For this reason I have for nearly two and a half decades of table top role playing games used a simple plan of division of labor to create an enjoyable experience for one and all. Though in recent years my fiancé has taken on a rather big roll of hostess and cook without participating in gaming, most days we fit into one of these motifs.
“Party Time” is simply the gaming group all chips in and gets pizza or a similar meal. This means that hosting, the person to let the group into their home, is the only one to have any special obligations. Though some debate whether the host chips in or not, I think it is fair. One person to be wary of at your table: The Moocher, who always seems short on cash for one reason or another.
Hotel Greyhawk is my friendly little name for having a host that preps the meal and the gaming group contributes by bringing supplies.
This can be a cooked meal, simple heat up, BBQ, or anything you can come up with. The name comes mostly from the fact that I always had at least one player stay overnight. This is a fair trade in that lack of supply costs is offset by the cost of labor. The main thing to watch out for is overly expensive or complicated meal requests placing a burden on one or the other. What I discovered only recently to be fair is everyone, host included, chips in for supplies. One person hosts and cooks, but he does not have to clean. I will drop a big thanks on my fiancé for being host and cook to my gaming group on many an occasion.
A potluck is my personal favorite. This again needs a host, but everyone brings something to the party. The host unfortunately needs to clean up but is often left with tasty tasty left overs. One person handles soda, one handles entree, one does desert, and one handles snacks. The main factor here is to rotate the responsibilities as each item costs vastly different amounts. It is advisable to avoid leaving dishes and such at the host’s home.
The last option is the “Fend for Yourself.” This could not be simpler. You bring what you want to eat. You don’t have to share, but you can. This is guaranteed to be the financially easiest for all, but does tend to make things awkward as the host has his entire pantry. I suggest the host open up use of his kitchen for this if you choose it.
Now with all that covered, I would like to further define what I have stated many times already, the host. Respect the host, no matter what. I hear you, “But why oh great and handsome bearded one?” and I answer: The host has opened up their home or business to you and your gaming group. They know what mess gaming can potentially be and still chose to allow it. This deserves some respect and thus I state don’t be a nuisance, be a guest and act like one.
The host is not without their obligations as well, the host should provide an environment that is clean enough, safe enough and private enough to allow for gaming. Some may need this to higher degrees than others, but the point remains the same. Your groups came to game and not deal with screaming kids or messing with their supplies. They do not want their stuff damaged or sullied because your home has oil stains or a puppy that chews.
Now I must tell you of a tale in which I failed as the gaming host in a hilarious way
I had a friend who had a mild obsession with Cadbury eggs, but a busy job that had prevented him from getting any the entire Easter season. Knowing this, I happened to have one that I saved for him. He decided to save it for later, so he placed it in his military styled bag. I warned him that my dog would get it and he thought it was safe and shrugged it off. About a half hour later, we looked over and his bag was unzipped, the egg was out, the tin foil was carefully peeled back and my Pomeranian was nose deep in fondant and chocolaty goodness. My bad. I did make it up to him though!