Monday, May 17, 2010

Building an old-school group

So now that I'm settling into my new position, getting into a routine, I have some breathing room to get back into my writing and, hopefully, gaming. Lamentably, I'm fairly certain my old Wilderlands group will never meet again on any regular basis due to schedule conflicts and time constraints on all the players' parts, so that means its time to found a new group.

Now, the last two long-term groups I was in happened via serendipity it would seem. In one case, I walked into a game store on while a group happened to be playing, sat down and joined them on a lark, and continued to do so for five years or so. The other group came about from a group of boardgamers who felt like trying something different one night (microlite20), and kept doing so, almost unintentionally, on a regular basis, switching over to Swords & Wizardry at some point.

So its been a while since I had to actively promote and/or seek out a group of gamers!

I figured I'd share the process with you, the old school blogosphere.

Step One - Seek out an existing group and join!

This should be the easiest way to get back to gaming, so I spent some time last week trying to locate an existing old-school group to join. I visited 3 local game stores, looking for the traditional pi-board ads, hopeful of having a plethora of old-school groups to choose from.

What was I thinking?

None of the stores even had a pin-board. Does no one do this anymore? Maybe everything is on-line now?

I did some on-line detective work and was able to locate a thriving local community of gamers, 500 plus!. All playing 4E, Pathfinder, 3E, or other games. No old-school D&D at all.


By yesterday, I was pretty sure I would just have to start my own group, meaning I have to a) pick a system to run, and b) find players.

More to come.


  1. Good luck on that one! I think it's only when we have to start a new group from scratch that we realise just how lucky we were with the old one.

    I'll be following your progress, hoping to pick up some tips. From what I can see on other blogs, it tends to follow the pattern that friends come first who then become gamers.

  2. Al you should join Rob and I with our group on Monday nights. Swords and Wizardry traveling through Rob's Wilderland.

  3. If you think it's hard to find an old school group in USA, don't even try to do that here in Brazil.

    At least I have an "irregular" gaming group with a campaign going on. God knows how difficult would be to try to form a new one from scratch nowadays.

  4. Used bookstores work well in this area and most will allow one to put up a flier or post a note on the board.

    Good luck with it, Al!

  5. My solution to the problem landed me an email list of names and towns of over 20 players of older D&D games. :)

  6. Email at r o b e r t s c o n l e y at g m a i l dot c o m. If you have Mondays free.

  7. I have spent the past five months building a gamer network from scratch, after moving from Victoria (Canada) to Basel (Switzerland).

    I knew that it would take time, and patience was key.

    Like you, I checked the local game stores, and then went to detective work online. had nothing for my area, but I found someone on a local boardgame forum, and also joined a Warhammer club. At my new job, I dropped a few conversational tips about RPGs, and people start to talk ;)

    Now I have a glut of players, and have to offer spaces for Sunday games on a first-come, first-served basis!

    Be bold. Join new clubs and groups that maybe aren't role-players - try board gamers!

  8. Red Box Niagara looks to be close to you -
    - Tavis

  9. Our now large old school group started when one player posted on dragonsfoot. We started with 4. I then got on meetup, pen and paper games and several other places, even paging through some personals sites. I would have tried Facebook if I was on it.

    I sent a bunch of carefully selected (ie, based on quick judgment of their profile) people an invitation with an introduction of what we were planning, including a vague schedule of our first public meeting. Most didn't reply, and a few of those that did replied in the negative.

    But 5 people said they would meet us at the bar we'd chosen. After assuring ourselves that we weren't psychos, one player volunteered to host and another volunteered to DM (thanks, Scott.) Of those 9, 8 still game with us (one irregularly). The rest of the horde grew through agglutination of friends and relations, including a few noobies.

    Just to inspire you with a tale of success and to be prepared to invite a lot more people than will ever be at your table. Also: be selective.

  10. Just want to say I feel your pain a bit. My buddy and I want to start an Old School game on-line (we live in different states), but have decided we want someone else to run it. How do you pin THAT on the local shop bulletin board?

    Good luck!

  11. "After assuring ourselves that we weren't psychos"

    There's a test for that?

  12. When I had my game store I learned that pin-boards are a hassle to organise. Gamers would pin any kind of message to them, and they never come back to take them off once they have found what they looked for.

    Then I found S.John Ross's Blue Room Gamer Registry Form: (it's the second donwload link)

    Since the shop was located in Germany I made a translation, stuck it in a binder, advertised it in the store newsletter (a 20~24 page fanzine-like magazine), and in almost no time we had a registry of 30~40 players eager to network.
    Whenever someone new in town would ask for existing groups we handed them the binder.



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