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D&D General That one player who cancels at the last day

ReshiIRE

Explorer
Yeah, I’m very touchy when it comes to people giving me grief about my work life. My youngest’ s son’s 18th birthday is this weekend, but we couldn’t plan a party for him because I’ll be working from 12AM to at least 5AM this weekend (if all goes well, which is unlikely), with having to get back up at 10AM to give a report on how the upgrade has gone, and address any issues that have come up. Then be in the office bright & cheery at 8 AM come Monday. And I have to do this at least 3 times a year (down from 4 from previous years). This doesn’t include other upgrades and issues throughout the year (such as being in the middle of a Thanksgiving dinner at relatives when a client calls that their system is down).

Don’t get me started about our management deciding Christmas two years ago was a good time to do our end-of-year upgrade, because “no one would be on the system”. Gee, I wonder why that could be…

I enjoy being able to set time aside to play a game of D&D - but sometimes life interferes, and I’ve had days coming home from work and my brain is so melted I don’t even take dinner and just go to bed and say to hell with it all. Lately, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve just had to reschedule our weekend game because I’m just too burned out and need a day just to destress - and end up running errands that have been piling up.

<EDIT>. As Arnold once said, “I need a vacation” - the past year and a half has been exceptionally hellish.

The more I read more stories the more I am lucky that I have a 9 to 6 software engineering job and don't have to deal with that. I hope they compensate you well - pretty clear they couldn't run the shop without you.
 

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Not a Hobbit

Explorer
Also, I know we love this hobby, but it's just a game. Sometimes people don't feel like it and even if it were that case here, that's okay too. We should care more about our friends than whether or not we get to home invasion some goblins one day in a week.
That's valid. But consider this: The first week one of the players has to go into work, the next week one of the players has to stay home with a sick child, the next week the DM's in-laws are in town, the next week one of the players has to study for finals, and then the next week you just don't feel like playing. Can you see how that would get a bit frustrating, and someone would question your commitment to the social contract which is a D&D party?

I've kicked people who have frequent absences. Not with malice. I just say "I don't think it's working out. Sorry."
 

We just had a month off and then went right back to the game.

How? Because we recognize that we're all adults with lives and mental health and we'd care more about each other and the time we can spend together than a little downtime due to life.

D&D is supposed to be FUN, not a burdensome commitment we assail our friends over.
 


On the other hand, for some of use frequent or long interruptions in schedule destroys most of the benefit of even having a campaign. I'm not going to fault if people just can't keep that up, but I'm also not interested in trying to participate in a game with people who are in that situation. Not my gig.
 

Bird Of Play

Explorer
We just had a month off and then went right back to the game.

How? Because we recognize that we're all adults with lives and mental health and we'd care more about each other and the time we can spend together than a little downtime due to life.

D&D is supposed to be FUN, not a burdensome commitment we assail our friends over.

Woah woah!
I explained in this thread that I ask for 3 hours a week, nothing more, and if you can't all you need to do is warn in time, and when the player bailed out the first time I didn't mind at all, and the reason I -do- mind this time is only because "random generic work excuse" still feels a bit odd to me.

Any less than this, and I practically wouldn't be able to run a campaign at all.

Even entertainment can be a commitment. You ever done sports? Compared to that, the commitment of just a DnD session roughly every week, is really not much at all.
And, again, I don't mind having to skip a week because someone got busy. I just mind when I feel like the reason given is not 100% convincing. Keep in mind you're not just ruining my plans: you're also ruining the plans of the other players who kept their evening free to play. At least, do warn us in time.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
That's valid. But consider this: The first week one of the players has to go into work, the next week one of the players has to stay home with a sick child, the next week the DM's in-laws are in town, the next week one of the players has to study for finals, and then the next week you just don't feel like playing. Can you see how that would get a bit frustrating, and someone would question your commitment to the social contract which is a D&D party?
Wait, what? So four different people are unable to attend on four different sessions, for four sensible reasons, and then one person "just doesn't feel like playing." Whose commitment are we questioning here? All of these people? Just the one who "didn't feel like playing?" If the latter, what does this have to do with OP's situation?

Or am I misunderstanding the hypothetical, and this is actually the same person missing all these sessions?

I've kicked people who have frequent absences. Not with malice. I just say "I don't think it's working out. Sorry."
Sure, that makes perfect sense. But "frequent absences" does not require a lot of second-guessing or trying to suss out anybody's level of commitment. You just have to decide--how many absences from a given player are you willing to put up with? And then you make your decision based on that.

If somebody can only make 1 session in 4, they may have the best reason in the world for having to miss the other 3, and you could still conclude that you aren't willing to play with someone who can't make it to 75% of the games. And when you sit down to have that conversation, it's not about "commitment," it's about what the group needs and what the person can provide. If those don't line up, for whatever reason, then with the best will in the world, it may be time to part ways.

