I've been GMing for some years now. During that time, I feel like I've developed somewhat of a style/preference with the kinds of games I like to run. While I feel my games can be enjoyed by a variety of players, I find that certain types of players mesh better with my style/preference. Selfishly, this sort of meshing really improves my satisfaction as a GM and I'd really like to build an entire group of only players like this, even if it was just to fulfill a vision I have for a single, particular type of campaign.

Have other GMs attempted and/or succeeded in this sort of utopian endeavor? What are some strategies/tactics I could/should consider?

As an example of where my mind is currently at, I'm considering running a series of 4-session campaigns for different groups of players (a complete story arc for each group) and using these mini-campaigns as incognito recruiting events. Having a pre-defined end point after 4 sessions would (hopefully) allow me to gracefully cut ties with the players that don't fit the profile I'm looking for, without creating any hard feelings -- though this is all still theoretical.

Other details that might be useful:

  • I'd be looking to build a group of 3-4 players, maybe 5.
  • I'm preferably looking to build an in-person group, but could try this online.
  • No specific system. In fact, I'm hoping to build a group that's eager to try out different systems/genres.

I have done this several times. I have a favorite one-shot adventure, and I run it periodically for strangers, sometimes at a game store and sometimes on meetup.com. If I like a player, I get their email address and add it to my list. Once I have enough players, I send out an email saying "I want to run a game at X location and Y time, here is the teaser, who can make that slot and wants to join?" Sending the email in this way also avoids difficulty scheduling a recurring game.

I also want to note that it's quite easy to recruit players for an online game, for example by posting a signup form on reddit.com/r/lfg. The only hard part is that some fraction of your signups will flake. For the game I'm currently running, two of my players flaked before the first session with a message about how their college professor had scheduled activities in my (evening) timeslot; my plan for future games is I will require players to be age 25+ to avoid getting college students.

The form I used for my campaign was this, and it got 13 responses. The open-ended questions did not give me as much signal as I wanted, so if I do another form it will ask something more like this.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Has your experience been that a one-shot is all it takes to learn what you need to about a player? If so, this might be a good, lower effort approach than the one I'm thinking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gadianton
    Jul 24 at 15:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, a one-shot is plenty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Jul 24 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was going to add this exact answer but it's already here. I recently ran 4 one shots over a series of weekends with interested players from a Facebook group I'm in, trying to get new players for each one or inviting back people I liked. End result were 5 players I knew enjoyed my games and who I liked. It takes time but this approach works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Jul 24 at 22:48

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