February 7, 2011

Group Divided

Do you ever get frustrated by a seeming schism in your group? Do some of your players always give you a sideways glance when they declare actions? Do others bottle up during social encounters? Do some get bored after half a round of combat?

If more than one of these applies to your group, it sounds like you have a group of mixed play styles. A mixed group can be a good thing, but more often is just a source of friction and a headache for the GM.

This topic actually cropped up during a twitter conversation on the #rpg hash tag. R.A. Whipple was commenting that his group was playing highly adversarial even though everyone agreed to a politically based campaign. This is a terrible thing to happen, but during the conversation he revealed that he was only having problems with three players, one was helping him, and the other three were newbies without direction.

I suggested something radical: split the group. Find a GM willing to play the adversarial game with the more experienced players; take the newbies and the helpful member of the group and keep running the campaign.

We need to check our groups out regularly to know if they’re healthy as a group. The more in-fighting and bickering that comes of diverse play styles the less fun the group will have. By extension, the less time the group will last.

Some great place to look for the different player styles, and some excellent ways to deal with each, see Robin Laws’ Guide to Good Mastering (If you can find it) or the 4th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide 1 and 2.


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