How to split the party for fun and profit

Before I begin, let me tell you, the Progamer opened the session by showing me some indie RPG that he brought to the game, just to show me. It was “the Shotgun Diaries”, a delightful little zombie survival game, that felt just right for playing Left 4 Dead. I’d like to plug it, partially because I can’t find any torrent or rapidshit on it. Buy it so I can steal it.

We left off last session at the cathedral infiltration meeting.

While we exchanged a few office-based jokes, we essentially agreed on 2 things; the party would be split up to cover more ground in a shorter time and that in case one group found what it was looking for, it was to give the other group “the signal” which was an owl call. In any case, the operation started at 2am, was to end latest at 4am, and the earliest monks to wake up were scheduled at 5am. Plenty of time for a quick heist.

We agreed on everything and went to the cathedral. I brought up that we didn’t break up into groups yet. Nobody seemed to know what to do, so fearing further stalling, I grabbed initiative; “I’m going down to the cellar, who goes with me?” (It was balsam for my soul to not hear FattyDM giggle at my accidental DoW reference.) The Bro joined and it was decided.

Me and the Bro were to go through the warehouse-section entrance, while the Girl and the Progamer were to climb one of the bell towers. All had a good time discussing the hilarity of putting all the intelligent characters into one group, hurf durf. What followed was some rather well done spotlight-switching, often even at good cliffhanger moments. The Girl group climbed the tower properly, and went to check the library first, then one of the important upstairs rooms, and found an encrypted scroll, basically what we needed.

Me and the Bro first encountered the storage door, which was locked. Admittedly, a flaw in my plan. We then went to the back entrance, which was somehow not locked, and proceeded downstairs. The wine cellar seemed to have been unused for some time, and filled with rows of barrels, the middle one of which seemed impossibly large for the tiny staircase that was the only way in. In retrospect we were told that pulling a metal part would trigger the hidden door, but at the time, slashing it open seemed more sensible.

In any case, we got into the hidden crypt, killed the big bad skeleton of some local saint, (he never hit, but did 1d4 automatic damage to whomever he felt like every turn, which turned into 1d4+1 after being bloodied (but GM haet 4e)) and expected to see loot.

“Roll to search” “3 and 4” “Fine, you find this one medallion” (have an illustration, drawn by yours truly, the GM, Picasso in hiding) At this point we get some groaning from my group, but the Bro, in his unshakable mellowness, can’t be arsed to fight dumb decisions. “So I examine the hidden floor in his grave” “What hidden floor? You failed the search check.”

Urrrgghhhh.

At this point, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you how much I hate text-based adventures, particularly the “What x?” messages. MSPA being the only exception.

Somehow we all exited at that point, the Cleric (plus company,) got tangled up in some social thing with his mentor, ran out of it in the last moment, met me and the Bro downstairs, and we all collectively fled through the back door, right into another plot bog.
This time, it was an impenetrable fog in the graveyard, everyone ran straight into it, I got myself a good observing position by the church wall as to not get lost, and there the session ended.

Now.

What have I learned? It’s about splitting the party; take people who you’re cool with. If we were in a normal game, we would split up according to some rational “fighter/specialist” ratio, but this was no ordinary game. The rouge would’ve fucked me over and fled, the cleric would’ve been an asshole about healing, and probably, fled. Taking either of them would’ve not only led to loss of player sanity, but also probably got us stuck in some swamp of awkward roleplaying and bad plot points, which would invariably lead to at-will damage.

Taking the Bro meant none of these things, (excluding the at-will damage,) and made sure we had serious fighting power. I’m not perfectly sure how the GM planned that skeleton, but I think he kind of assumed the whole group would be fighting it and maybe hastily toned it down when it became apparent that only 2 characters would be fighting, but didn’t calculate that those two did 80% of all damage. Well, it was all for the best in the end.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is rolling for things. “Say yes” should be a mantra, one that gets tattooed into the skin of GM’s who don’t know it by heart. You do not let people roll to get loot from a boss they killed if nothing is at stake- actually let me rephrase that, there was something at stake; If we would’ve succeeded, we would’ve had fun. He basically let us roll whether we have fun. Great GMing, done right. When the party is in a town, and there is an identifying service available, and the players pay to get their stuff identified, you don’t roll to identify. You just tell them.

In 90 minutes I’ll be subject to another treatment like this, and I expect nothing good to come of it. Also, as I’ve found out hours earlier, the Progamer won’t be coming to games anymore because we’re too casual for him. Serves him right I guess, and also, Godspeed on your games without FattyDM. (On the phone, FattyDM made a point of wanting to killing off his character now.)

Also, on an unrelated postscript, we talked about Silvester yesterday at the Local Gaming Club. Chances are there’ll be rum, as we know our host to prepare Mojitos, and chances are, we’ll take his bottle and play Munchhausen. Something tells me it will be awesome.
It was also suggested we play Dread after that.

Correction: I am being told now that there will be no rum, only baileys. Take what you can get I guess

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~ by fatrpgdongs on 11/12/2009.

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