How to Deal with Absentees

Hello Miscreants

Let’s start with the news since this is an article heavy post.

We’re off to a convention this weekend! It’s International Free RPG day and we’ve booked ourselves into the Dice Saloon Saturday 17th June where we’ll be playing ‘Pilots and Politics’ and ‘The Rescue’. Tech, Kerone and Storm Nymph will be joining Blood in promoting the RPG community… and SPICED of course.

Other then that, as announced last Friday, we’re getting a new Twitch show! Arch and Neil from Adventurers Anonymous, Casey and Onyx will be joining Blood in a new D&D 5E campaign called ‘World of Kaelstos’ – starting June 25th 2.30-5.30 BST (9.30-12.30 EST).

There is another show and a few podcasts in the works, but more news as they become confirmed!

Right, onto the Article ‘How to Deal with Absentees’.


As we grow older, we find our time apparently belongs less to us and more to our responsibilities: children, partners or work. Lame right?

As an eager PM, it’s difficult when a player has to drop out of a game for an odd session. It’s sometimes heart breaking when you’ve spent a lot of time prepping a session and that one key person is going to be MIA. 

So how do you go about dealing with this?

First of all, make sure that your players know you need time to allow for missing people – either re-balancing or re-writing character important moments into another session. After all it doesn’t take more than a text as soon as someone knows they might not be there – it’s better to let someone know they might not be there, than wait until the last minute to confirm they’re not. It’s common courtesy. If you can’t make it, fair enough, if you do manage to make it, excellent!

A PM can also prepare games, specifically where players drop in and out, in such a way that flexibility is the driving force. Have ranges on Mooks (like HP, Armor, number of…), creating a range of difficulty on challenges or traps, or removing that part of the challenge where the missing players has the best skills for example. 

Another manner of prepping a game is to make specific character moments as drag and drop modules – ie that big dude can only be triggered by the character (player) being there. This person will only be there because the character is there. Yes it’s a little… convenient, but you’re adapting on the fly, and for the sake of letting your character’s grow, it can be forgiven – also, your the players will not likely notice – you’re the only one with the prep and the notes after all.

Assume you’ve done all that. Assume your players have altered your plans three times in a single day. Assume you’ve all agreed a time and this no longer suits anyone but you.

You can either prep just in case for absenteeism, never write for specific characters, carry on business as usual or spend a small amount of time re-writing and… Well… suck it up. Life happens and sometimes you don’t always get what you want. Life should take precedence over gaming anyway – this is a hobby, not life. Box up and hold anything you couldn’t use to one side, and carry on best as you can. Anything you don’t use you can reuse later on down the line. Adapting on the fly should become second nature to a PM and this is simply another thing you’ll learn to deal with. Sad but true.

It’s not fair, it’s disappointing – but that’s life.

Wow – this Blog went to that dark place at the end. Sorry, my bad.

Drink up folks, time at the bar.
Blood Depending on mood, I might kill you where you stand…
Thirsty – … and I’ll stand you where she’s killing – just in case.

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