Finding the Right Players For Your Campaign
Gathering players for a role playing game is the first, and sometimes hardest, task of a GM. I’ve mostly run games for friends which can be simpler than finding a bunch of strangers. I have run a couple of games online using Roll20 but have always advertised them as completely open. Beyond the microphone and attendance issues one would expect I had no problem finding quality players. I’m planning to run more games online and maybe even open games at my local store.
While I’ve been successful I’ve heard enough horror stories about players who destroyed gaming groups that I want to take some steps to ensure that the players I get will work with the game I want to run and with each other. It’s not just personality and play style that I’m trying to filter for. My biggest complaint during all of my online rpg experiences has been bad microphones. A player with a bad mic drains my enthusiasm faster than anything I can think of. Until recently I was running a cheap desktop mic and so didn’t feel right setting a minimum requirement. Now that I’ve purchased and tested a quality mic I have the confidence to add “no bad mics” to my list of demands.
Speaking of which, I’ve attached them to this post. Normally I try to post tips or information on my blog. In this case I’m looking for my readers to provide me with some tips. I want to make sure that the game description I’m planning on using won’t scare off players while making my points strongly enough. I’d really appreciate any comments on how this description reads and whether it is a game you’d be interested in joining. I’m most interested in the following:
- Do you think a new player would be intimidated by this?
- Do you think just having potential players contact me instead of filling out some sort of questionnaire to help weed out players?
- Is my description of graphic violence clear enough without being itself graphic?
- I expect that all new players will have a session in roll20 with me before the day of the game in order to sort their journal and character sheets. Is this too much?
- I expect returning players will have to re-apply so I know they are in. Too much?
- Do I need to explain how I’m handling too much interest? My plan is to give players who played in the last session first chance at seats for the next session, then give less and less priority based on how many games a player has played and how many they’ve missed. It’s very much going by feel. If someone never RSVPs after one session and I line up a new player and then they announce the day before the session that they’re coming back I may bump them.
Welcome to the 13th Age Alliance
This game is being run as an open Organized Play adventure without a set cast of characters. 13th Age organized play is designed so that each session a completely different set of players can jump in. If you’ve played sessions 1-3 of Race to Starport somewhere else you can jump into session 4 with me to pick up right where you ended.
New Players Welcome
Since this is an open game it is welcoming to new players, either new to 13th Age or roleplaying in general. There are pre-generated characters available for those that don’t have their own. Alternatively players can bring their own characters or spend time before the session building them.
Due to the revolving nature of the game it may not be clear whether there is room for more players. It is best to contact me directly even if the game shows full. If the game is full I will maintain a waiting list for when a spot opens up. The game will handle 3-5 players.
First, all players are required to read this entire description, understand, agree and follow it. It should not be too draconian.
Second, anyone wishing to jump into the game must contact me with sufficient notice to have everything they need prepared before the start of the game. I won’t give a specific time-frame for this. If you are not sure, contact me and I’ll let you know whether you’ve made the deadline for the current session. Since all sessions are open all players are expected to contact the GM before the game to reserve their spot and make sure they are ready for the next session.
Third, players must have good sound quality. We will be using the in-game voice chat feature for communication, video optional, and everyone’s audio should be clean and free from background noise.
Finally, players should have some basic roll20 knowledge. At the minimum the player should know how to roll and add modifiers.
Game Tone, Humour and Adult Content
Race to Starport involves some mild horror and body-horror. Generally the game will match the tone of the group but the following should be avoided or limited:
Anachronistic humour: Humour is welcome but should be kept in-character and in-world.
Graphic Violence: In a game where we’re hitting things with swords players should expect a bit of gore and violence. Descriptions of such violence should be kept brief, focusing on action and avoiding lingering on details. Sometimes the dwarf will cleave a goblin’s head from his shoulders but shouldn’t spend time describing the quality and nature of the resulting arterial spray.
Sexual Violence: No.
Consensual Sexuality: Probably best avoided. Using in-character actions to harass another player will not be tolerated.
Language: Keep things PG-13 as you don’t know who may be in ear-shot of the other players.
This game is open to all genders and races. While I am accepting to everyone I will not accept any behavior or language which is hurtful or exclusionary to anyone. In my world of the 13th Age there is no institutional racism, sexism or homophobia.
We will be using the X-Card in this game. For more details read the creator’s description.
At it’s most basic if the game contains content which a player find objectionable, offensive, upsetting or otherwise doesn’t want to explore further they can trigger a macro which will display the X card in chat. Other than identifying what is being X-carded no other discussion is required.
Depending on the situation we will either back-track to remove the X-carded material from the game or simply fade away from the material. For example, if a description is becoming too graphic it may be enough to stop the description and move on while the actual event is still considered to have happened. Alternatively the event may be removed from the game and a different event substituted in it’s place.
As a real-world example I have a clear distinction between real and fantasy violence. I can handle most fantasy violence because I know it isn’t real although I do have limits. I don’t watch real violence. Fail videos make me cringe and if I ever try to watch them I have to stop after a few. Everyone has these limits. The X-Card lets us keep within those limits without having to force people to explain, and thereby explore, them.
Players who wish to bring their own creations are welcome to do so. The game starts at level one and uses a session-based leveling system which applies to characters regardless of how many sessions they’ve attended. This is expected to be done before the start of the next session.
All players will have the following character bio on their character sheet:
Player Name, Race, Class, Gender. Additional description is welcome but not a requirement.
All characters are expected to be members of the same adventuring party outwardly working to further the goals of the party. Evil or disruptive characters aren’t welcome. While a player may be “just acting in-character” they are the ones who have decided what that character is and bear the responsibility of their actions.
Out of Character
As much as possible keep out of character chatter to the text chat window. It is impossible to have multiple conversations over a voice chat system. Text chat allows for players out of the spotlight to kibitz without slowing down the action. This is also a good place to get rules questions answered when it is not your turn.
I would prefer that players not have any familiarity with Race to Starport but if they do they should leave surprises and twists for the other players to discover.
To apply for the game please message me directly. We will work together to determine further logistics. This process is a kind of interview so I reserve the right to remove a player’s invitation based on group dynamics and how well a player fits. I hope never to have to do this and will attempt to provide as much notice as possible. I have no intention of stringing a player along if I know they won’t fit.
Thanks for reading all that, if indeed you did. Please let me know what you think in the comments before. I will be posting on this blog when the game goes live so make a Roll20 account and subscribe to the blog. You can also find me on Google+ and Twitter.
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The d20 featured image was created by Janet Galore and was posted to Flickr under a CC BY 2.0 license. The image was found on Wikimedia Commons and is used without her permission.