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3

I run a game with 6 people who are all interested in D&D, but all of us have competing demands on our time (professional, family and social obligations) which make it impossible for everyone to meet at the same time. We've been meeting for about a year and have completed a few one- and two-session modules as well as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. So what I've ...


3

Make self-contained adventures and change the number of parties In my current game, I have some players who told me upfront that they cannot commit to a long campaign in case important real life business comes up. In total I have nine players. What I did, was have a session zero with everyone (where already two players couldn't come, but they handed in their ...


3

I actually run a game similar to yours. Mine is through a local library, but it also has a whole bunch of players (9, at most), and usually I only get a handful (6, maybe 7). I have a few suggestions, which can be implemented in any combination. This might be a little focused on avoiding the root problem rather than the question you’re asking, but I’ve seen ...


16

I have had the same problem before, there are some fairly simple solutions that worked for me: Have the players explain their own character's absence Have players come up with reasons for why their character can't make it or why they have been absent. If someone asks you, say "I don't know, ask them". We had a monk who often wouldn't show up, and ...


8

You've written about "[finding] a narrative reason someone else can come along". I have practical experience with this, and I can tell you that what works the best is not doing that. Instead, I just rewrite reality. Let's suppose that Alice's player is out of town this week. What I say is: "Alice has never existed. There have been three of ...


5

You need a new conflict resolution tool Your question boils down to something buried late in the text of the question. The fact that we quickly ended up is a 4 hour conversation about a different conflict between the GM and the player in question related to a different past fiat from a previous session may have had something to do with that, however. ...


9

The group I play with used to have problems that resemble this, and I think a lot of the issue is that you're asking slightly the wrong question. Specifically, it looks to me like your group gets into a situation where you know what the current situation is, but not how you got there; the argument is high stakes because you're having arguments about what ...


4

Unanswered and Unanswerable To somewhat amplify, somewhat expand on, and perhaps somewhat disagree with this answer: To my knowledge, there is no universal answer to this question in modern gaming, that I know of; There might be a default or most commonly used answer to this question in modern gaming, but I am not going to offer one here and I think it ...


3

The GM Reminds Everyone Of Reality Immediately If players seem to be confused about something their characters should know, it's the GM's job to step in and remind everyone of what the characters know. The GM should do this as soon as the confusion becomes apparent, so as to prevent the players from wasting time thinking about a game world that they're not ...


22

Follow The Rules Your description says that players "have final say over what they do and don't do, subject to the rules of the game." In two of your examples (Xaratron stabbing and John casting), presumably your game system has some sort of mechanic in place for how to resolve an attempted stabbing, or how to resolve the effects of charm person. ...


2

The main point comes down to agency. Most notable events that happen are directly caused by an in-game creature choosing to do something. If the creature that made that choice is a PC, then the choice - but not its results - belong to the character's player. Otherwise, the choice is the GM's. The results of an action are usually dictated by the game's rules, ...


4

Not only is there no universal answer to these questions, but the fact that there isn't is very significant. A great many problems common to RPGs in general could be solved by answering these open-ended questions, and yet the problems are essentially inevitable. They are fundamentally social problems about people that cannot be regulated. When faced with a ...


6

Player Agency Your bullet points are quoted from my answer on another question. The intent of those bullets was to highlight that each player and the GM has a specific sphere of influence. Players are able to decide what their characters do, not what happens to their characters. Their choices are limited to what their character does or doesn't do, as well as ...


4

An RPG requires a consensual fiction. Usually nobody has perfect recall, but it must be at least consensual enough that you can proceed. So, to review what I'm sure you already know: the "traditional" way of establishing that consensual reality is that the GM is the arbiter of what has happened in the game fiction. The GM accepts players' ...


8

Conflicting descriptions of the recent past shouldn't exist. The GM is (or should be) aware of the game's state, and should be consulted when that state is unclear to players That's a little bit exaggerated, for emphasis, but it's largely true for most tabletop game systems. Players can describe what they do, but until the GM has accepted and processed that ...


10

You've described a process by which different players make competing claims and the truth of those claims is decided largely through consensus. As you've found, this takes forever and doesn't produce solid results. Don't decide facts by consensus. Each player (and GM) controls their own actions. Consensus is a time consuming in imprecise way of determining ...


5

This isn't an RPG problem: it's a human problem Nobody has a good, let alone perfect, memory. Hence: It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them and that every member’s recollection of them differs violently from every other member’s recollection. Consequently, we accept the convention ...


23

Trust players to remember their characters' actions honestly If a player says their character didn't do something then they should be trusted. Sometimes plots get confusing and we think something happened a certain way. When push comes to shove, however, the player is the one that knows best how their character would have acted. Ruling that a character did ...


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