22 thoughts on “For a newb GM, what’s the max players you’d rec for Dungeon World?”

  1. Depends on you and the players, especially how good everyone are at sharing the spotlight. For me, 5 usually works okay, but I definitely wouldn’t want more than that unless it was an exceptional group. 3-4 seems to be the sweet spot for me.

  2. I played my first session with about 7 players. You have to keep on top of moving the spotlight, but it works surprisingly well. The momentum stays about the same, since the move-conversation stays at the same pace (though spread out among more players). I wouldn’t recommend more than 5 players, but it’s more than manageable.

  3. 5’s doable, assuming polite and conscientious players. Just expect to get less done each session, as you’ll be taking time to spotlight shift and high level “what should we do” conversations take longer.

    I run 6 regularly, but don’t really like it. 3-4 is definitely my sweet spot.

  4. Reinforcing what others have said: 3-4 is my favorite spot. I’ve had some great 2-player sessions, and have run many in the 5-6 range when there wasn’t too much choice in the matter, and those worked OK (much better in DW than something more rules-heavy, like D&D).

    If you do get with bigger groups, I find that throwing something out there for them to chew on regularly is good. Meaning: Give them a dilemma or situation that can’t be immediately dealt with, either as part of “soft” GM moves or just in general. “You all notice a thin stream of smoke coming from over the bend in the road.” These types of situations let the players play among themselves for a bit. It’s nothing they have to immediately handle, but instead becomes a party discussion.

    I mean, that’s sound for any gaming, I suppose, but I think these situations especially help in larger groups because it lets all the various folks interact separate from you… they’re giving each other spotlights. And if some are being active, and you have some players not being included, throw them some little bones… to the quiet one: “You notice something odd about the smoke… what is it?”

    At least that may mitigate issues of you, as the GM, feeling like you have to run around spotlighting all the time. Maybe.

  5. The perfect spot for me is exactly 4 players, I run 5 player games a lot thought (Like my illuminati campaign on roll20) , but anything above that is something I personally wouldn’t tackle.

  6. Four also neatly matches the number of classic basic classes (that all the others are arguably variants of): Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Thief. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

  7. I have played a number of times with 6.  It is better with 4 or 5 BUT when it got to 6, I implemented the Spot Light System.  Cards I made for everyone to have, when I go, “What do you do?” they flip it.  When they volunteer to help another player they “tap” the card.  Each side can be tapped once.  When all cards on flipped over, then flip them back.  It works, not as Initiative but as a way of keeping track to see who has had the spotlight recently and to make sure you are not neglecting anybody.


  8. My regular D&D 5E game (bear with me) is usually about 5 players, max of 6, plus the GM. Having many (I think 6 qualifies as “many” for a PnP RPG) players in 5E is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because with 6 characters on the board there are lots of interesting abilities, tactical maneuvering is super relevant, and the GM can throw bigger and more complicated enemies onto the mat without ensuring TPK. A curse because when it’s not your turn in 5E it is not your turn. Outside of combat the number of characters matters a lot less, because in 5E there’s not (at least with our GM) a hell of a lot for anybody to do, we’re just having a discussion about which fight to get into next. But that also means I’m bored when we’re not in combat, because it’s hard for me to feel very connected when I don’t have anything to do other than talk in a funny voice. And when we are in combat I’m bored because waiting for six other players (counting the long GM turn) to muddle through elaborate action chains and mini moves completely takes me out of the action.

    (And yeah, I’m not a fan of 5E, I just like these guys enough that I tolerate their favorite game to hang out with them.)

    I’ve played Dungeon World with 3 players and with 6 players, and my feeling is that Dungeon World can scale more fluidly to larger numbers of players, because turns are simpler and faster, and require far less consultation of notes. But I think it also rewards your table less for scaling to larger numbers of players. The pulling of spotlight feels more annoying when narrative spotlight is the only thing that makes your character exist. In 5E, you can stare down at your mini and think about which spell to cast or whatever. I hate that kind of engagement, but it’s something. In DW, if it’s not your turn, your character kind of doesn’t exist for a minute.

    Furthermore, because of it’s more narrative nature, DW readily supports the GM doing all kinds of crazy stuff with adversaries without automatically creating a murderhole for the PCs. And since DW really lets you do whatever the hell you can imagine doing, as a PC or a GM, the “interest cost” of having few players is very very low.

    So if you need to run a one shot for 6 people in DW, yeah, no sweat. I wouldn’t go much further than that just because it gets harder and harder to have enough different-feeling playbooks. But the game can take the beating. On the other hand, I think you’ll have a more fun game if you stick to around 4 players + GM, just because everybody will spend more time “on screen”.

  9. It worked really well in the game.  It especially was good for noting if someone was simply too busy to do anything at that time.  For the helpful person, they can Aid three times if they do not take the direct spotlight.  1 time, tap, 2 times, flip, 3 times tap again (meaning done until flip over).  It was also great as a visual que for me as the GM on who do I need to pick on..er I mean have the action go to.  You can use it to help bring out those shy people too.

  10. Back to the OP, and regardless of what works for anyone. He is asking specifically for a NEW GM. Those others things are nice and could work; but I think it’d be best you do 3-4 players at most. I’d suggest sticking to that for a game or two. Then you can adopt these 5+ examples and variations to make those numbers work.

  11. Well, for my experience it doesn’t really matter as a new GM, 2-6 players.  I wouldn’t go over 6 players.  Yes, it will be a challenge to do the higher number but if it is your first time GMing, it is a given you are going to make some mistakes AND if you can get used to 6 players, you can make it all the more rich for players when you have less.  More players just simply means a little more prep and that you will use your actual prep a bit less in each game session.  But by all means, Jump in feet first.  Go with as many as you wish for gaming for.  I have a friend that told me her first time GMing was for 8 players and she is none the worse for wear and can handle bigger groups easily.  Another friend started with 2 and doesn’t like large groups but CAN do it.  So really, it is all about learning how to prep well, how to manage the table, and character creation and managing pace.  No matter what level of players you take on your first time, DON’T let it overwhelm you and DON’T let pushy players run over you.  Insist on good table etiquette at the game.  Any arguments of rules happen away from table.  A one-time ruling can be changed and ruled differently in another game.  Above ALL, with DW let the players have fun and have fun building that cooperative narrative.  The rules are flexible, the story fluxes and flows.  It doesn’t matter if your players are awesome all the time and your bad guys get tromped a lot.  AS LONG AS YOU ALL HAVE FUN.  Build the story, allow it to change and adapt.

  12. I’m currently running 7 for my first campaign ever, and it’s a lot of people but it’s manageable. We’re at a point in the adventure though that I’m considering splitting the group—a few folks are about to be captured by city guards, and the other four are wrapping up a heist to get the magic item from the dodgy shopkeeper.

    My group has another mutual friend who we would all like to be able to add to the game, so splitting the party now might be a perfect opportunity for me to turn one 7-player game into two 4-player games taking place concurrently in the same setting (sort of like what Friends at the Table did in Season 1).

    To answer your question, and having only run a campaign with 7 PCs, I think 3-4 is the ideal.

  13. My campaign has 6 Players, half female and it works, but it can be hard to keep everyone engaged all the time. It depends on the Players and how much Disziplin they have.

  14. I usually run for 6 players, sometimes 7, but the sweet spot is 3 or 4, depending on the players. Running many players is easier if they are active players, so it’s important to give passive players some extra time.

Comments are closed.