Lunchtime Poll 3 :: Imperfect Attendance

Ravings of a Textual Deviant
Lunchtime Poll #3: Imperfect Attendance

How do you cope with the absence of a player, either in a single session or repeated absences?

Since I am one of those folks who think that Players really drive the rpg, I’m of the opinion that missing Players ought to mean playing some other game instead. This would be especially true if the GM had a love of continuity. Less true if the Player had just vanished without explanation, leaving a group without their scheduled fun for the evening. In that case, I would figure out a ‘bump’ of explanation for the missing and move on.

However, in some cases, it just doesn’t work out so neatly.
I’ve GM’d con serial games. This means that a ‘revolving’ cast of folks walk through the game and that the continuity is the GM’s sole province.
In Argent Rose, I’ve never had much problem with a general buzz about absent PCs scattered around the background. Notes, telegrams, or other clutter to make it seem like those folks might turn up next year.
However, in the drama prequel to Amber canon, Bloody Grievance, I actually have been killing off the absent PCs on-screen and off. This isn’t my natural GM preference, however the game is structured around the deaths of the first generation of scions of Oberon. So part of the necessity of playing the game is that you are giving your life for Amber.
I don’t do this immediately if you miss a game, but miss two and you’ll probably die. There was tremendous dramatic impact when the oldest daughter of Oberon died keeping the Dragon Arden out of the way offstage. That death also bound another PC tighter to her own vision of Amber and anger at her father.
In my own FtF game, Eternal City, I’ve kept the PC Sebastian as a very active NPC. This gave me two benefits: in a game with three players, Sebastian becomes the ‘random plot generator’ for the other two, and certain young ‘missteps’ and political tension is generated by this former PC, which is not a bad thing for the game.
Sebastian also provides a yardstick by which almost every character in the game can say, “Well, at least Sebastian wasn’t involved.”


One comment

  1. I’d be more inclined to do something like that in House of Cards if we had fewer players. On the other hand, there are 20 of you plus the NPCs like Merlin, Martin, and Cambina … there’s always someone who can serve as the cautionary tales younger.
    (And in fact, we do seem to have one. But that’s another story …)

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