I recently had a bit of difficulty with 6 players in a Shadowrun hack that I am working on.

I recently had a bit of difficulty with 6 players in a Shadowrun hack that I am working on.

I recently had a bit of difficulty with 6 players in a Shadowrun hack that I am working on. This also with 6+ players on keeping it flowing and providing some equal treatment for the players, so I developed this: (I welcome critique/refining)

Spotlight System for Dungeon World/ Shadow*World

This is a system that I am developing for larger games, generally over 4-5. Up to 8 should be able to use this system fine. I encountered a little difficulty in keeping things flowing and keeping track of who hasn’t gone recently in a large group, basically 6 or more players. So I have come up with the Spotlight terminology. This requires a bit of set up:

Set up tools

· Center Stage Bowl: Large Bowl for holding the Token, this will be called the Center Stage Bowl. When the GM places a player on the spot they are taking center stage and must place their Spotlight Token in the Center Stage Bowl.

· Spotlight Token: This is a coin or token labeled Spotlight. Each player should have only 1. When the GM passes you the Center Stage Bowl and puts the player on the spot, he is center stage and must place his Spotlight Token in the bowl.

· Shared Spotlight Token: This is a secondary token that is given to the players. It is placed volentarily into the bowl when another player has the Center Stage Bowl.

Process of the Game

1. The Game Master describes the scene and then turns to a Player and gives them a Soft Move, asking “What do you do?”, that player is the Spotlighted Character.

2. The Game Master passes the Center Stage Bowl to the Player and they are on the spot with a conflict to be resolved.

3. The Spotlighted Player is the person that is in the Spotlight at this moment. It is his conflict to take care of. So he places his Spotlight Token in the bowl.

4. The Player can ask for a re-iteration of the scene, maybe some details but if he asks much more than that he is using his Spotlight moment to fully examine the scene. Often this is ignoring the action at hand and giving the GM a Golden Opportunity to use a Hard Move or bring a Soft Move into play that could affect another player or affect the Spotlighted Player directly. It is also the Game Master’s opportunity to describe what is going on and have things happen that the player may be unable to stop or need to jump in on.

5. If any other Player is near enough or is a part of the same scene they may toss their Shared Spotlight Token in the Stage Bowl as well. This gives the other player an opportunity to describe how it goes along with the action at hand. Or even defend or help out if the main character that is on the Spotlight. If the other player doesn’t have a Shared Spotlight Token they may put in their Spotlight Token instead and if the Spotlighted Player does not do anything active about the question then the other player takes over the Stage.

6. Once the conflict is resolved, the GM, empties the Center Stage Bowl and will use the narrative to flow to the next logical person, describe more of the action on a personal basis and make another person the Spotlighted Character, passing them the Center Stage Bowl. If they do not have their Spotlight Token they may use their Shared Spotlight Token. If they have neither then the Center Stage may be passed to someone that does and they are taking over.

7. Once all of the Spotlight Tokens from each player are collected they and any Shared Spotlight Tokens are passed back to the players.

8. If a player doesn’t spend their Shared Spotlight Token then they still have it, if they have the retrieve it back at the same time the Spotlight Tokens are passed back.

9. Once all the tokens are back, start back up with one, most likely choosing another person to start, following the narrative but attempting to give everyone a starting Center Stage.

12 thoughts on “I recently had a bit of difficulty with 6 players in a Shadowrun hack that I am working on.”

  1. This sounds really involved. Just give every player a playing card. When they’ve done a thing or are occupied, flip it over so the back is showing, if that helps you keep tabs. Otherwise, don’t mess around with Spotlight Tokens and Shared Spotlight Tokens and Spotlight Bowls and passing things around the table and this and that.

    “Steve, there’s an ogre swinging at you”

    “Oh crap, well I’m pinned under this rubble”

    “Sounds like you’re getting smashed, then”

    “Nah, I’ll start shooting arrows into the ogre’s back to distract it!”

    “Thanks Carol!”

    “No problem, Steve”

    “Okay, Carol, flip your card so I don’t forget you’re busy…”

  2. I understand it sounds a little complicated but when you do it, it’s easy. The card idea is good too. But as I said, with 6 players, things were a bit chaotic and a little difficult.

