8 is too many

Yesterday I had 8 players show for a playtest game. Rather than try and run the standard adventure I pulled up the bestiary and pulled out the stats for all 3 Goblinoids. My idea was to make the game vomit up some useful data, so my overall intent was to test Bounded Accuracy. With so many players at the table I didn’t keep numbered notes, but here are the facts: 2 fighters, 2 rogues, 1 of everything else, at least one of each sub-race and a wide variety of backgrounds and specialties. The location was a ghost town, the baddies came in 3 waves (10 Goblins, then 10 Hobgoblins, then 4 Bugbears) Here are my observations.


Players hit most of the time on Goblins and Hobgoblins. This was GOOD. It let the players feel like they were doing something productive. In the later rounds it also gave them the confidence to try more ‘risky’ maneuvers rather than stack advantage.


Goblins were useless. They didn’t hit often, but when they did it felt right for a first level monster.


Players took a lot of damage from Hobgoblins and Bugbears. Their chance to hit was better, and when they hit it was devastating. Only two PCs went down, and that was strictly from really bad tactics.


Bugbears died easily. Their HP was quite low compared to PC (and their own) damage. They are supposed to be level 6 monsters, but they sure didn’t feel like it at the table.


We did have a couple of meta-gamers. A rogue who constantly asked other players to endanger themselves so he could get advantage, and a fighter who expected limitless heals from the War Cleric.  


I think the players enjoyed their characters more, and because of Backgrounds they didn’t feel like all they could do was combat. Many of the players climbed onto roofs, used skills and other improvisations all in character. This was very nice to see.


What needs to be fixed: Less PC damage overall, More monster HP and ‘to hit.’

Fun, Phaw.  I get those over-attended nights sometimes, too.  Puts us in scramble mode, huh?

I think your input is pretty much spot on from our experience here, too. 
I remember when my weekly group had balooned up to 10 regular atendees. Oh my god, it was awful. Trying to corral 9 people AND make each one feel useful was a nightmare worse than death. I don't know how the DMs did it in the early days with modules built for 8-10 people (Keep on the borderlands, I'm looking at you).
My two copper.
Yeah, it was crazy. I had a 4e game that balooned up to 9 players. Half the players broke off and started a new game, so that was nice... but for two weeks I was pulling my hair out. I will say that having such 'limited' class/race selection in this packet still led to 8 very different and unique characters.
Its always fun to see players do things outside of combat(in combat)
I however do not see how 5th E has in anyway promoted this, thus i recomend disregarding this when taking into consideration the input of this particular DM.
Everything else this DM says however i believe to be spot on, theres nothing worse for the DM than to have to constantly adjust the results of combat rolls, it would be preferable to see monsters that could hold their own against PCs without scoring a few "lucky rolls"
Its always fun to see players do things outside of combat(in combat)
I however do not see how 5th E has in anyway promoted this, thus i recomend disregarding this when taking into consideration the input of this particular DM.
Everything else this DM says however i believe to be spot on, theres nothing worse for the DM than to have to constantly adjust the results of combat rolls, it would be preferable to see monsters that could hold their own against PCs without scoring a few "lucky rolls"



Jeez the dude just said he had experience with an over abundance of players in his 4e game, I would assume that if the man saw his players thinking out side the box and it was different enough to notice then maybe his observation is actually a result of the playtest rules and not just his opinion.

Telling people to ingore a man's feed back because you don't  think it was valid reeks of something fouls and bordering on vulgar. 

My table plays like this all the time, but we don't play 4e and our reason for playing has nothing to do with combat, except for my little brother who whines all the time about wanting something to fight, but he's ADD and loses interest in things unless hes being stimulated. The point is I wouldn't notice this as an effect of the rules since these things happen regardless.

It is a sad fact that when the devs put together this packet they neutered the monsters because of the low starting hit points of the weaker characters. I really think they are on the wrong track with using mountains of hitpoints and damage dice to do what the unbounded bonus bloat of their other attempts did poorly. One system sent attacks into the sratisphere, the other made it look good but everything pretty much stayed the same. 

How many more versions of the game are they going to mess up before they get it even close to right?

A weak monster or one that uses makeshift or stone aged tools should do as little as a d4 damage while bigger stronger critters need to use their fists and teeth. Jees everything bigger than a kobold gets a giant ax. Where in the hells do they get these things from? Why aren't they selling them for profit to feed their families.

