How to Find a D&D Group
Are you having trouble finding a D&D, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, or another tabletop game to play in? Do you just need to find a new player really quick or perhaps you’re going through D&D withdrawal now that your game master moved five states away? If you’re not sure where to start looking, here are some options to help you out!
Watch or listen to this article instead by clicking the video below.
Before diving into some suggested options, here are a couple of things to keep in mind so that you start looking with the right expectations.
Game Master or Player?
If you are a GAME MASTER willing to run the game and you’re just looking for PLAYERS, then you’ll find those players pretty fast, in my experience. However, if you’re a player looking to play in a game, you might have a much longer search ahead of you. And why’s this? Well, it’s simple math. There are way more players looking for games than game masters running games. And, yes, in a typical RPG game, you usually do have 5 or so players and just 1 game master. HOWEVER, I have a feeling that the ratio of players to game masters is much, much greater than 5 to 1 (after all, how many game masters run multiple games?).
So, what’s my point? If you really want to play an RPG such as D&D, you’re going to have an easier time if you’re the game master because you’re going to find players fairly fast and be able to play the game. All you have to do is be willing to be the game master. And also, I must say that just because you’ve NEVER played the RPG before doesn’t mean you can’t be the game master. Sure, you’ll fumble through some stuff. Yes, it will be a learning experience. However, with perseverance, you’ll learn that RPG system and get better at GMing. It’s just a matter of TIME and NOT GIVING UP.
My big piece of advice if you do this is to be UP FRONT with your players: let them know it’s your first time. If you do this, most people will be understanding and gracious. Honesty is definitely the best course here. Of course, one of the best ways to make sure you can start off on the best possible foot as a game master is to use professional resources that are designed FOR game masters BY game masters. Since we released Lairs & Legends, thousands of game masters, both new and experienced, have used it to run amazing games for their players. Get your copy here: Lairs & Legends.
Paid or Unpaid?
In your search for a group to play with you’re going to run across both paid and unpaid games. If you’re on a tight budget, you probably have no choice, but if you have a bit of cash, you have a decision to make. Now, the theory goes that a PAID RPG game should offer a better game experience because, well, the players are paying for it, and thus, the game master SHOULD be fairly good and run a fun game. And the converse, naturally, is that a FREE game is perhaps not as good. At least, this is what one would ASSUME; however, it’s definitely not always true. You can easily have a game master running a paid game just because they want to make some money running an RPG – their skill level or ability to run a good game may have NOTHING to do with the fact that they are changing to play in the game. You could easily pay to play in a game that sucks. So be very aware of that.
Also, compounding this problem is that there is often zero vetting processes being done to ensure that a game master is good before they begin charging for a game. The best that you’re likely to get is a review system where players can rank GMs and leave reviews on their games. Then, at least, you can see what their track record is before deciding to play a game. That is, of course, assuming that the system isn’t being scammed and GMs aren’t creating fake accounts to “play in” their paid games and then leave false reviews. Because if they do this, it will look like they have a good track record, providing the “social proof” that players considering paying for a game might need before they decide to fork over their hard-earned cash.
Finally, I must say that JUST BECAUSE a game is FREE doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. There are thousands of amazing GMs running free games out there. Do not think for a second that because it’s free means that it isn’t that good. That’s just not true. Which kind of segways us into another point: there is a very large segment of GMs and players out there that vehemently believe that games should always be free and that it is an abomination for a GM to charge to play in their game. You see, this “pay to play” thing is kind of new, and many older experienced RPG gamers LIKE ME grew up where it was just normal to run games for free – and we continue to do so. So, these folks will NOT charge to play in their games, and because of their experience, there is a higher probability that their games are good.
To find a quality paid game fast, check out StartPlaying.
Many D&D or RPG Discord servers have LFG channels where people can post that they are looking for players or looking for a group. LFG stands for “looking for group” and it’s sort of the ubiquitous term that we use, though you’ll also often find “looking for players” used pretty frequently.
For instance, on the DM Lair Discord server, we have a “looking for group” channel where people find games all the time. Now, because my content is mostly for game masters, you’ll probably find that the majority of people on my Discord are game masters…which means that if you are a PLAYER who needs to find a group, there’s a better chance there is a game master on my server who is looking for players. Whereas, if you join a Discord that mostly just has players but few game masters, your chances of finding a GM running a game are fewer.
