18 April 2024

Growing your game group (5yr Blog-iversary)

To mark the 5th anniversary of spinning up this blog I find the theme this past year has been 'getting more people gaming' - from running events to helping bring more people into our local game group to trying to connect up disparate D&D folk - nothing has been particularly innovative or high style just the shovel-work of running open tables and pointing people at other people.

One thing I did find inspirational from the broader blogger community was Gorgon Bones best practices - Record your hobby experience, Introduce others to your hobby and Participate in a hobby community - having that list was a weirdly helpful acknowledgement that we got to get the basics right - find the people, figure out when they can be at tables, find places with tables - before we can start doing the rest of it.

The things I've put my shoulder to over the year has been
- maintained the Meetup 'funnel' to bring people to our local gaming groups forum
- simplifying the big beginner events (Night of the Rolling Dice) so they demand less of us to run them
- helping expand to a second location for the regular Friday nights - mostly by just being one of the regular DMs there
- linking up a whole new bunch of local D&D folk with the DM supergroup - they've done some stuff already while my calendars been a shambles

The online stuff - Meetup, the RPGVienna forum, the discords - have got their memes and minor connections but there are a lot of folk who chirp up when booking their place at one of the open table sessions that we never hear from otherwise. I read this as the majority view the online spaces as somewhere face-to-face gaming is coordinated.

Online is all well and good for what it is, but for folk who want to go offline - who are sometimes folk with thriving online gaming - it is hard to do that from a cold start so giving them a helping hand is worthwhile. My own online gaming got nuked by the smallest householders shifting sleeping patterns - last year I was able to near guarantee they would be asleep by a time - enough that I ran the whole Southern Reaches campaign on weekdays after bedtime. This year - no such luck, even getting the last few episodes of Light of Xaryxis done is proving tricky.

Instead I've put the bits and pieces of time I have in evenings towards helping to try coordinate face to face gaming over weekend slots, both for myself and others.

Having that big online footprint is bringing folk in, both regular gamers and more unusual things like someone who's turned up to do an ethnographic study for their course. We have enough presence that we appear when you search so good enough. Certainly at this point, when I've been ill things have trundled merrily along without me doing anything which is good.

d6 Ways to funnel folk to your game group
1. Make sure something pops up when someone googles 'D&D' and your locality
2. Run open tables where people with no experience can rock up and game for the first time
3. Be flexible as DM's so you can say yes to whoever wants to join you; one of the people attending having a T1 game in their back pocket in case folk turn up but also being happy to play too
4. Figure out where is good to play - and when you start to hit the limits on a venue, be prepared to run multiple locations - so when they show up you can seat them
5. Tell your Friendly Local Games Store your group exists and is open to new folk - they'll cheerfully tell anyone who comes in shopping for the books
6. Trial periods on 'connector' social networks like Meetup, Couchsurfing, Internations, even Facebook can be low-effort ways to get the word out to people who are not actively looking for you (those people found you from point 1.

I figure there are lots of better game designers and OSR theoreticians out there, if I can road test and document what helps with getting those tables clattering with dice, that is probably a worthy use of this place - til the 6th anniversary at least.


  1. I started running one-shots via Meetup about 2 years ago. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find a full table most weeks. I was running in-person sessions at a neighborhood brewery. Summer months allowed us to meet and game on the patio, since I figured folks would be more comfortable outside. I had folks at the table from 40-year veterans to people who had never rolled dice before. And ended up having enough repeat offenders that the game morphed into a campaign. I put it down to folks coming out of the End Times(tm) and just wanting to gather again. Anyway, picking up the one-shots again, since I've been missing playing with strangers...

    1. Sounds great - especially playing outside when the weather is decent. I too felt there was a pulse of folk who've come in since the lockdowns - people who watched actual plays or played online and then turned up to try the 'original' game.

      I'm finding these days we are getting a ton of folk wander in going 'I played Baldurs Gate 3, now I want to try D&D' - I had *five* first timers at my table last night and all told we had seven or eight throughout the event. I'm just astonished at who comes out of the woodwork once you get the word out.