Greetings! I am Barry Wilson and I’m Green Ronin’s Boatswain of the Booth at Gen Con. I talk to quite a few people who come to our booth at Gen Con. One thing that I’ve heard people say over and over to me is: “I really want to play this game, but I can’t find a game group to play with.” I’m here to help. (Note: because Green Ronin primarily sells RPGs that’s what people are talking about when they tell me this. This advice is applicable to every type of game. )
Step One: Define Your Goals
The first thing you need to do is define what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to accept. Maybe you’re really looking to *run* a Titansgrave campaign. But, you’d be willing to accept *playing* in someone’s Dragon AGE game. Or, maybe you can only find people who really want to play Fantasy AGE but don’t want blasters in their fantasy, thank you very much. Is that acceptable to you?
First Interlude Anecdote:
In 2000, D&D 3rd edition came out. I hadn’t done any roleplaying in eight years or so. I hopped on board the 3e hype train, and couldn’t wait to start playing. One of my friends offered to DM, we gathered a group and started playing. But I just couldn’t get into it. We ran into a Beholder when we were second level, and one disintegration eyebeam later, we stopped the campaign. So, another friend offered to take over DM duties. But, he was super into his custom world and it was taking forever for him to write it all up. Weeks of delay turned into months of delay. I threw my hat into the ring to offer to run a single adventure to get us started. Everyone loved it so much, that the campaign continued for two years and sixteen levels. We never got around to playing in my second friend’s custom world. If I had been able to articulate that I really wanted to be DM, and run some published adventures (with lots of modifications, naturally, as I literally can’t help myself: I like to tinker) we could have skipped six months of false starts.
Step Two: Mine Your Friends Network
Reach out to your social media. Post that you want to get a campaign going, or join an existing campaign. When people respond, make plans. Be proactive. Set a time to start, even if you’ve just got a couple of nibbles. Have a session where you just make characters and talk about campaign goals and logistics. Accept that not everyone will be looking for the exact same thing that you’re looking for. Try and keep your group as regular as possible. Random delays in campaigns can be a death knell.
Step Three: Spread a Wider Net
Haven’t found enough (or any) people yet? Look to various online sources where people gather; meetup.com, nearbygamers.com, various and sundry Facebook groups, forums, etc. (Please be careful with online safety.) Look to real life locations where people gather; the good old Friendly Local Gaming Store bulletin board, your workplace, your school, etc. Have your friends who want to play spread the word. Then have those friends spread the word.
Possible Step Four: Online Options
Friends move away. College happens or people move for work. There are online options for playing tabletop RPGs, and I hear that they are getting better and better every year. I can’t really speak about them ( as I haven’t ever used them ) but they’re out there; Roll20.net, d20Pro.com, Fantasy Grounds, people even play RPGs on forums.
Second Interlude Anecdote:
I currently have two campaigns going. Among those two games, I have players who are my wife, my best friend of thirty years, a friend I made at a gaming store a dozen years ago, a work friend of my wife’s, a recruit from a Facebook group, a high school friend who has never played any roleplaying games before this campaign, a friend of some thirty-five years (who is now a state senator!) and a game designer and writer I’ve known for a few years. Find them where you can, and get them to the table.
Possible Step Five: Dangers that Await
Beware of the Geek Social Fallacies. Sometimes we don’t all get along. Sometimes your great friend that you’ve known a long time (and who really is a great friend) just doesn’t click with the rest of your players. Sometimes people are jerks when they play in RPGs. I’ve had to fire players from my campaigns. It sucks. But if you’ve got a pretty good group going, but one player makes the rest feel uncomfortable, fire them. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose the rest of your group. If someone makes you uncomfortable at the table, you don’t have to stay. Leave the group, or ask them to leave the group.
Here are a few links that can offer other advice:
Finally, thank you for reading. And keep playing games!
Born of Hippies in the uncharted backwoods of the Pacific Northwest, Barry Wilson was literally raised by wolves. He is often found in the company of cats, and is known to be handy with tools of all sorts. Among his passions are games, sharing his love of gaming with others, and general shenanigans. He currently resides in Greater Pugetopolis, equidistant from sea, mountains, forest, and the hustle and bustle of city life.