Hail fellow wanderers of the wastes.
Have I got the question for you today. I’ve slowly been ingesting all material of 5E homebrew options out there and have been lucky to play DS in 2E again for the first time in over a decade.
Next year I would really like to launch my own game(s) again and I had some wild ideas.
I had the idea to run separate groups (at least 2, possibly 3) in one campaign world. Say, one group starting in Balic, one in Tyr, possibly one up north. They don’t know each other (or do they?) their tales have nothing to do with eachother (or do they?) and the enemies they make don’t know eachother either (or do they?).
Now the questions I have are the following:
- Does anyone have experience with running more than 1 group at the same time in the same world? Give me your story, your dos and donts, tips tricks, evil wicked sinister plans, and more.
- Does anyone have experience with running said groups asynchronously? One group might meet or interact more often than another, and how do you cope with that?
- Does anyone have experience with running said groups in a different manner? For example, one live and one play-by-post. Or even as mad as running in different systems (2E/5E for me for example, but you might have done other combos - tell me!).
- Last but not least, drop me any cool ideas I could trick players/groups out with, and toy with them not knowing whether they are dealing with NPCs or other PCs actions far removed from their circle of influence. And yes campaign / story ideas are welcome too but my slate is not clean to start with.
Thanks for any and all input.
I’ve done it, but it requires a lot of creative DMing to get groups to sync. I find it easier if you don’t give the players a calendar or date and wave off rest time to a vague “couple of days” or “a month or so passes”. In Athas this is easier than most standard fantasy settings… the SMs control the calendar itself and seasons are not generally apparent.
The most fun part is interweaving NPCs. Remember that if the players have access to teleports, wormholes, etc… that the villains/competition will utilize the same tricks. Also remember that while the heroes are heroes in their own head? They often look the villain from a different angle. You can use this to set one party onto another without getting into too much detail through second hand NPC accounts. In Dark Sun this is extremely important to do only by word of mouth at first, no physical evidence that they can read object or divine a proper name from the opposing group (unless your two groups have no real life knowledge of each other).
Knights of the Dinner Table had a cool issue once, where a sci-fi party lands a party in the fantasy world the group usually plays. The sci-fi group lands into the other game’s past through a wormhole and then has them personally/accidentally destroy the treasure they’d gained in the other game. I’ve never gotten away with anything that epic yet.
I am doing it right now, have been running my campaign since April.
Roll20 +Discord for voice.
2 groups (1 group Plays in 5E, the Other group plays in PF1E), 5 players in each.
Both groups are playing the same campaign. So map porting is easy (more on this). They meet MOST of the same NPC’s.
As it turned out, due to party class, composition and PC motives the two groups are opposing each other. They have not met yet, but I played one of the players as an NPC.
Initially my discord channels were cross party (The rivalry was great on the chats, as one party is anti-SK’s and the other are minions of Hamanu, but the majority of both parties just want to survive) but I had to soon make their chats private since there was plotting going on and because each play on opposing weekends, I didnt want one party to get info the players would know but their PC;s should not and use it.
Most time its all about perspective, when I described certain events I use the perspective of each party when describing the same event. I’ve had to change some of the scenarios to fit the pro-Hamanu group, but nothing crazy. Just keep a journal for the separate groups. I normally post a recap right after the session so that the players (and me) remember what happened.
It has been a lot of fun.
At some point I will have my players meet IRL as their PC but it hasnt happened yet.
Did it for years with multiple groups. For the most part they operated in different areas, they’d hear rumors of things happening elsewhere that tied things together and occasionally something that wasn’t picked up by one group was picked up by another.
At lower levels depending on what the groups are doing, the others may not hear anything at all or just some rumors. Toward the mid levels I’ve had groups visit villages that only exist because another group saved them, more rumors, even once had two groups working on opposite sides of the same quests with an epic meeting between them when they both sat down together ad met each other for the first time. At high and epic levels they definitely hear about each other’s work, sometimes ignore it, sometimes help or hinder. I even had one lower level group have an epic group as a patron.
Keep track of what each group does, see what ripples seem reasonable and make changes based on them. If one group opens a new trade route, goods from there suddenly become available to the other group. At the same time not everything a group does will ever been seen by another.
I once had a group that lasted a few sessions, they saved a village from a defiler who tried to use it as a base, then bandits who came after the defiler was taken care of, scouted out some ruins in the area, and worked with some traders to bring in supplies to keep the village alive. All in all, nice, reasonable set of adventures that kept them busy into mid levels, then players decided to move to Eberron. That village is still there, not much has changed other than it’s gotten a bit more stable, took on some bandit groups over the years and still has traders come every season.
Beyond that, none of my other groups were impacted at all but whenever it looked like a group was headed in that direction I dusted off my notes, figured out a few things that could have happened in the intervening time and was ready if needed.
I’ve run 2e, 3.5, and pathfinder with plenty of homebrew in there… the crunch doesn’t matter outside the group that plays in it, the stories are what matter.
as a player in such a scenario (DM’s homebrewed world, not Athas), it can be quite interesting. My party ended up founding an “empire” (really a smallish country, but multi racial, so technically an empire), while another party founded another country. There were some sessions where both parties have joined forces as well. It can make things quite interesting. We did see the results of each party’s actions, had to play politics, sometimes even in opposition to other PC’s (this was a sandbox game run with mostly 1e/OSR rules)
A fun idea I did once while running two different groups on different nights was to create an npc group of rivals for group A that mostly matched the characters of group B then I would note the tactics group A used to beat group B and vice versa. I had my players supplying ways to challenge the other group for me for weeks.
Both wicked and awesome. I’m definitely gonna steal that one.