    Also the mechanic of the Shared Spotlight is something that figured would give people more incentive to “Jump In” on the action. I don’t know, in 2 weeks I will be testing it. I was just thinking that this could give people a bit more of faith in the fact that their “turn” will come up. Your example only has 2 characters, try doing it with 6 characters and going over it several iterations. Bouncing from one to another following the narrative. Some of the less active players get left behind and I have found that many players don’t know that it is ok, to jump in and interrupt. Most of the groups I am in are very polite and are trained to wait their turn in an initiative setting.

    Over all, the complexity is the terminology. Center Stage Bowl: Speaks to me that the player is on the spot and has the spotlight. Others can jump in and share it or if the person doesn’t take the spotlight another can jump in. And it’s a way to make sure everyone has a spotlight moment. A moment that is about their character.

    Try playing Dungeon World with 8 players. Then ask the players afterward what their experience was. Also, if the player’s do safe things without being pushed a bit, the game looses some action.

  3. I’ve wondered how well I’d handle a large group of players too. Even four can be taxing at times.

    If the intent is to track who hasn’t done anything recently but also to encourage players to jump in, maybe you could simplify the setup a bit like this:

    * Keep the bowl and tokens, but each player only has one token.

    * The GM has their own way to track which characters have had the spotlight… a card for each character with their name on one side, a sheet with a list of their names next to a grid so you can tick off their name in the current column, etc.

    * The GM can look at the cards/name sheet to decide who they’ll ask “what do you do?” next, and can flip the card/tick off their name at that moment.

    * Players can toss their token into the bowl to have their character jump in and share the spotlight, as you have it already.

    * Once everyone has acted, players can fish their tokens out of the bowl (if they used them) and the GM can unflip the cards or move on to the next column.

    I feel that might be simpler because each “side” (GM and players) has only one mechanism to focus spotlight, and the person making the decision to change the spotlight (GM asking a player “what do you do?”, player jumping in to help a comrade) is the one managing that mechanism.

    The GM doesn’t have to scan the whole table looking for unused tokens, either.

    Also, it would allow the narrative a bit more freedom if the events evolve such that a character who’s already had spotlight needs it again in short order… the GM can see from their cards/sheet that this character is getting extra spotlight, but can make that call unilaterally without having to tell the player “don’t toss in a token this time, but what do you do?”

  4. Also, are you interested in other suggestions for how to manage the spotlight with many players or just specific feedback on your mechanic?

  5. Not really a turn order but a way to make sure to keep track of a large group. I like the idea of adding the gm flip cards. The reason i had tw tokens was to keep the encouragement that they could still jump in on something. I am open to alternate methods and critique of my method. I was thinking of putting a character portrate or a name on the tokens too. But having 2, a primary and a secondary should give the feeling that they can still do stuff. I am eager to see how it plays. As i said it is not a turn order because it should flow with the narrative on who is next but when 1 person’s scene dominates for a while it can get confusing on who you should go to next.

  6. Turn order is the wrong word. I meant to ask if it limits everyone to x actions in a “turn” before the tokens replenish again?

    Edit: Replace “turn” with “round”.

  7. Not really limiting. That is why the second token. It’s optional to use. More of a way to make sure that as the gm, i get to everyone. The natrative still drives it and who the center stage goes to next is driven by the story but at the same time it is designed to make sure that you dont neglect anyone. When everyone has used their main spotlight token you pass them all out again, even the secondary token. It’s optional to use.

  8. One suggestion that might make it easier for shy players to interrupt or contribute is to use hand signals instead of just speaking up.

    The method I’ve used in group discussions as well as at the table is raising two fingers if you want to interrupt or “share the spotlight” with whoever is currently in the spotlight. For example when you want to help or hinder or suggest a different action.

    If you want to contribute, but it’s not directly related to the current action, lift one finger or a hand. For example when you want to act next, but the current action can be resolved first. Two fingers will always take priority over one.

    Alternatively you can have them raise a token or push one forward. The key is to have a non-verbal cue to avoid the noise and because people like me don’t feel comfortable interrupting and talking over people.

    (The technique is called the Levi Hand Signal Technique, but it’s hard to find decent information about it and there are many different versions with the same function, one signal for direct and one for unique responses)

  9. If you don’t mind the chatter you might find some inspiration here:


    They’re talking about designing and running a simple game for 16 players.

    One of the ideas from that podcast episode is to give each player a resource so if the talkative players use their resource early on, they will encourage the remaining players to engage and use theirs. Maybe a boost or guaranteed success that can be helpful for everyone.

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