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Anyone ever played a game with two linked groups?

Lackofname

Explorer
Right now I'm running a short-ish campaign, so my eye is on the next. I could run it with two different focuses: either nation building/diplomacy/sticking around the home base and defending it, or going out and exploring uncharted areas.

Then I realized I could run each, one for two groups. And if that was the case, then why not have them take place at the same time, the actions of one group impacting those of the other? (I.E. the explorers kick in the back door of some locals, the locals then have greviances with the town the Explorers are coming from).

Has anyone tried this before, running two consecutive groups and having events of one game impact the other?

(An alternative would be to set one group later in time than the other, but the above seems more interesting atm).
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The basic problem with it is that different groups can run at different paces - one group can take three sessions to get through one day of the game calendar, while another can skip over three weeks of game-time to travel from point A to point B. When they are supposed to impact each other, that's a problem.
 

Cyan Wisp

Explorer
Yes! Only once, and only as a special end-of-year treat for my kid players (I'm a primary/elementary teacher).
Both were exploring The Sunless Citadel - different RL days, concurrent in-game time. One group got hired by the kobolds to stop the depredations of the nasty goblins. The other group (an all-girl group) were hired by the goblins to put down the kobold menace. Neither group was aware of this contrivance until...

...imagine their surprise when both groups met in my class one RL day and, spurred on by rumours of evil hirelings the enemy had procured, they came face to face. A massive rumble erupted, carnage ensued, and the survivors (most of the all-girl group) emerged victorious!
 

Mercurius

Legend
I've always liked the idea, especially running two groups that don't know they're in the same world, and then getting them all together. It would be hard to pull off for a number of reasons.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
Good point, @Umbran.

There's also the problem that no one may be interested in one of the two styles (nation building and diplomacy may not get much enthusiasm. :p)

I know the "don't know about eachother" is a fun reveal, but I'd probably be advertising the games together. And since I'd run it online, I think it would be neat to use a joint discord server so the groups could communicate with one another between games.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The basic problem with it is that different groups can run at different paces - one group can take three sessions to get through one day of the game calendar, while another can skip over three weeks of game-time to travel from point A to point B. When they are supposed to impact each other, that's a problem.
This is a challenge, but there's all kinds of tricks a DM can use to speed one group up and-or slow the other one down. It's easier if the same players have characters in both groups, as it becomes in their interest to keep them contemporary.

That said, sometimes one group is simply faster than the other, in which case interaction largely comes off the table and the slower group has to accept that they might now and then have to clean up messes left behind by the faster.

I've been doing this pretty much since I started DMing - multiple parties in the same setting who can and do meet and interact with each other. Most of the interactions are during downtime, which is essential to a) allowing these interactions and b) keeping the groups vaguely time-aligned.

Edit to add: reading on, the idea of having the groups operate without knowing of each other's existence raises loads of headaches. Within an individual adventure (such as what @Cyan Wisp did) it can certainly be done, but over the long haul it'd be close to impossible.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
I think one big impact on time is combat, as it eats up a lot of table time. The group more involved in combat could then end up with the session stopping in the middle of kicking in someone's door, and the aftermath is unknown when it's the other group's day.

In my situation, I think it actually does benefit things if the Away team is slower than the Home team. Because it's likely the Away team is going to be the one causing trouble for the other group, and it would make sense in-game for there to be a delay simply due to travel time, any offended parties doing planning, etc.
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
Well, as the guys making the Marvel movies/shows have said, "Everything's connected". :)

So yes, whenever I'm running multiple games the groups are effectively linked. Things happening in one game can (and have) had impacts on the others. The players know this and have at times used it to essentially troll each other (despite not having ever met in real life).
A good example of this was in our Sunday PF game. The considerably high lv party found themselves on Earth circa 1918 fighting possessed WWI British tanks.... One of them opened a planar portal & shunted a tank off to ??. I asked "OK, where are you sending it?" Player thinks for a moment & asks "Can I send it to your Thur game?" "....Sure."
And so in the next Thur session those lucky players got to fight a possessed WWI British tank!

*The Thur game is 5e btw.

The players in one game have also used things like Contact other Plane, etc to communicate with players in my other games.
 
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Lackofname

Explorer
A good example of this was in our Sunday PF game. The considerably high lv party found themselves on Earth circa 1918 fighting possessed WWI British tanks.... One of them opened a planar portal & shunted a tank off to ??. I asked "OK, where are you sending it?" Player thinks for a moment & asks "Can I send it to your Thur game?" "....Sure."
And so in the next Thur session those lucky players got to fight a possessed WWI British tank!
1) That is hilarious,

2) Okay seriously, how do you kill a WWI tank in PF? :p
 

I've tried something like this once, but on a much smaller scale. I was running two adventures simultaneously for the same group: one player was having a solo adventure while the other four were involved in a different short adventure. All five players were at the same table, so everyone could see what was going on at the "other" adventure, but they didn't get to use their "out-of-game" knowledge in their current situation. And then I set things up such that one or more of the PCs in the larger group would be teleported over to the solo adventure (just one PC, the way things turned out). The problem was that the four PCs had pretty much finished their big fight before the teleportation occurred - it would have been more exciting had the larger group lost one of their number while still up against their main enemy, but I wasn't quite able to pull it off.

