Start Your D&D Campaign with Google Calendar

I’d like to share a handy tool that I’m currently using to organize an online D&D campaign. It’s called Google Calendar, it’s free to use, and as I’ll explain, it’s very useful for bringing players together.

Not so long ago I ran a D&D campaign over internet chat, with players spanning four continents at once. I had players from England, Canada, the US, Finland, South Korea and Australia. The most difficult task was organizing a game time. In order to play, we had to settle on a weekly four hour time slot when a DM and four or more players were available, and these players had wildly differing schedules and time zones.

This time, I’m using Google Calendar. The first step is to sign up and create a new calendar for your group - you’ll need a Google Account or GMail address, but these are free. Pick a week, and then, entering “Day” or “Week” mode by the tab at the calendar’s top-right, mark with your name the times you’re available to play.

Next, enter the calendar sharing options and invite players by entering their e-mail address, giving the permission to “Make changes to events”. Ask them to do mark their times available the same as you did. Be sure that everyone has configured the correct time zone in their Google Calendar settings.

Now, you can use this calendar to look for matches where five or more people are marked available for a contiguous four-hour period. Pick one of these as your game time.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. In a truly international D&D game you will have a lot of people who can’t make times match up; this isn’t the calendar’s fault, but it is rather frustrating to put a lot of work in only to find nobody’s available at the same times. It also requires each player to contact you in order to ask for an invite. Still, if that’s not a problem, then this may be a useful effort-saver.

Comments (5)

RPG Ike (January 20th, 2009)

I’ve always had trouble scheduling sessions, but that has more to do with my casual players being internet-ophobes (they seldom update any other calendars I’ve tried to use).

Still, if it’s easier to use, or easier to look at, it’s worth a shot.

Thanks for this, Jonathan.

Micah (January 20th, 2009)

I use a special page on my wiki, and I came up with a pretty good system for choosing a regularly scheduled game night. You can see the page here:

Essentially, people vote in favor of days they like (with an X) and cancel out days they absolutely cannot play (with an #). The hope is that at the end of the exercise, there’s a day that has no #s and lots of Xs. I love it. Much easier than rifling through emails, plus it doesn’t require getting everyone to sign up for Google Calendar, since my players are already on Obsidian Portal because that’s where I keep all the campaign info.

StupidRanger (January 20th, 2009)

In our last group, we used a Google calendar for scheduling our sessions. Someone would create an entry when and where they wanted to play, and everyone would post a comment on that event, with either yes or no. It really helped us coordinate our sessions.

sturtus (January 21st, 2009)

I’ve been using Google Calendar for a while. On days when I’m available to DM, I put a “Game Day?” event up and send out an invite using Google’s CalDAV invite mechanism. The calendar is shared to everybody in the group, and they can choose to respond to the invite or simply put “Jimmy OK” as an all-day entry. Once a date crops up where everyone is available, I change the event to “Game Day!”, erase any “OK” entries and put a nice buffer around the “Game Day!” with dates that say “NO GAME” to assure everybody they have plenty of time away from the table.

We do a month or two ahead of time so everybody knows which dates look best for planning their real lives.

I should mention that we play over Skype and we use Maptool as our gametable.

Michael (October 25th, 2009)

I, too, love using Google Calendar. We’re all in the same town and have a pretty regular bi-weekly game. We use the calendar for everyone to go on and on days that would be game days, they can enter any conflicts. This allows us to reschedule with plenty of time to spare.

I’ve also just made a site for our Pathfinder campaign using Google Sites, which is an awesome free site builder accessible from your Gmail account.

It gives you 100mb of hosted space, and you can embed any gadgets that could go on your Google homepage right into any of your site’s pages.

There are templates for Announcement pages that work great for Online RP posts, and customizable Lists that work well for spells, inventory, etc.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out; it’s an awesome tool. And as far as I know there’s no limit to the number of sites you can make.

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