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How I personally select players for my online campaigns to ensure the best experience possible

I have been asked many times how to choose their players for games, and more specifically, how I select my players for my games to ensure I choose the best fit for my games. In this blog post I will lay out the basic steps I use to choose players. Please note that this is based on how I select players for my online campaigns/multi-shots in Litlcord, and that it might not be the same process for different platforms and spaces.

A Compelling Game Posting

Before I get into the actual player selection process, the most important step of anything is the foundation or base. It is like that when trying to get players for a game. If your game posting or advertisement is not compelling enough to want to apply, then you won't receive applications in the first place. I plan on creating a full blog post relating to an in-depth explanation of this process, but for now here's a very quick explanation.

Your game posting, as far as Litlcord is concerned, needs to have an interesting hook and pull for the game description. It should only be a paragraph or so in size, not too short and not too long. The description should include bits and pieces of what story they will encounter in your game, and any lines/veils, along with what the main elements are (most of which can be explained easily through the description without issue). You need to also ensure the grammar isn't terrible, otherwise people will be concerned your game will be as poorly cared about as your pull to get them into the game - or you will get people who are also sloppy and lazy to join your game.

The Player Application

The player application is the next most important step. It needs to be well designed from theme, branding, to the questions. We'll go into each step in the process.

My first step is to create a branded google form header image that shows the name of the game or some art that goes with it - usually the same design as what I get added to my postings. Once you have updated this, Google Forms should automatically give you more theme options for background color and more. I usually take the name of the campaign and write "(NAME HERE) Player Application" in the header, and use the header description text for anything else I want to add in that won't be covered through the questions, or vice versa. Now that I have some base text on the form, I can use the rest of the theme customization options to change the fonts to fit the game theme! If I made my game posting description more spooky, then I make the fonts spooky to match. Remember that the fonts need to be legible at minimum. If the game posting was more fun or cute, then I make the fonts bubbly to match, and so forth. It is all about setting up the atmosphere for the game before they even join, which should make them even more excited about wanting to join, or know if the game won't be for them.

The second step is the biggest and longest step of this process, honestly. You need to come up with the questions for the form. These questions should align with finding information out about each player and whether or not they will be a good match. Try your best to avoid using "multiple choice/select" options and instead give as many opportunities as possible for your player applicants to write out their own thoughts. You will learn far more about your applicant that way by letting it be open ended. It is the same tactic used in interviews for professional jobs/careers. Let them do the talking and express themselves.

Below is a list of questions I tend to ask on my forms. You can click on the carrot symbol to dropdown or re-collapse the question for more information on why I use that question!

What's your Discord username & numbers?

You ALWAYS want to make sure on a player application that uses Discord as the main platform, or on Litlcord specifically, that you know WHO is applying. You can always toss this up to whatever platform you are using. Just make sure not to forget to make this a question and make it REQUIRED to answer to complete and submit your form - no matter what program you use.

How old are you?

What's your experience with (System Name Here)?

This game contains (XYZ Lines and Veils here), are you okay with this content being in the game?

Aside from the above question, please describe any no-go's you have or triggers for me to avoid.

How serious or chaotic of a game do you enjoy?

What type of other players/party do you enjoy the most?

This game has (xyz balance mix here), are you alright with that? (Or a question along the lines of "What game balance do you prefer? i.e. combat/roleplay/exploration/etc")

How do you feel about your character potentially being put into the plotline in a deeper way? (or) How do you feel about having your character's backstory put into the plotline? About having a fully immersive character?

What made you interested in joining this game?

Do you already have a character concept in mind? If so, what are you thinking? If not, that's fine!

In general, those are the questions I usually always have on my forms, but I sometimes add other questions based on the game and playstyle I am looking for! An example would be if I am running a pre-written module, then I might ask if they've ever played that module before. If they have, then I ask for them to explain how far they got, any thoughts they have, and any feedback! At times you might not want someone who's already played the module before at risk of them going "hey why are you doing it like this" or metagaming situations. Again, the questions really depend on what type of information you're looking to get out of someone. On Litlcord we provide a list of questions for examples to use in forms for our Player Slayers (GMs). I can provide the list here on our website at some point if people are interested.

The third step of the player application is to make sure you have certain questions as REQUIRED on your form in order to submit for things you absolutely need or want to know about the player applying. You should then open up the form from a player perspective and make sure everything looks correct and accurate before sending it out! Otherwise you're done with making the player application!

