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42

Megadungeon All sessions start in the village. At any time when not in peril and the party knows the way back the party can declare that they return to the village - this ends the session. If the session time expires before they return, roll on the "What really bad thing happens to my PC while returning to the village" table. Shamelessly nicked from ...


17

Disclaimer: I actually play in a campaign that is now 1 year old and where it is frequent to have one missing player regularly (if more than one, we do not play); I would actually say that we have had more sessions with an incomplete attendance than sessions with a complete attendance. It is possible to have a long running campaign with spotty attendance, ...


13

I always prefer to solve this problem inside the story. Just an example: The PCs are all bound together by a magical tattoo they each bear. They are the Chosen agents of an unknown (or known, for that matter) powerful entity. For reasons only clear to this entity, a PC may just disappear in a puff of thick smoke. Sometimes another PC appears in his/her ...


11

Hint it and measure enthousiasm The general approach I take when I'm not sure what my players like, or whether they'd enjoy a specific thing, is to hint to it during the session and see if they bite. This works best in an open world or if you've already taught your players that they can say "no" and the story will go on, but even if they're used to being ...


7

In my experience, by the time a person takes the plunge and actually runs a campaign, they want to write their own stuff. The problem is that writing your own stuff is tough, and knowing what to focus on, and what your players want to focus on, and getting the pacing right, is impossible without running a few games. Solution: The DM runs a smaller pre-made ...


5

You might try running a West Marches campaign. Quote from the ruleset: 1) There was no regular time: every session was scheduled by the players on the fly. 2) There was no regular party: each game had different players drawn from a pool of around 10-14 people. 3) There was no regular plot: The players decided where to go and what to do. ...


5

The easy way would be having every session be a one-shot*. No issues with XP and loot-sharing, no issues with having to deal with PC left "mindless" because of absent players, no issues with several people having to catch up on the story every now and then because they missed the previous adventure, and many more problems easily resolved. Inconsistent ...


4

What went wrong Looking at your three examples: Was this really a campaign, or just a series of adventures linked by common characters? If the latter, there is nothing wrong with that but the rewards you get are the fun you have at the table; not the thinking and planning that you do between sessions that a good campaign generates. I have been playing ...


3

I ran a campaign where they were on a boat. Anyone that didn't show up was considered to be staying on the boat when the party went inland or they were below deck when stuff happened on the boat. It required the players to overlook instances where an absent member would be perfect for said encounter, but overall it worked rather well.


3

There is of course the option to just ignore the fact that you have some continuity issues. The story is about the players who are there. You don't have to explain why another player is not there if you don't want to. If it bothers a player, allow them to come up with their own theory as to how to solve the mystery. Perhaps they were too focused to ...


3

Just Start It Start introducing the new stuff - slowly - and see how the players react. This is similar to Erik's suggestion, but the main difference is that rather than dropping just hints about the new tone, you instead simply start to move the game in that direction, complete with appropriate plot elements, characters, and narration style. Narration ...


2

MOP Every NPC needs a mop. Motivation: Why is the character here in the story? What motivates them to act? Objective: What does the character want to accomplish as a goal in the story? What is the character's overriding goal they must achieve? Personality: How the character acts as well as their personal appearance. These three traits help define an ...


2

I had a problem coming up with an area in Faerun that I could confirm wasn't already detailed in some other publication, not wanting to conflict with canonical lore that has been previously established. To work around this, I decided on using the current events of the 5e game to my advantage. The Sundering, that is the joining of Abeir and Toril, has ...


2

Plan a single, coherent session that has the tone you want. Treat this a trial run session and be ready to either forge ahead with your horror plot, or let this fall by the wayside. After the session is over, talk with your players and ask how they felt about the session. Did they enjoy it? Would they be happy if the chronicle as a whole moved in that ...


2

This may or may not help you, based on your overall situation. But I run a fairly large (too large, honestly) group of 7 players and this is what I do when someone can't make a session when we're in the midst of an adventure. I have a collection of standard characters, and a number of flexible "one shot" adventures. The character sheets are passed out ...


2

Having run a fairly long running gameworld that involved ... lots of games with 'whoever turned up' and GM swapping. The most satisfactory method we found was to set up a game world that was suited for short-ish adventures in said gameworld rather than an ongoing dungeon crawl We could - and did - develop ongoing plot, recurring characters and themes ...


2

I ran a campaign in a large, tough city where all adventures could begin and end at the tavern, so whoever was available to play in a given session would go adventuring. For long field campaigns this doesn't work. The solution we use is for the DM to have a copy of everyone's character sheets. If a player is not there then their character is treated as an ...


1

Summon individual heroes based on participation Have each of the people who has the ability to participate in your game roll up a character and create a small one-shot campaign whenever any of them choose to show up to the club to play the game. Normally dungeon crawls are best for this. Heroes are summoned as mediators in a conflict by a group of summoners ...


1

My personal experience was making it a school where the PCs attended. Certain people would get exercises that took them far off, and some would be the main focus. It helps to have a crew of NPCs to use as back-up and/or cannon fodder.


1

I personally work the missing characters into the story. Example: In my Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign, we had a session where half of the group was gone. The other half played through the Dragon Hatchery successfully. As for the 3 who were missing, I had them take the Greatsword Hazirawn and find a way to destroy it. That way the three had a task ...


1

If you expact a flexible player base, you could turn the setting flexible aswell. Something like: The PCs work as mercenaries and are part of mercenarie buisness. With that the contracts they have to do change and therefor different PC join in, depending on which players are around. The problematic part will be XP/loot. Either you give every player ...


1

What I'd suggest is, omitting actual details, discuss with your players whether they'd be open to a tone change to a "more serious, horror-oriented story arc." That would leave things open for you to revert to your existing semi-silly tone afterward, depending on reaction, but be sure they're on board for the kind of change you're considering -- and not ...


1

It is important to bear in mind what makes the PCs different from the NPCs, aside from the obvious fact of player vs non-player. In short, the PCs are the protagonists, and the NPCs aren't. In my games, even if the PCs don't start out in this position, and even if the plot does not take on epic world-spanning dimensions, the PCs are Luke Skywalkers, the ...


1

Play the NPCs as characters. Give them motivations, goals, principles, and so on. Not every NPC has to be very detailed, but you should be able to make up something on the spot to give depth to NPCs. Be ready to take notes - maybe on the spot, you have a secondary character say that they're a refugee from the valley to the east - write it down. Make the ...


1

I tend to run a good number of one shot games, so I have quite a bit of experience with it. A known setting or genre It helps a lot if you start with a setting or genre the players are familiar with. For this reason, in the US at least, superhero games are pretty easy to use and pick up and play - most people are familiar with superheroes and the genre ...


1

Keep it simple. Avoid a long, complex series of events; that's not to say it cannot be witty, but try to avoid convoluted solutions. Keep it focused. Aim for depth, not breadth. There is no need to explain every aspect of the world and all of its politics. Explain in detail the setting the characters are in. Try to keep details that do not add to the ...


1

HoL is perfectly playable as an ongoing campaign. It is one of my favorite all time inspirations in roleplaying, if in nothing else, how bizarre sourcebooks can be. There is a certain dystopian nuance to HoL that can be woven into other systems and campaigns. They can go two ways, one is light hearted, the other is very, very grim. I second the ...



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