Player that can only play once a month
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  1. #1

    Player that can only play once a month


    I humbly call upon the collective wisdom of EN World and ask for enlightenment.

    One of my players cannot continue to play in our weekly game session, for work reasons. He told me that he would be able to play once a month.

    This guy has been part of the "core" group for years, and I wanted to find a way for him to continue playing with us. Missing players is something that happens once in a while (well, maybe more than once in a while, real life gets in the way of roleplaying) but this is the reverse. A missing player that will play once in a while.

    How should I handle this?

    I don't want to say to him "you can't play just once a month", although he would accept such decision as fair, and wouldn't be upset.

    What I would like was to allow him to create a character that could pop in and out of the game.

    Maybe he was cursed by the gods and now lives in some other character's item, like Aladdin's Genie. Maybe the curse allows him to come out during short periods of time. Hey, I kind of like this idea.

    Any others?

  2. #2
    Well, what kind of character is he playing right now? what's the power level of the campaign?

    One I was thinking of was having a spirit-possessed swordsman; on weeks when he's there, his original personality gains supremacy, but on his off weeks, the spirit comes back into play as the controller of the body.

  3. #3
    Frankly, I'm dubious of people who beg generic reasons like "work" that bring them to a game only once a month. It sounds like this guy has other priorities in life other than gaming, and he's using work as an excuse. Thaks ok. It happens. But having somebody just showing up occasionally can really break the rythem of the game (the party's power will fluxtuate when he's there, and he will be clueless about what happened when he's gone). Depending on how often your group meets, you should consider replacing the guy.

    That being said, a strong case can be made that D&D is about hanging out with people you like. If you like this guy's company and don't get to see him otherwise, keep him around. The enchanted sword idea sounds good.

    So I'm strongly ambivalent, I guess.

  4. #4
    We had a player like that in our game for a while (it was a child problem that made him sporatic, and he has since returned to full time play) what we did was put him on autopilot when he was unavailable and if something came up that we knew he would want to have a say in the DM would call him on the phone and ask him what he would do. He also went off on a few solo missions (he was a thief) that the DM would play out with him via phone and email. It seemed to work pretty good, but it was helpful to know it was only for a few months and that he was going to return.

  5. #5
    Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)

    the Jester's Avatar

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    Any chance you could change your game night to make it easier on the guy?

  6. #6
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    How do your other players feel about this? Have you asked them?

    Another idea might be to have him play NPCs or a particular NPC, depending on your format. This could work especially well if you're doing an episodic format campaign (where each session is a link in an on-going chain of events, but easily a separate event unto itself as well).

  7. #7
    I'll toss my thoughts in for playing an NPC as well.

    While having a DM take over a PC when the player in question is gone can lead to hurt feelings if something bad happens, playing a normally NPC character can be kind of cool. If it goes well, he can either look forward to playing a single consistent character, or maybe even vary the character by month. Gives the DM someone to conspire with as well.

  8. #8
    First of all, work is, in fact, a very legitamate reason to have to skip games. We have a couple of guys in our group who have pretty weird schedules, so we try to accomodate everyone and we're lucky enough to be able to do so. Some people can't. No one should putgaming or any hobby above being able to earn a living and support themself and their family.

    That being said, I'm glad you are trying to keep him in the game. Have you discussed it with your other players? What do they think?

    I think the idea of him playing a recurring NPC is great. I started in my group playing an NPC. Perhaps he could be an NPC who meets with the group every few weeks (or gaming sessions) to gather information from them, give them information he's found and assist them in combats that might happen to arise while he's there. Though I don't play the NPC for my group now, he still meets up with the PCs fairly regularly.

    The other idea is good too though, having him be cursed to live under the control of another player. That's different and might be fun to roleplay (so long as the person playing the person who controls him doesn't get carried away )

    Or have him continue with his current character, but get seperated from the group and go off on his own for a while. Have him meet up with them once in a while.

    Keep us posted

  9. #9
    My personal recommendation? Autolycus from Hercules the Legendary Journeys.

    He's a character that occasionally teams up with Hercules or Xena, but who has his own agenda, who shakes things up, but is always on the side of the heroes. He has his own adventures off-camera, and shows up once in a while in the season as a guest-star.

    The once-a-month guy can do the same. He shows up to help the party, you can give him his own weird agenda to take care of on a hidden note, and he can have fun showing up, doing something fun, and leaving at the end, riding into the sunset or just disappearing to do his own thing.

    Make your once-a-month guy the "Guest-starring NPC."

  10. #10
    I don't question his will to play. He will start to work at very odd hours, some weeks will work all night, other weeks will start working at 5AM, and so on.

    I have in the past said NO to people who wanted to play "once-in-a-while". But for years, he has never missed a gaming session. I want to reward that.

    Unfortunatly, Friday night is the only time when we can all get together, and deals with wifes have already been made. You can't change a deal with a wife .

    The NPC can be a solution but since I would have to control the character when he is not there (most of the time) it wouln't be HIS character. And if the NPC is not always there it can be hard to put him there, because we sometimes (well, most of the times) end a session in the middle of the aventure: "You are going to open the door? Ok, we continue next week".

    That is why I would prefer the magic item aproach. Maybe a modified version of the horm of Vallhalla that always summons the same guy. The same 1st level coward guy, that in a party of 6 level wouldn't unbalance things. Nah, this wouldn't be fun.

    Maybe a ring?
    "You find a ring" (Players Detect Magic, "is magical")
    "Ok, we ended last week as you were going to open the door. Suddenly your ring gets starts getting hot. You throw it on the floor and it vanishes. In it's place there is now a weird guy looking very confused. He says "who the hell are you?"

    This could be fun.

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