Why running D&D at work might be worth a try
I have been folding my work friends into Dungeons and Dragons campaigns that I have ran or been a part of for the last few years. It is something that I have found to be a great way to get to know some of my co-workers socially, and I think it helps show a different side of a person. Players and DM’s alike are given ample chance to be creative and collaborative in Dungeons and Dragons, as well as other tabletop RPGs. As a quick aside, I am not going to get into the corny “team building exercise” exposition, mainly as I think I am probably preaching to the choir. But, this team work and creative thinking are what, I think, makes D&D and other RPGs so fun and the “team building exercise” was one of the catalysts for me starting to think about this subject years ago.
With what success I have had in the past with mixing friends from work and D&D, I had always thought that it would be extremely cool to do a work D&D game for people from the company I work for. I got close once, I was assisting in coordinating an after work game at my previous company, but I left before I could see it through. I learned a few lessons while being a part of this coordination.
One of the biggest things I learned was that even though people were on the same work schedule, it was extremely difficult to find a day that works for the bulk of people interested in playing. From this experience, I thought, “it would be pretty cool to play at lunch.” I gave it a quick thought and ultimately gave up on the idea as I didn’t think that one-hour lunch sessions of D&D were doable. Heck, I had thought that the two-hour modules from Adventurers League were just wishful thinking. But I am here to say that I was wrong, I was very wrong, and I am the better for it.
First thing first, I would never ever have attempted a work lunch D&D game if it wasn’t for my good friend, Dan. Dan started the lunch time D&D at work as a way to practice DM’ing to prepare for running some sessions at home. I leaped at the idea after Dan was done DM’ing. He proved to me that one hour is more than enough time, you just have to learn how to use that time. Thank you, Dan. It is also important to mention that this one-hour format is able to be used in not just a workplace lunch setting, but where ever you want to use it.
Lunch Sessions from the Player Perspective
When Dan approached me with this lunch game idea, I immediately was skeptical that we could get anything done in an hour. When we are recording Roll with Advantage, we usually have about 10-20 minutes of just “Hey how are you’s” and for an hour long session, that is just too much out of character talk. I was excited though, as I don’t usually get to sit in the player’s seat. “It would be a nice change of pace,” I thought and I was interested in using these as a “proof of concept.”
From the player's perspective, what you can expect is fast play. After a few one hour sessions, you will get proficient at your character and the rules because, if you don't, it runs down the clock. What I like about these one-hour sessions is that I don't have time to think about how I am going to play my character, and instead, I am forced to play my character. What this means is I have learned how to slip into character fast, because there is no “warm up time.” This may not sound ideal, but after you have played like this three or four times, it becomes easy.
Hour Sessions as a DM
The long and short of it, hour long sessions are hard. As a Dungeon Master, one of the hardest things you can do is to try and make a story fit into a one hour block and on top of that make sure that each player has the time to feel like they accomplished something. Because it is difficult, I have learned how to think creatively on the fly and have learned to pace all out of necessity. These tools are fantastic for transferring to a longer session format. I have learned methods that work for me for preparing sessions, again out of necessity. If I, as a DM, am not prepared then it is a wash because there just isn’t enough time to read from your notes or a book. After DM’ing about three one-hour sessions each week for a few weeks, I noticed that when we would record Roll with Advantage, a four-ish hour production each week, we started getting though more and more story each time. It is absolutely fantastic, in my opinion.
Super Fast Tips to Make Lunch Sessions Successful
- Try and play two to three times a week with the same group and characters, this keeps the story fresh in everyone’s heads
- As a DM or a player, come prepared to play and know that as soon as you sit down, you are now your character.
- Curb as much out of character conversation as possible
- As a DM, have a clock that you can look at quickly and discreetly, like a TED presenter, knowing your time will help keep you on pace.
- If you need a map, use Roll20, it is way faster as long as you put in the time as a DM away from the table.
- KEEP IT CLEAN. It is your responsibility to make sure everyone is included in the game, and try to stay away from topics that can lead to an HR problem
- Don’t let rules hold you back. In this format, rules can get in the way a lot. Use them, but if you are not 100% sure use your DM’s discretion and then look it up later. If you played it wrong, then note it so you don't make the mistake next time.
- Last but not least, as a DM don't try and fit a beginning, middle, and an end into one hour unless it is a super short story. Instead grab, some Adventurers League modules from the DM’s Guild, and just do pick up games. Small format is best for these sort of games. Note: Two and Four-hour modules work just fine, this is what I use, and it will teach you a little creativity as you have to find the good start and stop points for each session to leave your players wanting more.
That is where I am going to leave it for this week. As always, thank you so much for stopping in and reading. Feel free to comment, I love to read constructive feedback and love discussing topics like these. Let me know, have you tried this before? If so how did it go, what do you like and what do you wish you could change. Check back in next week to see what else I have on my mind or decide to analyze. Remember to follow The DM’s Table on Facebook or on Twitter @dmstable for updates and to let me know what is on your mind, or what you might want to read about. Also, go check outRoll with Advantage! It is a Dungeons and Dragons podcast that releases every Monday by 5 pm Eastern Time. We play, laugh, and have a good time playing a game we all love. Thank you for reading and if you enjoy these articles feel free to donate, using the button below, to the website to help keep it up and running!
― The DM