As I write this post, it looks like my D&D group has one more good session left. One of our members is moving away, which means that there is, quite simply, no way to continue our weekly sessions. I am, as you might expect, very bummed about this. Being a DM again has been a fantastic creative outlet for me, and I’ve never had a group of players as good as this one, even back in my high school 2nd Ed glory days. My young life as a 4E DM is at a crossroads, and I am unsure how to proceed.
The optimum solution, purely from a selfish point of view, would be to keep the weekly game going in some fashion. There are many ways to do this, perhaps the easiest of which is to run the game no matter who is absent or present each week. Another solution would be to have myself or another player run absent players’ characters for them. Both of these solutions have considerable drawbacks, though. No one wants to feel left out, nor do they want to play “someone else’s guy”.
After mulling it over, I proposed to my group that we keep meeting weekly, but with two campaigns going at the same time. The previously established storyline would proceed only when the whole group could be together again. Other weeks, we would run a different campaign. I’m a huge Dark Sun fan, and the idea of starting an Athasian campaign is compelling for me. Or, the secondary campaign could also explore other areas of the “main” world with different characters, something that I imagine would be challenging to coordinate, but probably satisfying, as well.
I decided to talk through these issues with my players through email, and at this week’s game. When I proposed my preferred solution to my players, they had mixed feelings. They enjoy playing D&D, that much is for sure. But they would rather only do so when the whole group can be there. I can definitely see why; when the whole gang is there, everyone has a good time. We have made many good memories throughout the past few months, and to go on without a player there would feel… wrong, somehow.
My players also made it clear that they are only interested in playing their original characters, which knocks out the whole side campaign idea. I can understand this; it’s only natural for players to get attached to their characters. Perhaps with some more convincing, I will be able to persuade them to do a one-shot or two, here and there, in between full group sessions, but for now, it looks like the weekly sessions are at an end.
This really is a bummer for me. I am a teacher, so I have most of June and July off, and I was looking forward to really spending some time with D&D this summer. Now, much of my incentive is gone. My entire outlook on D&D has been tarnished by the impending change. It feels very much like it did when the girl I was dating in high school moved away for college; the last few months just weren’t the same, because we knew the end was near.
With just a couple days left until what may be our last D&D session for several months, I am very frustrated. I want to make the last session exciting, with some closure, but I am really struggling to come up with ways to do so. How can I make a really fantastic “season finale” in one short session of only three, maybe four hours? It’s a daunting challenge, but perhaps what I need to do is just roll my sleeves up and get to work. If this one last session needs to tide us all over for a few months, or maybe longer, it better top everything I’ve done before. I hope I am up to the challenge!
Wow! As someone who’s just getting back into the hobby, I feel badly for you. I hope you can manage to hold your group together and continue on.
Would it be possible to temporarily “retire” the character of the player who is leaving? Perhaps then he could make guest appearances if he ever came to visit.
Is he the only one who is leaving? Perhaps one of your other players could suggest a new member for your group.
As for you final session, I wish I knew more about your campaign. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind would be the final showdown with their main antagonist. However, that may seem forced and unrealistic, depending on your story.
Another thought would be to use the departing player as a device to motivate your players to continue on. He could be petrifed by a monster, causing them to have to search for a remedy. Perhaps, he’s captured by slavers or whisked off by shadowy apparitions. In either case, it could spur them to go on, to save him.
The only other thought that I had was to think about the final episodes of some of your favorite TV shows. Take some time to flashback to the fun you’ve had and perhaps bring back some NPCs that they haven’t seen since 1st level.
I wish you luck and hope you manage to continue. This was the first time I’ve stumbled across your blog and I hope to read more. Good Gaming!