Page 277 - Balancing Act

27th Apr 2013, 6:00 AM in Swarm of the Century
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Balancing Act
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 27th Apr 2013, 6:00 AM edit delete
There's a reason they say Never Split The Party, and it has less to do with TPKs than you think. In truth, how much splitting your party can handle is dependent on what your group of players is comfortable managing, but they're still words of sage advice.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



ChaosDX1 27th Apr 2013, 6:15 AM edit delete reply
Amazing how he can write one thing and say another at the same time. He can multitask.

...Wow, first post possibly?
Digo 27th Apr 2013, 6:17 AM edit delete reply
Oh no, for my group it's all about the TPK--

Party splits up to search a mansion for the keys to the basement. Wizard somehow nearly breaks his neck playing on the bed.

Party splits up to opposite ends of a wide cave room to figure out a puzzle. Rogue somehow breaks into the next room and nearly eaten by wolves.

Party is discussing important plans with the king. They split up so they can tell the queen too. Half the party gets beat up for messing with the guards, the other half arrested for summoning a demon as part of their explanation.

Conclusion: My party is very self destructive. :D
Boden King 27th Apr 2013, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
I want to hear more about that last example. Why did they summon a demon? Who was the idiot who pissed off the guards?
NR 27th Apr 2013, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
I concur, I am very curious to know why a demon got involved in the explanation.
Aegis Steadfast 27th Apr 2013, 8:25 PM edit delete reply
Aegis Steadfast
It's not a proper explaination if you don't summon demons.
Digo 28th Apr 2013, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
Prior to the party reaching the king, the party was off at an abandoned temple. They had found a cult there sacrificing people to summon demons. After the party destroyed the cult, they took the altar apart and brought it back.

For reasons I'll never know, when they spoke to the king, they apparently thought that showing him the altar wasn't enough. They summoned a demon from the later to show him how evil the cult was.

Poor king was nearly killed. XD
TheStratovarian 28th Apr 2013, 2:45 PM Ouch! But I understand edit delete reply
Yeah, i can understand from the player perspective. The one time one of the group decided to go another way, 2/3rds of the group died by his hand.

The groups minimaxed warrior, decides he is right, runs off, and gets a lovely natural 1 on his will save against a vampires dominating gaze. Returns, kills the cleric, the rogue, and the warrior (in his sleep). The wizard, with a lucky roll, is the only one to wake at the silent killing, and runs, managing to get into a nearly tower safely before he can catch up. Having only a few rounds before he breaks in. He makes a mad dash to the top of the three story place, and gets off a very lucky dispel magic to break the charm. Cue the minimax going 'oh beeep' at his actions.
Zmaxter 27th Apr 2013, 6:21 AM edit delete reply
In my party we constantly split up in the most diverse situations, but since half of us are playing for the first/second time, the GM tries to not be very harsh on us (On the kill part that is)
Other Guest 27th Apr 2013, 7:04 AM edit delete reply
Hey Twilight, you're the one who killed the parasprites.
DoubleCross 27th Apr 2013, 7:09 AM edit delete reply
Oh, wouldn't I like to get that close and whisper in your ear...

...some strange things about apple juice and fan-fics.
Guest 27th Apr 2013, 11:35 AM edit delete reply
Would you whisper sweet nothings in her ear?
DoubleCross 27th Apr 2013, 4:49 PM edit delete reply
I'm talking about Spud's ear!
Guest 27th Apr 2013, 9:29 PM edit delete reply
So you would whisper sweet nothings in his ear?
DoubleCross 28th Apr 2013, 1:39 PM edit delete reply
If you call those sweet nothings then...
Urthdigger 27th Apr 2013, 7:23 AM edit delete reply
Sadly, I've actually had trouble TRYING to split the party. The groups I've DMed for in the past are used to heavy rail-roading and basically stick together because "Well, only one road leads to the plot right?"
FanOfMostEverything 27th Apr 2013, 7:24 AM edit delete reply
I hate splitting the party because I'm not very good at keeping everyone involved at the same time. It was especially nightmarish when the group was in a city, with almost everyone off on their own, doing their own thing, and wanting my full attention.
Kadakism 27th Apr 2013, 2:55 PM edit delete reply
I had the same trouble about the party splitting up to do their own thing. I ended up having to set a timer whenever they went into a city. Each person gets five minutes to do what they need to do before I move on to the next person. And we just went in a circle like that until everyone's business was done. It worked quite well, but made our in-town sessions take much longer.
Malroth 27th Apr 2013, 11:54 PM edit delete reply
we try not to split the party because it lets the thief get even more treasure and xp that they never share with the rest of us and lets the DM loose track of what ever doomsday project the artificer is working on while the plot chases the rest of us down.
Anvildude 28th Apr 2013, 7:37 PM edit delete reply
Mmm. Nothing is quite as sweet as the DM going "Yeah, sure. Just follow the rules and I'll allow it" to the party artificer.

