On Long Hiatuses and Not Losing the Thread

One of the realities of gaming as an adult (defined for these purposes as a person with kids, career, and many commitments) is that getting your gaming group together to play on a regular basis will be a challenge. I run two groups, both of which attempt to meet every two weeks. Both are of a size where if one player is absent we can play, but if two or more can’t make it, it doesn’t make much sense.

I haven’t done the math, but I suspect that over the course of a year both groups manage to meet closer to once every 3 to 4 weeks than the scheduled two weeks. The reasons for absences and cancelled sessions are varied and uniformly reasonable. Nonetheless, they take their toll on the games. As of this writing it’s been only a week since my Savage Tide campaign last met, but almost six weeks since my World of Darkness crew got together (and it will be at least 8 weeks by the time we meet again).

The struggle, of course, is how to not completely lose the thread of the story. Part of the problem is that I’m not the best note taker in the world. But even with a decent session summary it’s sometimes hard for players (and GM) to fall back into the rhythm of things.

How do the other DM’s reading this handle long hiatuses?

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6 thoughts on “On Long Hiatuses and Not Losing the Thread

  1. I wish I had some advice for you. I know as a player it gets very frustrating for me. I feel like it takes a whole game night almost to get back into the groove and then if there are more missed games right after it feels like you cannot get any traction.

  2. Evening,

    Some of the things I use are notes, by writing out plot notes ahead of time. I recently put together a list of all the important NPCs for my game, a list of dramatis personae, to help me and the players remember all the people. I’ve been using a list of first and last names for the Victorian era of England, to help me with generating character names. As tough as it is, taking notes during or right after a session is very helpful. When you post a session summary before a session it helps to get everyone back into the groove and remember what we had done before.

    • Yeah, I have to carve out time shortly after the game to take notes. The NPC bios are another good idea, especially for our World of Darkness game (given how many there are at this point). Thanks.

  3. I have a few suggestions.

    1. Post some short (very short) fiction related to the game, and encourage players to do the same. As GM, you can also write up historical narratives, summaries of important events, bios of famous people, etc, anything to keep the appetite for the game whetted. If you’re using a homebrew setting, you can also ask players to do those kinds of write-ups. If you’re into the shared storytelling idea, this can also keep players thinking about the game in between sessions, because they stay engaged in the continual creation of the world.

    2. Post game summaries with amusing commentary and footntoes. I’ve never done this, but I always thought it wold be fun to post the summary pretending to be a reviewer talking about a TV series. “Will Jorak be able to unravel the riddle of the Gorgon? Who is responsible for the repeated attempts on Kadalon’s life?” That sort of thing.

    • I love writing up little smidges of fiction for my characters, but haven’t done the kind of inter character back and forth that we did several years ago. But that kind of thing always keeps me fresh in the game. I reckon if each player could write up a little blurb about their character’s state of mind that would keep each player more invested. They could go back and reread what they wrote if they don’t remember it, just before the game to get back in the groove.

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