View Full Version : Advice on running multiple games at once...

2009-12-09, 09:41 PM
...with minimum amount of work for the DM.

Pretty much my situation is that there's a lot more people I know that want to play D&D around here than I can handle for one game, but most of them are on the inexperienced side, if not total newbies, so there's no good secondary DM. While I would be fine running a couple of games, unless I just do random dungeon crawls, that's going too much work for me to do. And while having two groups running effectively the same adventure would take care of the extra work, this isn't a solution as there would be discussion between the groups, ruining any surprise for the second group. Are there any clever DMs out there with advice for dealing with a situation like this?

Mando Knight
2009-12-09, 09:51 PM
Folders of documents and ready-made adventures, along with random dungeon generators, town generators, and a thirty to forty page document on a vast campaign world. Place the two parties on separate continents and run with it.

2009-12-09, 10:17 PM
Teaching some of them to DM as you go in a co-DM sort of thing helps a lot too.

2009-12-10, 12:49 AM
...with minimum amount of work for the DM.
unless I just do random dungeon crawls,

Do random dungeon crawl. The other group can play something plotty. Basically write for one group at a time. Then put that group in a dungeon and give the other group something juicier. As an alternative to dungeons, premade campaigns will work out just fine.

The other option is to include both groups in the same game world, but never have them meet.

2009-12-10, 02:29 AM
How about running the same game for both groups and ask the group that plays it first not to tell the second group about anything sine they'll be playing it later?

OR you can do it head of vecna style. Run two groups in the same campaign world in the same campaign from different angles, possibly opposite so what the first group does has effect on the second group and if they are playing opposite teams you can bet the first group isn't going to tell the second group anything.

2009-12-10, 02:51 AM
I advocate running two separate campaigns/games, but in the same game world. The PCs won't be likely to meet if you give them different goals to chase.
Then, combine this with dungeon crawling alternated with plot. Essentially, make up a plot reason for a dungeon crawl to start, get one group into the pre-prepared dungeon, then concentrate on the plot for the other group while the dungeon deals with the first group.

2009-12-10, 06:21 AM
If you put them in the same world, Group 2 can hear about the exploits, highs and lows of Group 1 and vice versa. Maybe if they are IRL friends and talk often, you could explain IG by these adventurers corresponding by letter? This would allow you to setup exchange characters between groups and other things that make a larger group of gamers exist happily. -> Ex: Can't make it to Sunday games for two months, comes and plays with the Wednesday group for a while.

Also sets up both groups working on a same goal but at different ends of a scenario. So to free the spirit of Al'razud you have to go and visit the tower of Zuk'rah and obtain the eye of the cyclops god, at the same time, the other group can blaze the way to the lost temple in the Jungle where the ceremony must take place.

Also, reuse NPCs between groups, even if you simply give them different names. Reuse battles (not in the same order, though). Reuse scenes: Waterfall bridge battle? How cool is that! You get to improve on what works with the second group.

One technique I use is the brain dump for preparing. Just start with a large piece of paper and dump-write every possible type of encounter, scenarion, battle, scene and background you want to use. The more you write, the more there is to use. And for the rest, learn to improvise around a base scenario.

2009-12-13, 06:53 PM
Thank you all for the advice, alternating between plot and dungeon/jungle/other dangerous area crawls between the groups makes good sense. I do especially like Ashtar's idea of having them work towards the same or related goal, but from different directions, and while they don't really meet, they hear about each other.

Folders of documents and ready-made adventures, along with random dungeon generators, town generators, and a thirty to forty page document on a vast campaign world. Place the two parties on separate continents and run with it.

Do random dungeon and town generators actually exist as like a program or something, or are you just saying to have stuff prepared?

2009-12-13, 07:15 PM
Google "Random dungeon D&D" will give you a list of generators. Some will even fill the dungeon with monsters and treasure, others will only build a map.

If both groups are on the same scenario, but at different ends, what's nice is meeting NPCs wounded by Group 1 but escaped (after dramatically losing an eye?), getting into a fight with Group 2. Soooo many options!

If you need any multiple path scenario, I'd be happy to give a hand.

Edit: Also remember to look up the superb Official Wizards dungeon generator (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/mapper/launcher.htm) :smallbiggrin:

2009-12-15, 08:18 PM
That looks quite useful, thanks again.

2009-12-15, 11:50 PM
Running two in-person parties at the same time is a lot of work, yes. At that point, you have a good excuse to fall-back on pre-made modules or adventure paths. This takes the problems of designing the game out of your hands, leaving you focused on running the game.

You could get two different adventure paths of approximately the same level and run them in parallel--justify it by saying that either they happen X years before/after each other, or they represent major happenings in two different regions of the world. You want to keep them mostly separate if you can; having them meet up or romp around the same area of your campaign world presents serious continuity problem potential. If you set up means of crossovers (in case, as mentioned earlier, you need to shuffle people between groups) make them fairly obscure: having them cross paths is going to make your life a lot more difficult.