You know, I still haven't finished my steam-powered spider-based walking siege machine...
KoshLovesYou 27th Apr 2013, 7:41 AM edit delete reply
Ha ha, excellent use of sweating and freaked out Twilight Sparkle there. A nice touch.
Bronymous 27th Apr 2013, 8:30 AM edit delete reply
I always STP whenever possible. It's a mental exercise for the DM- which is good- and it means more spotlight for everybody's players because of smaller group focus. It's also usually the most tactically rational action to take in most situations, with most exceptions being fighting a big bad/monster/enemy army, or throwing a party.

And if you happen to be playing a sociopathic possibly haunted or possessed LE Ranger, the alone time actually advances character progression, too.
HiAndromon 27th Apr 2013, 11:10 AM edit delete reply
Why do I feel like the DM jumping between them will lead to coming back to a situation 10 times worse then he left on both side's every time he switches?
Walabio 27th Apr 2013, 11:50 AM The players often feel neglected with the DM running back and forth. edit delete reply
The players often feel neglected with the DM running back and forth. Both Rarity and the Mane 6-1 ;-) could end up unhappy. Party-splitting can work if 1 of the players is also a Vice or Lieutenant GM and acts as both a DM and player while the Primary GM tends the other party.
Philadelphus 27th Apr 2013, 11:59 AM edit delete reply
I remember when in our Pony Tales game we managed to split a group of six four ways. Fun times.
masterofgames 27th Apr 2013, 12:04 PM edit delete reply
I once split a party of five seven ways.

My familiar and the ranger's animal companion split off as well. Oddly, only the two of them survived.
Digo 28th Apr 2013, 6:37 AM edit delete reply
That kind of math and management made my ideas hurt. XD
Demonu 27th Apr 2013, 4:25 PM edit delete reply
And then micromanaging it over Skype and private chat. Not doing that one again...
BambooShootFTW 27th Apr 2013, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
my players tend to get split because two of them are evil, when they got to the big necromancer at the end of the adventure, the one that had kidnapped the lord of the town that hired them, the two evil ones ran in and grabbed the kidnapped lord and ran out, while the two good guys got slaughtered by the rooms enemies.
Rokas 27th Apr 2013, 1:04 PM edit delete reply
We split the party on a regular basis, but that's mainly due to circumstances. You don't want to drag the almost-but-not-quite-pacifist diplomancer (who is nevertheless scary as Hell if you get on her bad side) or the klutzy science/sensors officer into a gunfight at a bar, after all. That's what the captain, my guy, and two other PCs are for. (Much to the diplomancer's chagrin, as her player routinely does her best to keep such fights from occurring in the first place, the spoilsport.)

And that doesn't include unintended splitting up, like when my character was shanghaied once. Rotten piece of luck, that.
sudden11 27th Apr 2013, 2:32 PM edit delete reply
This makes me thing of how my D & D groups last meeting went. I am a college student so I have a group at my school for all over the state. We had our last session for the semester a few days ago and it ended with the party being taken to four different prisons in for different parts of the world. When we meet again at the start of next semester it will be interesting to see how we break out of our respective prisons and reunite to continue the campaign.
Mycroftxxx 27th Apr 2013, 3:20 PM edit delete reply
Party-splitting was a fact of life with one of my old groups. The other group usually didn't leave the room, though. So, the rule was that when the GM wasn't running your sub-group you were _quiet_. No chatting, no suggestions, no nothing.

