Core points of Gamers


Core points of Gamers

How DMs Can Deal With Absent Players

Arming the perfect Dungeons and Dragons The party is a Dungeon Master’s dream come true. When all players are at the table together, exploration and adventuring tend to run more smoothly, and campaigns can progress or come to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, real life often gets in the way of the ideal game everyone is looking for. With holidays, appointments, and other unexpected events making it difficult for all players to be present and accounted for from time to time, canceling sessions (or the entire campaign) may seem like the only move, but it doesn’t have to be. . There are a few things DMs can do to keep the game going without creating a rift for players who can’t make it.

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Whether the party is on the brink of a major battle or heading into a situation everyone is expecting, including an absent player offers some unique opportunities to explore when they return to the table again. For example, if the Warlock is absent from the table, perhaps his Patron took them from him to perform some important related task. Alternatively, perhaps the Wizard fell into an inexplicable state of unconsciousness where they find themselves with an important NPC who might have the answers the entire group needs.

When that player returns to the game, set aside some time to explore what their character did while it was taken from them. This can be a great way to get them up to speed and keep them connected to the game and their world. Ideally, this should tie in with what the rest of the players were doing while they were gone, possibly providing additional information or plot hooks to follow.

Keeping away D&D players in temporary stasis

An adventurer trapped in a gelatinous cube in DnD

Similarly, keeping the player character in question in temporary stasis is an easy way to continue, especially if the players are about to engage in battle. Perhaps the absent Bard stepped into a trap that froze them in place for the moment, or a stasis field was activated that keeps the Fighter immobilized. This means that it is up to the remaining players to free their defenseless partner. Instances like this are the perfect opportunity to put important plot beats on hold while also giving the players present something meaningful to work towards. Just make sure that the mechanism used doesn’t put the absent player character in real danger.

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Add Micro-RPG to DnD campaigns to keep players engaged

Dragon Age Tabletop RPG

There are a lot of micro-RPGs out there that are designed to be played in a single session. They may not be directly related to Dungeons and Dragons, but many of them are simple enough in their rules that they can be easily adapted to suit almost any environment or world situation. Most don’t require complicated character creation, complex rules, or copious prep work; players can simply dive in and start playing. DMs can even use a micro-RPG session to explain a related event that doesn’t involve the main player characters, but still expands the game world to keep everyone involved in the story they’ve been building together.

Have the DM or another player run the missing D&D character

A Dnd mindflayer controlling a victim.

The option of having someone else, either the DM or another player, roll for the missing character is an easy fix, but it’s important to talk to the player beforehand and get permission. Some players have a particular style and may not want someone else leading their character down a path they wouldn’t otherwise take. There are risks of running a character that is not present in the game, including the possible death of that character. No one wants to take that risk with a friend’s player character, especially without permission.

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Do the D&D session on the missing character

A group of various races and classes in Dungeons & Dragons

Whether they’re only gone for a single session or need to take an extended leave of absence, centering an adventure around a missing character is a great way to keep both absent and present players engaged. A great example of this type of scenario took place in critical role Campaign 2, while Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, and Ashley Johnson were all going to be away for an extended period.

DM Matthew Mercer staged a dangerous kidnapping scenario that put the rest of Mighty Nein on a major rescue mission that took place over several episodes. This not only kept the missing characters relevant to the ongoing game, but also made the other players more invested in the game and the survival of their missing allies.

Regardless of the reason or the amount of time a player needs to be away from the table, there are plenty of ways to keep the game going. Keeping everyone involved, including the absent party member, is one of the DM’s most important tasks. Thinking outside the box and trying new things can not only keep the game moving but also improve the way everyone plays.

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