Committing to anything can be difficult for those of us with a chronic illness. Fatigue and pain and any number of other symptoms can be both unpredictable and detrimental to our ability to enjoy...pretty much anything. Making plans is stressful. Canceling them brings an odd mixture of guilt and relief. As much as we want to spend time with our friends, our bodies do not always have the resources necessary to make that happen.
So it’s really no surprise when spoonies (more on what that means here), are afraid to commit to a regular roleplay group. They could be the most creative players, gluttons for fantasy, but commitment is scary. The last thing we want to do is disappoint our friends.
But all is not lost! There are ways to help your spoonie friends feel welcome at the table.
Sara is chronically ill. Leaving the house requires a ton of preparation and energy. Too often, her body is tired before she even makes it out the door. So let’s bring the adventure to her! Consider hosting your game nights at Sara’s house, so she can save her energy for the game. Keep things casual by encouraging pajamas and other laid back clothing options.
Plan in advance how you want to handle things when Sara has to cancel. I recommend creating a character that can pop in and out of the story as needed. Traveling characters, characters that can be summoned, and teleporters can be fun to play with and offer comedic moments within the story. You can also simply skip game night that week. Constantly trying to reschedule can be stressful for everyone involved, so stick to a solid day and time and skip when needed. Make sure Sara knows that it’s okay for her to make the decision to cancel. Roleplaying should be fun, not an obligation.
Keep your sessions short. Most roleplay groups I’ve been part of have sessions between three and four hours. The group I DM for has multiple “Saras” and our sessions are an hour or two at most. Energy is a precious resource for anyone with a chronic illness, and even sitting in a chair with our friends can be a huge drain - even if it is an enjoyable one.
Chronic illness comes in many flavors, so there will never be a one size fits all approach. When in doubt, ask. Let your Sara know that you are happy to include her and find out what needs she has in order to enjoy the game. This may seem obvious, but many chronically ill individuals are afraid to commit without that verbal reassurance. Communication is king!