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RPGaDay 2021 – Substitute


We’ve all experienced it. You spend all week preparing for a gaming session, picking the NPCs and challenges. You’re working on your Evil Warlord’s accent when your phone buzzes – one of your players can’t make it. What do you do?

The answer’s in the title – you substitute the absent gamer with a temporary replacement. And this is exactly what you do when you’re running games for children. The question is who do you ask to fill in?

It’s not always easy to get another kid in to fill the spot. You might have more success with one of the players bringing a sibling or parent along. Don’t worry if they have prior experience, either. You can walk them through the basics and let the experienced players take the lead.

But who do these substitutes play? Avoid the temptation to have them play the absent player’s character. It might seem logical, but might upset the original player and confuse the others.

A better approach is to have them play a helper NPC, elevated to prominence for a session or so. This will keep disruption to a minimum, and make it easier to bring the new player back in the future.

An even more fun approach could be to have them create their own full character. Sure, they’re only there for a session or two, but it’s a great way to tempt someone into joining the ongoing campaign.

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