Together with a few friends, we want to run an interleaved D&D 5E multi-table adventure (Adventure League “EPIC”, Pathfinder Society “Special”, “Battle Interactive”) for our games society in the near future. We want to write the adventure ourselves, in order to tie into the random adventures we have played in the society over the course of this semester.
We brainstormed that the adventure might revolves around a remote magical college / wizard tower / frontier town besieged by fey and allied spirits, and should probably cater to some 3 interacting tables of very low to low level.
From a few sources – Alphastream describes their creative process, DM David a few points for running an engaging BI, Anthony Li discusses the organizatorial details – I draw the conclusion that we keep the following things in mind while planning.
- Plan a common performance for the whole room at the beginning.
- Concentrate on combat challenges or simple challenges with explicit scope and stakes, don't fear some railroading. Create an abundance of possible challenges.
- Track the progress of the sub-objectives on big screen, while giving tables the opportunity to meaningfully choose challenges, and to compete with each other in the difficulty, number and glory of these challenges.
- Include an ethical question that has do be decided by compromise and major consensus of all players, to provide for that aspect of role-playing.
- Create interactions between tables by events at one table opening new opportunities at other tables, creating handouts for such interruptions to make their effect on the other table easier. (Think hard about interaction between tables.)
- Make sure that all tables' storylines culminate and end at roughly the same time.
This seems all fair and good advice, and 1–4 are not that that specific to having multiple tables. However, given how difficult good pacing and timing is even in single-table adventures, I am at a loss how to do accomplish 5 & 6 with different parties each doing their own thing, at their own pace, most of the time. Number 6 in particular seems crucial, because one party hitting an End-Boss climax earlier than the others seems (and the sources cited above also mention that) to demotivate all tables – that table will feel like they don't have much left to do, whereas the other tables feel like they got left behind and missed out on the big thing.
How do we structure our prep for good pacing, such that that every table has a satisfying story arc culminating in an exciting challenge, leading to satisfying conclusions for each table at roughly the same time, while leaving room for the interaction between tables that makes a multi-table adventure “epic”?