Four sessions. If your game goes four weeks (assuming one session per week, obviously) without happening, it is dead. That’s a whole month. Every game skip a session here or there and if it is running well and is backed by a solid schedule, two missed sessions in a row probably aren’t a problem.Three can kill a game, but I’ve seen games recover from three missed sessions. Those games had some seriously urgent reasons for the missed sessions (emergency medical reasons, for example, as opposed to scheduling malfunctions, forgetfulness or inconsideration (the latter of which is far more common and far less often admitted to than the previous two)) and some seriously dedicated players, but it can happen. My advice to you would be to never count on such a thing, though. If you have two missed sessions in a row under your belt and a third threatens, figure a way around it. Move game to another night temporarily, have a bonus session on the weekend, schedule a series of short 1-on-1 sessions with each player. Do something to save your game’s life or I have no sympathy for you if it dies. Very little can overcome four missed sessions though. If your game goes a full month without a single session being played, you may very well be better off starting over with a new game than trying to resurrect the old game. I say that mostly because even if you manage to resurrect the old game, it isn’t the old game any longer. Seriously, most people have a hard time remembering the details and nuances of what they personally did last month, much less what their imaginary alter-ego did. Once the nuances and importance of the moment have passed, it is hard to recapture them. More over, after a month of a game not being played, many people simply move on. They start doing other things on that night and don’t really want to go back to the game. It becomes easier at that point to blow game off or in some other way re-appropriate the time. On the bright side, new games are fun. If it becomes clear that your old game has received the Kiss of Death, don’t shed too many tears, there are many different games available to play, many different characters to create, and many different stories to play through. It really isn’t that big of a deal to start over again unless you seem to be doing it all the time. I’ve gone through patches where it seemed like we were always starting a new game and I never really was able to get the feel for a single character or play them long enough to get them out of those beginning levels. When that happens, even if you give out a bunch of experience and any other kind of advancement metric (gold, points, etc) it can still feel to the Players like their PCs aren’t advancing. Now if you get into a pattern like this where it seems like your games never seem to have the chance to mature before they die, maybe it is time to look for where this constant disruption is coming from. Most gamers tend to be intelligent people; problem solvers. Trust me, if you look closely enough you should be able to find your root cause. It may not be something you want to look at (a problem player, your games are boring, your players have no investment in the game, etc), but if you’re honest with yourself and your players, you should be able to find the problem. And if you’re willing to admit your own mistakes and reorganize around the failings of others, you might even be able to then fix the problem as well.
The Kiss of Death