How Do You Find Players?

Retreater

Adventurer
It's been a long time since I've had to recruit players, but slowly over the past 5-10 years, my gaming group has gone from a high of 12+ players to 2-3 reliable players.

I live in a community of around 100,000 people. The local gaming stores don't have much of an RPG presence, focusing on money makers like Magic or 40k. Posts in our area's tabletop social media groups go unnoticed. There is no organized play. The couple of coworkers who are interested in the hobby already have games they play.

Every time I've tried to play an online game, enough of the players (or GMs) are flaky and forget to show up - so we can't play.

We're at the height of popularity for the hobby, but I'm unable to find reliable players.

Do you have any recommendations?
 
Have you hit all of the area social media groups in the general region?

The last time I went looking for players I put announcements on several local Facebook groups (anything within an hour drive) and Reddit groups.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Yes, I would put ads up on social media like facebook; I'm not a big fan of it, it is what it is though.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Have you hit all of the area social media groups in the general region?

The last time I went looking for players I put announcements on several local Facebook groups (anything within an hour drive) and Reddit groups.
I mean, I tried our immediate area's FB group for tabletop games and roleplaying. I didn't go outside the city. And I haven't looked on Reddit groups.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Local players or online players? I hear Meetup is good for local players, but I haven't put together a new local group in ~10 years.

Online play, I find it pretty easy. But...
Here's how I do it, I run a bunch of one shots for various online cons. (You could also do an 'open table' game for a few months). then after you have 6-10 players that you know and like, then you reach out to them saying you want to setup a permanent campaign and find a time etc. I have one game I'm a player in that the GM did that and we've been playing for ~12 months with reliable players. I DM a game that I did that with and we are somewhere around 2 years with the same players and probably a 98% attendance rate.
 

lordabdul

Villager
It's the height of the hobby, yes, but a lot of it ends up happening online, it seems (I'd be curious to know if anybody tried to estimate how much online vs offline games are played... it's probably tricky).

Anyway, I think depending on your area there might be different media that gamers typically use to communicate. I know that around Vancouver here it's kind of a mess -- there used to be only a few places to check 10 years ago (or at least that was enough for me to setup a couple groups back then) but now it's all spread out from Meetups to Facebook groups to Reddit to Discord servers (all plural, yes)... so really, just search all those platforms with the name of your town.

The sad thing, I find, is that more and more of those communities are specific to a game (generally "Vancouver D&D" or "Vancouver Pathfinder") and so there's less opportunities for people to try out other games than when all LFG messages were mixed together... oh well.

A few other places that sometimes get me in contact with gamers, although it's very hit and miss: NearbyGamers, FindGamers.us, and RPGGeek.

Good luck!
 

ccs

39th lv DM
I run a game at a local shop.
Overall group composition ebbs & flows a bit, on about a yearly cycle, but there's 3 regulars who form the core. And I intentionally use a lot of minis/terrain at the shop. That's largely enough - people SEE the game running & that starts the process. :)
There's two - three other groups running RPGs there as well.
I also play miniatures games (WWII/40k/Sigmar/X-Wing) at the same shop.
So I'm always BSing with more/new gamers.
And there's always somebody coming in looking for a group. So the shop owner points them to myself & the other groups. Depending upon what they're looking to play & the days they can play, most find a game.

For the "Home" (PF) game it's a combo of:
* letting people in an existing pool know. Including inviting any interested friends, co-workers, SOs/family.
These only need vetting by whoevers inviting them as considerable times already been spent with them.
* sometimes inviting a new player from the shop.
There's quite a few who're fine to play with at the shop but will never receive an invite to the Sunday game.
But sometimes....
So if I find someone at the shop that I think could fit, someone else from the group will drop in on the shop game for a few weeks for a 2nd opinion. Likewise for recruiting from another shop where one of the players does a lot of his minis gaming. I'm a miniature war-gamer, I can throw dice in almost any genre. So he sets up some multi-player games with the potential & lets me know what case of minis to bring. :)
Afterall, we're only spending 3-4 hours with these people every week/every other week.
 
May not be helpful or relevent to your situation and you may already have tried it.
When I started up D&D 5E campaign when it was first came out I had not run a game for 25+ years, I was still good friends with a couple of my original group, but some Ihad not seen for that long - I reached out to be a bunch some I never heard from (Probably out of date contact details moved away etc) some not interested but 3 of them had been wanting to get back into it so with the 2 a was still friends with (Their daughter) and the other 3, we have now be playing every second Friday since. I was just lucky I guess.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
Family and friends are a good resource for recruiting. Friends who may not show an interest in RPGs normally may surprise you if you invite them.

