Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

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xmiyux
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Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:49 pm

I sponsor a school club and have ran one DCC module for a handful of kids. They loved it. I advertised more and ended up with six kids. So I started Prince Charming and have the other released modules in that story lined up.

Then this week I had four of the previous six not show... But got like 10 newcomers.

So I need advice. Is there a decent way to run some sort of campaign where each weekly meeting would be somewhat discrete in that the cast of characters could change week to week?

Currently I am thinking something Keep on the Borderlands-esque. Central city. Wild lands around. Maybe have mini caves they can raid or things in the city to do. But I am at a bit of a loss to explain away people changing. I heavily considered making it all a sci-fi sort of Matrix simulation to explain the drop in/drop out nature.

Any other ideas? Module recommendations?

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Fenris Ulfhamr » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:50 pm

If you're able to start and stop each session at a "save point", like in town or another safe place, you could always simply have the characters be a mercenary band coming and going as they please. I I always try to do this...

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by ProdigalWilliam » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:02 pm

The GM at my FLGS deals with this by having "mists" sweep in to carry off and bring in adventurers. The vehicle is light on context: everyone has heard about the mist, few witness it, no one knows exactly what causes it. The explanation is fluffy, but the point is to dive into the modules and get the role playing started as soon as possible, right? "The mist drops three new people into your midst, go!"
MoD Demi-humans
Elrod, Elven Sage - 2hp, 11AC, HP: 2, str16(+2) agl13(+1) sta8(-1) per15(+1) int10(0) luc10(0); init: 1; ref(1), fort(-1), wil(1)
Pitchfork +2 (1d8+2); Chest: (rope (50'), Parchment, quill pen, 15 cp)

Celebron, Elven Barrister - 2hp, 10AC, str11(0) agl9(0) sta11(0) per12(0) int15(+1) luc5(-2); init: 0; ref(0), fort(0), wil(0); Lucky Sign: Hawkeye (Missile fire damage rolls) (1)
Dagger (1d4), Quill (1d4+1); Lg Sack: (Book, Candle, Torches (3), 20 cp)

Halfling, Halfling Vagrant - 4hp, 10AC, str11(0) agl9(0) sta12(0) per9(0) int14(+1) luc10(0); init: 0; ref(0), fort(2), wil(0); Lucky Sign: Lived through famine (Fortitude saving throws) (+2)
Club (1d4); Lg Sack: (Begging Bowl, Oil Flask, Flint+Steel, Iron Spikes 3)

Legolad, Elven Falconer - 1hp, 10AC, str8(-1) agl9(0) sta15(+1) per7(-1) int13(+1) luc14(+1); init: 0; ref(0), fort(1), wil(1); Lucky Sign: Survived the plague (Magical healing) (1)
Dagger -1 (1d4-1); Lg Sack: (Torches 2, Chalk 2); Falcon, Aerandir

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xmiyux
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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:40 pm

That is kind of what I was thinking. Some sort of trivial explanation to connect everything together. I might steal the mist from Carnival of the Damned as the mechanism and just add it to Prince Charming.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by ProdigalWilliam » Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:00 pm

Prince Charming, Reanimator is the base world for our campaign too. The amount of weird whimsy and cameos by fairy tale characters as monsters and villains adds credence to the mist.
MoD Demi-humans
Elrod, Elven Sage - 2hp, 11AC, HP: 2, str16(+2) agl13(+1) sta8(-1) per15(+1) int10(0) luc10(0); init: 1; ref(1), fort(-1), wil(1)
Pitchfork +2 (1d8+2); Chest: (rope (50'), Parchment, quill pen, 15 cp)

Celebron, Elven Barrister - 2hp, 10AC, str11(0) agl9(0) sta11(0) per12(0) int15(+1) luc5(-2); init: 0; ref(0), fort(0), wil(0); Lucky Sign: Hawkeye (Missile fire damage rolls) (1)
Dagger (1d4), Quill (1d4+1); Lg Sack: (Book, Candle, Torches (3), 20 cp)

Halfling, Halfling Vagrant - 4hp, 10AC, str11(0) agl9(0) sta12(0) per9(0) int14(+1) luc10(0); init: 0; ref(0), fort(2), wil(0); Lucky Sign: Lived through famine (Fortitude saving throws) (+2)
Club (1d4); Lg Sack: (Begging Bowl, Oil Flask, Flint+Steel, Iron Spikes 3)

Legolad, Elven Falconer - 1hp, 10AC, str8(-1) agl9(0) sta15(+1) per7(-1) int13(+1) luc14(+1); init: 0; ref(0), fort(1), wil(1); Lucky Sign: Survived the plague (Magical healing) (1)
Dagger -1 (1d4-1); Lg Sack: (Torches 2, Chalk 2); Falcon, Aerandir

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:57 am

If you have A Red and Pleasant Land, there is a usable table in there to explain mysterious comings and goings of characters. It would fit the Prince Charming background admirably.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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xmiyux
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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:09 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:If you have A Red and Pleasant Land, there is a usable table in there to explain mysterious comings and goings of characters. It would fit the Prince Charming background admirably.