Also, I would venture a guess that you’re probably going to find a more mature group of folk over on my Discord than you might on others because of the way the community has been cultivated. And that often means that you’re going to find higher-caliber games being run. And, yes, I am most certainly making a strong plug for joining my Discord if you’re looking for a group, because I think your chances of finding a GOOD group of MATURE players are pretty strong there. Also, my moderators and I also work really hard to keep the environment family friendly, so you are NOT going to find swarms of people swearing at and insulting each other on my Discord. People who do that get banned pretty quickly. We try to keep the DM Lair Discord as friendly and welcoming as possible. There is, of course, a link here if you want to join our Discord: The DM Lair Discord.
Many local game shops have a physical posting board where you can pin up a piece of paper to indicate that you are looking for a game or if you are a game master looking for players. Put relevant information on it (if you are a GM or Player, game systems you’re interested in, the game system you’re running, and contact information – email is safest in this day and age). Now, of course, this works best for in-person games because the only people who will see your poster are people who live in the area.
I have had excellent luck finding players with posters at game shops. And something that I do – that is probably frowned on, but I do it anyway because it works – is that even after my game is full, I leave the poster up. Because then, every so often, I get someone emailing me. Then I tell them it’s full BUT give them information about the game and ask if they’d like me to put them on a “waitlist” in case one of our players moves on and a spot opens. Most of the time, they say “yes.” And THEN, what I also do is I use that waitlist of players as “on-call” players. Basically, when a regular player can’t make a game session for some reason, I contact folks on the waitlist to see if anyone wants to fill in for that game session. This serves double duty of getting someone to fill in, AND it helps us vet the players in case a spot does open in the future. You see because many of the wait list players have played a session or two with us before, we have a better idea of who might be a good fit for our group in the future if a permanent spot opens up.
This is the forum I recommend the most as I personally have had EXCELLENT results finding players here. Now, despite much of Reddit appearing to be a cesspool of humanity, in my personal opinion and experience, almost all of the players I found through Reddit’s LFG were normal, decent human beings. I chalk this up in part to herd mentality, also known as “when in Rome do as the Romans do,” and the lack of accountability of anonymous online posting. I mean, Reddit seems to have just developed a pretty awful culture, depending on the subreddit you’re in, of course. HOWEVER, when you take those people OUT of that culture and put them in a real-life setting, such as an in-person D&D game, most of them turn out to be normal, friendly human beings. At least, this is my running theory because nearly all of the players I have found on Reddit were great people.
Social networks like Facebook and Meetup can be good places to find a group. For instance, on Facebook there is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition group that has a “Look for Players” area. I have no idea why it’s not called “Looking for Players” because “Look for Players” is just rather odd… Of course, there may have been a character limit and that’s the closest they could get. Anyway, that group is massive with nearly 180 thousand members, so if you want to find a D&D game, that’s probably not a bad place to start. I imagine that most of these would be online games, too, but it’s possible that you could find in-person games there, too. On the other hand, Meetup would work best for finding IN-PERSON groups local to your area, because that’s kind of what the site is used for: to organize in-person meetings of various types.
Please take this bit with a grain of salt. I’ve personally never used either of these methods, but I have heard that lots of people are successful in finding groups with them.
Virtual tabletops – also called VTTs – sometimes have their own forums where you can find groups. I’m not familiar with all the VTTs that are out there, but I know for certain that Roll20 has looking for group listings. If you have a VTT that you prefer, you should check to see if it has LFG forums. Because here’s the thing, if you go to the LFG forums for a given virtual tabletop, such as Roll20, you’re almost guaranteed that all the games will be run using that VTT. I mean, maybe not, but probably.
So, if you go this route, my recommendation would be to research the different VTTs a bit first to determine which one you’d most like to play on before using its LFG forums to find a game. Why? Because if you find a VTT that you like (Foundry is an amazing option!), you’re more likely to enjoy the game because you’re going to avoid many of the frustrations associated with some VTTs.
Once you’ve found your group, you’re probably going to need something to run for them. You absolutely can run completely homebrew content—many amazing game masters do—or you can use some expertly crafted resources developed by professional game masters. Here are some fantastic options for you to consider:
If you’re running online games, The DM Lair Foundry Modules are a must-have. These are expertly crafted Foundry modules designed to be quick and easy for you to prepare and run for your group.
If you’re looking for years' worth of content for your group to enjoy, Lairs & Legends is the number one choice on the internet. Dozens of adventures, over a hundred new monsters, stand-alone encounters, and more are found within the two books.
Game Master How-To Articles