline that others players get.
To alleviate this, I try to talk to the game master and other players between sessions to find out what happened. That way when they joke about one of the player characters being turned to stone by a cockatrice, I know what they’re talking about. Or if they’re planning on storming Briarguard Keep, I have an idea what I’m in for. Keeping up with he campaign helps you jump in and out of the campaign. If you know what is going on, they don’t have to stop for ten minutes to explain to you why looking for the Blood Lord is essential but probably going to get you all killed.
Being a part-time player can actually be really rewarding. I find that I appreciate the game sessions I get to play even more since there are less of them. Sometimes I get to play multiple different characters in a campaign which can be a lot of fun. I also feel like it adds something a little different and memorable to the gaming experience. Do the best with what you have. Being a part-time player is far better than not playing at all!