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In desperate need of help

Mek_14

New member
Hello community, I am a new DM managing a party of 6, we have been playing weekly for a month and a half or so and have definitely had our highs and lows;
One of our biggest issues is this. There is no party, we have 6 characters all who have their own agenda, who frequently are stabbing eachother in the back. The party splits, sometimes into 4 or 5 different groups because each character is so focused on doing "what their character would do" they just do it reguardless of the repercussions on the party as a whole. I need advise on keeping a party together. I made a sandbox cavern system and the mission is to reach the surface. I have no dnd experience, neither does anyone in the party. Tonight one of the players came forward and said she didnt have fun because no matter what she did no one would support her because they all have their own agendas. How do I fix this? Can the campaign be saved or have I set a tone that cant really be changed without a complete restart. Any and all help is appreciated beyond measure.
 

Quantum Bob

Fear and Loathing
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Hi there!

Okay. At the next game, state that you're not having fun yourself because of the backstabbing and having to split your attention as the GM. And you may need a minor retcon for your campaign.

Then have every player alter the motivations and personality of their respecitve PC, so that they can and will cooporate with the other PCs and form something that resembles a normal party. Just state the goal "coopertive play, no backstabbery, less solo action", and have them come up with their own solutions to this problem, ideally in a cooperative manner. If the players come up with their own ideas for this problem, they may also become more invested in the game and their characters. But veto everything that would seem to be only a temporary solution. The changes to the PCs' behaviour have to stick for the whole campaign.

If the players feel that they cannot alter the PCs sufficiently, or that too many bridges have been burnt, then you might need to restart. But try retconning first.

By the way, the comeback to "it's what my character would do" is "Then why did you make them this way?". A more contructive response would be "Yeah, but if your character would do that, then it would be anti-fun, so you should change that".

Good luck.
 

thorya

Statistical out-liar
Validated User
The above is good advice. There's nothing you can do in the game to change things without a conversation. Some of this is because they are new. Compromising in roleplaying is a skill that people develop and a lot of new players struggle with letting go of their vision of how things should be.

Also try to suss out (with a direct out of character conversation) wether it's the character or the player saying "I don't want to do that." Because character desires are often a proxy for player desires.

If it is really the character that wants to split off and not work together, retconning the characters can solve it. Asking players to think of reasons they would go along can also help.

If it's a player problem it's probably going to be a tough discussion. There could be interpersonal conflict, people feeling like they're not getting enough attention (but they're not likely to say this directly), with vastly different play styles, etc. Try to help them recognize that without compromise the group can continue.
 

Longspeak

I'm a Bard, Dammit!
Validated User
Yeah, the answer to "just playing my character" is "okay, play it differently." I've had to have that discussion a few times. "Alright, but the way you're playing the character is going to get her permanently removed from the group. I suggest you revise her and how she is played before that happens." This happens almost exclusively when the player has a character who is an extreme loner type, but there's been a few who managed to be social and still disrupt every scene they were part of. Mileage may vary, of course.

Of course, it has to be approached with a level of care appropriate to the audience. I've had players who responded well to "listen up you primitive screwheads!", and players who needed a much softer touch, often in the same group. But "I'm just playing my character" is never a license to damage another player's fun, and many people seem to forget The GM is a player, too!
 

Mek_14

New member
Thank you guys for the advise, I think a more thorough session 0 would have potentially fixed the issues at hand, but as you have pointed out to me. It isnt to late to have these conversations. On a side note, the theme is exploration in this campaign, I am finding this to be a weak reason for such strong personalities to stick together, I am thinking a major plot twist could help unite the group, any thoughts on that?
 

cranebump

Registered User
Validated User
I think that, as the goal is to reach the surface, then the place they are should be so dangerous as to necessitate that they band together to get there. Characters wandering off should stand a chance of being picked off in the dark by some weird, deadly thing. Think of it like a slasher film, when there’s strength in numbers. Give them a common enemy. Move from exploration alone to “we need to get out before the ______ kilts is all.” See what that does.

Beyond that, it helps if players understand that D&D I say best as a cooperative experience, both in game, and in real life. A party working together can accomplish more in the fiction. Plus, if you’re working together in real life at the table, you’re not wasting time with 6 separate agendas. The group has to realize you’re there to play together. Otherwise, why play? A real life conversation about that would help I feel.
 

cranebump

Registered User
Validated User
By the way, I know it’s not D&D, but I’d consider Dungeon World for new players, using Funnel World as an intro. In FW, players each make a handful of peasants who set out on an adventure. Most of them die, but the ones who survive become DW PCs. It forces the players to play together because peasants are little more than fodder. Plus, they have a shared experience and form bonds from the get go.
 

