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Pink
2009-10-16, 01:14 AM
Alright, here is my situation.

I am starting a new game. Previously I was running a campaign, that while fun, lead to certain problematic situations. I am relatively new to DMing (and pretty much jumped into it without having a tabletop mentor to learn from), so I'm not perfect, but in this new game I'm trying to make things more enjoyable for all. One of the problems with the previous one was a setting and game style that was not overly enjoyed by all, some other things, but those I'm trying to change. However an overarching problem that I can only do so much to counter, was indecision and strife in the group, some of it In character, about decisions and what to do. When this happens, either the party splits into two groups, which is difficult to make fun for everyone, or it would be democratic and a slightly larger majority would get to do their 'quest' while the others had to tag along.

Now, it's this in group indecision that I try and look for a solution to start. A problem might be that I didn't limit the character options enough regarding alignment and such perhaps, so that the group was simply to diverse to be coherent. Another problem might simply be that at times, due to new players and character deaths or replacements, some characters simply weren't 'in-tune' with the party enough to be coherent.

I'm hoping being a bit more firm in what the group dynamic is to start with will help in this regard, setting up a group template or contract that help defines how decisions are made and what priorities you can have and what happens if a party member does something incredibly stupid.

So, I'm wondering if anybody has suggestions as to what should be in such a contract, or give any tips on how I might make a more coherent group.

I may be being vague on this, so please feel free to ask for more details in you think you can give better advice.

bosssmiley
2009-10-16, 04:52 AM
Wait, you want to pre-configure a contract for all this good RP fodder? Mistrust, betrayal and wrangling under fire are all part of the fun. :smallconfused:

Generally the people I play with let this kind of thing emerge as a result of play:

Cash loot gets divided equally (# of PCs + 1 resurrection/healing fund)
Magic items go to the person who can utilise them best
Gentleman's rule to not step on one another's character shticks or hog the limelight
No tricking the Paladin into falling, and no turning in the Rogue for theft (that just gimps the whole party)

Having secondary agendas, working at cross-purposes, hiding/exploiting dark secrets and the like are all fair game though. :smallbiggrin:

Katana_Geldar
2009-10-16, 05:13 AM
One thing you need to bear in mind is that the campaign needs to suit the style of play the players prefer, and this is what brings group harmony, letting the players do what they want to do.

I have two different preferences of play at my table, one player who wants a more freelance fringes-style campaign and another who wants a more military oriented one. So I try to suit things somewhere in the middle, saying yes to some things and no to others as long as I give reasons.

Before the game starts, or after the old one ends it's not a bad idea to talk with the players and ask what sort of things they want to be playing. People will usually have a part in something they feel ownership of.

Group dynamics is something that happens as a result of things, and making notes during the game to what is going on is not a bad idea either. I usually have a pre-game growl at the players with things I have been observing. Contracts might not be necessary, you could just set up a few houserules on this that you enforce when you need to.

BTW, splitting the party I am usually okay with, just thing of the cutting back and forward in movies. Give the players X number of actions if they split and then you go to the other group. I don't allow "beaming" from one group to the other just for the sake of drama, and it's not so hard to use Shrondringer's gun to get them back on the same road.

Cicciograna
2009-10-16, 08:44 AM
Just 5 rules.

1) The DM is always right.
2) The Dm is always right.
3) Love your comrades as yourself, unless you're a Cleric of Ilmater.
4) Don't backstab 'em, sell 'em on slavery, leave them behind with a red Great Wyrm while you loot his hoard.
5) Always remember them that the DM has the power of snuffing out their pathetical lives with just a thought.

This should be enough.
Obviously I'm joking.
Be a lot more Evil.

Mark Hall
2009-10-16, 08:54 AM
Heh heh. (http://www.editors-wastebasket.org/nexx/tsr/contract.html)

Above is the party contract my younger brother's cleric of Illmater enforced on us, years ago. He went this route after a party member killed him and buried him in a shallow grave, convinced that he (the party member) was LG.

Farlion
2009-10-16, 09:02 AM
What always works best, is to have the players generate their characters as a team.

Use one game sessio just to design the characters, maybe come up with shared pasts, similar goals and so forth.

During this session, as a DM, pay attention, point out things that might not work out (the CE rogue and the LG paladin) or ask for ways they can roleplay around the problem.

Adventurers are usually pretty flexible, alas they have to be, to survive.

Cheers,
Farlion

Pink
2009-10-16, 09:17 AM
Mark hall: that looks like something I can very easily use, thank you very much

Bosssmiley: I would agree with you, the problem is that sometimes that disagrements aren't handled IC. They're either argued about OOC, and if I say to handle it IC, generally what happens is one player will just 'cede it to another and then sulk.

On party splitting, even if you're careful with how you do it, the other side is essentially doing nothing. It's unfortunate that most of my players tend for a "all about them" game experience and playstyle over a "all about the party" one, which means if they aren't in a scene or area they want to play with, they aren't paying attention.

For generating as a group, I have tried that to an extent before, I'm going to be moving more heavily in that direction at the next character creation setting. The problem again is that the group looks more inidividually than I like, and while they may start similarly 'aligned' there's no saying whether they might drop that goal as soon as they think its boring or something.

As a note here, my group may not be the best selection of players there is, but its not really the worst, and its the only one I have. They just have trouble working together overall sometimes.

BlackSheep
2009-10-16, 09:25 AM
What always works best, is to have the players generate their characters as a team.

Use one game sessio just to design the characters, maybe come up with shared pasts, similar goals and so forth.

