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How do people find time to play an RPG with friends, around work, study and partners? I've a preference for weekly play but I just can't find the time to dedicate to roleplaying anymore. And when I say dedicate, I mean that I don't want to tell a group I'll be playing Day X every week, and have to miss every other one and disrupt the game.

How does everyone cope with fitting roleplaying in?

(Note: I've seen questions on Average gaming time and session frequency but that isn't quite what I'm after)

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I think this question is on topic, but a little too chatty - consider editing it to be less a chatty generic work-life balance question and more specifically relevant to RPGs. –  mxyzplk Dec 15 '11 at 0:31
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6 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The real question is how high of a priority for you is playing a tabletop RPG?

There's no right answer except your own.

If getting together with buddies (over Skype or face-to-face) to roleplay for a couple hours a week is really a high priority for you, you'll make time to do it. If your work/hobbies/etc get in the way of that time, then that tells you where your priorities lie... and there's nothing wrong with that.

One of the guys in my group is invovled with a community drama group. Of the 8 people in my group, he misses the most sessions because his acting is more important to him. Another guy has been playing D&D in some form or another for 20 years and never misses a week simply because he reschedules his other commitments around gaming night because he really wants to be there.

I think the real answer here is to sort out what is important to you and allocate your time accordingly.

Personally,

  • My work friends know that I'm not available on Thursdays to hang out because I'm playing D&D.
  • My wife knows that I will be gone from 4:30-8:30 every Thursday, so she and my son either make plans for a playdate or go spend time with Grandma, etc.
  • When I started my new job I made the decision to get up early every day and work 7-4 to get out in time for gaming.

Obviously life tries to get in the way plenty of times. It's just a matter of whether you let it or not.

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+10 (if I could) and this should be the accepted answer if it were me. –  Sardathrion Dec 15 '11 at 11:01
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Many gamers I know play bi-weekly or monthly for the same reasons you describe! Maybe that's a better schedule for you.

Or, aim for a weekly social game. Play a different game every time. Have an ongoing campaign that you play if most players show up. Those who aren't there just aren't part of that chapter.

Hope this helps!

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Negotiation and discipline. Agree with your partner that you can have this week day off playing games and the partner can have that day off. Then you have to be disciplined about it.

Never allow someone to book your evening to do something else. That means no family visits, no going out to the pub, record anything on that day you want to watch, and make sure that any work or study is finished or can be put off.

If you want to run a game it is best to use a system like Savage Worlds where 90% of the work is done for you. If you are player try to do any advances/level ups as quickly as you can just before you leave the session or try to get there early to do it.

I currently run one session and play in another and balance a family and did one of the Stanford online courses and work, so it can be done.

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@user1637 - thanks –  David Allan Finch Dec 15 '11 at 15:50
    
No problem! I think it's a great answer. It echoes a lot of the hard choices I have had to make over the past year. –  user1637 Dec 15 '11 at 16:16
    
Me too. There are several good answers here, I hope they are a help to everyone else. –  David Allan Finch Dec 16 '11 at 8:08
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When you set up the game, invite people to game on a particular schedule. When I want to start a new campaign, I ask around and see who is free every tuesday for the next year. When everyone knows and anticipates tuesday night game, everyone plans around it instead of having it interrupt their busy schedules. It's also a lot harder to forget about a game session when it's become a weekly habit.

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We have a regularly scheduled weekly game. Its only about 3-4 hours and it starts after our child goes to bed.

One of the biggest things to finding time to play is having it in your schedule. Figure out a time when most of your group is free and set it in stone. Ours is Thursday nights at 7pm. If you can make it great, if you can't make it sorry. If a large part of the group has scheduling conflicts we will sometimes try to change it, but more often we just cancel. If only a few players are missing we play Munchkin or a board game or something.

Basically what I'm saying is schedule, schedule, schedule. Set it up at a certain time and keep it there. If you have a standing game night you can tell your spouse, boss, and kids: I have this at this time on this day every week. The other thing is don't be afraid to miss or cancel a week if life interferes in a way you can't get out of. if you can reschedule thats great, if not skip a week and get back to it. But its much easier to have a scheduled day, it makes it predictable and easy to plan around.

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Skip to the good stuff. It's not as easy to schedule marathon gaming sessions, but three or four hours a week is not as hard to arrange — the trick is making sure that those three or four hours are filled with the sort of thing that you and your fellow players really enjoy. (I might have continued with "…rather than interminable shopping trips, near-real-time travel and detailed planning sessions," but some groups prefer that kind of thing.) As a player, come to the table with a goal for the session; pick something you or your character wants to accomplish and take actions to promote it. As a GM, plan on two or three key scenes that will really excite the rest of the group.

Along those lines, push maintenance off to between games. Do things like assigning or spending experience, leveling up, or "gather information/collect rumors" checks through email or at other times.

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+1 for pushing maintenance between games –  edgerunner Dec 14 '11 at 13:06
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I think this is the real clincher for this answer; making the sessions goal driven: As a player, come to the table with a goal for the session; pick something you or your character wants to accomplish and take actions to promote it. As a GM, plan on two or three key scenes that will really excite the rest of the group. –  Pureferret Dec 14 '11 at 15:49
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