This one is for the GMs out there. As if holding the machinery of an entire universe in your head wasn’t enough, you’ve also got to play social planner. That means organizing a date and time for your game, sending out reminders, and rearranging your session notes when last-minute cancellations crop up. And they will crop up. And you can’t be mad about it because, as we have discussed on numerous different occasions, this shit happens.

In order to curb these issues, I find it’s best to systematize my planning efforts. This won’t work for everybody, but here’s my process.

  1. Make a Facebook group for the campaign.
  2. Schedule each session with a poll. Here’s the text I use:
    Alright gang! The deadline to vote is [date] at noon. I’ll make the game day announcement based on the responses we’ve received at that time. As always, vote for all times that you can make.

    There are a couple of important things to point out here. First is the deadline. People will never vote if you don’t include a deadline. I also make sure to put that deadline a few days out from game day so that folks will have time to plan the rest of their weekend. Then there’s the “vote for multiple times” thing. My policy is to list 4-5 potential session times on Fri/Sat/Sun, then go with the option that allows the most players to play. In case of a tie, the first tie-breaker is decided in favor of the player who missed last session (because missing multiple sessions in a row sucks). The second tie-breaker is decided in favor of the player with the lower XP total (allowing them to play catch-up).
  3. Send a confirmation. Assuming that we’ve got a quorum (generally three players in my games), I’ll send a confirmation notice in the form of a comment reply on the poll. That generally looks like so:
    OFFICIAL GAME TIME: Day, Date @ XX:00 pm/am GMT.
    Tagging all for visibility: @name1 @name2 @name3 etc.
  4. Send a follow-up. People forget. Happens to me all the time. Help them to remember by sending a quick “looking forward to seeing you at the game” type message the morning of the game day.
  5. Give ’em 15. The first twenty minutes of sessions are always full of chitchat, so I tend not to mind a late start. If a player is 15 minutes late though, I’ll send a text. If I don’t get a response, I’ll assume that they’ve fallen into a planar rift and begin the session without ’em.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is a bit, but I think it’s part of what you sign up for when you become a GM.

That said, I also acknowledge the temptation to take the hard line: “My players are adults. I expect them to behave like adults and handle their own scheduling.” That’s certainly an easier way to play it, saving the GM a lot of hassle. But speaking for myself, I value the flexibility of a variable game time. I also prefer campaign styles that allow players to skip a session or two without bringing the campaign to a screeching halt. Neither one represents an ideal setup, where all players are always present and ready to continue the story, but it does work around real people with real time commitments.

So, in an effort to make this often-invisible part of GMing a little more visible, what do you say we share our processes down in the comments? How does your group handle scheduling, conflicts, and reminders? Tell us all about your Doodle polls, sacrosanct game times, and cat herding down in the comments!


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