They say Never Split The Party…..

Thank god for published adventures. The past few weeks, with the opening of my shop and trying to balance night classes with it, has left my creativity in the dumps. Luckily, between the Loudwater adventures in the Forgotten Realms Campaign book and Dungeon Delve, I’ve been able to keep game night going.  The flip side of that coin is that I’m also thankful I haven’t invested so much time and energy into the setting for this campaign so far, if we can call it that yet.

A Party Divided

I mentioned briefly in my last post that our first session involved a couple players having to bail out early, and the rest went on to a hilarious romp in the dungeon. Ever since that night, I haven’t really pulled the party back together. It seems the characters are now split up in their different cliques. The three that stayed: a Bard, a beastmaster Ranger and a Chaos Sorceress — seemed to have clicked together really well and developed their party dynamic from that first night. The other two — a Paladin and Cleric of Tempus — definitely have their “bond of brotherhood” going on, but seem to not really want to mesh with anyone else.

Granted, right now our schedules have been kind of messed up. The Sorceress and the Cleric seem to have opposing work schedules going on, so we’ve agreed to have separate game nights for the different cliques in order for everyone to get their game on. I ran a “catch up” session for the Tempus Brothers (or as we call it, the Tempus Bromance). Maybe I screwed up at this part, but I invited the Bard player and the Ranger (who is also my fiancee) to show up and play different characters for party balance. After all, I’m running WoTC dungeons here…a rogue and some extra damage never hurts.

Here’s where it gets sticky…the Paladin approached me later in the week and had asked if I would run just him and the Cleric in an adventure so they could flesh out their characters’ story more. It sounded fair to me; to be honest, the others had leveled after the first adventure but with the 4-way split on theirs they came up just a tad short. Running them through a small duo session could give them their bromance role playing experience and catch them back up with the others for when we finally could merge the party again.

And then the Pally opened his damn mouth.

“Besides, that last adventure…we didn’t need the others. We could’ve cleared that dungeon ourselves.”

Yes, ladies and germs, he went there. He went on about how a Paladin and a Cleric could easily handle a dungeon that a “normal” party could.  And how he wanted just them to clear a dungeon together, without the “extra help”. Mind you, all I could think about this whole time was how he has a negative dex modifier just because he wanted that high Strength. Visions of traps and artillery monsters swam in my head….oh, how many spells are vs. Reflex….

I’ll be honest, it put me off. It wasn’t an issue of work schedules or character development anymore. It became a player, as a player, wanting to be ran separately because he felt their duo could handle anything the full party could. And that meant more xp, more treasure and more glory. Really? After a fucking decade of playing together this is what it comes down to? Mind you, the Cleric was smart and kept his mouth shut. And was mostly face palming during the whole speech. I just stared down the Pally, and grinned, and said “Okay.” He just smiled back, nodded, and said “I fucked up didn’t I?”

The Guest formed The Glue

This last session, I was able to gather everyone back together as a party again. We were also fortunate enough to have a good friend from out of town drop in for the session. He was a good sport, having not played the new edition. We handed him a Swordmage, coached him briefly on the changes and the powers, and away we went.

One thing I noticed, though, was that if it wasn’t for him engaging all of the players…I don’t think the two cliques would’ve even worked together. When I placed everyone at the same bar, everyone went to different locations. When I had plot events happening to a member of one clique, the other side just kept on doing their thing.  It took the outsider looking in to pull everyone together, to say “Hey, these guys need to work with us.” It took his actions to grab the Bromantics and get them back in league with the others.

The session was a blast, and definitely recharged my DM’ing batteries. I was also happy because I was able to run it without a laptop, minis or maps. I was dreading running a party of six, with little prep time (I felt naked without Masterplan on hand) but a dry erase combat tracker care of Fiery Dragon’s Battlebox was more than adequate for my needs. Although I do have one confession: I was sooo gunning for the Pally during the last fight. Was running the Lady of Shadows adventure hook from the Forgotten Realms campaign. Was so much fun dropping him down to 1 hit point in a couple actions with her. Was it pecker checking? Yes, but it’s nice to establish order on things.