Other than that, if you volunteer to run games at local organizations and other places at times, you may end up with no players at some of them, but other times you may be surprised at how many show up. Things like a Church group, or the Library, or YMCA, and other locations that sometimes sponsor groups and activities. Even your local FGLS can be a good place, though it may appear that there are not many players. It could be that they just haven't had the opportunity. Devote 8 weeks to recruiting where you run a regular game at an easily accessible time (not DURING the work day for example but perhaps during a weekend or in the evening AFTER work hours and dinner). At first not many may show up but as time passes you probably could get at least a decent sized group to appear if you do a decent job DMing.

Just some ideas on how to recruit more players locally that have worked for me.
 

John Dallman

Explorer
My latest recruit came from a convention I wasn't at. She was playing in a friend's GURPS demo game, and was clearly talented. He asked where she lived, and when she turned out to be local, asked me if he could invite her to the game he was running at my place. I trusted his judgement, and she's now a regular.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
For my open table at a gaming cafe, I just see who shows up - I generally don't have to worry about attendance there. In my experience, if you hang your hat out for a public D&D game, people will just show up.

For my home group, it's different. I've generally relied on heavily filtered Facebook posts (filtering out people I don't want to game with and people that I used to game with but don't for a number of reasons). There's no world where I would just invite a stranger to my house, though there have been some friends of a friends over the years.
 

uzirath

Explorer
Family and friends are a good resource for recruiting. Friends who may not show an interest in RPGs normally may surprise you if you invite them.
I would echo this. I've had surprising success with recruiting players through my existing social and work networks. I got back into gaming just a few years ago after a ten year hiatus and a move to a new state. I thought I would have a hard time interesting anyone in a GURPS campaign, but a shocking number of my coworkers and friends (using the term broadly... I'm still relatively new here) were curious enough to give it a shot. Now we have multiple groups playing and a long list of people who are interested in joining—a bit of an embarrassment of riches.

I very intentionally run games that are friendly to non-gamers. I'm happy to build characters with new players (or give them pregens) and I don't expect people to buy or even read the rules. All they need to do is show up and collaborate on an adventure with the rest of the group. I explain the rules as they are needed and people absorb the important ones pretty quickly.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Generally speaking, you want to recruit friends and friends of friends. If you have a nerd friendly work place, there are almost certainly players without groups that you could recruit from if you do a little social networking. The biggest problem you'll run into going this route is that finding players over the age of 30
(to say nothing of 40) is hard just because people are busy. Be prepared to bring in younger blood.

If you try to recruit from the general public or by advertising, what you'll get is mostly players that have been kicked out of other groups because they were too problematic in some fashion.

If you can't recruit from friends, I'll echo what a lot of others are saying that the second best option is to run an open public game at your local fantasy gaming store, and hope that you form a friendship with whatever regular players you end up with. This gives you much better ability to monitor player quality and filter out undesirables.
 

darjr

I crit!
Have you tried Big Bang comics? Their Facebook talks about Sunday games.

also AL sunday at 3
Monday Wednesday Thursday at 6
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Have you tried Big Bang comics? Their Facebook talks about Sunday games.

also AL sunday at 3
Monday Wednesday Thursday at 6
I haven't been there in years. I used to run games for them until the owner got mad at me for missing a session I was running for free (and finding an alternate DM) because my real job took me out of town for a week and banned me from running games.
Last I heard they had killed off all their games and no one came anymore because of the terrible customer service. But maybe I could go look?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This is how I build a group on Roll20:

I run a number of one-shots on the day and time that I would like to run a regular game. I invite the best players of those groups to future one-shots. My criteria is that they play well, get along with each other, sometimes DM for others, have decent tech/skills, and are, most importantly, funny. Then once I've built up around 8 to 10 people, I offer to run a regular game for 5 PCs at a particular interval and leave sign-ups open to all, first come, first served. As long as we get 4 PCs from the player pool to commit, we play (which means we almost never have a cancelled session). Then I just run the occasional one-shot after that and, if I see someone really stellar, I invite them to the player pool.

Running and playing D&D online is not quite the same as running in person, but it has many advantages. You have a larger population of gamers from which to build your ideal group. In the particular setup I describe above, as long as the DM can run a game, there's almost always a game (which is sweet for me as I usually DM). Scheduling headaches and cancellations are almost nonexistent since you have more players than seats. And I also feel that without the distractions that can come with a table and faster play through dice rollers and the like, we get a lot more done in a given session without sacrificing on the fun. (For in-person games, I still use Roll20.)

Anyway, it's worth a shot and you can likely include your remaining players into that player pool - unless you just want to clean house.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
The pool of friends who are players is larger then the amount of games being run. So if I need more players I reach out to friends who are looking for games. If that's insufficient I have gamed with a lot of people at my FLGS(-ish) when I did that, of whom some I would invite to a home game.

We're mostly adults with jobs and family, so the biggest thing stopping more games is time. Lack of people willing to GM and lack of a meeting space also place a significant role in more games getting started.
 

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