I usually brought along a magazine to read for these moments. One time I had the Houston Press, a weekly news-ish rag from the same company that does the Village Voice and others. Back then, there were still free personals in the back of the paper, which gave me an idea.

Our party was looking for someone acting as a local agent for a shadow-government type group of conspirators. We knew nothing about this person except their handle, Opus. Of course, one the the NPC's (a major NPC from another campaign being run at the same time) is a Penguinophile. I, in a brief moment of brilliance, decide that I will look in the _college_ newspaper's personals, in the crossed wires section. I briefly interrupt the GM to announce this and she nods at the Houston Press in my lap.

I am a little sad because the idea obviously didn't work. However, I am a good roleplayer and decide to check. Imagine my surprise when there's a note to Opus in the exact section of the real-world paper in my lap. It took actually getting through the six months of game time (extended IRL because of a breakdown of the gaming group, in-game time travel, etc to a full year +) to the date listed in the message when we finally found Opus to find out that she had in-fact planted the message. She wouldn't admit a thing before that. This was also the same campaign where the players spent an entire game recapping what they knew in character while the GM had passed out behind her screen due to flu without anyone realizing it. She decided to spring "Suprise LARP Event" on the party the next week to get us out of the rut. Best. GM. Ever.
Lyntermas 27th Apr 2013, 7:47 PM edit delete reply
In the Zilean's Revenge campaign, we did some splitting early on. Let's just say that one party got the information regarding some broken stairs and a dire lioness...and the other party actually encountered said obstacles. Still, later on our rogue managed to find an area that was important to explore later once he found an entrance we could ALL fit through.
Azureink 27th Apr 2013, 10:01 PM edit delete reply
The DM in this comic is actually pretty decent. Able to make up these things on the fly while keeping the game fair. That is a hard task for any DM.
Raxon 27th Apr 2013, 10:36 PM edit delete reply
Don't you know you always split the party?
Screw you, I'm a rogue,
Without me you'll all be sorry.

You can find your own traps,
From now on 'til the end,
And I'm laughing while your bones are on the mend...
Digo 28th Apr 2013, 6:38 AM edit delete reply
I once DM'd for a party where the cleric and fighter teamed up to disable traps. Cleric buffs fighter, fighter jumps into the trap.

The rogue was annoyed because this was actually working and thus the rogue in the party was out of a trap-finding job.
Aegis Steadfast 29th Apr 2013, 4:34 AM edit delete reply
Aegis Steadfast
I once tried to do that, minus the cleric buffage.
Malroth 28th Apr 2013, 12:10 AM edit delete reply
Summon elemental/minor shapeshift druid raises your mundane thief skills with infinite disposable minions who can swim and see through stone or metal as well as infinite self healing as a swift action without using up any of their spells.
Speeddemon 28th Apr 2013, 2:05 AM edit delete reply
My group often times splits the party, though only because our DM is really good and running seperate groups at the same time. Still we have recently run into a problem when splitting the party. We only split the party one way, but it's my character in one group and everyone else in the other.

Reason why we split? They wanted to investigate a weird squid smell they picked up on, while my guy wanted to investigate, ya know, the actual plot and reason why we were in this city (investigating an attack on our town).

This has led to my guy falling down 70 feat, and almost dying from that hit, to luckily getting high enough on my death saving throw to spend a healling surge, trying to invade the tower underground, almost get into a fight with some rebels, make my way into the basement of a tower, run into a half complete golem that starts trying to attack me, run away from that as fast as I can (when an enemy just barely misses you one a two, it's time to leave), get exploded by some potions, run up the stairs to find there are warforged guards inside the tower as well as outside, telling me to surrender. I ignore that, try to crash through the door only to fail miserably on my checks and get stunned, then get crit speared by one of the guards, remove the barricade on the door and blow my action point to run out of there as fast as I can, get away with a crossbow bolt in the back for my troubles, which prevents me from healing till I remove it, which I do and take 5 damage dropping me to one hit point left.