In OP's case, you have two data points, which isn't much to go on. But it's safe to say Player A will miss more sessions--maybe a lot, maybe just a few--and OP might decide it's too many. Which is a reasonable decision to make! But there's no need to cast doubt on Player A's stated reasons for not attending.
 
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jasper

Rotten DM
Hmmm. Lets see some quotes.
….But when those 3 hours a week happen, I expect my players to commit to those 3 hours a week. If you can't commit 3 hours a week to the game, just don't ask to join the group or be very upfront about how you cannot do that on a semi-regular basis. We're living people, not a Netflix program you can choose to watch or not. It's rude to cancel at the last minute when the other guys have made sure to keep their evening free……
…..I explained in this thread that I ask for 3 hours a week, nothing more, and if you can't all you need to do is warn in time, and when the player bailed out the first time I didn't mind at all, and the reason I -do- mind this time is only because "random generic work excuse" still feels a bit odd to me.
…….
Even entertainment can be a commitment. You ever done sports? Compared to that, the commitment of just a DnD session roughly every week, is really not much at all. ……

The OP is kind sounding like an entitled DM.
 

Tom Bagwell

Explorer
Reasons don't have to sound "convincing" to be true. I've found it a lot better all-around to assume the player is being truthful and just take them at their word. If they miss too many sessions, even with valid reasons, then you might want to discuss it with them.
 

Find a job that doesn't require 10+ hours daily and be fixated with routine. :p

Not having kids also helps, I hear..... but frankly kids are the one thing I'd love to disrupt my routine!
And backyards to be mowed. And mother in law backyards to be mowed. And pets with medical issues, doctors appointments (you need more and more) and trying to keep healthy...

I'm going to stop now because it's getting depressing.
 

And backyards to be mowed. And mother in law backyards to be mowed. And pets with medical issues, doctors appointments (you need more and more) and trying to keep healthy...

I'm going to stop now because it's getting depressing.

all legitimate problems, but its not like RPGs are the only hobby that expects some degree of time commitment.
 

damiller

Explorer
I've been here. And I hate it every time. I think out of the 10 years and likely dozens of people I've played with only about 5-8 have ever left on their own accord. Most I had to directly ask "can you commit to playing?" or "please leave you're gone too much."

I finally got to the point in my game concept write up where I now am direct about telling new players: Game time is a priority for me. If you want to join this game please make this game time a priorty or don't ask to join.

I commit to the game, I commit to preparing the game outside of the 3 hours of game time, and I show up every week (or give more than adequate notice), and if those who'd like to play in my game can't show up for at least 3 hours and pay attention, I don't want to game with them.

Otherwise I'll just go to charging people for me to run a game and f**k em if they don't show up!
 

Sounds like this guy has two unreasonably demanding jobs but only one is paying him.

'Not convincing'. What's he got to do? Provide a doctor's note and accept a point on his attendance record? Better front the man some Dental and a 401K if you're going to be like that.
 

Bird Of Play

Explorer
Eh, what can I say. If 3 hours a week (unless you warn in advance that we'll skip a week or two) is considered a commitment and I'm a demanding DM: the door's that way.

Again, entertainment IS often a commitment, otherwise it's going nowhere. While my players can ignore the campaign until the moment we play, I have to think the plot, prepare the encounters, lay down the maps.
You cannot make it for the week? Let's postpone. Let's postpone by two weeks even, so you're not left behind. But when the session is about to begin, everyone's ready and kept their evening free, and you suddenly pop up with "whooops today I can't because of reasons", I may have the right to at the very least frown a little. Don't I?

Now, I do have another group on which I'm a player and we're playing Descent Into Avernus, and that group is on hold since about a month with the holidays and all. But I'm not the DM in that group, I'm not the one doing the work, so I guess I don't feel the same way as it feels like it's not up to me to decide how to organize things.

Yes, I do feel a decent motivation for not being in the game would be not necessary but very polite, otherwise you'll just make me think it's a generic excuse.
This is not true for DnD, but for...... everything. Everything that requires a group to be done. In that case, everyone's waiting for you, so you'll make a better impression if you don't sound like you're making up excuses.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
For a lot of people taking time off, even "only 3 hours" every single week is a lot. Especially when this has only happened twice and the guy gave as much notice as possible.

First, it's not just 3 hours. It's 3 hours + commute + a guarantee you don't have to work late because if you don't fix something right now you're letting down an entire team of people or perhaps an entire division of the company. Not being able to attend a single week? Do people never take vacations? Get sick? Have a family/friend get-together that just happens to fall on game night? Work super long hours once in a while so they simply have no energy or need that extra 3+ hours just to get some sleep?

It's pretty typical for IT during major deployments to have an "all hands on deck" request. Whether or not they have to physically be in the office or not, they have to be able to jump online at a moments notice.