I've a good mind to make up an arms dealer NPC who specializes in supplying huge axes to the unwashed hiding in caves and abandoned castles. At least I'll be able to tell my players where they get them from when it dawns on them that they all have superior weapons, although they can't hit the broad side of a barn with them or have enough durability to take a couple from the first level guy with too many hit points and too much armor and deals so much damage he can one shot a 6 hd monster. 

If they are too dumb or unsophisticated to forge metals and craft equipment, how do they get these high end munitions? Give them a big thick stick and have done with it. I see too much design and not enough thought being put into these monsters so far. 

I say stop already.  
I haven't found excessive numbers in 5E/Next to be that much of a problem.  Especially in comparison to what it was like trying to run with 8 characters in 4E that sometimes meant as much as 20 minutes between turns for characters in combat.  That was pretty awful.

What becomes a bigger hassle with increased numbers is engaging everyone in RP settings.  Combat, exploration, narration, etc., all runs smoothly in Next, but when interacting with NPCs in RP scenarios, it's hard to keep everyone involved adequately.

As for the comment about promoting more than combat, from experience, I'd say this is in relation to how 4E (and some other versions/RPGs) puts a lot of thought into combat (balance, powers, sources, etc).... when you have so many powers that dominate how a character is played, you start thinking of your character as the powers.  I've seen this first hand a lot in 4E.  Players spent a LOT more time choosing Powers, Feats, etc., to define their character.  The creation process becomes about Point Buy and Feature Selection, which gets them into the thinking of the mechanics of the game, the rules, not the role.

In Next, you can easily spend as much time thinking about background and speciality as class features.. in fact, most spend more time thinking about background than they do deciding what option they want for the class, and that gets them thinking beyond just what they can do in combat.
I just did a test of another game I play, each player's turn was about 3-5 mins depending on how many actions they decide to take. It took very little time to actually decide what to do, but adding and subtracting damage took longer. Even with this considered an entire combat round could take up to 40 mins with 8 players, not including the DM controlling all the monsters.

We complained that people were taking too long in our games, but after keeping track it was not the delaying, it was the amount of people. 40 minutes was just too long to wait for your next turn. Especially when it feels like you are only fighting off a giant squad of hit points instead of actually affecting the outcome.

To make a long story short:
When you have too many players, the overall time to play the game increases. Even if you don't notice.
Ant Farm
I just did a test of another game I play, each player's turn was about 3-5 mins depending on how many actions they decide to take. It took very little time to actually decide what to do, but adding and subtracting damage took longer. Even with this considered an entire combat round could take up to 40 mins with 8 players, not including the DM controlling all the monsters.

We complained that people were taking too long in our games, but after keeping track it was not the delaying, it was the amount of people. 40 minutes was just too long to wait for your next turn. Especially when it feels like you are only fighting off a giant squad of hit points instead of actually affecting the outcome.

To make a long story short:
When you have too many players, the overall time to play the game increases. Even if you don't notice.




Sounds like this group needs to be split in two. Does the DM have time to run two groups? Seems like an over worked DM and a table or two of really bored players. Side conversations adding to the slowdown and confusion.

The most I had at once was six but it was when I ran AD&D games and there wasn't all this added junk to clutter things up. At their worst AD&D combat took ten minutes to conclude even when the characters levels were in the teens. 

Sure it's nice to have a crap ton of options but the penalty is long combats and bored players. I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who moan about only having the boring I swing option, who then complain that it takes an hour to get to their next attack and then spend five minutes making it.

The DMG in this packet has easy guides for setting DC’s, what ability checks and saves should do in the game and how to ignore the rules. It seems illogical to say that this version of the play test does not promote improvisation, though it might be able to do it better.


Number of players at a table is an issue that should be addressed in the core rules for the DM. There are usually a few sidebar rules (IE turns moving clockwise from highest initiative), but I think there could be a great deal more. A large number of PC’s often opens the door to either a large number of monsters or one very powerful boss. These kinds of combats should to become more cinematic rather than tedious. Perhaps a chapter at the back of the monster manual on converting monsters into ‘hordes’ would help. The monster space is expanded, damage slightly increased and HP represent number of monsters in the unit. This is all totally spitballing, but I have used similar mechanics for end of campaign boss fights to speed up combat and let the PC’s feel a little more heroic. It would be nice to see some form of official system to help with a problem that seems to be fairly common.

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