gladiusdei
 member, 705 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 17:36
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
Due to rpol's trend of attrition, I tend to lean toward larger groups of players.  But is a group of 8 just too many people to put into a game together?  is 9 too big?  should it be closer to 6?

what's your opinion?
Talon
 member, 375 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 18:17
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
Depends on how diverse the action is really. If you expect everyone to just roll 1d20 and attack next turn, that's pretty easy to manage from post to post. If you plan to let Thief Jeff sneak behind the build, Horatio press an ear to a door and listen for conversation, Marco set a distraction fire in the kitchen, Gertrude the druid make it rain to mask their movements on the grounds, and let Louie steal a horse from the stables, you'll probably find yourself getting overwhelmed fast (And that's only 5 players, not 9) Nothing turns off a player in a game faster than having their actions brushed over or overlooked by the GM, it's the ultimate "What you did really didn't matter," or "Who can be bothered reading what you write."

So if you're going with a larger group of player, I'd advise cutting down peripheral activities, or committing to a very high level of GM activity. Whichever approach you feel comfortable with. You can avoid a lot of the RPOL attrition by keeping the game pace brisk and the action meaningful.
gladiusdei
 member, 706 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 18:31
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
I'm much less worried about being overwhelmed and more worried about players feeling that the group is too big, or them being overshadowed by others.  I've gm'd for a long time, and am pretty good at handling a lot of player action all at once.
swordchucks
 member, 1496 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 18:40
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
As a player, I have trouble keeping track of everyone else in a group bigger than about six. If you want a traditional GM-post-plus-one-per-player-round format, then it can be fine, but if you want a lot of interaction between players, it is more difficult.  Big groups tend to splinter into factions and can mean a lot more management and actually lose you some slower posters because they feel left out.

As a GM, I tend to recruit one more than I want (which is usually two or three more than the minimum I feel I need) and keep a short waitlist if the game is popular enough to pull in that much interest.  The hardest thing is structuring your game such that bringing in fresh meat mid-story makes any sense.
pdboddy
 member, 611 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 19:14
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
For a face to face game, I think 4 people is the optimum party size, and you could probably have as many as 6 and have it still be manageable.

For RPoL, a larger group is doable if you can keep the pace reasonably brisk.
horus
 member, 516 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 19:15
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
From my own memories of playing AD&D 2e back when, six to eight players seemed to be about the limit, and even then a DM had to be alert for signs of one or two players being marginalized in-game.

The largest game in which I've played had twelve players.  We eventually split it off into a group of eight and a group of four that played different nights.  Different folks wanted to do different things, so it worked out.
pdboddy
 member, 612 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 19:28
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
In reply to horus (msg # 6):

Back in the day, I played Shadowrun an awful lot, through highschool and into university.  The group was fairly large, but we had anywhere from 4 to 10 players.  You are quite right in saying you have to pay attention in order to keep people from being marginalized, and also to keep things moving forward and interesting.

Was the best days of gaming, for me. :)
pawndream
 member, 172 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 21:16
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
I think 8 players is too much, both as a player and DM. This is especially true when a game first begins and everyone is excited and posts frequently. It is easy to get lost in a wall of text if you are away from your computer for a day or two and it makes it very difficult to figure out what's going on.

I also think a huge cast like that contributes to the high attrition rate of PbP games, as players and DM alike become overwhelmed with an avalanche of posts. I will specifically avoid any game that has more than 6 players for that very reason. The sweet spot really is 3-5 consistent posters and a DM, in my opinion.

There are of course successful games that have huge casts, but I think these are the exception rather than the rule.
gladiusdei
 member, 707 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 21:20
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
Sort of brings up a catch 22 then.   Accept more than 6 players to give more a chance to play, but risk them quitting because its too big, or only give 6 a chance.  Either way there are a lot of disappointed players.
pawndream
 member, 173 posts
Sat 30 Jun 2018
at 21:44
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
gladiusdei:
Sort of brings up a catch 22 then.   Accept more than 6 players to give more a chance to play, but risk them quitting because its too big, or only give 6 a chance.  Either way there are a lot of disappointed players.


I don't really view running games from the standpoint of giving more people a chance to play or trying to minimize the number of players who might be disappointed because their characters weren't accepted in the game. New games pop up all the time :)

A game needs to be fun for the GM as well and there is nothing fun (to me) about having to wade through a wall of posts during the initial excitement of a game...or, as the excitement wears off, waiting for all 8-10 players to log-in and post to give everyone a chance to contribute before moving the game along.

At any rate, I haven't had too many issues with player attrition on the GM side. I put a lot of thought into the recruitment stage of the game to try to minimize problems down the road and, after nearly a decade on RPoL, have a pretty good network of consistent players I leverage to help recruit other consistent players.
engine
 member, 630 posts
Mon 2 Jul 2018
at 02:21
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
gladiusdei:
I'm much less worried about being overwhelmed and more worried about players feeling that the group is too big, or them being overshadowed by others.  I've gm'd for a long time, and am pretty good at handling a lot of player action all at once.

There's no good way to judge the validity of your concern. You'd just need to make your concern clear to prospective players. You'd want players who would make an effort not to overshadow others, and who could handle feeling a bit overshadowed. And to entice players, you might want to state a little about what steps you take to keep players from feeling overshadowed.
Hunter
 member, 1449 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Mon 2 Jul 2018
at 02:23
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
The usual answer runs in the realm of 4-6, though I think the correct answer is: As many as you can keep involved.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1387 posts
Mon 2 Jul 2018
at 05:32
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
I find larger groups usually stay going better, probably because there is more chances for interaction, especially if you're good at handling issues about waiting on folks.