I do not have that one. Who published it? I am not averse to buying things to integrate (especially things that give me a physical and a pdf copy). That and the school sometimes buy modules for my group.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:42 am

xmiyux wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:If you have A Red and Pleasant Land, there is a usable table in there to explain mysterious comings and goings of characters. It would fit the Prince Charming background admirably.

I do not have that one. Who published it? I am not averse to buying things to integrate (especially things that give me a physical and a pdf copy). That and the school sometimes buy modules for my group.
It's a Lamentations of the Flame Princess product, by Zak S. Dark, but eminently convert-able. Not cheap, though.

http://www.rpgnow.com/product/141032/A- ... +and+pleas

And some reviews:

https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/16/16377.phtml
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/02/24/ ... sant-land/

This makes a good pocket dimension to intersect with your regular campaign, in the same way that Wonderland intersects with the real world in the Lewis Carroll stories. There is obviously work to do in converting LotFP to DCC, but I have never found that work to be particularly onerous, and LotFP materials tend to pay off in spades.

Someone did a DCC version of the Alice from A Red and Pleasant Land, but my Google-Fu is failing me. Most of the creatures should be easy enough to DCC-ify...especially since, tone-wise, they are already there.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by tovokas » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:13 am

I designed the Sunken City, with its central mustering point in the Great City and Sending Stones that transported parties into the mists of the swamp, precisely to address the issues you described. As others have mentioned, if you have a central place where novice adventures gather, and some convenient way to get them immediately into the thick of the action (be it mists, or stones, or disreputable conjurers!) you should be able to account for the random comings and goings of young players. :)

And congratulations and thanks for taking the game to the kids. The whole hobby benefits from folks who take the time to help the next generation understand why we love this hobby so much!
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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Raven_Crowking » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:45 am

tovokas wrote:I designed the Sunken City, with its central mustering point in the Great City and Sending Stones that transported parties into the mists of the swamp, precisely to address the issues you described.
D'oh!

I can't believe I didn't think of the Sunken City!

For Toronto Crawl Classics, I will be using a time limit. Unless other arrangements are made, you need to make it to a safe spot by the time the session ends, or you can roll on a lovely table to see what happened to your character.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by beermotor » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:27 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:
tovokas wrote:I designed the Sunken City, with its central mustering point in the Great City and Sending Stones that transported parties into the mists of the swamp, precisely to address the issues you described.
D'oh!

I can't believe I didn't think of the Sunken City!

For Toronto Crawl Classics, I will be using a time limit. Unless other arrangements are made, you need to make it to a safe spot by the time the session ends, or you can roll on a lovely table to see what happened to your character.
haha... I can see it now:

roll d8
1 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
2 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
3 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
4 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
5 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
6 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
7 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.
8 - It was dark. You were eaten by a Grue.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:49 am

I was waiting till after the Kickstarter was announced at GaryCon to order that Sunken City book. I didn't want to spend funds that I might need to kickstart Mutant Crawl Classics! Since it wasn't announced though I will probably order the hardback of the Sunken City modules this week and start giving the pdfs a read.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Buttmonkey » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:59 am

I would suggest one of the following approaches:

1. Design your adventures so they can be completed in one session. Variable attendance immediately becomes a more or less non-issue.

2. Swap out players without any explanation whatsoever. You can tack on some sort of "mists" or other magical "explanation", but personally I don't see a need for it. It's obvious to the players you are making up a meaningless in-game explanation for the missing players. Why not just say some PCs are not there and some are, then start playing? I do understand there is a verisimilitude factor that pushes some folks to need an in-game explanation, however thin or arbitrary. My personal OCD shows up in different areas.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by GnomeBoy » Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:49 pm

Buttmonkey wrote:2. Swap out players without any explanation whatsoever.
I tend to agree that this is fine. It's not hard-core verisimilitude, but it works.

