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Thread: Resolving conflicting time lines

  1. #1
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    Resolving conflicting time lines

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    When I had to put our game on hold back in December we had eight people in our group. It would get pretty loud sometimes, and more than a few games would have to be cancelled because some would just not show up. After my surgery I started to call the members together and a few more people wanted in. The result was the group split, the more social people and the role players.

    My problem is, they all played in one setting (I guess we will play on alternating weekends) and now with the split where do I put them? I foresee one group affecting the other in many ways. My reasoning for this is when a player gets mauled or killed we end the year right there so the character can recover, or, the year goes on until the winter where it is difficult to rp. There are years that only last one game day, while others will last several months. If one group has to end the year while one group goes on they will get out of sequence, affecting the world. This I can’t have for reasons that most will see as obvious.

    How do I resolve my predicament? The only solution I can think of is to place them on opposite ends of the land. In practical terms they would have two large territories and over a thousand miles separating them even though it would be just two different kingdoms. I can still see opportunities for one group to affect the other. What would you do to keep both groups time lines aligned?

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    Can't you just have the same campaign setting but with each group carving their own history? Everyone that uses any campaign setting is sure to run it differently and have different outcomes. To keep track of the changes that each group has made, use a campaign journal to track their story. If you have a Bard or Scholar in the group, have them write the journal themselves for a little extra RP XP.

    In my own campaign world, I use the same starting point and plot hook for every group. I like to see how different groups develop the same story. I have had groups that aren't very original and mostly follow the plot, while others find interesting ways to solve problems. For instance, my common start point is the group is being paid to scout the enemy army. The boring groups (3 in total) do just that, keeping track and just making their reports. One group decided to set fire to the forest as the enemy army marched through (Alchemist Fire suspened with timed candles to start the fires). Another group damned a river and then burst dam as the army was crossing (wood and stone dam, designed by Gnome Rouge with alot of skill in trapmaking, that was easily toppled by a lever). Another original idea was when a group decided to switch allegiances, since they thought their employers were doomed and wanted to ensure continuing paychecks (never trust mercenaries). My favorite group, warned the people in the way and started forming a large band to harass the enemy and destroy their supplies (the whole party took leadership at lvl 6).

    Let the groups form their own destiny. If you tie the social group to the story formed by the RP group, you may find resentment forming or the RP group may not like how the social group is acting.
    ... AND ON THE EIGHTH DAY, GOD SAID, "I NEED A DRINK."

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    Are the players interacting with each other somehow such that continuity has to exist? Are they communicating with or scrying on each other? Why not only guarantee consistency with each group? When DMing group 1 treat all of group 2's characters as NPCs and when DMing group 2, treat all of group 1's characters as NPCs, and let the plots move as they may. It'd be more complicated (worst case, twice as much).

    On the other hand, I see the benefits to using the same world instance for both groups. The two parties can each collaborate when solving quest objectives ("we need both halves of the magic crystal! Group 1 get the bottom half, group 2 get the top half, and we'll meet back up once we're ready to face the BBEG!") or even compete against each other. (If each is from a rival kingdom, and they're each laying claim to some new territory. First one that gets there claims it!)

    Are you open to odd plot device ideas? For example, is there some trait in your universe so that time-flow in the pocket dimensions conjured via a Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion spell is chaotic, allowing you to slow down or speed up time as you need to keep everyone roughly in sync?

    Or could you distract the group that's ahead via a side-quest or two? I suppose some/all of these are borderline railroading.

    Maybe the group that's ahead can somehow help the group that's behind?

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    Well, if you take the adventure to other planes, you could always say that time flows differently in different planes, so a week in one place could be a year in another...

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    “Let the groups form their own destiny. If you tie the social group to the story formed by the RP group, you may find resentment forming or the RP group may not like how the social group is acting.”

    My original thinking was for the two groups to just so their thing (I am notorious for not wanting a linear type of game) and let the cards fall where they may. The plot I have in mind are not written in stone and subject to change caused by PC’s. And though most everyone knows most everyone, they don’t really get together outside the game (except at our local conventions) so I don’t expect a whole lot of cross talk between groups. Since they won’t be playing together they most likely will not know how the other group affects them, at least for awhile.

    “When DMing group 1 treat all of group 2's characters as NPCs and when DMing group 2, treat all of group 1's characters as NPCs, and let the plots move as they may. It'd be more complicated (worst case, twice as much).

    This is the idea I have been leaning towards, but like you mention, I can see it getting complicated further down the road as the PC’s of both groups get more powerful. That is my dilemma.

    “In my own campaign world, I use the same starting point and plot hook for every group.

    When I run adventures for the local convention goers I use adventures I have run for my various games. The premise is the same and I use the same characters and all. The adventures sometimes go the same as originally played out and sometimes things explode all over the place. I wonder if this is a good idea here? Would the contrary story lines ruin the story for me? As things are going now, without intervention from you, I have been thinking of sticking one group in the place I have been developing for years and having the other group start in the opposite place of the developed lands. One group will start in the frontier and the other in the swamps of the former evil empire to the south of the main kingdom. I don’t like doing this as I sort of see it as copping out on my part, but I haven’t really thought of how to best solve this predicament. I have never had this many players to satisfy at the same time except at the conventions.

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