Phoenix came to town and was looking for a roleplaying group. I answered his email, because I was trying to get into the wider Fresno scene, and thought it’d be a good to help a new visitor find a group. (Mine, unfortunately was full– an established group in the middle of the campaign, and I wasn’t GM.) We met over coffee (and an amusing misunderstanding). We chatted and enjoyed each other’s company, though there was a lot of awkward “interview” feeling to the talk.
I brought him back to my group on board gaming night and the interaction was a bit rough. (Let’s just say that Phoenix brought up politics and outed himself as far from most of the other players. It was awkward, especially happening so early.) Phoenix and I hung out every couple weeks after that until the end of the semester when he cleared town. Within a week or two, I stumbled on an answer to his need– a local gaming board. There were other players local to us, desperate for a GM, eager for additional players. We just didn’t find the board before he left town.
Fast forward a couple of years. I’m still enjoying games with my local group, but I’m also trying to be a better participant in the overall local gaming community. I’ve been on the gaming board for a while, and the new local shop in town uses meetup.com to organize a roleplaying meetup. I’ve been pretty excited by Spirit of the Century, but my home group is mid-campaign and isn’t looking for another game. I decide to inflict it on the meetup.
Our game is awesome. Bryan, Paul, and I have tremendous fun weaving an exciting tale. Afterwards we keep talking with each other– Bryan admits he was on the verge of burnout after some nasty group politics and a few sessions too many of d20. We chat a bit more by email and jump into each other’s games at the monthly meetups. After a few months we decided that we wanted to game more often than monthly, so we started serious discussion by email about our group and goals. Now I’m in a second group that’s interested in the same types of games– something I didn’t expect when I went to the meetup, but it’s been great.
Advice on finding groups: I have only a few stories and anecdotes, but here’s some thoughts on how to approach it.
- First, see if there’s a local gaming board with any traffic. Search google for the largest city near you plus roleplaying. Hopefully, there’s a place out there with people already discussing games or begging for a good GM.
- Try out other sites… I’ll let my bias show by suggesting meetup.com . Other good sites include nearbygamers.com . If you enjoy D&D, look for a local gameday on the RPGA convention calendar 
- If you’re a member of an online community already, post asking if there are any players in your area. You might already know some cool people online. I’ve seen good things come of this, but usually in larger cities.
- The old standbys can work– if you have a friendly local game store (FLGS), see if they have a bulletin board. Add a flier for your game, or take down some numbers that are already up there.
- Living dice  recently had a post titled How to Recruit a Player . The idea of getting a referral is brilliant. Also read it to for cautionary words on random FLGS recruitment.