Campaign Help: Advice & Suggestions Needed Within

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I need some advice on a campaign I'm running.

First a little background on the adventure before I get to the help wanted portion of this post...

I'm running an "inherited" campaign set in the Forgotten Realms. I was a player at first and then later inherited the DM spot. The group started as Harpers attempting to curb threats in the Dalelands, especially those presented by Netheril. Eventually, our group came into the possession of a card from the Deck of Many Things.

Outside of the game, our group size was ballooning. We had ten to twelve players showing up. We eventually split up into two adventuring groups, with each DM having their groups investigating the lore and possible location of the rest of the Deck. This split lasted for about three months before our numbers dwindled down to seven players, plus a DM.

When we condensed back into one group, we had a few players who changed characters. Of the original Harpers, we only had two who were actual members and a third who was sympathetic to the cause. The other four players were pretty much adventurers who tagged along looking for treasure. We've been sawing away at Gardmore Abbey since September. We set in the Realms, about 100 miles or so northeast of Waterdeep. We've been having great fun, but we're nearing the end of our time at the Abbey. Last week, I asked players to start offering suggestions of where they would like to see the adventure go.

Here's the help wanted portion...

Yesterday, I had the three players that have strong ties to the Harpers come to me and say that they were interested in absconding with not-quite-assembled Deck of Many Things back to their Harper superiors to attempt to destroy the Deck. They said that they do not trust all of the other PCs withg these cards because they are afraid that, once assembled, two of the more cut-throat players are going to attempt to steal the Deck and sell it back to Netheril. These PCs have shown some questionable morals and have actually become quite chummy with Bakrosh the Orc at Gardmore. They have even gone so far as to ask Bakrosh if they could potentially join him (which could be an important "out" for me).

I'm just not sure what would happen if I allow these characters to go off. I'm sure at least two of the four players would be totally cool with leaving behind their old character and  perhaps playing new ones if we evolved towards this type of system. The other two players, not so much.

I cautioned the three players wanting to go back to the Harpers that one of the other PCs may be a bit of a cadge, but he always lands on the right side of the moral equation and could be an asset to them. The last remaining PC? She could probably go along with the folks who are leaving with the Deck, but she wants to assemble the full deck and use it to fight Netheril.

So, I feel like I'm in a bit of a bind. First off, I'm uncertain that splitting the party in such a manner is a good idea. Story-wise, it makes sense for these characters. They are original players in the campaign and have been this now for 18 months! They have a lot of ownership over their characters and have shaped where this campaign is going. On the other hand, I don't want to "force" the other players to give up characters that they enjoy playing because part of the group wants to leave another part of the group.

I'm just not sure where to go from here. I told the three members who approached me that I would think about it this week... which actually meant that I would do just that *and* also ask the fine DMs here.

Thanks in advance for any help!
The first thing you should do is have everything aboveboard. If the players don't trust each other enough to talk about it openly with each other, then nothing they decide to do is going to work very well.

Once people are talking, some kind of a compromise might be reachable. Try to get to the real heart of what the issue is for everyone involved, including you. Don't put it in terms of "what the character would do" because that's not an excuse for not compromising out of game. Find out what the players want and why, and their characters will follow along.

If the party splits up, but the players stick together, then it does seem like some players are going to have to play new characters. Or maybe everyone will, and the focus will shift between the two groups at different times. I believe there are even RPGs in which playing multiple characters is the norm. It's not an insurmountable challenge, even in D&D.

You are very lucky to have players that take the initiative and tell you want they want to do. Do what you can to accommodate that, but do it openly and take everyone elses' explicitly stated preferences into account. It's possible that some people will simply decide it's not the game for them and part ways. Unfortunate, but possibly necessary.

I wish you luck.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I am very much in favor of keeping it all aboveboard and discussing it with the entire group. The players pleaded with me not to do so yet. However, I think having an open and honest discussion about it will soothe any potential person-to-person tensions that may arise. I definitely want that to happen. They have an NPC Harper contact in town that could potentially mediate this through with the group instead of it being a "Okay guys, let's pause the game and have an out of game discussion."

I also kind of feel like it is a "what would the characters do" situation. I don't think the players dislike one another. I have husband and wife players that are going to be on opposite ends of the situation! I don't think it's a personal matter of "I don't want to play with person x-y-z." The three players approached it as them wanting to not assemble the full Deck, take what they have currently and run back to the Harpers.

Has anyone ever had a situation where a portion of their players split from one another for a long or short period of time due to a theft or disagreement?
Has anyone ever had a situation where a portion of their players split from one another for a long or short period of time due to a theft or disagreement?



No, because we have a longstanding policy of allowing the target of the theft (or other pvp activity) to determine the result.

As for disagreements, that's a matter of understanding whether it's really character vs. character disagreement or if the players are arguing through proxies. An out-of-game conversation is required to determine intent on this front.

A Madness of Gardmore Abbey game I played in with some of my regulars (not me DMing this time) involved quite a lot of pvp, treachery, and backstabbing, but it was by agreement of the players and always twisted and turned in ways that were fun for everyone. (In the end, my evil cleric Friar Griftheart finally got his hands on all the cards after much scheming and plotting only to die of a heart attack as soon as he turned the first card.)

In short, the players should agree on the boundaries of this sort of play outside of the context of the game and, when consensus is reached, play it out accordingly in-game based on those agreements.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I don't think it's a personal matter of "I don't want to play with person x-y-z." The three players approached it as them wanting to not assemble the full Deck, take what they have currently and run back to the Harpers.

Ok, then it doesn't sound like a major problem. People will just need to be flexible about what characters they are willing to play.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

ive had an occasion whern the party split  up because they were waiting on something. it was difficult because my attention, both began a battle,      
 aginst several people, it was awesome. but i wanted to reunite them somehow, . instead, i went turn by turn, and said meanwhile..... 

Troll king

Has anyone ever had a situation where a portion of their players split from one another for a long or short period of time due to a theft or disagreement?



In my last campaign I had multiple instances of the party splitting for various reasons. Generally, it was because the PCs were splitting up to follow different leads on a mission they were all trying to accomplish. Typically, what I would do is follow the actions of one PC, or group of PCs, for about 15 minutes and then move to the next PC or group for the same amount of time. In this way, everybody got the chance to act, and nobody was waiting too long between their turns in the spotlight. On one occasion when a single PC split off from the group to pursue a side quest, I had everybody else play NPCs of the same level that were working with him on that quest. I gave any XP those players earned with the NPCs to their PCs, and nobody had a problem with this. In fact, they told me they enjoyed temporarily playing a different character for a change. For the climax of that campaign, I had the PC fighting in three separate battles at the same time. I simply had everybody roll initiative and take turns accordingly, jumping back and forth between the battles as necessary.