Any tips for running DW with a larger group of 6 PCs?

Any tips for running DW with a larger group of 6 PCs?

Any tips for running DW with a larger group of 6 PCs? I’m new to DMing and while the first 2 sessions went well with lots of fun little character actions and wacky situations due to some bad rolls. I feel I’m not getting all of my players to invest that well, giving each of them a chance to contribute sometimes leads to longer periods of downtime for some if they don’t offer up information by themselves. This in turn means that they’re not actively following the story the other players are creating.

It’s especially noticeable in fights or when a couple of characters spend a bit of time discussing what to do next. I’ll try to get everyone an opportunity to interact with each other but as soon as the focus shifts to another PC they just wait on me to get back to them.

As all of the players are new to tabletop rpgs it could be that it’s just a bit of uncertainty but I’m wondering if it may not also be due to my inexperience. Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

[EDIT]: While the goal is to meet in person as much as possible for our sessions, we’re also planning to use roll20 for those times that scheduling a meet up in person is impossible. So any tips or tricks for that ware also welcome.

12 thoughts on “Any tips for running DW with a larger group of 6 PCs?”

  1. I just did this running DW for around 8 students at my school, and I know it might seem ‘anti-DW’ but the key to herding these middle school rpg-beginners was INITIATIVE ORDER. There were so many times where one persons skills were more useful than others, and a bunch of people were just sitting, losing interest. All anyone wants is to roll dice, so if the opportunity came got everyone to participate, everyone did and in the same order so no one got left out.

    I would also do things like have all eight spout lore simultaneously, and then just let the highest rolls tell us things. Or the opposite, everyone rolls to, say, defy mass danger, and only give consequences to those 6 or below.

    I hope that helps, I am new to GMing so what do I know? Haha

  2. DW with 5 PCs is hectic, and requires players to pay attention to each other, and “share the spotlight”. For inexperienced gamers, this can be a challenge. at 6 PCs, it would be difficult for even experienced players. DW’s sweet spot (imo) is the 3-5 area, with 2 or even 1 player working well in most cases. My advice would be to split the groups, and run parallel campaigns.

  3. It’s tough. My ongoing game has 6 PCs, and I love all the players and what they bring to the game, but it’s definitely suboptimal.

    One of the non-RPG experiences I have that’s really helpful is that I’m a corporate trainer by trade. That means I’ve got a lot of experience facilitating group conversation. So some of this comes pretty naturally to me, but you might try looking up seminars/tips for on facilitating group conversations. You might find some useful tools & tricks that could apply.

    The outcomes you want in a group conversation are that everyone is engaged, contributing, and feeling respected. Things I do to facilitate that are:

    * Have some structure, at least sometimes. I don’t use formal initiative, but I do like to start a fight or tense scene with a general description, make a move at the group as a whole, and then ask each person what they do… without letting anyone roll dice yet. Let folks change their intention in response to what everyone else is doing, and ask for more questions, etc. But make sure everyone “locks in” and knows what move they’re making (if any) before anyone rolls. (Then, resolve in whatever order makes the most sense, and zoom in on certain actions that might require on inspire a follow-up move, even before resolving all the player moves. Just remember to go back and account for whatever eveyone did.)

    * Sometimes, break things down into smaller groups. Yes, split the party a little. Combine with the trick above, doing this even in the middle of a fight. “Amrita, Pico, Kios… you see the other three get caught up in up the raging melee in front of you, and you also spot a couple goblins creeping up on your left… oh crap, they’ve got bows! What do you all do?”

    * Recognize your shyer, less outspoken participants and make a conscious effort actively engage them. Respond with enthusiasm and positivity. “So, Amrita, Kios is charging towards the archers and Pico is over there coughing up flames, looks like one of his experiments went awry. You see another goblin slink out of the shadows, a vicious little knife in hand… he’s sneaking up on Pico, you’re sure, and there’s no way to get a shot on him from here… what do you do?”

    * Hand over control of the narration from time to time. The Guantlet play community does this a lot. “Oh, you were Defying Danger to get run through that crowd of goblins and you got a 10+? Why don’t tell us what that looks like?” “Oh dear, you roll a miss to Hack and Slash with that ogre? Well, he’s gonna clobber you for d8+2 _forceful damage. What went wrong? How’d you end up getting hit?”_ (This is particularly useful to do with your shyer, less outspoken participants!)

    * Ask for impressions and responses from others. “So, you saw off the head of one of the goblins and toss it at the others? And you got a 10+ to Parley? Yeah, they piss right off. Nolwenn, what are you thinking about Kios right now? Have you ever seen him do something that savage before?”

    * Shut down conversation hogs, especially ones that are interrupting and not letting other people take their turns. “Thanks Bob, but I’m asking Jamie what Amrita does right now.” “Uh huh. Kios, what are you up to?”