We used to 'ghost' characters all the time. They were still considered to be 'there', just not contributing. Like how sometimes characters in movies or TV shows fall to the background for awhile, while some others are front of the stage. Those characters haven't vanished, it's just that the camera isn't pointing at them.

The one niggle was dealing with "you are all affected by..." -- eventually we agreed that you shouldn't be harmed by a session you weren't at, but likewise you didn't get the benefits. I don't off-hand remember any 'story' problems this ever caused, certainly that couldn't simply be hand-waved.
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Kuruz, Mendicant, N • AC 8, 4 hp • R-1, F0, W0 • S9 A8 S9 P11 I16 L8
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Mercer, Outlaw, N • AC 12, 2 hp • R0, F-1, W1 • S7 A9 S6 P13 I8 L13
Dejah, Ropemaker, C • AC 10, 2 hp • R0, F1, W-1 • S8 A12 S15 P7 I11 L7

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by robocoastie » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:52 am

Maybe make the characters not owned by any specific player? Like a soap opera in the golden days: "the part of Francis the Cobbler is now being played by George of St. Rock Middle School."

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by GnomeBoy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:09 pm

robocoastie wrote:Maybe make the characters not owned by any specific player? Like a soap opera in the golden days: "the part of Francis the Cobbler is now being played by George of St. Rock Middle School."
...and so go the Days of Our Lives.

~cue music~
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Kuruz, Mendicant, N • AC 8, 4 hp • R-1, F0, W0 • S9 A8 S9 P11 I16 L8
Zend, Grave Digger, L • AC 9, 3 hp • R-1, F0, W1 • S14 A6 S9 P13 I13 L6
Mercer, Outlaw, N • AC 12, 2 hp • R0, F-1, W1 • S7 A9 S6 P13 I8 L13
Dejah, Ropemaker, C • AC 10, 2 hp • R0, F1, W-1 • S8 A12 S15 P7 I11 L7

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:13 pm

I ended up following some advice and simply saying:

You know and I know that any weird reason I give for not all the characters being here is really because some kids didn't show. So let's all agree to ignore it.

Lol

And I was going to run Sunken City from the premium book I ordered. But so,entire last week the book has mysteriously vanished from my classroom. I fear it might be the first time I have had some student steal from me. No clue though.

Thankfully I still have the PDF so will eventually run it. Just bums me out because I am old and like books.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by GnomeBoy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:30 pm

xmiyux wrote:I am old and like books.
You, me, and Kirk, too.
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Kuruz, Mendicant, N • AC 8, 4 hp • R-1, F0, W0 • S9 A8 S9 P11 I16 L8
Zend, Grave Digger, L • AC 9, 3 hp • R-1, F0, W1 • S14 A6 S9 P13 I13 L6
Mercer, Outlaw, N • AC 12, 2 hp • R0, F-1, W1 • S7 A9 S6 P13 I8 L13
Dejah, Ropemaker, C • AC 10, 2 hp • R0, F1, W-1 • S8 A12 S15 P7 I11 L7

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by tovokas » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:04 am

Re: Your book being stolen.

Well that sucks. (My wife is a teacher and understands student theft all too well...) If you send your RPGNow email address to info at purplesorcerer dot com, I'll send you a code to purchase the book at cost... if you're ever in mind to replace your copy. (Still not cheap, but the least I can do.)
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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by xmiyux » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:09 am

tovokas wrote:Re: Your book being stolen.

Well that sucks. If you send me your RPGNow email address to info at purplesorcerer dot com, I'll send you a code to purchase the book at cost... if you're ever in mind to replace your copy. (Still not cheap, but the least I can do.)
I appreciate the offer and may take you up on it at some point. I am still holding out hope it will make its way back to me. I kind of hope it was mistakenly picked up since I am pretty open with my possessions in my classroom and will happily loan or give things away.

But seriously, thanks for the offer. In my mind, if it was stolen, it was some kid desperate to have something fun to play with his friends at home. 35$ is the least I could contribute to some kid enjoying the game.

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Re: Advice needed: school club with variable attendance

Post by Blood Axe » Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:44 am

You can have the game be an alternate dimension that the real players are stuck in/logged into. They can disappear as the players wake up, or log off the game. The game itself is a high tech virtual reality world, that explains the sudden appearance or disappearance. You can keep this a secret or let it be known.

Several books on this type of thing;

Guardians of the Flame - Rosenberg

Caverns of Socrates - McKiernan

Quag Keep - Andre Norton
To defend: This is the Pact.
But when life loses its value,
and is taken for naught -
then the Pact is to Avenge.

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