But now, I’m not sure where to take this. Obviously I need to sit down and talk with my problem players, which kind of sucks since I’ve been gaming with these guys a better part of a decade. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t have to, but we’re probably all into the game for different things. They probably don’t see anything wrong with wanting to take their own direction with their characters, which really there isn’t….except I personally enjoy gaming as a social pastime as well as a creative one. I’d rather plan game nights where anyone who can is invited as opposed to nights where I have to tell others to stay home. Am I going about this the wrong way?

Oh, and Davin, if you read this: You’re ALWAYS welcome at my gaming table. Your Role Playing skills were amazing and it brought a good vibe to the whole session. Thanks for gluing everyone together!

3 thoughts on “They say Never Split The Party…..”

  1. Ah, the old “We don’t need the other players” argument. Had this in Vampire a few years ago, the last campaign we played with the old 8 player group we had.

    We’d all had characters at the start of a year long campaign, and carried them on to the second campaign (except me who had rolled to dodge and save so badly during the year I was on character number 4).

    The party was split. They had joined the Black Hand because of incidents in the previous campaign cutting off all ties to the Camarilla, pissing of a demon and his cultists, accidentally starting a war between the Werewolves and Vampires and laying the groundwork to kick off the End of Days. Needless to say, it was an eventful year.

    Half the group wanted to lay low, reinforce and let the enemies come to us (with Black Hand Allies for support), the other half wanted to hunt our enemies and make them dead (Using our Black Hand Allies). I was re-rolling a Black Hand character, I had no say in the matter.

    I was halfway through character gen when I heard “We don’t need the rest of them, we can handle this ourselves.” from a group member. I forget who it was now, al I knew was a clear divide was made in the groups characters. The two camp leaders where stubborn and someone had just laid down the ‘break the party’ gauntlet.

    I had been allowed a great degree of latitude when making this character, the GM was distracted with “The Drama” and I took only a little bit of an advantage because of this. I Rolled a True Bruha, a time manipulator, making sure he was in the Assamite camp of the Black Hand and a trained assassin. I also made sure he was an infiltrator and experience soldier. The third set of skills went to my ‘scholar’ side and made damn sure I had Elder generation for the extra benefits in skill points.

    I justified it all with a past story that was made up pretty much on the spot and went to work. My first option was to freeze time and clean the room (I took an obsession to Clean as a major flaw, played properly this is an awesome flaw to have). I then insulted the group as a whole, badmouthing both camps and calling them children, prompting them to get all pissy and band together temporarily to take on this Jerk.

    The arguments came thick and fast, all negated with “and? so?” ending in “That’s what we’ve done. Name your accomplished?” leaving me with “Making a room full of assholes remember they work better as a team. That’s you by the way. Now stop acting like children and figure out what your next step is, before I make it for you.”

    With that, my character left the room whilst the rest of them patched up the differences and figured out the best plan of attack and defence, whilst I went and made arrangements for a ‘pet’.

    In the end, the party worked out the problems, but only through shame and realisation that solo or in small groups, we sucked badly. That’s how my characters ended up dying, because others where arguing and not covering my arse (in one case, throwing the pin but keeping the white phosphorous grenade. That’s that happens when you roll seven 1’s for throwing.).

    In this case it was more players RPing their characters Ego’s properly, but the group did end up split after another year through player arguments and differences. I do miss those sessions, they where fun, but I also know that had it continued it would have ended in serious arguments and killing the gaming mood.

  2. I think this has nothing to do with the guy thinking he is better in a duo, and everything with him not liking the other clique. You should expect that if 5 people sit in a room, they would want to tackle adventures together. Obviously this guy does not want to be a team player.

    Personally, I see this as a guy wanting more ‘me’ time. Maybe with the cleric, he can get his way, do the things he wants, and get to show off more. In a larger group, he might be butting heads with other players and egos are clashing.

    You are DMing a game. You’ve got several people that want to play. If one guy can’t stand being with half the group, don’t drag the other people down just to keep him in. If he does not want to participate with the group, and wants to run off and be a lone wolf every session, cut him loose.

  3. Heh, interesting factoid I left out: I probably should have mentioned that we have a married couple split between the two cliques. We have the husband in the bromancing, and the wife in the scoundrel group.

    Still, that doesn’t really change the weight of Ken’s analysis. Either tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to try to have a talk with these guys.

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