For those of you who missed it, the Handbook of Heroes gang put in an appearance on the fabulous Rusty and Co. webcomic a few weeks back. Even since, Thief and her fellow inter-comic liaison—the luck domain cleric Dorilys Happ—have been hard at work planning out the rest of the crossover. Unfortunately, when you put Rube Goldberg powers in the same room with a bad luck elemental, things tend to go a little haywire. Expect some unfortunate pairings in the coming weeks.

This whole process has got me thinking about tabletop crossovers in general. I’m talking about guest players, overlapping storylines, and parallel parties. You know the sort of thing…. Maybe a gang of master criminals are trying to heist their way through Waterdeep, while at the same time a separate group of City Watch are dealing with the fallout from recent robberies. And because, in this hypothetical scenario, it’s the same GM running both parties in the same continuity, you’ve got plenty of room to mix and match. One week a member of the Thieving Crew shows up at the Watch’s game night as a detainee in need of interrogation. Then a patrol sergeant shows up in the Crew’s lair wearing a wire. Then everybody shows up for the grand finale gang fight where our con-men-with-hearts-of-gold help the cops take down the illithid mafia in a climactic shootout.

Ima be honest with you guys: I kind of want to run that game now. But that’s not the point! The point is that chemistry is hard to build. Most parties take a few sessions playing getting-to-know-you, and adding a new face to that mix can be a strain. To continue our cops and robbers example, imagine the the Crew favor a wacky chaotic-random playstyle, while the Watch prefer a serious-face drama. Maybe specific players don’t get along so good: Lance Constable Copperfuzz had a bad breakup with Handsy McThievesalot last semester, and now things are awkward at the table. And that doesn’t even take into the account the usual personality conflicts that PCs go through. All of the above leads me to back to today’s advice: If thou wouldst mix parties, make sure that they mix properly. Getting all of your friends together at the same table can indeed lead to cool moments. But just remember that chemistry is a fragile thing, and that it takes real work to build.  

So how about it, guys? Have any of you ever been a guest-player? Was it a natural fit, or did you find that you were the odd-orc-out in an established group? Sound off down in the comments with your tales of travel to strange and distant tables!


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