It’s ok to “split” the party!

In a recent D&D game I have been playing in (4th ed. and yes I do play games other than my own… I call it ‘research’ ;-).  My character is an Orc Paladin. “In 4th Ed.?”  Yes.  It’s amazing what you can do when you treat the guidelines like guidelines rather than enforceable government statues.

Chuck, our DM, set up a nice scenario where it behooved us to split into three directions (4 of us at the table other than Chuck).  We were all mockingly stating, “We learned this in Lord of the Rings, NEVER split the party!”  Gently prodded, we took the bait and, lo and behold, my Orc Paladin secured a new follower, our two types made their way up the trail to the overlook and secured that against fair odds, while our final member kept watch on a fair sized skirmish and learned some valuable information from one of the survivors.

What is important is that each of our characters got to do something of interest to them and not wait around while someone else “got to do something.”

We would have missed 2/3rds of the fun had we stuck together.

We had to buy into the idea that separating allows us to get more things done in less time.  This will not ALWAYS be the case.  But when it makes sense to do so, brave adventurers should be encouraged to strike out in smaller groups, or solo and meet up again later.

I bring this up because Of Gods and Relics™ and the forthcoming Deniable Asset™ are built to allow this.  The Power of 12™ Roleplaying System has a very easy method to balance any Conflict for the characters or Agents present.  Just add up all the Foci (or Modus Operandi for Deniable Asset) of all the characters (or Agents) and you know how much should be on the other side of the conflict for a fair fight.  Nudge it one way or the other depending on how easy or difficult you want the Conflict to be.

It has been one of the guiding principles of RPG game design here at Random Encounters: it’s a game, let the people play!

I for one prefer to spend my role-playing time building up my empire – even if it starts with one follower and takes a year to grow into a small band of dedicated Orcs – or standing up for the rights of peasants, or overthrowing the evil overlord – or the good overlord if I am playing evil – rather than tabulating dollars, gold, or credits.

Currency in most RPGs is there primarily as a limiting resource, just like in real life.  If the characters get too much, they get too powerful.  If they don’t get enough, they remain too weak.

This kind of system set up forces the players to manage not their characters but the lower ends of the power “food” chain: the things that make the stuff that make them powerful.  Gold doesn’t make you powerful: gold buys magic items that then make the characters powerful.

Not that this isn’t interesting or fun for many.  But I feel there is more fun to be had for myself and a fair portion of the table top RPG fan base in abstracting economy and minutia in favor of playing the hero directly.  The Power of 12 Roleplaying System was designed for that so you can split the party and enjoy the same fun and freedom of simultaneous split scene action that we get in so many movies and books.

Besides, computers are so much better at crunching economy and minutia: managing the “things” that control the “stuff” that make characters heroic. 

However Chuck, Dungeon Masters, Games Masters, and Game Administrators everywhere are far better at making you, the player, feel heroic while playing your character.

More playing, less preparing to play!

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