Thursday, March 15, 2018

So They've Split The Party

My last D&D session ended with the party split three ways. Usually I try to discourage that sort of thing but they're up to some sneak subterfuge and it made sense to let it happen. However, I did call the session early because I simply didn't feel prepared to deal with that kind of complexity.

In preparation for the next session, I put together a one-page procedure for dealing with parties acting in multiple areas simultaneously. The idea was to figure out a consistent way of dealing with these situations without having to do too much handwaving in terms of timing or positioning. The full procedure is below the break. It fits nicely on a single page of Letter or A4 paper.

N.B. This procedure assumes a) an OD&D-style turn structure where one turn represents about ten minutes; b) fairly structured social interaction procedures as per Courtney Campbell's On the Non-Player Character.


Establish the spaces. Draw out the areas in play, and place relevant figures in each. Rearrange the players so that each are sitting with those sharing their area.

Poll the table. Going around the table, describe the situation in each area, and ask each player about their next action. Inform them that these decisions are binding. “Waiting” counts as a brief action (see below). Record each character’s actions, sorted by area.
Each action should take up a turn or less. If a player describes a multi-turn action, only have them record the first. A turn is equivalent to a full social exchange, or 6 rounds of combat.

Resolve a turn in each area. Each character is locked into their actions. Starting with the space on your left, resolve actions in the following order: brief, detailed, and complex.
Brief actions are very quick actions that could leave room for immediate follow-up. They leave the character to assist in other ongoing actions, but not to initiate new ones.
Detailed actions are multi-step actions that require repeated player input, but are quick enough to occur inside of a single turn. These include social interactions, puzzles, and combat. Characters who completed brief actions or are involved in complex actions may join in on a detailed action, although the latter do so at the cost of their own action. Resolve as many rounds as fit within a turn.
Complex actions are actions that take a long time fictionally but do not require much input from the player. These include picking locks, lifting gates, etc. Moving from one space to another one nearby counts as a complex action, and may take multiple turns if the spaces are far enough apart. Once brief and detailed actions are resolved, make any necessary checks to resolve complex actions.
Once all actions in one area have been dealt with, move on to the next and repeat this step. Do this until all players have acted.

If necessary, merge groups or split groups. Once all actions are complete, re-evaluate whether any areas must be added or can be removed from play, and do so accordingly. Start again.

1 comment:

  1. I used to require a saving throw vs snapfire (accidently attacking each other) when the party split up and managed to bump into each other again but the characters had no real chance of knowing they were bumping into their buddies. Players could wave the saving throw but it decreasedt the chance of surprising foes.