Further, I find larger groups are much easier to handle on pbp than at a table, unless you try to keep a really fast pace, like multiple posts per day. Mostly cause you have the time to actually go over everything and make sure it all gets at least acknowledged in your posts, and usually you can actually make everyone involved feel involved.
Waxahachie
 member, 155 posts
 The horn that wakes
 the sleepers
Tue 3 Jul 2018
at 04:34
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
In live games, I prefer group size of 6 (to make it more likely we have enough to play even if 1 or 2 can't make it).

On line, I prefer the same, but I have seen people manage up to 10+ PCs successfully in the game. It depends on how much time you have available to put into things.
cooneydad
 member, 294 posts
Thu 12 Jul 2018
at 16:52
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
I recommend 5-6 players if you can get people to commit to sticking around. If you anticipate turnover, do 6-7.
thattripletguy
 member, 21 posts
Thu 12 Jul 2018
at 16:55
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
It also depends on the style of campaign you want to run. Something like a West Marches campaign is more player-driven so you can set up a much bigger group for that.
bythenumbers
 member, 70 posts
Fri 13 Jul 2018
at 01:29
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
In reply to thattripletguy (msg # 16):

I was just about to say, West Marches is pretty resilient. I'm running such a campaign right now, and depending on the way you organize it, it can be structured to resist PbP's tendency for attrition. Multiple, smaller groups are just better for keeping things moving.

That said, I've also had my share of drop-outs, even only in the second or third month of the game running. I suppose PbP is just tough all around, and some systems are tougher to drum up interest than others. D&D tends to have a strong following, though. You should be able to find enough players to keep things moving.
aguy777
 member, 283 posts
 Join Date:
 Thu, 28 Nov, 2013
Fri 13 Jul 2018
at 02:14
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
West Marches games are, indeed, practically immune to attrition. Mine sits at some 125 characters across 45ish players, and rarely dips below that. The individual groups in my game typically sit with 4-6 players each. I balance my encounters around there being 5 players in a group, and most groups leave with 6 players, so there's a little leeway for attrition.

I tend to not go above 6, as that begins reducing the amount of 'screen-time' that everyone gets. It can be hard to get your voice heard when there's more than a half-dozen other characters all trying to speak at once.
BadgerHoneycutt
 member, 2 posts
Fri 20 Jul 2018
at 22:00
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
In freeform pbp games I've dealt with in the past there were multiple narrators for different groups in the same game. I'm not sure if dms would be willing to let someone co-dm but after getting a bit more familiar with this site I might give it a try.
JRScott
 member, 29 posts
Thu 26 Jul 2018
at 09:14
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
I've played in sit down with up to 20 players ( I was not DM of that) but that can be daunting and combat is very slow.

On pbp my old yuku game at its height had about 30 players, however they were rarely in the same place at the same time.

Here on RPOL folks come and go so fast sometimes it's hard to keep steady numbers, some of that's my fault to with my health issues and mom's health declining.

The best size is the size you are comfortable with. I could do as I did in my old yuku campaign anymore, I just don't have the time for such a demanding work back then it was no problem :)
EvilGenius
 member, 69 posts
Thu 26 Jul 2018
at 11:32
Re: How big is too big of a group for D&D?
This depends on two things: which version of D&D you're playing and what style of game you are playing.

When playing 3rd (Pathfinder) or 4th editions the game really started to slow down at around 6 players.  A moderately sized combat could take an hour or more.  There's maps and positioning and counting out distances and other things that go into playing out the combat. None of these take a huge amount of time all by themselves but when added all up the game slowed down.  4 or 5 players is really the sweet spot for these games.

Earlier editions played faster.  I've played in regular campaigns in 1st or 2nd edition that had 12 players at the table with hirelings and followers. Combat was generally fast.  A typical combat took 15 to 20 minutes.  There weren't any maps with grids.  There wasn't any measuring.  If you wanted to do something, the DM made an on the spot ruling and things moved on.  I think the sweet spot for these games was really 6 or 7 players but not because things got slow.  It's just hard to juggle the spotlight for more players.

The style of game you are playing makes a huge difference too.  If you play a game that is very combat focused and much of the out of combat stuff is done quickly and / or hand waved, then the edition that you play is super important in determining how many players to put at the table.  I mentioned why this is up above.  However, if you do a lot of non-combat, improv theatre type play, then which edition is a lot less important.  This type of play can accommodate a lot more people as long as they are good a juggling the spotlight around.

You'll not I haven't mentioned 5th Edition anywhere.  I've only played 5e a couple of times with groups that had 5 players.  I found the game ran pretty smoothly with that many players but don't have an experience with more or less so I left it out of my analysis.  It still ought to hold up though.
DavidVC
 member, 2 posts
Fri 10 Aug 2018
at 18:29
How big is too big of a group for D&D?
In reply to gladiusdei (msg # 1):

The biggest game I ever ran was a tabletop game of D&D 3rd Edition with 10 players and 15 PCs. That was TOO MANY. Handling experience felt like doing income taxes. From then on all my games use the XP system from Dungeon Crawl Classics. No more keeping score for each giant rat you step on.:D

I could probably handle 8, but I'd break the party into 2 squads. Then I'd assign one player in each team as the squad leader. If someone can't make it to the table or post quickly enough the squad leader gives the orders for the session and the PC with the absent player follows it, unless there's secret instructions ahead of time. If the one squad leader doesn't show up you have a backup squad leader, or defer to the other squad leader.