[RPG] How to deal with missing players?


If you know ahead of time that you're going to be missing a player, do you reschedule? Or just play them as an NPC or as a group puppet?

Best Answer

It depends on what's going on in the session. If the session is going to be mostly combat or dungeon-crawly, especially if it's a continuation of a previous session, then running them as an NPC makes sense. Even then, though, there's the risk that someone's character is going to be killed or permanently altered on the basis of things that happened when they weren't there to control their character, so I'd always ask permission before doing that.

Generally, though, I much prefer to concoct an excuse for them to be absent during the session. "Apgar the Barbarian just received word that his favorite pub would soon be closing for a month for renovations; he was left with no choice but to abandon the party for a week-long bender." As long as that is possible based on where the previous session left off, it's my preferred strategy.

I hate canceling sessions because one player can't make it, because I find that sooner or later, canceled sessions become the norm. It's better to get together and make something happen, so the game stays on everyone's mental calendar as a regular occurrence that actually happens. Sometimes, it takes some flexibility to handle that - if several players are missing, you might even consider running a flashback with the players that are available and fleshing out some backstory, or rigging up a side adventure, or something. But it's best if the weekly session stays weekly, as it were.