Dungeons & Dragons is ideally the kind of activity where all participants are present for every session. Unfortunately the game does not always attract the kind of people that can reliably be counted upon to show up for every game. A lot of us nerds have regular lives and activities that we have to fake our way through in order to afford rent, make family happy, and avoid legal hassles. It just isn’t feasible to expect 100% participation.
There are of course notable exceptions. Some sessions are more notable in their scope than others. Examples include the occasional large-scale battle, massive parties given by influential non-player characters, and any other sort of “you really need to be there to have any idea what is going on” event. These are not likely to be terribly prevalent in any campaign unless your Game Master is a highly motivated nutjob who insists that every session be nothing short of Tolkein-inspired epic quality. But they do happen and Game Masters need to be aware of them in order to facilitate scheduling.
So this might mean that a particular game session has to be postponed so that there are better odds of having as many people present as possible. Game Masters should be open to this idea. First of all, it gives them more time to prepare for this event. Second, it gives the players a chance to determine what their options might be. And third it gives everyone a chance to take deep breath before all hell breaks lose. Whatever the benefits might be for a postponement in order to get “all hands on deck” some players and even Game Masters might be reluctant to put a session off for a day or a week. But if that session is truly an all-star cast sort of thing then by all means take the time to do it right.
This is what happened to our gaming group last week. Not everyone could be on hand for the impending battle between the Fallen Knights of Lotharingia and the Maelonbourgers alongside their allies Slothjemia and Lusatia. This is something of a pivotal moment in the scheme of things. The fate of a brand new nation hangs by a thread and the players have only begun to contemplate the size and ferocity of their opponent. Plus there are likely to be a great many unpleasant surprises for the group who lost a powerful NPC ally in the previous session. All of the players need to be on hand for this of for no other reason than it cuts down on the amount of explaining we need to do in the aftermath of it. One or two players might be late or fail to show up at all, however, the rest of them will definitely need to be present. And they also need to bring their luckiest dice.