During this session, as a DM, pay attention, point out things that might not work out (the CE rogue and the LG paladin) or ask for ways they can roleplay around the problem.

Adventurers are usually pretty flexible, alas they have to be, to survive.


This. I've always been perplexed by why people would want to role play relative strangers working secretly or even overtly to undermine each other. I see a lot of posts in which people eagerly detail the havoc that they cause either directly to their party members or indirectly by running amok in the game world. What I hardly ever read about are tales of sacrifice for the team or even for an NPC apart from action movie heroics that wind up with the actor dying spectacularly. Most PCs don't have family members as actors in an adventure, so the party fellows are almost literally the only people they can rely on in the world.

Delwugor
2009-10-16, 03:44 PM
Wait, you want to pre-configure a contract for all this good RP fodder? Mistrust, betrayal and wrangling under fire are all part of the fun. :smallconfused:

Generally the people I play with let this kind of thing emerge as a result of play:

Cash loot gets divided equally (# of PCs + 1 resurrection/healing fund)
Magic items go to the person who can utilise them best
Gentleman's rule to not step on one another's character shticks or hog the limelight
No tricking the Paladin into falling, and no turning in the Rogue for theft (that just gimps the whole party)

Having secondary agendas, working at cross-purposes, hiding/exploiting dark secrets and the like are all fair game though. :smallbiggrin:

This is how it works in my group also. I love sitting back as a GM and just watch the characters go after each other in an argument over what to do or who is in charge. As long as it is in character and it does get resolve in some manner then I'm happy to let them go.

The problem is that Pink's party is not resolving the differences and it is leaving out part of the players during the game, not good for a GM to allow.

Like the boss above I don't like the idea of a contract either. It really ends up saying "You are acting like children and I'm going to force you to work together."

As a GM I'd first talk to the group and explain that splitting up the party is not really fun for everyone. And then create situations where the party needs to rely on each other to accomplish their goals. "Oh we got this far and are stuck because the rogue isn't with us." or the other side "I wish we brought our Paladin, he could handle this without a problem." Make them realize IC that they need each other to accomplish their goals.
The difficult part is to do this without looking like you are railroading them.

Good luck.

The J Pizzel
2009-10-16, 03:56 PM
[QUOTE=bosssmiley;7132810]Generally the people I play with let this kind of thing emerge as a result of play:

Cash loot gets divided equally (# of PCs + 1 resurrection/healing fund)
Magic items go to the person who can utilise them best
Gentleman's rule to not step on one another's character shticks or hog the limelight
No tricking the Paladin into falling, and no turning in the Rogue for theft (that just gimps the whole party)QUOTE]

Same here in my group. I also want to echo what Farlion said. Having a character generation night has always worked wonders for me. In fact, not only to the players generally form more well rounded groups, it immediately starts encouraging teamwork.

A: Well, I didn't really want to but I'm gonna make a Cleric since no one else is.
B: I was kinda thinking of playing one instead of a Pally. I'll play if you want.
A: Sweet, now I can play what I wanted.

Works like a charm :)

Gnaeus
2009-10-16, 03:58 PM
If it is really a problem, these two methods work well for me...

Either..

1. Give the PCs a boss. Heck, you could let the group design the boss if they wanted to. The important traits of this boss are that he gets seriously pissed off if his team betrays him or each other, and that he scries on them, detects lies, or otherwise is aware when PCs are trying to BS him.

or

2. Guide the character creation in such a way that the PCs have an overriding common goal. For example, the PCs are in the ruling house of a kingdom with a lot of problems. Not only are they family, but their personal ambitions are strongly tied to the kingdom. Going off on tangents and allowing their family heritage to fail and all their loved ones to die isn't in the interests of even a CE.

These are heavy handed, but they get the job done, and could bridge the gap until you and your players get more experience.

Personally, I wouldn't use a contract, unless there is an in character reason why the characters would have such a contract. Guidance driven by in character reasons is always better than guidance from out of character factors.

Weimann
2009-10-16, 04:23 PM
Also, you could just ask them nicely.

"Look, guys, I don't mean to rain on your parade here, but I'm not all that experienced yet and what you are doing is making it rather hard for me. Can we keep it together? Please?"

Also, smaller groups are always easier to handle. I would personally feel most comfortable in a group of three or four.

Decoy Lockbox
2009-10-16, 05:04 PM
The important thing to remember is that although backstabbing, strife and disharmony make for great drama, they don't generally make for a good game. Especially a game like D&D that is co-operative. Now, there are plenty of games where backstabbing is the primary thing (Diplomacy, Paranoia, Wuthering Heights), but D&D isn't really one of them.

jiriku
2009-10-16, 05:22 PM
1) Share and share alike. Everyone gets a fair split of the spoils because everyone is here to have fun.
2) Keep peace with your friends. Your characters actions should be optimized towards everyone at the the table having fun together.

As the DM, you DO want to prescreen characters. I generally don't allow evil-aligned characters unless I regard the player in question as a superior roleplayer and a mature, thoughtful, considerate human being.

Also, I nip in the bud any sources of conflict that arise during the character development. So, when player 1 builds a righteous paladin, and player 2 rolls a chaotic neutral scoundrel, I tell the players "you two go over there, sit down together, and write me at least two paragraphs of backstory each, explaining how you are lifelong friends who've fought together and risked your lives for each other, and why your friendship is so strong you'd be willing to overlook strong moral and ethical disagreements." If the players fail to accomplish that, then there's no IC reason why those two characters would ever adventure together, and one of them has to roll a new character.