My son, who DMs our other campaigns, pulled something similar but on a much larger scale. We went through an entire 60-session campaign and were then told the follow-up campaign would take place in the same game world. What he didn't mention was that this second campaign was occurring during the same time frame as the original campaign. So we've already encountered evidence of what the previous PCs had been up to while our current PCs are off about their own business. In one session, we were even up against two of the PCs from the previous campaign, at a point in time where those two PCs had been absent from the session taking place at that particular point in time; now we all know what they had been up to when they were missing! It even gets better: the evil organization that was the main enemy of the PCs in the first campaign is actively willing to aid the PCs in our current campaign, and our new PCs have no reason to distrust the organization. In fact, we've already agreed to rescue a main villain from the first campaign because of a prophecy that states he may be key to preventing an apocalyptic event in the near future. (And our current PCs have no idea the role he played in the previous campaign.)

Johnathan
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This is a challenge, but there's all kinds of tricks a DM can use to speed one group up and-or slow the other one down.

YEs. But that is extra work, and we should call that out.

It's easier if the same players have characters in both groups, as it becomes in their interest to keep them contemporary.

Then they aren't independent, and we could expect that one will reduce to being an arm of the other, which I don't believe is the intended point here.

That said, sometimes one group is simply faster than the other, in which case interaction largely comes off the table and the slower group has to accept that they might now and then have to clean up messes left behind by the faster.
I am more concerned with simple continuity.

Group A raids a dungeon, forcing a tribe of goblins out.
Goblins walk a day, and raid town for supplies.
Group B deals with goblin raid. Sends forces to deal with source of goblins. This takes only two days of in-game-time, but takes a month of real time for various reasons.

Group A should see forces from town show up at the dungeon, but have to not play for a month or have a continuity error.
 


Lackofname

Explorer
Then they aren't independent, and we could expect that one will reduce to being an arm of the other, which I don't believe is the intended point here.
I'm not concerned about independence. Having player(s) in both would be incredibly convenient even, if the same player is reliable and a good player. (The more players you have, the more likely there are RL complications to playing. :p) All I meant was that events in one would carry over/potentially impact the other. One being an arm of the other is fine.

But yes the 'we can't play this week/next x weeks' would throw everything out of wack.
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
2) Okay seriously, how do you kill a WWI tank in PF? :p

Well, its got a high AC, a lot of HP, & a string of immunities/resistances.
So brute force &/or creativity, same as how you kill anything else in PF. This group was more into the creativity than the brute force (though they could do that as well....).

Stats for the tank appear in "Rasputin Must Die", book 5 of the Reign of Winter AP.
 

the Jester

Legend
Has anyone tried this before, running two consecutive groups and having events of one game impact the other?

(An alternative would be to set one group later in time than the other, but the above seems more interesting atm).
I am currently running seven groups who are set in the same world, at roughly the same time, and whose actions can affect each other. It's definitely complicated. Because there's significant player overlap between groups, on the rare occasions when I have to make one group wait on another to catch up, it's not too annoying.
 

John Dallman

Explorer
I'm playing in such a game at present: the same world has two parties doing separate weekly sessions, one under AD&D1e and one under D&D 5e. There is no overlap in the player groups, and the two parties have only met once, on the road.
 

I once ran a face-to-face campaign and a Roll20 campaign at the same time. They were set in neighboring countries on the same continent. Players from the face-to-face campaign occasionally showed up in the Roll20 campaign.

The main issue was that, as it turns out, prepping and running two sandbox games at the same time is very time-consuming! I was not able to maintain both for more than a few months.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
YEs. But that is extra work, and we should call that out.
Agreed.
Then they aren't independent, and we could expect that one will reduce to being an arm of the other, which I don't believe is the intended point here.
IME it's rare-to-never that one group 'reduce(s) to being an arm of the other'. Sometimes what they're doing is related, other times not.

Right now in the game I play in we've got three active parties (same players in each) running side-along in game time. We run one for a while, then stop and run another, etc.

One's on hold, trying to come back from rescuing people in the Far Realm but needs to wait for other groups to catch up in time.

Another's also on hold having just finished clearing out the place where the Far Realm group left from (we went in together then split into two parties once we found their jumping-off point, this was meta-intended all along)

A third group, currently in play, is looking for (and in process of clearing out, we think) a new home base for all of us and is farthest behind in time; the other groups can't move until we're caught up because our adventure will be determining whether the other groups arrive back at our old base or the new one (we have means of instant long-range transport to wherever we're based).
I am more concerned with simple continuity.

Group A raids a dungeon, forcing a tribe of goblins out.
Goblins walk a day, and raid town for supplies.
Group B deals with goblin raid. Sends forces to deal with source of goblins. This takes only two days of in-game-time, but takes a month of real time for various reasons.

Group A should see forces from town show up at the dungeon, but have to not play for a month or have a continuity error.
Agreed.

Solutions:

Be adamant about sailing the sessions even if not everyone can make it. (also make sure you-as-DM are available for your own sessions!)

Bog Group A down with wandering monsters or other distractions that take them away from the dungeon entrance. (not a long-term solution by any means but it can buy you a session if you need to fill one)

Your example does admittedly get messier if Group A decides to follow the Goblins to town rather than continue with the dungeon... :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm playing in such a game at present: the same world has two parties doing separate weekly sessions, one under AD&D1e and one under D&D 5e. There is no overlap in the player groups, and the two parties have only met once, on the road.
That'll be fun if they ever end up either fighting each other or working together in the same battle against something else: which rule-set do you use? :)
 

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