Are New Player Try-Outs Unfair?
My Microlite74 Wilderlands campaign has unexpectedly lost a player. One of the original players who started this campaign has to be in Oklahoma City by December 10th. His wife got a fantastic job offer they can’t turn down, even if it gave them three weeks to move. While we’ll all miss him (and the occasional homemade pies from his wife), our campaign style (see Long Campaigns Don’t Have To Be Boring!) means that losing a player — even a long-term player — will not disrupt the campaign.
I had four players on the wait list, but the player at the top of the list decided he did not want to play when he found out that I meant what I told him when I met him and put his name on the wait list — getting to the top of the list means the new player get a 2 (sometimes 3) session try-out so I can be sure the new person if a good fit for the campaign and the other players can be sure the new player’s personality doesn’t rub them raw.
I’ve handled new players this way for many years with few complaints from potential players. (However, I have had several players get annoyed when they were not accepted.) The player at the top of this list this time has thrown a fit, claiming that such try-outs are unfair to players who have been on the wait list for many months. He feels that a player who has waited patiently for a spot deserves to be able to play, even if he is somewhat disruptive to the group. Some of his comments to our email list:
“The group should be able to adapt to any new player, especially one who has showed he really wants to play by sitting on the wait list for over a year.”
“Try-outs are inherently unfair and something I associate with competitive sports not with D&D.”
“I will not give up my spot. I’ve earned the right to play.”
You’ve probably guessed that I told him that he hasn’t “earned” anything and no one has an automatic right to move into my house for a few hours every Sunday. I’ve removed him from the wait list and from the group mailing list. The second person on the wait list is now up for a try-out and she doesn’t seem to have any problems with it.
Personally, I think the first person was a jerk — especially since he was told that we did “try-outs” when we first met and did not register any complaints then. BTW, when asked about this he said that he did not object because he knew if he did I would reject him out of hand. However, I’m interested in what this blog’s readers think. Are trial periods for new players somehow unfair? Even if they are unfair, are they more unfair than a player who turns out not to fit well with a group being allowed to stay even though he’s ruining the fun for others in group? How do (or would) you handle adding new players who are strangers to an ongoing group?