Friday, April 29, 2011

Discussion: Splitting the Party

I've talked about splitting the party on here before. Specifically when you may want to let it happen, when you may want to encourage it to happen, and how to handle it and keep cycling between groups when it is happening. Today, I want to hear about your side of this.

When you are GMing, are you ok with the party splitting up? Do you try to discourage it when it isn't absolutely necessary? Why do you do this? If you don't, why don't you? There's no wrong answer here, there are definite pros and cons to both sides, and a badly managed group split can really slow down the session, I just want to know where you stand on the issue.

As a player, do you like being able to go off on your own and do your own thing? Do you prefer when the group sticks together and solves things as a team with everyone having a fair chance at the spot light? What would it take you to go off and go solo mode for a bit? What would it take for you to then come back and rejoin the other PCs?

Finally, anyone have some fun, nasty, or just educational anecdotes about things that happened when a group split up?


  1. From a DM perspective, I'm very leery about splitting the party. One of the players in my sandbox game is running a rogue, and wanted to lock the rest of the group in their safehouse before scouting the surrounding area. I heavily discouraged this because, while his stealth is gamebreakingly high, one bad roll would have resulted in a situation where he was very likely a casualty.

    As a player I try to avoid splitting things, but do admit that some of my characters are too aggressive, or stubborn, to worry about the possible consequences. There are also "mini" splits I'm much more comfortable with; in another game, my dragonborn sorcerer and another dragonborn successfully talked an ogre into joining our side during a mid-town brawl. As the fight was wrapping up, I split with the ogre and we went inside a nearby bar (for delicious berry pie) so that the rest of the group would have an easier time talking to the authorities.

    But the lesson of Aeofel is always fresh in my mind.

  2. I'll actually force them on occasion. Sometimes it can be really interesting to see how a group that has tailored itself to each other handles being separated. Still, I don't pull punches when a player stubbornly goes off on their own. As I've said before, my one player repeats the mantra "Don't leave the group" to himself because he's lost so many characters on his own.

  3. I like the group splitting up a lot. I mean, they need their together time too, but being alone can also show you another side of the character, which is good.

    If they split and do something stupid, that doesn't mean you have to go soft on them either. Just, y'know, encourage them to be smarter next time. :)

  4. Alot of it depends on the genre and setting. Also the number of players. In table top settings, it can be difficult to achieve based on all the factors. As a player, I don't mind the GM splitting up the party as long as has been planned out. A big part of this is because of timing issues. I don't want to be forced to sit around while the Blue Team gets to go off and have a bunch of stuff happen, while I am sitting around waiting for my turn. If the GM knows this is going to happen, he/she needs to schedule things accordingly. I personally think it should be used spraingly.

  5. I waited to post until after I ran this past Sunday because I had plans to split the party and I have a few things to say about it. Much like any other thing you can do during a game it can be good or bad, it depends on how you handle it and what your party prefers.

    In my experience I've split the party a lot. I've found that it's much harder to manage when you haven't actually prepared anything for the session. It's also harder to manage when your players have more options. If they're in a small dungeon and there are two different paths that eventually converge, it's easy, but in a metropolis with infinitely many choices for the players, it's much harder because you not only have to think on your feet more, you have to manage the time with both parties. If there is little to no roleplaying, it's much easier than a roleplaying heavy session because you can do two separate combats at the same time without much hassle but you can't roleplay two people at once. If you can please take a video of it and put it on youtube, because that's pretty awesome.

    So really, I've had good and bad experiences with it. This last session was a good experience because there was mostly combat and everything was nicely coordinated and easy to manage.