Scheduling DnD sessions can be a nightmare. This is one of the biggest complaints that Dungeon Masters have and easily one of the more regrettable. Even if you have a solid group of players who really want to spend time playing, making people’s schedules align is a difficult task. We’re not going to claim this method will solve the problem for everyone, but we’ve tested it over the last year and have easily tripled our sessions with this group.
Scheduling DnD the Easy Way
To fix scheduling problems for our group, we removed the one problem that kept us from playing: aligning everyone’s schedules. To achieve this we had to alter how our game was set up a bit, but overall it’s a minor change for a big success. Our scheduling method went from the traditional matching up of everyone’s calendars to simply announcing a game time and available slots and having players say if they would be there.
To move to this system for scheduling, every session has to be a one shot. All quests are tied up in a single go and the DM needs to issue rewards or do housekeeping work between quests. If you have a different group of players each time, it doesn’t matter; people just show up and play. This may seem strange at first, but it really works. You can do a few things to make it work even better and still support story telling.
Setting Up a Flexible Campaign
To make this method work well with story telling, we built a system that allows the world building and story telling to work independent of the specific players in a session. There’s a lot of ways to do this, but our solution was a Guild System. Players join a guild, and that guild sends them on quests. Our system uses a multiple guild setup, but that’s not entirely necessary.
The point of having the guild is that this is your new interface with the story. It gives you a reason to send your players on quests and plausible ways for characters to be added or removed from individual sessions.
In addition to the guild system, key story items are never tied to an individual, but instead to the guild or the group. If someone has to miss a session, the DM doesn’t catch them up; the players who were on the mission catch them up as a conversation had at the guild. If you have key items to use for the story, the loot system you use makes sure the guild ends up possessing them (even if a little meta gaming is needed).
This makes your campaign flexible enough to even start over mid-story with new players or allow for multiple groups. Our typical group is 6 players, but we’ve played with over 11 people in this campaign at various times because it’s so easy to drop into.
Chances to Explore New Characters
Have you or your players ever experienced character fatigue? Your character doesn’t turn out the way you planned and you just don’t want to play them anymore? With this system, that’s no problem. If a player rolls a new character, they’re just another part of the guild. This is great for new players that want to try out different classes and even better for experienced players that don’t want to be tied to one class for a long campaign. The flexibility of this system is amazing and really lets players explore new options all the time.
Guild Chat and Scheduling Groups
If you want to set this up like we did, you’ll likely want more than your standard core group size. Since everyone plays on the DM’s schedule, you’re always likely to be down a player or two. To fix this, you simply add more players. If you’re balancing dungeons for a group of 5 adventurers, then having at least 7 people in your game is advisable.
Once you do this, a group chat is almost a prerequisite. The chat should be a place to keep people posted on what is going on, when games are scheduled, and give people a way to keep up with rewards and house keeping stuff handled by the DM. Discord makes a great place to do this, but we’ve also used Google Hangouts and Facebook groups over our test of this system.
Downsides of This Method
This solution is not without its problems. One shots need to be one shots; they can’t overflow without causing the scheduling trap you normally worry about. This bars access to mega dungeons and longer quest arcs as well. To get around this, you will need to do some traditional scheduling where needed, but it’s best to keep things short in a session more often then not.
Wild demand is another issue we’ve encountered a few time. Sometimes you have too many players who want to play in a session and you either have to modify the session to handle more people or make a slot list to keep things amicable. We’ve done both, but make sure you’re clear with your players ahead of time to handle this. We let players know that the difficulty increases for each player over our target that joins. We can only hope you’ll have this problem yourself as it means people really like your campaign.
The last major issue we’ve run into is note taking and organization. Just keeping track of one set of players and characters is enough work, so don’t make it too hard on yourself either. We’ve told our players that they have to keep notes and if they forget something, that’s on them. It may seem a bit harsh, but when you have 11 people in your group, you can’t easily track everyone without some assistance. If you’re using D&D Beyond or WorldAnvil, things are a little easier. But this is more of an issue of volume of notes rather than actual note taking ability.
Give it a Try
Are you ready to say goodbye to scheduling issues? Give our method a try and let us know how it works for you. At Master the Dungeon, we’re committed to making DnD better for everyone, and sometimes scheduling is the hardest part. Go now, be free of scheduling burdens and play more DnD! Happy DMing!