Disappearing Characters

The playtest campaign for A Team of Pulp Losers (needs better name) is complete, and I’m very happy with how the game held up. I ran my home group through a globe (and dimension) trotting adventure finding the lost pieces of Pandora’s Box, that took them to 1937 Manchuria, the Congo, Romania, Northern Ontario, Mexico, the Lost World, Atlantis, and finally an archaeological dig in Tanis, Egypt. It was a success both in that the rules held up remarkably well and the players had a lot of fun.

One situation that I encountered on a regular basis was missing players. Usually it was one, but there were occasions when two or more people were missing. This was a serial campaign, so this created some narrative issues, especially when a character that had been important during the previous session was suddenly missing, or when a character that had skills needed to overcome a particular obstacle was missing.

I don’t really have any advice on dealing with that situation, because my preferred solution was just to ignore it. The character wasn’t there, so the character didn’t act. We didn’t remark on it in the narrative, although there were plenty of out of character jokes about disappearing and re-appearing characters.

If a scene had been built for a specific character, I adjusted it as best I could so that the characters in attendance could get the spotlight instead. It’s easy enough to change Challenges on the fly, so not having the “right” character to address a Challenge was never a problem. Recaps of the previous game always happened, so players who had been absent got a bit of a download during that. In the end, it never really caused a problem.

I tend to be a very improvisational GM, so having a character missing was a minor curveball if a problem at all. Those who undertake more robust preparations might have more or bigger problems than I did, but no GM should be so rigid that such changes create serious problems.

As long as no one splits up the party. 😉

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