by Mike Shea on 17 September 2012
Of all the difficulties facing your D&D game, the greatest will always be finding and keeping a great group of players. Some groups have managed to stay together living through adventures for decades. Most of us, however, have to work actively to build and keep our groups going as long as we can. The demands of our time, our commitments to family and work, and where we live often gets in the way of us forming and maintaining a regular group.
As times change, so change the ways we can bring players to our table. Today we're going to look at a few ways you might find players and get them playing D&D at your table.
The Penny Arcade D&D podcasts brought a lot of new players to our hobby. Many electronic gamers have now heard of Dungeons and Dragons thanks to the adventures of Acquisitions Incorporated. Mike and Jerry's promotion of D&D has the potential to bring electronic gamers to our table. As you meet and talk to other electronic gamers, don't be afraid to bring up your passion for D&D. You might be surprised who is willing to try it out.
Friends of your friends might also make for great potential D&D gamers. Make your desires clear to your friends, even if they don't happen to be a D&D gamer themselves, and they might either know someone or meet someone later who may be good for your game. Use word of mouth to spread your request for interested players.
Even if you happen to have a full group, you don't know if it will be fully forever. Build a pool of potential players even if you don't necessarily need to fill in a spot. Keep these potential players active by running the occasional one-shot game or inviting them to fill in a seat when you happen to have a spot open. When addressed up front, reasonable people will understand if they're a substitute for a single game instead of a regular at a table.
Wizards of the Coast works with a lot of friendly local game shops to run D&D Encounters and D&D Lair Assaults. You can find one of these locations with the D&D Locator. Many groups also run D&D organized play events in these stores. They're a great way to meet people, play some D&D, and find the right folks for a home campaign.
There are a lot of online resources for finding players. Some have had great success with them and others not as much so don't expect it to be perfect or easy. Meetup.com runs a popular Dungeons and Dragons Meetup Group website with over 60,000 members, mostly in the US and UK. Message forums at the D&D Gamer Classifieds and Enworld are other potential sources. Yahoo Groups is another way to find potential gamers. Do a search for your city or state and "dungeons and dragons" to find potential groups. Check the number of members and recent activity to see how active it is.
As you feel out new potential players, offer to run one-shot games or short campaigns so you can all gauge whether the chemistry of your group is right for a longer commitment. Most people will have a hard time committing to a regular weekly game, but if you get the energy behind it, they might end up in one anyway and loving every minute of it.
If you have friends who you think you might be able to convince, games like Lords of Waterdeep, the Legend of Drizzt, and Dungeon Command can be a great way to get them used to the idea of D&D without actually playing a true roleplaying game. If they get more and more into it, you could offer to run a one-shot game or a short campaign to see if you guys end up liking it. Next thing you know you might be in the early episodes of a multi-year campaign.
New to D&D? You'll want to start with the Heroes of the Fallen Lands, the Dungeon Master's Kit and the Monster Vault. Once you have a good group going, consider taking a look at Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games to run some fantastic games.