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Thread: Dealing With A Large Party

  1. #1
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    Dealing With A Large Party

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    Recently, I was part of a production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). After talking to the cast and discovering that they were all really into console role-playing games and books like the Dark Tower series, I asked them if they wanted to try table top. Five of them seemed interested and we decided to meet the following Saturday.

    When Saturday rolled around our group had swelled to eight players and myself as the DM. Well, I thought, a couple of them will not like it. And I'll be down to something more manageable.

    I was wrong.

    We're playing a 3.5 campaign in a world we created using the Dawn of Worlds game I posted in another thread, and I'm wondering if any of you have advice for how to deal with such a large group?

    The biggest issues I've faced thus far are XP rewards and a tendency for the party to split up along alignment lines, since there are so many people, all of the chaotic characters can do one thing, while the lawful characters do another.

    Any advice is helpful. Thanks!
    "Wit is educated insolence." - Aristotle

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    I've always thought it best to guide the PC generation, along the lines of the game you want.

    A lot of groups just have players generate "Whatever" and then try to make it fit.

    So you end up with a witch type and a pirate type and a paladin and a necromancer.

    Then it's expected to see these people on an adventure.

    If the adventure is written, you usually can get an idea of what will fit and what won't.

    A large group especially, needs a guiding vision as to are they:

    A band of mercenaries in a war-ravaged world?

    Freedom fighters overthrowing the repressive government?

    A noble, and his / her retainers, clearing the land around the stronghold?

    Good luck
    -Etarnon
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    Etarnon is pretty much right on. Generally I run five to seven players at a time, even then you have to run the game. Players, especially new one, tend to run amuck in every aspect of the game, character creation, rules clarification, alignment choices, splitting the group up, table talk, being ready for their turn, everything. The one time I ran ten players they were mostly new role players at a convention. By the time we were finished I said that I would never do that again.

    Really, you need to discuss these issues prior to actually running the game or they will run you into the ground and look at you like why can't you keep up, all you do is make a few choices? You don't even have a character to play! You will need to guide them and they will need to follow your lead or the game will be too much for the reason you have already stated. Either that, or you will be forced to drop the characters that do not fit the game. That will lead to grumbling and compliance or accusations of being a Nazi of some sort.

    Good luck in enforcing the reset on this one.

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    We spent about half a session talking about characters and what you could and couldn't be and I've made them read the entry for their character race and class in the PHB. I should have made them read alignment. And I might do that before the next session.

    They're doing fairly well with the role-playing side of things. I have 7 brand new role-players and 1 who has played White Wolf. Fortunately, we're all actors, which lends itself well to role-playing.

    What I'd really like to know is how you guys have handled rewards such as experience and magical items.
    "Wit is educated insolence." - Aristotle

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    I just use the guidelines in the DMG for 3.5, if it's D&D 3.5...than I take a half of that.

    So by 2nd level, they'd get about 500 GP worth of stuff, that took them about three adventures to get there.

    For other games like star trek, there is no cash reward...you do the plot, for the greater good of the federation. Star wars, likewise.

    For a game like Twilight:2000, a little ammo, and some gasoline to get to the next town.

    In the end, as an actor, it might be easier for you to look at what the story requires as a dramatic need, or what the plot will require, down the road.

    something to enhance the flavor of the specific character, as a prop, or foreshadows or leads into what will happen, as each episode happens.
    -Etarnon
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    I think as long as you adjust the challenge rating to the size of the party the rewards should be just fine. Adjust the Exp awards down for the party and keep the gold piece value in-line with their level and it should be fine. I've never ran such a large group in D&D but I have run several groups of more than ten and participated in one as high as 17. The only thing we had to adjust for is such a large group has much more capability then a smaller party. The ability to truly specialize makes large parties much more capable. A party of 8 is well more then twice as capable as a party of 4. Adjust the challenge rating of encounters down one for every two players above four and you should be fine.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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    Experience: if you don't want to count, just bump everyone up at the same time, after a certain number of sessions. And reward the most productive members with a level one session earlier than the rest.

    Magic items: Random musical chairs: roll for seven items (8 players, right?) each session, and let them handle the distributing. Mwa ha ha...
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    I have run both large and small games. You as the DM must take a strong hold of the reins and make sure that each person "acts" his/her part. Allow them their roles:
    • Chaotic barbarian charges into battle unsupported...
    • Paladin knight saves the day and rescues...
    And above all rememeber that not every night will everyone be be to make it but with a large group you can still play if two or three fail to show up but a small group that means a cancellation of game night.

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    Thanks guys. This has been very helpful.

    The problem I had with just bumping up everyone at the same time is that there are going to be situations where some people were unable to attend. And I don't want to run the risk of the players who actually showed up, put in the time and effort (and sometimes cash) feel cheated. I like the idea of lowering the challenge rating. I think we'll try that and see what happens.

    Scaling encounters to make them difficult enough is another challenge, that I think is going to require a bit of improvisation on my part depending on who is able to make it to a session. But that's always an issue.

    I'll use these tips and see what happens. Thanks again.
    "Wit is educated insolence." - Aristotle

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    Then don't bump up everyone - you are the DM you decide how to run your game!
    Have fun! And make sure they have fun as well!

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    skipped ahead, but my best advice is to maybe split the party into two groups, and allow them to do their own adventures. Do one group one night, and the other another night.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    skipped ahead, but my best advice is to maybe split the party into two groups, and allow them to do their own adventures. Do one group one night, and the other another night.
    I totally disagree - you cannot have story without conflict! So, what if part of the story's conflict is with the party.

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    my advice is more associated with the chaos of having 8+ players. I have been in groups like that, and if they are splitting up, the dm has to take turns in terms of who they have to address, and the others get bored while waiting for things to flash back to them. from a player's perspective, I hated being in that big of a group. It was only nice when we took on the huge demon army, but for dungeon delving, not so much.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Point understood - alternatively the DM could set up side scenes on alternate nights. However, these are all actors used to waiting for their scenes to come up during rehearsal hours and in the interest of fun could certainly metagame the heck out of information they do not have.

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    here a thought on your leveling up problem. this is what we do: lev up all who show to the game and if they get slightly ahead of the rest who dont show then so be it but do not let them getr more than 2 levels behind. if they happen to then just have then readjust their character to the highest corresponding level at the lowest exp point level.( ex. 3 of say 5 characters lev to 4th lev on monday and other 2 didnt show. tuesday all players show those that can lev then do so. continue on this path until done keeping in mind not all players will always be there and not to exceed 2 leevel difference between characters)

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