    * Help them focus on desired outcomes, not possible actions. “So, gang, you’re talking about all this stuff you _could do, like backtrack to Northgate or disguise yourself as mercenaries or have Mouse sneak in there at night, but what’s your goal here? Like, what do you actually want to accomplish?”_

    * Reincorporate things and ideas that have come up before. If Jonathan mentions that “everyone knows forest yeti hibernate in the summer!” then by god, they are going to stumble on a hibernating forest yeti at some point. Even if it’s not immediate or a big part of the game, weaving player contributions into the arc of the game helps with buy-in a LOT.

    * Prep to your weaknesses, not your strengths. The purpose of pre-game preparation is to take care of the stuff you can’t do on the fly, during the session… or at least, that you can’t do as well. I don’t prepare tactics or set pieces or physical challenges or even necessarily monster stats, cuz I know I can nail that stuff complete ad libbed. But I’m not so great with NPC dialogue or names or what those NPCs want. So I prep it! (Sometimes I have to force myself to, because I enjoy it so little.) The less hard stuff you’re doing on the fly, the more brain space you’ve got for managing the social interaction at the table.

    Like, where I work, we often say that the first time someone teaches a class, 90% of their brain space is focused on the content they are delivering and only 10% is available for the way they are delivering it. The more you teach a class or topic, the more that balance shifts and the more engaging and dynamic the trainer is. Something similar applies here, too… the less you’re thinking about rules, monster stats, tactics, etc, the better you’ll be at facilitating the group conversation.

  4. Wow. Jeremy, awesome advice there. I want to reiterate something that Jeremy touched on. Ask for help as the GM. I often tel/askl my players, “if I’m missing someone, point them out”… that way the more active, vocal players often point out that one of the quieter players is not talking much and we can throw the spotlight over onto them.

    My group is very good about sharing spotlight time actually. One of the things I really like about GMing them. I’m pretty decisive and talkative as a player, like the leadership role… but when I’m a player, I really try to craft scenes as the PC to incorporate the quietest player in the room. Or just point out; “okay, I’m done enough with that scene, what about Bob’s character…let’s see what he is up to”.

  5. Jeremy Strandberg I just wanted to say, damn man that is a very comprehensive list of pointers.

    I can see some of these work out very well with my group of players. Will try to give this a go at our next session.

    Like you mentioned I do have the feeling that it is more a problem of getting the conversation going with everyone involved. The scenes we had in our previous sessions where they got to that point really clicked.

  6. With more than 4 players, more than 2 conversations can happen. So that’s exactly what happens. It stops being the GM’s responsibility and starts being the players. You need super well behaved players for a game with 5+ players. Even then you’re not having the best game you could be having.

    If you want a better story, play with smaller groups. If you can’t, then your players need to help out. Maybe promote one player to help GM.

  7. Aaron Steed How would you see that working when you deal with more than 2 conversations? As I’m a bit concerned with how to keep the amount of info between the conversations manageable and understandable for the group as a whole.

    I could see this working if I have them create a kind of base of operations that would allow them to exchange info back and forth between different groups. But at that point splitting the groups and running parallel sessions would result in the same situation I guess.

    And in the end that is really what I want to avoid. We’re a big group of friends who’ve known each other for ages but always end up missing a couple of people when we meet up for some reason or another. And with playing DW it has given us an opportunity to make an effort to try and book some time to meet up on the regular (not just with a few people but really the whole group). Scheduling is a nightmare as you can imagine but with roll20 and a bit of lost sleep that can be solved.

    As a whole I understand the benefits of working in smaller groups but the dynamic and sheer wackyness, once you can get it going, of the group as a whole is something I would really not want to loose.

  8. Ah. Roll20 can be a real help in this situation. Let the players write notes to each other. So, a side conversation (which can be scrolled and seen again) can be happening while the main conversation is going on.

    Something like. Okay, Alara is negotiating with the Baron. Before we hear what Alara’s pitch is, Duncan and Holgard, you notice two ladies in waiting wanting to speak to you both about something. What do they want and how do you respond? Jot it down in the note section while we hear Alara and the Baron go back and forth over sending aid to Dummerville.

  9. Indeed, you should consider updating your original post to include the fact that you’re using roll20 — that makes a world of difference!

  10. Weeell. If it’s on Roll20 you can at least set up a rota. People can drop in and out of the game to reduce the pressure on having to behave.

    It’s really a discussion you need to have with the players. RPGs without minatures aren’t designed for more than 5 people at a time. But by being honest with each other about the work load and not saying it’s any one person’s fault, hopefully you might be able to figure out a system where each of you can contribute to the story equally. Perhaps some can help with world building and map making or others can play NPCs. Giving some of the players mild GM duties would do a lot to take the pressure off you and make your campaign really special.

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