View Full Version : Advice Dealing With In-Character Party Split?

2016-08-24, 02:21 AM
So, the superhero team in my high-powered Mutants & Masterminds game split in half. No need to worry about my players - my group is fantastic about inter-party conflict and they're all loving the turn of events - but it got quite vicious in-character.

For some context, the group's enemies are almost always creatures known as "void beings," entities literally from beyond existence, representing the things that were made impossible by the creation of this universe's metaphysical and physical laws. They all have the ability to end reality if left unchecked, and in particular target Earth for reasons the party is only recently beginning to grasp.

Nonetheless, the party has decided and managed to reason with or otherwise neutralize and spare some of these beings in the hopes of redeeming them (for those this is even possible for; their intelligence levels, and the comprehensibility of their motivations, varies massively given their origins). This is a decision I am regularly genuinely surprised by, but I think it makes the players really happy that they've managed to successfully redeem a small handful of the ones they've tried to, and on the occasions where they succeed it gives them an allied NPC on their level of power, which is a category otherwise limited to the universe's creators. So I, and the group, have consistently enjoyed it as a game element.

However, happy as we are out-of-character, it's caused some in-character strife. And that bit came to a head recently.

Their most recent foe, the blue titan going by the name Azulus, presented itself as one of the more redeemable void beings by a fair margin. However, since its powers allow it to manipulate beings' minds, with only one of the party members having an Immunity to it, most of the party considered it too dangerous to spare. Aurora, the one immune to its abilities, actually rescued it from being finished off by the rest of the group and fled. One of the others in the group decided that being with Aurora was more important than the disagreement and went to join her, but the two resulting groups of two PCs couldn't reconcile immediately (granted, their talk was brief) since the ability to manipulate the party's minds was considered so intolerably dangerous.

So the party has split, with two of the PCs and most of the redeemed void beings with Aurora's splinter group, and the other two PCs and the last redeemed void being running the team as usual out of its base, in something of conflict with each other.

So my question is how to deal with this as a GM. I'm not overly opposed to the turn of events as long as the players are having fun, which they've indicated that they are. That said, it breaks my usual formulas. Do I let them serve as each other's antagonists for a session and see if they can reconcile, or should I try having a new void being appear to threaten the world, and see how they deal with not being able to handle it without working together? Do I have NPCs as a whole take the issue as serious enough to be worth the split, or act incredulous that they'd split up during such a high-stakes situation? (Obviously, individuals will react in their own ways; I'm talking about the general leanings of NPC groups as a whole, and what the reaction of the masses might be.) Do I have their enemies take advantage of the split, or should I lay off on pressure since they're providing enough for each other as is? What's going to lead to the most interesting RP opportunities, and what can I do as a GM to discourage the split-up from being permanent without interfering too strongly with the fun of the temporary dispute?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Dr paradox
2016-08-24, 03:04 AM
Great premise! In theory, I'd recommend you let them play the conflict through. I ran a mutants and masterminds game for a few years, and some of the best stuff was when the player characters were hashing things out between them.

Practically... It's a problem. Unless their plans are guile-less punch ups, they can't be antagonists to each other while sitting at the same table, at least not directly. Bouncing between two different rooms to maintain mystery is likewise an unsatisfying solution.

I would recommend setting up a resource or information both sides would want, as a way of channeling the players towards a manageable conflict. Have a unifying threat on standby in case the play situation gets out of hand.

2016-08-25, 11:01 AM
The most practical options for an IRL game like this are the following:

1) Bounce between the two groups, and trust that they'll do their best to not metagame knowing what the other group is up to. This is hard, and even the best-meaning players (of which I count myself one, under most circumstances) have a hard time of it. I often, when dealing with metaknowledge, find myself second-guessing whether my character would know something or not, and often err on the side of "not" even to the (unintended) detriment of the game. Not on purpose. Just...it's hard.

2) Bounce between the two groups by having them in separate rooms. This is a lot of movement for you, and keeps half the players disengaged whenever you're with the other half. If they're good with taking the time to plot or RP on their own without GM interaction, that can work out well. But it can become dull and boring.

3) Alternate game sessions. e.g., if you meet once a week, have each group meet once every two weeks. This means you're not consuming time for those who aren't playing right then, but it can make scheduling harder (people forget which week it is) and makes it harder to jump back to the other group if there's interaction between their choices and you need to see what they do in response.

4) Recruit or appoint a second GM and run the games simultaneously. This is hard because you need a new person who will agree to run subordinate to you and who can coordinate with you frequently...or you need to "promote" a player, and that essentially means removing them AS a player.

One thing you could try, though it may not work for your group, would be setting up a PBP forum for your group, or playing by e-mail. Keep people in one party in their own threads. The in-person sessions should be geared towards playing out events where the parties conflict. The emails or posts let them do their plotting all week to set up for it.