There's a major difference between missing a single session and letting the group know they won't be able to attend next week and being unreliable.
 

Stormonu

Legend
For a lot of people taking time off, even "only 3 hours" every single week is a lot. Especially when this has only happened twice and the guy gave as much notice as possible.

First, it's not just 3 hours. It's 3 hours + commute + a guarantee you don't have to work late because if you don't fix something right now you're letting down an entire team of people or perhaps an entire division of the company. Not being able to attend a single week? Do people never take vacations? Get sick? Have a family/friend get-together that just happens to fall on game night? Work super long hours once in a while so they simply have no energy or need that extra 3+ hours just to get some sleep?

It's pretty typical for IT during major deployments to have an "all hands on deck" request. Whether or not they have to physically be in the office or not, they have to be able to jump online at a moments notice.

There's a major difference between missing a single session and letting the group know they won't be able to attend next week and being unreliable.
Yeah, when I was young(er), D&D (and a host of other RPGs/Wargames/CCG's) every week - often multiple times in a week with 6-8 hour sessions wasn't a problem. Nowadays, even once every two weeks for 3-4 hours with my schedule can be a problem. It stinks, but it's also life. Then there's the whole online vs. in person issue to contend with these days. You'd think online would be so much easier for planning and getting together, but it's just not the case.
 

Bird Of Play

Explorer
Both sides of the issue have their reasons.

I mean, on one hand, it's obvious that if something important comes up, you can't be expected to show up to the DnD session. No duh. This isn't the problem.

On the other hand, when the DM does 90% of the work, it's reasonable for them to get a bit peeved if the player doesn't do the 10% (that is, showing up at the session).

When I put all the work and give you multiple sidequests and different areas you can choose to go and explore and detailed npcs, and you tell me you're too busy to play that day..... I think "well, then I guess -I- was not busy enough for you since I did all that work for you to enjoy! Only your busy time is important but mine doesn't matter?".

And this is why the problem is that I'd like to have an -idea- of the reason that player is not coming. I don't need to know your personal stuff, I just need to know for sure it's not like you didn't show up only because you were in a bad mood or because you forgot of a dinner party or some other frivolous motivation.
Because if you're telling me you can't commit to the 10%, I won't commit to the 90% next time, not for you.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Both sides of the issue have their reasons.

I mean, on one hand, it's obvious that if something important comes up, you can't be expected to show up to the DnD session. No duh. This isn't the problem.

On the other hand, when the DM does 90% of the work, it's reasonable for them to get a bit peeved if the player doesn't do the 10% (that is, showing up at the session).

When I put all the work and give you multiple sidequests and different areas you can choose to go and explore and detailed npcs, and you tell me you're too busy to play that day..... I think "well, then I guess -I- was not busy enough for you since I did all that work for you to enjoy! Only your busy time is important but mine doesn't matter?".

And this is why the problem is that I'd like to have an -idea- of the reason that player is not coming. I don't need to know your personal stuff, I just need to know for sure it's not like you didn't show up only because you were in a bad mood or because you forgot of a dinner party or some other frivolous motivation.
Because if you're telling me you can't commit to the 10%, I won't commit to the 90% next time, not for you.
You've definitely got a reasonable expectation of getting notice, and having players commit to a game time, and all that. Because you're right: the DM puts in a lot of effort, and the players ought to acknowledge that by being prompt and open about their availability.

But you really do not have any right to any reasons for missing sessions, especially from random people on the internet. It's simply none of your business, period. Take what a player says at face value, because anything beyond that is out of your control. Just follow up on the guy's suggestion, find a another player if you can, and put in the back of your head that you might have to gracefully drop their character from the campaign if this proves to be something more than an occasional occurrence.

It's okay-- even advised-- to ask players if they're enjoying the game, can't commit, or whatever, so everyone can adjust their schedules and expectations. But don't get all demandy for explanations, because that will only make the situation worse.

I hope this situation works out for you.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I just need to know for sure it's not like you didn't show up only because you were in a bad mood or because you forgot of a dinner party or some other frivolous motivation.
Unless you're going to spy on your players, you cannot "know for sure" what is going on in their lives. The guy told you why he missed those games. Is it possible he was lying? Sure, it's possible. But you have no reason at all to think he was lying, other than incredulity at the idea that some people have demanding and unpredictable jobs.

You are perfectly within your rights to set expectations for attendance, and to boot people who don't meet them. You go drastically wrong when you start second-guessing the explanations of the guy who couldn't make it and insisting on knowing "for sure" that what he said happened, really happened. What do you want him to do, produce a time card? A signed note from his boss?

Just assume that he was telling the straight truth. Proceed from there. Maybe you keep him, maybe you boot him, maybe you wait and see. But you've already received all the information you have any right to expect.
 


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