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My gaming group (and some NPCs) are shipwrecked on a deserted island. I'd like the characters cooperate to survive in this hostile environment, because I want to make the game world really dangerous (so they have to cooperate or die).

But two players ("lone wolves") have broken away from the group and entered the jungle alone.

Now, I have always encouraged the betrayal and division among the players, but not so soon. If I offer to these "lone wolves" challenges appropriate to their abilities, they hardly feel the need for a group. But if I do otherwise, they will likely die at 1st level.

Furthermore, I will have to tell two stories in the same session.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I have to force the meeting of the two groups or leave the "lone wolves" to die in the jungle.

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4  
why did they split off? –  smcg Nov 21 '13 at 21:13
6  
Actions should have consequences. Don't water down encounters to compensate for poor PC choices and they'll start making better choices within one or two characters. –  RBarryYoung Nov 22 '13 at 0:44
    
Thanks @RBarryYoung, I often forget this point. –  Alberto Nov 22 '13 at 13:07
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Do everything as normal. When they die, they can re-roll. –  MirroredFate Nov 22 '13 at 21:12
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3 Answers 3

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Show the "lone wolves" exactly how dangerous it is.

Have one of the them stumble into a trap-like jungle plant. (Imagine something like a giant Venus Flytrap or a Hangman's Tree.) Make it so that the character CANNOT escape by themselves, but the plant can't kill them quickly. Maybe it dissolves a held character for 1d4 hp every minute (rather than every round). Maybe it has to kill by suffocation. The point is, they know they are stuck and can't escape, but they have some time.

As the character is thrashing around in vain and yelling for help, the rest of the party comes to the rescue. (You could even have the other lone wolf character hear the struggle and join in.) Together, all the PCs can take down the menace. Hopefully, that gives the recalcitrant players the hint that they have to work together or they will die.

You could also use a group of creatures (like apes or actual wolves) that are too scared to attack a large party, but will gladly pick off lone stragglers. Alternatively, maybe one of the lone wolves stumbles on the den of a large creature (say an Ogre, Giant, Dragon etc.) that's certain death for everybody on the island, unless they work together to kill it.

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The pack animals is a great idea. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 21 '13 at 22:15
    
I like the logic over those ideas. –  Alberto Nov 22 '13 at 13:06
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They're only 1st level? Well then, they won't be set back by much compared to the other PCs when they die. Kill 'em! Well, not deliberately, but do let the jungle be deadly enough to pose the level of threat you've already decided on, and let the "tough lone wolf" types die if they take on challenges they can't handle and the dice kill them. If they survive, great, if not, not much loss.

Build up the danger as they progress, though, by telegraphing the the threats before they're unavoidable. A player is much more likely to accept a death that they deliberately, knowingly courted than one that just pounces out of a tree and eats their head without warning.

When they make fresh characters (other shipwreck survivors that washed up on a different, nearby shore), perhaps they won't make lone-wolves this time.

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+1 nay, +11 for telegraphing the threats –  Rob Nov 22 '13 at 12:19
    
I don't think you even need to telegraph over-much. Like, what do you expect when you've been shipwrecked on a jungle island and leave the group? –  MirroredFate Nov 22 '13 at 21:14
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Have you tried talking to the 'lone wolf' players out of game? If you didn't make it clear to the group that you would be expecting them to work together as a group (especially if, as you say, you've stuck to a policy of encouraging inter-party strife in previous games), they might not be aware of your expectations. It's generally a good idea before starting a game that the GM informs the players "Right, the premise of this scenario is that you'll be volunteering to help save some people out of a sense of civic obligation - so, no Chaotic Evil characters, alright?", or "This scenario assumes that you're the crew of a merchant ship, so make sure your characters know how to swim, or have some sort of suitable skill set." etc.

If you're running a game that sets specific expectations to the player characters, it's always better to make it clear up front, so the players can make their characters accordingly.

Failing that, take the players in question aside and explain the situation. Chances are that they'll be willing to either adjust their characters' attitude, or roll up new ones.

Or, if they insist on playing loners, then suggest that A) their odds of survival in-game will be tragically low, and B) the game will suffer if you're forced to split your attention between two or more permanent fractions. Suggest that they could stay with the main party, but play up their loner personalities, and let it influence their interactions with the other characters.

Perhaps they could lead scouting parties into the jungle, or go on their own. Assuming that these characters have suitable wilderness survival skills (hunting, tracking, foraging, stealth etc.), they could spend a lot of time skirmishing through the undergrowth, going on hunting trips and bringing back food and supplies that'll keep the group alive.

Unless they're playing city-dwelling urbanite wizards, who've never stepped foot outside their ivory tower before. In that case, they're just screwed.

On a related note: What alignment are the characters in question? If they're any kind of Lawful or Good, and their wilderness survival skills are vastly to those of the members of the main group - this is presumably the case, since they feel confident enough to go off on their own - you should gently point out to them the moral implications of leaving the 'big city folk' on their own, without anyone to help them survive in the jungle.

Maybe you could suggest that, if they're really keen on trying to survive on their own, that you could play a different game at a later occasion, something that is designed to allow the players a chance to survive independently. There are several story-telling indie RPGs that would be much better suited for this sort of endeavour, or perhaps a board game or a tactical miniatures wargame.

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