Its approximately 6 months later, and our work based D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) groups are still going strong.
Everyone is having a lot of fun, players are forming relationships, ridiculous stories are occurring regularly and the campaigns are progressing nicely. Some of the groups have even finished the smaller adventures that they were running and are looking for new challenges.
Speaking of groups; there have been some minor mutations from group to group as far as people go, but overall they are mostly the same as they were in the beginning.
And therein lies something of an issue.
There Are *Rolls Dice* 5 People In Each Group
To be honest, we play a lot of D&D each week. We have a groups playing on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and there has been some interest in putting together a fifth group on Friday. Until we decide to pivot as a business into D&D related software (which I’m sure is only a matter of time), that’s probably as much D&D as we can squeeze in.
But those regular groups do lead to something of a problem; being mostly static, there is little room for new participants.
Think about it; We generally limit each group to 6 people (1 DM and 5 Players), but we have to keep a little bit of overlap between the groups so that the DM’s get to play as well, so with 4 active groups, we can really only involve 20ish unique people. That goes up to 25 with 5 groups obviously, but there is not much room left to grow at that stage.
I’ve got a bit of a plan to add some chaos into the whole situation later on this year (a full group reshuffle), but that is not going to magically allow a whole bunch of new people to participate, because I imagine that just about everyone will want to continue to play.
What I really want is another way to get people to play D&D that is more flexible than a long term campaign, letting people participate without having to make a long term commitment.
One Shot, One Kill
Of course there is, and they are called oneshots (well, I call them oneshots).
A oneshot is generally a single D&D session intended to only last a few hours, as opposed to one that lasts many sessions over the course of weeks or months or years). A short self-contained adventure that you can get just about anybody into with a little bit of preparation.
Now, because this blog tends to trail reality by a significant amount of time, I’ve actually been organising oneshots monthly since last September or so, so we’ve had a few at this point. They are typically on a Saturday, where I can safely steal one of the cool meeting rooms that we have at our office for an entire day without having to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes. Our meeting rooms are great; big tables, massive whiteboards and easy access to a kitchenette and facilities. Also free.
At this point, I’ve played in some of the oneshots and DMed in others and every time its been a pretty great experience.
The last oneshot I participated in took a completely ridiculous direction where our group decided that we were a rock band and that our agent had simply booked us a really crappy gig (we were in prison), but we were determined to put on a good show anyway. It only got more ridiculous from there, and the last encounter of the day was us having a rock battle with an ancient blue dragon, with each party member having to make up their part of the final song. Also a tamed a spider and we wrote a song called Rider of the Spider.
The best part is that because it requires limited commitment, a oneshot gives a much wider variety of people the opportunity to sign up, assuming they can sacrifice a Saturday. Additionally, it leaves room for partners and other family members, which is a great way to get to know someone.
Partners know all the deep dark secrets about your colleagues, and in my experience, love to share them.
The only complication that I’ve found, which isn’t really all that much of a complication, is that I need to organise and sign people up for oneshots months in advance. This helps people make arrangements with family as necessary, organizing babysitting and whatnot in order to be able to spend a day enjoying themselves.
To be clear, its February now and I have a oneshot planned for later this month. Attendance has been sorted for this oneshot since November last year, and I’ve already signed up a bunch of people for the July oneshot.
A New Challenger Approaches
Allowing more people the opportunity to attend is not the only benefit from the oneshots though.
Theoretically, oneshots provide the perfect environment for nascent DMs to get involved without having to commit to a long and sometimes gruelling multi-month campaign. They just need to come up with an idea (or steal something off the internet), do some prep and then execute it over the course of a few hours. Its a limited engagement almost perfect for new and inexperienced people to have a stab.
Now, I’m always interested in training up new DMs because without DMs, the whole D&D thing ceases to exist, and they are something of a rare breed (compared to players). We still lose people from time to time, and sometimes those people are my precious precious DMs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as some amount of employee turnover is natural and healthy, and while the presence of a solid social component can and will reduce undesirable turnover, its never going to prevent it. People grow and change and move on and that’s okay.
So it helps to have a cupboard full of possible DMs.
Also, if I look at it entirely unselfishly for a few seconds, being able to DM can definitely lead to the creation of new skills that are useful outside D&D. So really I’m doing these people a favour.
Ahhhh, the sweet sound of an assuaged conscience.
I’m sure its obvious at this point that I want to get as many people involved with D&D as possible. Maybe we’ll even introduce other tabletop games at some point in the future, because really its not D&D specifically that is beneficial (though it is great), its the relationships and culture that it inspires via its collaborative storytelling. I’ve always wanted to play Shadowrun for example, as its such a cool setting, and I’m sure we’d see the same benefits regardless of which universe we’re using as a foundation.
Anyway, apart from the fact that I personally really enjoy both playing and DMing (though DMing can be exhausting sometimes), I really do believe that having a regular social activity like D&D is incredibly healthy for any organization. There are just so many great side-effects to establishing and maintaining positive relationships between colleagues through channels other than actual work.
With more people playing D&D than ever, I assume it can only get better from here.