Back when I started roleplaying, gaming was a lot more difficult. Gathering players involved simply asking around, or broaching the subject after the topics of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (prior to the films’ release, mind you) had been discussed at length. Hell, when I learned about roleplaying, I was the only kid in the theater who knew anything about it, and I had to enlist other actors to play with me.
Your other bet was to hope your FLGS had a bulletin board with an “Adventurers wanted” section. Failing that, you were kind of stuck. No players? No game.
Now, with organized play, everything is so much easier. At my shop, on Mondays and Thursdays we run Pathfinder, while on Wednesdays, we run D&D. The Pathfinder sessions are intensely structured, adhering to the minute and detailed rules of Pathfinder Society, and every Monday and Thursday, I hear the players having a blast. I work at the shop both evenings, and the tables are always filled with players. I’m always seeing new players coming in to play.
With D&D we do things a bit differently. We’re running Rise of Tiamat right now, having completed Lost Mines of Phandelver and Hoard of the Dragon Queen. At one point, we had three different tables, then two… then one. Our DMs slowly filtered out, and our players didn’t. For most of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I was running 12 players through the game. On occasion, another player would take up the torch of DM to co-DM through large dungeons, but I was mostly alone. For the last few sessions, one of the players, Zach, stepped up and took the reins and did a stellar job.
We were excited to see that in Rise of Tiamat, the party is frequently given multiple missions to go on. We are using this opportunity to split the large party into two, to go off on separate missions, then reconvene at the Council of Waterdeep to discuss what’s going on.
But if you build it, they will come, and our two groups are growing even more! So, a 3rd person has offered to DM a third table, inviting players, at the next council, to venture off on some Elemental Evil goodness. It’ll all be in the same shared universe, and will be pretty cool.
So, I suppose I haven’t really addressed the title of this post. Why does Organized Play matter?
Organized play, for all of its sometimes confusing minutia, brings people together. You can walk into any shop, find out when their organized play is, and start playing. I frequently have people come into the shop and ask, “can I play D&D? I’ve never played before,” and organized play allows them to do that.
It also kickstarts other campaigns. Four of my players have a second weekly game where they get together to run their own campaign. They met at organized play. Some of their characters from this organized play game are overlapping into that home game.
Organized Play matters because some people can’t get their own campaigns off the ground. It gives them the opportunity to drop in and drop out as needed. The flexibility of it is essential.
If you haven’t tried out organized play, I encourage you to give it a try. You won’t regret it.