June 28th, 2004

All fun and games until someone loses an eye

Having been role-playing for about ten years now, I've learned, as a player, to try to find ways to avoid splitting the party up. It tends to lead to boredom for half the players while they wait for the other half to do whatever they're doing. So when I can find an IC reason to argue against the notion of splitting the party up, I do so. But there are times when splitting up is really necessary.

But when your D&D group is primarily made up of players who mostly play White Wolf games, and the DM suggests letting the players who aren't part of the scene play antagonists... It's generally not good for the currently active PC's.

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Party Splitting...

I was originally going to post this as a reply to oracleofdoom's previous post (here) but it's a) only peripherally related to the main point and b) an interesting enough subject that I thought it deserved its own post.

Anyway, oracleofdoom wrote:
...I've learned, as a player, to try to find ways to avoid splitting the party up. It tends to lead to boredom for half the players while they wait for the other half to do whatever they're doing.

I actually used to be of the "Don't split the party" camp, but lately I'm thinking that the player boredome doesn't have to be inevitable.

I think the key realization I had is that not only are we all players in a game - we're also the audience. It seems like a simple thing, but IMO its quite significant. We don't *have* to be bored when the GM is one-on-one RPing with other characters - we only will be if we don't care.

So how to get players to care about the other characters?

1) Joint character creation. Not just stats, but concepts and all. Let the players riff off of one another, and encourage them to provide feedback and suggestions.
2) No secret RPing. That means no passing notes to the GM, no going off in a closet to RP. Everything happens out in public in front of the group. This is one that got a lot of resistance at first in my group (players didn't want their secrets exposed) until they tried it - then it worked swimmingly.

I should break here and make a note about secrets - I don't think character secrets are really a good thing. Sure they're fun, and revealing them can be satisfying - but I've found that what's just as satisfying (if not more) is when the players-as-audience know about a characters secret and can enjoy watching the character try to keep it. This goes into an essay that someone wrote somewhere (can't remember off the top of my head) about suspense vs. surprise.

Anyway, to draw it back to the subject - I don't think it has to be boring when the GM is playing with other characters. I just think that the group as a whole has to be consciously commited to enjoying the game as audience as well as participants.

Anyone have any thoughts? Am I off my gourd?

Hahahahaah, EW!

Our last D&D session was a little slow. I think all of us were a little distracted, so I engaged in a little side-rp with another of the players. Here's what transpired...

Faith! I could stand it no more.

Whilst we were standing about, waiting for our crafty monk to complete his appointed tasks, which is to say, Vanago was occupying himself scouting for danger ahead, in gaseous form no less due to an unusually powerful elixir, I spied something that caused me great consternation.

As I mentioned, we were waiting perhaps somewhat impatiently. I speak only for myself but I could see the strain in Teleral's eyes and the irritation in Chartook, he plays with his magnificent beard when impatient, you know.

As to what vexed me, it was none other than Fjolnir, whom I confess a goodly brotherly admiration for. Yet it was Fjolnir, or more specifically the thing upon his neck that drove me to distraction. The worthy skald took off his great helmet, and I spotted a gigantic carbuncle upon his neck.

The combination of a poor diet, his lack of good clear water, and the rubbing of the worthy helmet upon his neck, which no doubt ground tiny bits of flotsam and jetsam into his skin resulted in a near legendary pimple, perhaps the size of the tip of my thumb.

I could scarcely believe that no one else had noticed. I took an arrow from my quiver and bade Fjolnir over and informed him of my plan. His eyes grew saucer wide as I informed him that I would lance the disgusting pustule, and before he could protest...

I pierced his hide, the disgusting residue seeped down his back and he rapidly took off his armor, to better clean off the offensive muck. I made sure the wound would not become infected (a quickly summoned water spell and salt made sure of that), and left him to tend to his own ministrations.

The rest of our stalwart companions seemed not to notice overmuch, but I swear his legendary pimple would eventually have caused distraction in all of us.
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