Stattick

Electronic Thing
Validated User
Sandbox play can be a more difficult style to be good at, from both the GM's perspective, and from the players. But it can be a lot of fun. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with laying down some rails now and again. I'm not talking about strict railroading, but rather when things start going in a bad direction for whatever reason, it's fine to throw down something that declares, "Adventure and Plot can be found OVER HERE". Don't force them onto the rails, and don't punish them if they decide to ignore the rails, and if they hop on the rails, allow them to leave later without "completing" whatever you had in mind, if they want.

For instance, I've just started up a sandbox game. The party had finally all gotten together at the same time and place at the beginning of the second session. And a half an hour later, I had some PCs ready to leave the area to go to the nearby town, while the rest were ready to go off and look for the guy who'd been captain of the pirate ship (some) of the PCs had been on when the game started. It would a lot easier for me and them if they stuck together, and I wouldn't have to divide my time between two groups of players. So, before the party could divide, I had the ship's captain show up. And he offered (all) of the PCs incentives to join together with him as the nucleus of a new crew. But I wouldn't have put up any obstacles if the party had declined and/or some of the party members still wanted to leave for town.

So the party is kind of on rails at the moment. There are three objectives that the party needs to accomplish, in order, before they can get the new ship, which is very much of a linear, railroad style adventure. And I'm not sure that the players are entirely satisfied with how things are. But they have accomplished the first task. Next time we play, which will be the 4th session, I'll give them the opportunity to easily hop off the rails, if that's what they want.
 

Flowswithdrek

Freelance Writer
Validated User
Hello community, I am a new DM managing a party of 6, we have been playing weekly for a month and a half or so and have definitely had our highs and lows;
One of our biggest issues is this. There is no party, we have 6 characters all who have their own agenda, who frequently are stabbing eachother in the back. The party splits, sometimes into 4 or 5 different groups because each character is so focused on doing "what their character would do" they just do it reguardless of the repercussions on the party as a whole. I need advise on keeping a party together. I made a sandbox cavern system and the mission is to reach the surface. I have no dnd experience, neither does anyone in the party. Tonight one of the players came forward and said she didnt have fun because no matter what she did no one would support her because they all have their own agendas. How do I fix this? Can the campaign be saved or have I set a tone that cant really be changed without a complete restart. Any and all help is appreciated beyond measure.
I've been DMing for longer than I care to count and my players still do this kind of a thing on a regular basis. It doesn't matter what game is being played or how much time I spend on session zero. So I let them do their own thing, but I normally have some kind of event that drags the characters out of their personal crusades to come together every couple of sessions. In last week's game the player's had split into three groups. When they realised their only ride off planet had just been hijacked and was preparing for dust off, they came together like a finely oiled machine. In the next session I'm sure they will be off doing their own thing again. They seem to enjoy it. The problem you are having is that one of your players isn't enjoying it. Talking is always a good option. Try to find a compromise everyone enjoys, but you might need to recognise that the other players might be enjoying themselves. You need that something that has the characters working together. What is awaiting at the surface? What challenges await them along they way? Have some challenge that can only be accomplished by the group as a whole so they recognise that their characters have to work together.
 

Kuildeous

Registered User
Validated User
If the group needs a nudge in finding a common thread, you could suggest a patron to give them direction. This doesn't have to be a railroad, though it could be to good effect.

Say that they are tasked by a temple of a major god to work on their behalf. Or a local duke. Or even a mysterious outsider. The group might not even necessarily like each other, but they respect the common goal enough to work with each other.

And not every session has to be in the service of their patron. Maybe after they clear a goblin warren for the patron, the PCs relax in the inn when they see something strange. Maybe the group wants to check it out in case the patron is interested. Or maybe the group checks it out just because they feel they could use the practice.

But if they serve the same master (even if they don't call it a master), then the PCs have a reason to work together. This is an excellent retconned session 0. Or you might not even need to retcon it. Talk it over as a group and then roleplay the patron meeting with them and discussing what would be expected. And the patron could possibly shunt some equipment their way. Fighter still saving up for plate mail? Have plate mail. Here are some potions of healing. In fact, all the treasure could come from the patron, letting you run a loot-free game. But if the players prefer having loot, stick with the classic and have the patron only give them a little boost now and then.
 
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