Finding a tabletop role-playing (TRPG or TTRPG) group is a lot like getting into a relationship. It can be hard to find the right people for you, time management presents some real issues, long distances can complicate matters, and socially awkward people have a hard time doing it. The reason is, of course, that finding a TRPG group is getting into a relationship – a set of platonic connections with a group of people who are all probably looking for slightly different things, and who are about to engage in what can be an emotionally vulnerable collaborative experience. Finding a group is tough, but finding the right group can be even tougher.
Here is some important advice you might need to start your search:
- How to find your perfect TRPG game
- Finding a TRPG group
How to find your perfect TRPG game:
Think about your TRPG game system
First off, figure out which TRPG system you’d like to play. There are a huge number of game systems out there, each with different themes and systems, and no single one is perfect for everyone.
Dungeons & Dragons is arguably the most well-known game system, and it’s not a bad place to start – there are a lot of D&D 5th Edition games out there looking for players.
That said, it’s worth doing some research to see if anything else catches your eye. Some other possible systems you might like to get started on include Symbaroum, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, or Vaesen.
Think about your preferred experience
Next, have a think about the kind of gaming experience you’re looking for. If you’re just starting your TRPG journey, consider what drew you to the hobby.
Are you looking for a story-focused experience? Do you have a character you’re itching to bring to life through roleplay? Are you just interested in rolling the dice and playing the game itself?
Every group is going to have a different mix of these elements, and you want to find a group that suits your desired style.
If you’re excited to tell a story, but end up joining a group that ignores roleplay to focus solely on the mechanics of the game, you’re probably going to have a bad time. They aren’t playing the game wrong, but they might be playing it wrong for YOU.
Be okay with leaving a group
The most important piece of advice to keep in mind is that once you’ve found a group it’s okay to leave, particularly if you find it isn’t right for you.
TRPGs are, first and foremost, meant to be enjoyable. Whether you’re playing a heroic fantasy adventure with low-stakes and fun banter, or a grim horror experience delving into the depths of human depravity, you should be there because you want to be.
You should be comfortable, trust that your dungeon master (DM, the game runner) and fellow players want you to have a good experience, and look forward to playing the game.
If a situation is making you uncomfortable, whether it’s something happening in-game or with any of your fellow group members, you should take steps to fix that issue. Talking to the DM and your fellow players is always a good first move, but if you can’t, or if communication doesn’t resolve an issue, do not hesitate to politely leave.
I’m not trying to catastrophize or suggest that these kinds of issues are inevitable, but all interpersonal relationships have their ups and downs. Ideally, you’ll have a great time. But if you aren’t, there are plenty more groups out there.
So with these important tips out of the way, let’s talk finding a group!
Finding A TRPG Group
Friends and family
The first port of call I would suggest when looking to find a group is the people you already know. TRPGs can be a great hobby to share with friends and family, whether you’re looking to find another activity for an existing friendship group, or taking separate groups of people you know and getting them to mix together.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of bringing together people who didn’t know each other previously, and watching them bond over the joys of slaying monsters and finding treasure. If somebody you know is in a gaming group, perhaps shoot them a message and see if they’d be willing to let you join. (But don’t be offended if they say no – bringing people into an existing game can sometimes be complicated.)
Alternatively, try asking around to see who might want to start up a new group. I’ve found that a lot of people have a latent interest in TRPGs, but just haven’t had the chance to indulge. You can be that chance! Just know that if you’re the catalyst of forming a new TRPG, there’s a high chance you’re going to end up as the DM.
That can feel like a lot of pressure, but there are loads of resources out there to help you get started.
Read: World-building tips for your next TRPG adventure
Local gaming and hobby stores
Another great way to find a group is to visit local gaming stores in your area. While certainly less prevalent due to the recent difficulties of the pandemic, quite a few stores offer spaces to host TRPG groups, and some might even be affiliated with official TRPG events like the D&D Adventurers League, specifically intended to welcome new players to the hobby.
I’d recommend either visiting your friendly local game store in-person to inquire, or checking the store website, if one exists.
Online group finders
Finally, investigate the vast network of groups available online. TRPGs have never been as accessible online as they are now, and there are so many ways to search for groups to suit your interests. As long as you have a computer and internet access, you can find a group. Websites like Roll20 not only provide space to advertise groups looking for new players, they can also offer systems to play online with functionality like dice rollers, interactive maps and more.
Discord is another great platform to aid groups in playing TRPGs online, serving both as an incredibly useful communication tool, and as a means to advertise and find groups.
Other useful sites include StartPlaying and Tabletop Wizard.
Finding a group can be tough, and starting one can be even tougher. But if you do your research, figure out what you’re looking for and reach out to the wider community, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for!