After all this, I think I've learned a valuable lesson on spliting the party: Do it with more than one person. Most of the party splitting up doesn't end this badly, I think the GM just wanted to capture my guy so he could get him to join the group back soon. But I showed him, MWHAHAHAHA, wait, nope all I managed to do was get myself beat up badly. Might want to rethink this plan. Still, managed to get a book with some info while the rest of the party did pretty much nothing, so points for me I guess?
Rokas 28th Apr 2013, 11:42 AM edit delete reply
Your character is hereby awarded the Indiana Jones Medal of Accomplishment.
Kaze Koichi 28th Apr 2013, 5:31 AM edit delete reply
Splitting the party can be done easy if you are playing post-by-post online game.
aerion111 29th Apr 2013, 12:39 AM edit delete reply
Well, it still requires more effort from the GM - with twice the parties, there more or less needs to be twice the content - it's just that they can take their time a bit more.
Digo 28th Apr 2013, 6:39 AM edit delete reply
Well my current game group is down to two players for the next month. So I'm running a My Little Pony game and I have one player. Can't really split that. :)
ShadowDragon8685 28th Apr 2013, 7:02 AM edit delete reply
That sounds like tempting fate, there, Digo. Just you watch, your player will like, recruit some NPCs to split up with, or use the Mirror Pool to dupe themselves or something.
andreas002 28th Apr 2013, 1:37 PM edit delete reply
In a recent session, we managed to get the party split in 3. While we had 2 players.
SenaC 28th Apr 2013, 4:12 PM edit delete reply
I had a party once where one of the PCs decided, before they even got into the teleport to go to their first job, that he was done and wanted off.

Only trouble was, he's in the future, on a space station in the middle of nowhere. To prevent him from causing splitup issues, I got him to make a deal with the devil basically, he could right a tragic wrong he'd been involved with /if/ he finished his year long 'tour'. Felt really dirty doing that but it worked.
magewolf 28th Apr 2013, 4:18 PM edit delete reply
hey y'all after olmost a year ah'm back!
mah bad fer be'in gone so long, hope y'all can fer'give me.
Raxon 29th Apr 2013, 9:00 AM edit delete reply
Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.

Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.
Guest 29th Apr 2013, 9:30 PM edit delete reply
You used back with back around with around, Raxon.
Never thought I'd say this, but ya gotta step it up.
Try Lack and browned, let's see what you can do with that. :D
Raxon 30th Apr 2013, 12:09 AM edit delete reply
Song lyrics.

Before your time, kiddo.

I like quoting and paraphrasing songs, in case you haven't noticed.
magewolf 30th Apr 2013, 12:03 PM edit delete reply
thank's raxon.

ah used your idea for the adam west voice in the batman rpg and that is now the groups cannon bruce wayne voice(they still demand the kevin conroy voice fer batman).
Urthdigger 28th Apr 2013, 6:21 PM edit delete reply
After some thought, I've recalled a few sessions I've done where splitting the party actually worked.

The first was a rather simple one: I did micro-sessions to handle things such as the cleric having a meeting with a priest, two characters doing some plot development with each other, and other such things where the rest of the cast wouldn't have much to do. As these sessions weren't typically as involved as going into a dungeon, it was rather simple to shoehorn it somewhere during the week other than my usual play time (Which was chosen mostly on "when everyone can get together", which wasn't an issue with these).

The other one is one I wouldn't recommend for most DMs. I decided to have an area where each player was trapped within their worst nightmare. I decided to run each scenario at the same time, and in addition things done by a player in one affected players in the others. While it was a lot of fun and something I'd like to do again, it also took a lot more prep work and taxed my ability to multitask and ad-lib.
Stulexington 29th Apr 2013, 11:38 PM edit delete reply
I actually had a great party split one time running an Aberrant (superheros) game. They needed to transport a very important criminal to his trial and decided to have a flight as a decoy and actually drive him down the back roads.

So everyone was in the same room, one half had an exciting aerial battle, complete with an enemy only the shapeshifted decoy could perceive. The other half had to figure out how to get past a Sunday driver without blowing their cover since they would be late if they kept following, and other annoying puzzles.