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Oct 5, 2023 · 12 min read
Finding Your TTRPG Gaming Group
From the first pluck of the lute you are hooked. Melodious Melvin tells the tale of The Alabasters Angel’s fight with the demi god Orcnas and how they saved the realm from certain doom.
You step out into the cold evening air, head buzzing from the tale and ale. The air smells different, it smells hopeful, exciting and full of potential. The only thing you need right now is to find an adventuring party of your own and soon Melvin will start singing songs about you.
What do you do?
Finding a group to play with is arguably the hardest thing about playing tabletop-roleplaying games (TTRPGs). Many of us are spoiled by having like-minded friends, that live close by and have the time to meet and slay dragons. But what do you do if you just moved to a new country and all your friends are back home? What do you do if you just had your second child and you can’t go out of the house but you still want to play? What do you do if your friends are not interested in playing TTRPGs?
Below we summarize the key ways to find TTRPG groups to play with as well as some great alternative ways to get started playing.
Where to find TTRPG groups to play with:
- Looking-for-group communities
- Paid GM services like StartPlaying.games
- Profile matching services like RPGmatch.org
- Create your own group
- Friendly local gaming store (FLGS)
- Join organized play
- Join a living world community
- Find fellow students or co-workers interested in TTRPGs
Looking-for-group communities have existed for a while now. Online they can be found on Reddit and on Discord servers. On the subreddit communities the concept is pretty straightforward. You can post a game advertisement and potential players can apply. These posts usually have a structure to them, starting with the title saying pretty much what is being played, what system and when. The body will have all details on the game and a description of the ideal player profile. Sometimes there’s even a link to apply via Google Forms or similar services.
As for Discord you kind of need to know where to go. Google can be your buddy as well as Discord server search engines like top.gg. What you should be looking for are channels within those servers that advertise looking for group. Another tip we recommend is to check if your favorite streamer or podcaster within the space has a Discord server and typically there will be channels for finding games to join.
Pros of looking-for-group communities for finding games
First of all, these communities are probably the most used and most active. You are almost guaranteed to find a game.
Furthermore, there’s a lot of variety in the games being run. You can find a game for almost any TTRPG system, genre (sword & sorcery, horror, sci-fi, etc.), style of play (combat heavy vs. role-play heavy), inclusiveness, and more.
Additionally, the commitment you are making is not huge. You show up and if you don’t have fun you are not parting from dear friends. Just say thank you, but this is not for me.
Finally, you can also advertise yourself if you want to be a player in a group. Often groups are trying to fill that last spot and want to find someone that might be a good match. This is your opportunity to get your name out there.
Cons of looking-for-group communities for finding games
The most critical issues have to do with group dynamics and quality of the games. We’ve all read horror stories about games that have exploded because of problem players (or GMs) and just weird stuff in general. It is important that the group gets along great and their intentions and style of play match the game being run.
It can be hard to judge the quality of the games being advertised. There’s no official rating system that gives you insights into what you are joining. Anyone can post a game for free and there’s no vetting done. Free games are run by people doing so in their spare time and might not have the proper time to plan their games. Paid LFGs also exist and are usually higher quality but lack of social proof still means they can be bad.
Don’t let this stop you though. Just keep the above in mind and not let it shape your thinking on all LFGs. If you have a good experience, great! If you don’t, just move on. That’s the beauty, there’s usually no commitment in playing online.
Looking for group communities for tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) on Reddit:
Join our Discord
Find games to play in on our Discord server. Suggest new features and give feedback to help improve Quest Portal.
Paid game master services
Being a game master is hard work. You have to know the system you are running, prepare your games, read the adventure you are running (or write it yourself!), role-play all non-playing characters, provide tech support and much more. It is very understandable that many have decided to charge for those talents.
We highly recommend using paid GM services like StartPlaying.games to find paid games. There you will see everything you expect to see about the game: What is being played, when are they playing, how much is each session. Additionally, you can see who the GM is, how many games they’ve hosted and reviews of past games. You can see the technology they intend to use for their game, content warnings, safety tools used and more!
