It’s one of the unfortunate facts of life that where there are young children, there also will be illness, especially once those children start heading off to places where other young children are. Church nurseries, preschools, and elementary schools are, despite the best efforts of the adults working at them, going to be excellent places for children to share new and exciting varieties of the flu, the common cold, ear and sinus infections and a whole host of other ways that children get sick. And then, because children are often on the cutting edge of the whole getting sick scene, they often bring their illnesses home to share with their families, who, having antibodies that are really altogether passé, do the fashionable thing and get sick too. I mean you have to keep up with the times, right? The coughing, sneezing, nauseous, fever-running, rash-covered, achy-jointed times. Only the most modern germs will do for the young family that was on the go until the illness du jour laid them all out.
Yeeeeaaaah. Good times. Oh wait, the exact opposite of that.
In case it wasn’t obvious, Grant, his wife, and their kids have been sick for the last couple of weeks, which quite understandably has meant we haven’t been gaming. We did, however, do something last Saturday night. This is going to be another one of those practical posts about gaming as an adult which those of you who are in high school or college probably won’t get a whole lot of mileage out of – yet – but it will be good to store away for future usage.
The first week of the illness, we just straight-up canceled. Everyone was completely wiped out, and the Woodwards just needed to rest. Last Saturday, though, despite the persisting illness, Grant reached out to the rest of us and we had a short call at the same time our game normally would have been, it was just over much faster. We did this partly just to say hello and to allow the other player and me to hear that the Woodwards were still alive, but we also wanted to maintain our momentum as much as we could without actually doing a full session, and we also wanted to set ourselves up for success as much as possible next week. It worth mentioning beforehand that this sort of thing is often seen as the death knell of a game and it really needn’t be. Illness is going to happen, particularly if anyone in the families of your gaming group is under 16 or over 60, and just like work or school, you’ll occasionally need to take a sick day, but also like work or school, it should be somewhat expected and there should be plans in place, though you’ll obviously never be thrilled to implement them.
Here’s how the specifics of that broke down:
First of all, we did give ourselves a few minutes to just let the sick people get some sympathy and catch up a little as friends. There is definitely at least a minor thread of thinking in the gaming community that all gaming time must be about the game. I don’t subscribe to that thinking and furthermore, I don’t even try to. You obviously want to get to the game in relatively short order, but if you’re fortunate enough to be gaming with friends, go ahead and catch up a bit before gaming or in a meeting like this one. It’ll help you focus better later, and you’ll deepen your friendships too.
Once we finished with that (which only took about 10 minutes because, hey, sick people) we came to a consensus as to what we wanted to do next week when the session starts back up. Grant left us with one minor and two major adventure hooks hanging out there:
We’d just arrived on an island populated by cautious, but not hostile, lizard people. They have a couple of wounded (the minor hook) that aren’t healing properly because…
The island has ancient, mysterious ruins on it that apparently have things that make sure you STAY hurt when they hurt you but there’s also…
A couple of Kenku (a group we’re already sympathetic to) that have been captured by nasty frog people slavers the next island over.
We put our heads together as a group and determined that my cleric, Lambert (who is the informal leader of the group as far as the group is concerned and the formal, established leader of the group as far as the colonial leadership is concerned) would want to heal the wounded and then save the enslaved Kenku before checking out the ruins. The other PCs might want to do things in a different order if it was up to them, but they tend to follow Lambert’s lead when it comes to these sorts of things. When then determined that we had our plan and would stick to it next week, thereby cutting down substantially on the list of things Grant has to prepare for.
By having that conversation in advance, we also skipped the entire first part of the session that often happens in games where the players, about half in-character and half out-of-character, sit around and deliberate for roughly eighteen times longer than the decision merits about which way to go while the GM, vibrating with frustrated anticipation, looks at their notes full of awesome stuff for the party to encounter once they JUST PICK SOMETHING ALREADY.
So while we didn’t get a full gaming session in, taking a few minutes to meet anyway and plan where it’ll go will allow us to hit the ground at a full sprint next week, and that should serve us well in making up lost time.