What is the max # of players you’ve had at a table and at what point does it get unwieldy?

What is the max # of players you’ve had at a table and at what point does it get unwieldy?

What is the max # of players you’ve had at a table and at what point does it get unwieldy? I currently have the possibility of a 5 players table and a 6th has become interested. Does that become too much?

11 thoughts on “What is the max # of players you’ve had at a table and at what point does it get unwieldy?”

  1. Totally doable. No doubt it gets harder, but there are benefits to more players too. Using those benefits, like heavy interparty squabbles (civil war), and more potential to backstories and bonds helps alot.

    When groups get that big, my friends and i take a much “lighter” approach. We have arcade games, drinks, game tables and grading student papers to do. The time between spot light feela shorter and the experience becomes more than just an RP night.

    Find the strengths of your group and use them. Every table is different.

  2. I run with 6 regularly, and it’s a challenge to keep everyone engaged and honestly it’s difficult to just get crap done.

    Rein in anyone with a tendency to sneak off on their own, because that can easily spiral into lots of time focused on them and their hijinks at the expense of everyone else. Consider using this move to help with that: https://plus.google.com/+JeremyStrandberg/posts/7wRZnW2wnhR

    I’ve also found that I just have to manage the social space more than I do with fewer players. Like, if I’m asking one of the players questions about stuff that their character knows and their player is definitely interested in, but it’s not like a dramatic scene or anything, there’s a tendency for side conversations to break out and I sometimes have to remind them that they’re being rude.

    Also, decide early on how you want to handle missing players. More players = tougher to make sure everyone can be there. We’ve largely just accepted “oh, they disappeared into a plot hole” and maybe I love-letter them back into play next session. But often not… we just handwave it.

    But! It’s all doable. My players are all friends and we really enjoy each others’ company, so it’s worth it.

    One last tip… we’ve dropped bonds, and instead have this at the end of every session:

    “Next, describe how your relationship with or opinion of another character (PC or NPC) has changed. If everyone agrees, mark XP.”

    With so many players, we found that the bonds were really hard to resolve naturally. And getting them to write new bonds was always like pulling teeth. Plus, the roll+BOND version of Aid/Interfere got really diluted with that many PCs to spread bonds against.

  3. Jeremy Strandberg The move you linked is awesome! Thank you!

    Thank you both for your responses. Does the first session take longer for world building as well with that number of players?

    Also, how do you work aid/interfere if you don’t use +BOND?

  4. I’ve run DW for classrooms, so about 20-30 high school kids at once. Its kind of a different beast at that point, but mechanically the same as doing a one shot….if that one shot was 55 minutes and for 30 high schoolers hahahaha

  5. Andrew Huffaker: 20-30 high school kids at once!? O_o

    Joshua R. Leuthold easiest way to do Aid/Interfere without Bonds is to just use whatever appropriate stat, just like Defy Danger. (I use a complete rewrite of both, but that’s because I don’t like other things about the moves, not because of bonds.)

    Yes, first session stuff (character creation & bonds especially) take a while with 5-6 players. There’s also the (significant) possibility of things getting gonzo right off the bat.

    I’ve found that it’s more effective to…

    0) have an adventure locale in mind, maybe even a blank map (like of by Dyson Lygos).

    1) make characters

    2) do introductions

    3) ask questions about why they’re here, at this locale, and what do you hope to accomplish, and what dangers are said to lurk here, and so on. Play this by ear, based on the characters you end up with and the place you start with and pure whim

    4) weave bonds into that, and/or do them afterward establish where/why/what/etc.

    Like, last 6-player game of standard DW that I started, I asked the wizard what riches he had come to this ruined manor to find. (“Emeraldine! Magic made crystal! Rich veins of are said to be beneath this manor!”). And the fighter jumped in with a bond and said she’d sworn to protect the wizard, and I asked why, and they decided that every wizard of the Markov Institute was guarded by a pledged warden, an orphan raised from childhood for the job. The wizard had hired the thief and the cleric in the nearest town, and they found the elderly Paladin camped in front of the place, watching for the dark formless evil the villagers said came out at night. The Druid has also been lurking about the area, because she said it was the center of a cataclysm that petrified all the trees for miles around, maybe a few hundred years ago, and the spirits of those trees wanted to be freed, and the Druid thought the secret to doing so was buried beneath the manor.

    And then we did the test of the bonds, learning that the wizard had insulted the cleric’s god, that the paladin thought the thief to be a good and noble soul despite his shady ways, and so on.

    Point being: doing the setup questions before the bonds got us much better material to work with than just doing bonds with the world still a blank slate.

  6. Whether im GMing or playing I personally like 3 or 4 players. Any more than that and combat starts taking too long and other players start getting bored.

  7. Honestly, I feel like my players deserves enough spotlight time and quality content so I never go above 3 players.

    It took me many years to find my sweetspot. D&D though me that the ideal player count was 4-6 and I stick to that for years before realizing that was too much to create a good tone and keep an interesting and involving story.

    I found that 3 players is ideal for having enough players interaction and ideas, quality player input, good spotlight time, keeping the story going and engaging and being able to include personal PC stuff. And that stands for any RPG I’ve played, no matter what, 3 is my ideal player count.

    As being said above, each player you add above that reduce the spotlight time and the ability to include personal PC storylines/subplot. It also slows down the action incrementally, thus the excitement in tense scenes.

    It’s not that it won’t work, but as mentioned, the more players, the more “beer & pretzel” it becomes.

  8. I once ran a game with 7 people, but it quickly went down to 5. Five was the most I could hold usually, but but I had some players leaving and new ones taking their place. I think 4 is about the max you can have, unless your players are really commited to helping. My players were good, though, so my campaign ran for some 7 months.

  9. Ah, you mention a good point. When I was having a group of 5 players, most of the time at least 1 of them couldn’t make it to game night. I guess it can be an advantage and an inconvenient.

    On the bright side, with more players, you have more chance of having the game still take place even if there is 1 or 2 absents. On the other hand, you will most likely never have your full group at once.

    With 3 players, if there’s 1 absent, you just cancel the game. On the other side, it’s easier to sync up the schedule of 3 adults than 5.

  10. I’ve been doing a casual campaign with 6 players for the last few months. It’s been fun but a challenge to make work. A couple things I’ve done to make it run a little more smoothly:

    – Structure the “ask questions/use the answers” aspect more. I prepare questions ahead of time and hand them out at the start of the session. This gets everyone thinking of answers at once. After they’ve had a minute to come up with a response I go around the table and the get them to share. The questions also serve to recap the last session and segue into the current one.

    – Set up a dilemma and let them work out a plan for themselves. Everyone engages in discussing what they should do. For example, last session I had three NPC’s approach different pairs of characters with important but conflicting quests (all tied to the main arc). After they’d met, the players had a great time figuring out who to help and who to leave behind. They were super into it and I used the time to think up where to take things next.

    – Lastly, I make combat quick and deadly. Monsters have low HP but deal lots of damage. Hard moves on failures are big. This keeps combat from dragging but keeps the drama and tension high.

    Overall, it’s been a challenge but fun!

Comments are closed.