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Author Topic: Massive Groups.  (Read 552 times)

Serious Paul

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« on: May 13, 2008, 12:09:25 AM »
My local LAN Center runs a Pathfinder campaign, and from what I've been lead to understand they-at times-have as many as twenty people in one session, in one game! I've run a game for nine people once, more than a decade ago-almost two decades now I guess-but never something this large.

A guy I know runs his own group, and now that I've moved we're actually just a few blocks from each other-well a half block I guess. At any rate I sat in on their last game, and it has been suggested that we merge the two groups for a single session, or as many as a few sessions to play a game.

I was wondering if any of you had any experience with running large groups, and the challenges that come with it.


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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 07:40:20 AM »
Most I've ever had was approx 40 players in a Call of Cthulhu campaign :D

This was way back when I was still at school and started running a game for a few friends in the common room, more and more people kept watching and then asking to join in and the whole thing just snowballed.

Ended up with a story line where the PCs had discovered that a cult of Deepones were trying to take over their town and decided to fight back, over time they brought in more and more of the townsfolk, including a couple who were playing agents of the Deepones. It all ended up with an enormous battle where they drove the invaders back into the sea and reclaimed their town.

Was glorious mayhem for about 3 months, but we were young, ignored most of the rules, not sure I'd be brave enough to try it again these days.



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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 09:21:40 AM »
I think that the experience of people who put together LARPs could be very valuable.  I've done a bit (though I'm by no means expert) and I found the techniques very interesting.

The basic idea is that you must, must, MUST have something for PCs to do with each other without GM or NPC intervention.  And, in fact, you need many, many such threads (a political intrigue that they can hash out in discussions, a puzzle that they can puzzle over together, etc., etc.) happening all at the same time.

The goal is to create prep-work (in the form of the seeds of the story-threads) in advance in such a way that the PCs can use that material to keep themselves entertained for a long time with minimal in-game effort by you.  You can't provide 20 hours worth of GMing during the course of a 3-hour session ... there's only one of you.  But if you can pre-package your cleverness into material that unfolds in the players hands then you can give them more of you than just the 3 hours of your face-time.

Does that make any sense?
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The Good Assyrian

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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 11:25:39 PM »
I am a member of a sci-fi gaming club that back in the day had Star Trek gaming sessions with over 20 people playing.  it was usually utter chaos as there was only one GM.

Then we started playing Mechwarrior (again with 12+ people per session), but we wised up a bit and had 2 GMs, of which I was one.  The 2 GM style worked very, very well for us because myself and the other GM were on the same page on style, tone, plot, etc.  Usually we each took one of two distinct groups of PCs, had an idea of where things were going, conferred every once and a while about what the sub-groups were up to, and winged it from there.  It was particularly entertaining when one group did something that caught the attention of the other.

On one memorable occasion one group of PCs was on night patrol and stumbled across an approaching raiding force sneaking up to the town they were defending while the other group was engrossed in a poker game in the town about to be attacked.  The nice thing was that each group really didn't know what the other was up to most of the time, so the first indication that this wasn't going to be a light "social" session for the poker players was the Mech firefight that broke out around them.  It was fun to describe the elemental forces of the huge energy weapons from the ground level perception of pilots who normally see the action from a Mech cockpit, all the while desperately trying to make it to their base across town to strap in and join the fight!

It takes some work and communication, but a 2 GM solution to large groups is a viable one in my experience.



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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2008, 12:01:08 AM »
I was a GM in a 72-player D&D game at a con. There were 8 of us reporting to a genetically enhanced (or perhaps just overcaffienated) SuperGM who coordinated the overarching event.

I can be comfortable with twelve or fifteen people around the table as long as: they are fairly disciplined players, the scenario is strictly business, and the game is simple or I have one of my snazzy spreadsheets on my laptop to manage data. Otherwise, I like it around seven players. I like a big group, but I also like everyone to get some spotlight time, attention, and a little joking or banter without breking down into chaos.
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 08:13:46 PM »
I've run for twelve folks tops. When combat breaks out, use a map regardless of the rules set or you'll forget where people are, and make sure to move quickly between one person and the next or folks will get bored (likewise, make sure everyone is getting attacked). A timer set for thirty seconds would help with the latter bit.

I'd echo the "something for everyone to do" concern. Likelihood of PvP actually balloons with a greater number of players, especially if you toss a few big seeming decisions their way and let them hash it out on their own. You don't have to do much to get that stuff going.

Beyond that, the usual trial and error and figuring out what your individual players are interested in and how they respond to this and that.


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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2009, 04:01:14 PM »
200 players = LARP of AIT (Atlanta Interactive Theatre) running Vampire using Mind's Eye Theatre variant house rules.

14+ players = at the first SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) meeting of the year at UGA, Robert Maxwell stood up and shouted "Anyone interested in playing in a D&D game, see me after the meeting!" that group rapidly broke into 2, though, and I got a spot in the second group (which was not the "cool kids" table).

13 players = as a DM, I've run for 13 players exactly twice. Once when all my regular players brought a guest to the same session, so my group doubled in size, and once when our FLGS closed for the night, and everyone wound up back at my place.

I had a 9 player group running for about a year, but that was a little more chaos than I liked. It was "regular group, plus everyone convince their girlfriend to play".

The fewer players you have, the more you actually get things done.
Ace & I pretty much steamrolled over Chris' campaign when I was playing a powerful wizard with minor fighting abilities, and he played a powerful fighter with minor magic. Perfect combination.