I am new to roleplaying games, and I just purchased the Beginner Game. In our last (and first) session, the players wanted to split up to different locations to save time. I explained to them that it wouldn't really save time because there was only one GM and I could only focus on one encounter at a time. They agreed, but there were other instances where they felt it would be better to split the party up. I never did let them, not knowing how to work it out. I want to know if the game allows for the party splitting, and if so, where in the rulebook I can find the rules for it.
Michael Dietrich Frers
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There aren't any rules for it. Not in this system or any other. As you noted, you're the one controlling everything else in the world, so unless you can split your focus and alternate between the groups, it is best to either try and keep the party together, or put the ones that go off on hold while you try and handle some of what the other's are doing.
If you don't want to be ham-handed about it subtle reminders will work as well. Have them make a Perception check to note things like an increase in Gamorreans patrolling the streets, or that the Stormtroopers that were coming from the othe rlanding port seem mighty interested in people looking like them. These little reminders of how much more vulnerable they are split up in situations like that can go a good way to reinforcing the "stick together for protection" mentality. I think however, the way you handled it was pretty well done as well!
There are few games which cover it in detail (Burning Empires does, but that's because the Party really isn't in BE)…
But, in general, if your party wants to split up, there are several approaches:
One Scene at a TIme: think like ANH - the party splits TWICE aboard the death star, 3 way splits each time. (And each time, one group has to rescue another.)
Shorter Action First - decide which group should take less time, then start them off. If they call for help, stop, and let the other chunk of players react at the appropriate timw. It's harder to do as a GM, but it also is quite satisfying when it works, because you get lots of movie-like pacing.
Smith & Wesson: The original PointClick interface!
My party split after getting the ship part. One wanted to go straight to the docking bay and the other wanted to go to the comand center. So… the ones that went to the docking bay went by the mines… that had slaves beeing beaten by gamorian guards. The wookie did not like that, so that kept them busy as the other half of the party had to unlock the docking clamps at the comand center.
I had to run two or three rounds, then do a cut scene to the other group for the same amount of time.
Thank you guys for all of the help. I feel that party splitting is a lot of work, but maybe sometime we can give it a try and use some of the different techniques.
Michael Dietrich Frers
Last weekend while running Escape From Mos Shuuta, the party split up after getting the HMRI from Vorn. How I managed it was to split forseeable encounters into manageable shorter pieces (like aramis's suggestion) so we can quickly jump from one half of the group to the other.
3 PCs went for Landing Bay Aurek. The remaining 3 went to the spaceport control. One regular D6 was rolled to determine which group went first.
It was awesome.
I used to split parties lots of times during Star Wars D6.
I know most GM's don't like it, but I've run games for 10 years and have had a lot of success splitting up the party. The last game we played had a five man party split four ways at one point, as we were running a major con Oceans 11 style.
As for how to run it, I tend to run things cinematically e.g. we jump to someone elses perspective around the same time a movie would do a cut. Often this means jumping into and out of combat multiple times, as things occur in other areas.
For example, in our last game:
The human con-man and the wookie initiate a conversation with the big bad. He introduces himself, rolls a few deception checks.
Switch to the droid, who sneaks into the command compound, disables a guard, slices into a computer and starts making the system go haywire. Just then guards walk in, and get ready to open up fire
Switch to the rodian thief who sneaks into the back and breaks into the office to plant some paperwork.
Back to the human con man who convinces the Big Bad to do some stuff. Unfortunately, the Big Bad hears the alarms and says he has to check something in his office (where the Rodian is)
Switch back to the Rodian, give him a chance to do something as the Big Bad enters
Switch to the gadget guy who smuggled himself in, in a vehicle. He gets out, plants some bombs
Back to the Droid. We do a few rounds of combat. He's clearly in trouble.
Back to the Rodian, Human, and Wookie, who are all in the same room. The Rodian sneaks around while the Human & Wookie attempt to distract the Big Bad
Back to the Gadgets guy, who sets off the some of the bombs and hotwires a ship for escape
Back to the droid. The explosions disable one of his opponents, he subdues the other and makes a break for the escape ship.
Back the the human/rodian/wookie. The human convinces the Big Bad to leave the room. The Rodian then makes a break for the escape ship.
Cut to the escape ship. They make a break for it while the Human and Wookie "help" the Big Bad try to stop them.
For some GM's this kind of multi-tasking might be a bit complex. But for many I have worked with it isn't to hard, as years of movie watching have hardwired our brains into thinking in certain "cinematic" patterns. The appropriate times to jump between groups comes from natural cues in the story.
A few tips for this kind of party splitting though:
I typically don't let anyone get involved in major combat, except in special circumstances (duels, etc.) Combat should be a set piece. For example, I would never attempt something like the ending of The Phantom Menace. It wouldn't work in a game for the same reason it didn't work on screen: there are too many big, setpiece battles to keep track of.
Also, you sometimes can let things happen off screen (even combat). If it is clear one of your groups is going to win combat, you can just have them roll to see how well it went, instead of actually playing it out round for round. In cinematic terms it would be something like:
Characters accomplish something, just as some guards walk in. Have them roll. It is mediocre.
Jump to other characters
Jump back. The first characters are dusting themselves off with a bunch of unconcious guards on the gound. Due to their mediocre roll you inform them they are now behind schedule, and have taken 2 wounds between them.
Party splits are also good excuses for some players to take a smoke break without stopping play.
When parties spilt up on games I've run I usually try to make it as difficult as possible for the seperate groups as sort of an incentive to come back together. Also, I've noticed that when my players want to split up, it usually means they're getting bored or the game is running slow, so I work harder to make it more enjoyable. There have been instances where I've slpit the group as part of a storyline. i.e. one group enters from the south, the other from the north but it all eventually leads them back together.
"Be of good courage…"
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