A little over a week ago, a discussion about splitting the party gave me the idea for a system specifically designed to split the party. I don’t know if such a system has been designed before — I’ve spent the last week thinking about it and I can’t think of any examples in games I’ve played or read about.

I’m sure you’ve heard “Don’t Split The Party” before. One of the things that always makes me laugh about that particular expression is that splitting the party is often a very effective strategy — the party can be in two places at once.

Most parties never work especially well together, let alone separately.

Often enough, a game dies in the process of creating and introducing characters — what if there were a way that everyone at the table could play and work together simultaneously without necessarily even knowing each other?

There is a concept in Psychology called Synchronicity. Where we may understand events to be connected causally, generally meaning that one event causes another event, the concept of synchronicity suggests that some events may also be meaningfully connected. In effect, a system of coincidence.

Where there are several player characters working toward a similar goal, an adventuring party emerges. Whether any character knew from the start that others were seeking the same goal is irrelevant, when a party is the end result.

A synchronicity system would be useful beyond assembling the PCs — a party might need to strike an enemy from multiple points simultaneously. It seems a waste to make some players wait while one group is resolved at a time.

Generally speaking — generally, mind you — the party is weaker when divided. This makes logical sense, since the characters aren’t around to back each other up. But what if they weren’t necessarily weaker for being separated?

After all, the party is united in purpose.

The important points this system would need to hit would be making it not only possible, but easy to design or adapt encounters so that PCs could tackle them separately. This is easily done in a system like 4e where challenges are built for individuals, and encounters provide one monster for each player.

But juggling them all at once? And giving them a singular objective? Plus, how do you make a system like that a different kind of fun? My thoughts turn toward a game like The 13th Age with its mechanic in the Escalation Die.

Let’s say for example, that where the party’s shared gear normally begins high while they’re together and steadily decreases throughout the day, when separated the gear die starts out low and improves with each success?

It seem like a good unifying mechanic — what it needs is a surrounding system.