How To Return From A Gaming Hiatus In 5 Simple Steps

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on November 30, 2010

The life of an adventurer is a tough one. It’s a life full of adversity. Obstacles oppose them at every turn. Monstrous races seek to thwart adventurers at all opportunities. In their quest for riches and eternal glory every task is weighted and considered. Time between adventures is spent honing weapons and mastering skills.

While we as players seek to advance our heroes onwards to even greater feats of strength and bravery, occasionally the monster known and Real Life rear’s its head and stomps its foot down. Be it family obligations, illness or work, occasionally we might miss a prolonged period of gaming.

There are countless ways to get yourself ready for a return to the game table, including doing nothing. What I’ve presented here are five steps that I personally find very useful to get myself back into the right head space to play D&D.

  1. Get Updated On The Campaign

  2. An email or a phone call is the simplest way to get up to speed on the campaign. If your group maintains a campaign blog, then get reading. You want to arrive knowledgeable about the story line and exactly where the party currently is. Nothing chews up more time than a two month recap of the campaign. Be courteous to the other people at your gaming table and arrive knowing where things are at.

    Of course if you play LFR or some other version of a stand-alone game then this step isn’t necessary. But for all other instances get up to date on the campaign before your first game back.

  3. A Rules Refresher

  4. It sounds simple, perhaps even silly that you might require a refresher of the rules. As someone who has played the game for over 20 years even I find the suggestion of this preposterous. Yet, I’ve done it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t read the entire PHB from cover to cover. It’s more subtle than that. Instead I recap any of the rules that I know apply to my character, for example if I’m playing a character that grapples then I want to reread the grappling rules so that I don’t need to do it at the table. I also reread all of the conditions so that I know the difference between immobilized and restrained and to remind myself how much stunned sucks.

  5. Review Your Character

  6. Again it sounds basic, this is after all a character you created. However, as we all know 4e D&D can create some complicated characters with plenty of immediate actions. There’s nothing worse than realizing you could have used a power three turns ago. Reviewing your character sheet is a great way to get yourself immersed and ready to play the game.

    If you’ve missed a significant amount of time your campaign may have advanced a few levels. Your DM may allow you to catch up with the other players at the table. If this is the case you will definitely want to review your new choices a few times before you start to play just to make sure everything goes smoothly.

  7. Get Your Gaming Gear Ready

  8. In the weeks or months since you last played your gaming gear may have been scattered to the four corners of your home. Your kids may have swallowed or lost half your dice. Take some time well ahead of when you need to leave to get all the books, dice and supplies ready. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute and leave something critical at home. Doing this step is really doing yourself a favour.

  9. Arrive Early

  10. This step is simple courtesy and should be applied for every gaming sessions. But after a long absence where you may require other players to fill in a few plot gaps you don’t want your tardiness to be the reason things get started late. So always plan to arrive early.

These guidelines are a simple way to make sure the return from any absence in gaming is as painfree as possible. It makes your return to the table easier for you and the others in your campaign.

Do you have any tips for players returning from a long absence? Have you ever had the occassion to miss a prolonged period of gaming? Tel us all about it. After all, these tips will help make everyones return after a prolonged absence easier.

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1 Liam Gallagher November 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

Here’s another good one: arrive with an explanation of what your character was doing while you were not at the helm.

2 Dave November 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Great tips. DMs do the majority of the work, so players should consider these things every gaming session.

Not knowing what’s going on, forgetting how to play your character, and showing up late detract from the fun had by everyone, and (intentionally or not) show disrespect to your fellow gamers. Wimwick’s 5 steps are simple, and don’t take that long, and yet every player in my group fails to do one or more of these things nearly every time we get together. I might expect that behavior from children, but adults with real careers should understand respect and responsibility.

3 Acheron December 2, 2010 at 9:40 am

Yeah, very good tips, someone is printing a copy for his players ^_^ that would “appear for no reason” folded in the PHB.

The only one I can add will be reading again, some fantasy novel or D&D book… or it also helps me… I did a marathon of Brave Heart, Gladiator and the the Last Samurai…. Man i wanted to play so much afterwards….

Nice Article, thanks!

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