Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When To Call It Quits?

Short post for today, mostly just a dilemma that a group I am in is facing and figured I'd get other people's stories/opinions/etc on the subject.

So, when do you know to call a game quits? Do you hold onto them no matter what? I know at least one of the regulars here has a game that meets once or twice a year for marathon sessions and then goes for marathon sessions while they can. But how about a normal game? How long does it have to be delayed, cancelled, or otherwise no meeting before you call the game dead and try to move on? How long before the thread of the story and the chemistry of the characters is completely lost?

To put it in perspective, in about May my Deathwatch game went on a short hiatus. We'd hit a good pause point in the story and someone else wanted to try to run a 3-4 shot adventure. I was cool with it because while it not only let me play (and I do like the space marine I made) it also gave me time to reset the world, develop new NPCs, and get things ready to go forward with the game. After all, the ending of the previous adventure had left the board fairly wiped clean.

That was back in May. I'm still not back to GMing the game. In fact, the 3-4 shot adventure is still going. No, not because it is now on session 7-8 or whatever (we meet every other week normally) but because sessions have been missed. I think it's been about 2 months (4-5 sessions now) without a game due to someone or another not being available for game, or other personal commitments getting in the way.

For my Deathwatch game that makes it almost half a year at this point, though that may be a bit of a stretch. For the fill in game it makes it almost three months and that is not counting the fact that we didn't have session this Saturday and next scheduled session will also be missed due to a Magic event at the place we play.

I've opened the discussion up to the group, but I'm just curious how the rest of you feel. Is the game dead in the water? Have you gone through long breaks like this in your games? If so, and they continued, how did it work out?

Personally, while I wouldn't mind going back to the game and going forward with the story, I'd be just as happy starting something new if/when the group could get back together. Otherwise though, I'm not sure, and I'm not even sure the group will have a chance in the near/foreseeable future to get together.

Your thoughts?


  1. It has been my experience that games generally go out with a whimper, not a bang. For whatever the reasons, people (sometimes me, the GM) just get burned out on a setting. Though I never had a 'policy' on this, what typically happens is that everyone just tacitly 'agrees' that it is over. And that is that. What I would do in a perfect world is talk to the players- maybe one on one- and ask them for their HONEST opinion on whether or not to continue. But I feel that when you do that, folks (at least players who are your friends) are likely to lie- to spare your 'feelings' on the matter- even if you don't really have feelings. This can result in a few more lackluster sessions before the thing falls apart again. Even so, if I were in your position, I'd just talk to the players and try to weasel out how they really feel.

  2. Your suggestion is great aside from the fact that PLAYERS DON'T HAVE FEELINGS! Oh wait...

    Yeah, that is kind of what we're doing in this case. The group is going to lose another player soon so we need to decide what to do. Could end up with a different game, or new game same universe, or I dunno. We'll see.

  3. I play twice a week; each with different groups and one group struggles alot to get together consistently. Like you've had extended periods where one or more people can't attend and this can go on for months.
    I would say don't presume the game is over. There are more than likely genuine reasons why people can't attend (and it's not because they don't want to). Options to consider:
    1. Still meet up but play a board game, card game, or a one night encounter for a game you've always wanted to try out.
    2. Meet up with everyone online (G+ hangout maybe) and discuss options. Is it genre burnout? Do they still like the game. Honesty is best here, especially if meeting up and playing *something* is what people want more than playing that game.

    If you find that the game is genuinely 'dying' ask for one last adventure to bring it to a close; go out with a bang, and should anyone survive ask them what they imagine happens next. The game might end up as a memory, but it will hopefully be a positive one.