Sometimes I can tell when I begin writing a post whether it’s going to be long and ponderous or a markedly quick burst of text. (Ok, let’s be honest, it’s almost always the former, despite my best intentions for the latter.) While I generally attempt to be succinct, from time to time there comes a topic such as today’s, which promises to be divisive. Yes, it’s the age old question: should we split the party?
Last weeks’ article, still possessing the oven-fresh smell, dealt with the idea of the Trouble Player, and one particular behavior that frequently led to a player being Trouble was the isolation or fragmenting of the party. One might be led to believe, then, that the author generally does not favor splitting the group. I say thee nay, and point out that the selfish behavior of the Trouble Player is the root of the side-quests or solo adventures in this situation. For today, we’ll deal solely with legitimate reasons to split the party, the natural (or unnatural) ways they arise, whether dividing the players is a good idea, and how to do it if you do decide to go that route.
A good deal of ink has been spilled regarding this well-worn topic, and with good measure; it’s something that has plagued GMs and players alike since the early days of Dungeons and Dragons. Just Google the phrase “split the party” and you’ll undoubtedly find dozens of gamer blogs dealing with this exact topic. I read through a bunch of them, hoping to both hone my own arguments and thoughts concerning this behavior, but also to survey whether my thoughts were just the same re-hashing of what everyone already thinks (the prevailing opinion, as with most things, is: don’t overdo it, it can work in the right situation, with the right group of players, yada yada yada). I hope you find my advice more specifically useful.