Actually Selecting Players

We set up the game posting and the player application, now what? How do we slect the players? Well, if you followed the steps, then you should have catered your player application to the type of game, party, players, and style(s) you were hoping to have. This means that as player applications come in you can easily see who matches that blend you were hoping for. If you're ever worried about choosing between players, then I'd recommend making a list in order of wants. You should list out what you're wanting to see, and what's most important. This way you can remember what you were prioritizing.

Now, a main part of a game is communication. Without it, the game is guaranteed to fail. Players or GMs don't show up. Players or GMs get confused. Players or GMs misinterpret. The list goes on. To help prevent choosing players that won't communicate well, I use a simple system of messaging players. I let players know in a private message on Discord (again based on Litlcord) that I received their application, and that I am still awaiting for more applications and will likely close them in xyz time. I appreciate that they applied for the game, and I will let them know more information later.

Now, if I don't get responses from some of the applicants after a certain amount of time, it is usually pretty obvious to me that they likely don't really care, nor do they check Discord much. Note: With Discord's new "message requests" function, sometimes it can be difficult to have someone notice you messaged them. So, I try to send them a friend request first to bypass this and notify them that I'm trying to contact them!

My next step, again it might be tedious but it is effective, is to go through rounds of removing players I know I definitely won't want in my game based on various factors. The first round is the easiest, and I can just delete the applications in the Google Form of those I don't accept. However, I always keep a list of these people so that I can message them. I might not have liked their application for this specific game, but perhaps they'd be good for a different game. So, I message those I've rejected and say something along the lines of: thank you for applying to my game, but I am sorry to let you know that you were not accepted for this game. I hope to see you in some of my other games, and you are welcome to re-apply if spots re-open for this game, but at this time you are not a good fit for the game.

I try to be as cordial, polite, and respectful as possible, even if I genuinely know that I will not want to have them in my games generally. You should always treat others with respect and care. It is important to message those who applied and didn't get in that they didn't or they might be waiting hoping to still get in, not knowing that you aren't accepting them/are done with applications already. Now that I've gotten rid of the applicants I know don't fit what I'm looking for, it gets to the difficult part of narrowing down to the amount of spots I have open. Here's some things I look for when narrowing down.

  • How long have they been playing? I always try to choose at least ONE person that's newer so that we can continue to grow the TTRPG community.

  • How active are they on the server or to my responses? If they are rarely active in the server but responding to my messages, that's fine, there's plenty of lurkers. But, if they're active in the server but not responding to my messages, then I'm concerned why they are ignoring me after having applied to my game. If they're active with both, then perfect! (Note: I use the search function in Discord to check how active they are. I also use the Statsbot to check as well!)

    • I also double check if there's any issues other Player Slayers have had with the user. I don't want someone problematic at my tables.

  • How well do they mix with the players I already have selected? Again, I want the party to mesh well together.

  • How many other campaigns are they in currently? I personally avoid those who are in plenty of games already, since I want to give chances to those who aren't currently in many or any. I ALWAYS reserve at least 1-2 slots in my party for those who are not in ANY campaigns or multi-shots on Litlcord! You can really turn them into active community members and not just lurkers through accepting someone, or meet your best friend, or possibly significant other. I've done both through doing this and not biasedly choosing players that are 'consistently active' on the server.

Usually these points help me easily narrow down my list! Once again, I make sure to be polite and respectful by messaging those who don't make it. As I go through various rounds I send out messages to those who are still 'in the competition' that they made it to the next round of my selection process, and that I will let them know if they made it or not after the next round(s)! This usually hypes them up too, and keeps them in the loop in case the selection process is taking awhile.

Eventually, I have finally selected my players and message those who didn't make it that they didn't, but that I'm glad they applied to my game and are welcome to re-apply, etc. as above. I then will have the section created for my game and use the first few messages and pings to notify them all with the exciting Role ping that happens! We now have a private space for everyone to chat with one another, get hyped up, and get to know one another... now it is onto session 0, but that's a conversation for another blog post.

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Tom Keegasi
Tom Keegasi
Apr 21, 2023
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Very informative blogpost. Going to use this process with some very minor adjustments and most of your questions going forward. 😅

Apr 21, 2023
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I'm glad you found this useful! Every process is unique, but I just wanted to share how I select them personally :)

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