You can easily search for games that match your preferences, read all about the game and GM and book your session to reserve a seat. When game time comes you can be pretty confident that everyone shows up because they’ve paid for their seat. You can be pretty confident that the game will be high quality since the GM depends on good social proof to book further players. And you can be pretty confident you will have fun (and if not StartPlaying.games will actually give you another game for free).
Profile matching services
Playing online can be like playing roulette. Better yet, it’s like dating. Since you are trying to find a group to potential play with for several sessions (or several years!). Finding a group of strangers that are compatible to you can be hard. This is a reason why many games will advertise an ideal player profile.
An alternative that has emerged recently is a TTRPG profile matching service called RPGMatch. They allow you create a profile of how you like to play TTRPGs by setting your availability, game preferences and answer several other questions. It just take a couple of minutes to set up your profile and then you’ll instantly start seeing matches of people that are similar to you.
For any potential match you can message them to setup games with very like-minded strangers. You can view their profile and make better judgement on the people you choose to roll dice with.
RPGMatch is fairly new and will be adding more features in the future. We do highly recommend you give it a spin and find a match.
Create your own group
Starting up your own group and becoming a game master is a great way to connect with others. There are a lot more players in the world than game masters and we do need more GMs. This means that you shouldn’t have a problem finding players. It’s mostly about finding the right players (see issues discussed above).
To become a game master you can start by picking a system you are interested in, grabbing their quick start rules (or buying the core rulebooks) and running an introductory adventure.
Now, we said earlier that being a game master is very hard. That’s true. However, there’s also a reason millions of people choose to become GMs. It is very rewarding. It is one of the best creative outlets out there. It allows you exercise skills you won’t have an opportunity to work on elsewhere. It means you can connect with a lot of people even if you tend to be more introverted.
Get started for free
Quest Portal VTT is the easiest platform to pick up for new GMs. Once you have your party assembled, create your campaign in minutes and send out invites to the new group to join.
If you do decide to form your own party we encourage you to get familiar with running a session 0, choosing safety tools and setting expectations early on how the group should communicate about possible problems.
Friendly local gaming store (FLGS)
If you live by a friendly local gaming store you can always check if they host gaming nights. Sometimes they might do board gaming or war gaming nights, don’t dismiss those since the audience for those gaming nights are likely to overlap with interests in TTRPGs.
FLGS are a great way to find groups to play with in real-life if you like more than playing online. Just know that you still have to contend with the same issues as playing online. The quality of games and the group dynamics can be an issue. Make sure your GM knows what your experience level is and what you are looking for out of a gaming session.
In organized play you usually have a character that you can bring to gaming sessions. After each session your usually progress in some meaningful way (like earning experience points). You earn gold or items and your character becomes more powerful. Each League has its own rules for progress and how to interact with the community.
Often these organized play leagues are available through gaming stores as well as online. To check if your favorite gaming system has organized play you can simply search for “[gaming system] organized play” and there should be information on the publishers information about how to join.
Join a Living World community
Living Worlds (also called West Marches campaigns) are similar to organized play, but more flexible and run by community members. They are TTRPG gaming worlds where you don’t have a fixed group to play with, instead you can join sessions as you want and play in a world where the actions of one group can affect the experiences of other groups. These worlds are often organized on Discord and games are run there and/or on VTTs. Our favorite is from our friends at Cyberpunk RED community RED Winter.
Find people near you to play with
Schools and workplaces are fantastic to find groups to play with. Keep a lookout for TTRPG societies/clubs (might simply called D&D club) on campus or in school. Ask on your company’s intranet if someone is interested in forming a gaming group or someone has a group with an open slot.
Tabletop role-playing games are the greatest form of gaming in our opinion. They foster empathy, teach collaboration and are very beneficial to mental health. Accessibility to the space is one of the biggest blockers of adoption of TTRPGs. We are on a mission to make TTRPGs more accessible along with our friends mentioned earlier in this post. We wish you luck on your journey to find a group to play with.