When the number of players is to much? and what to do?

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Hail! let me first introduce myselft by saying this is the second time i'll be DMing for a group of players. The first time was a 3D&T sci-fi adventure (3D&T is a lightweight rule framework created here in Brazil, usually frowned upon due it simplicity). As a player my carrear is a longer and includes the aforementioned 3D&T, D&D 3.5 and Vampire: The Masquerade systems.

My problem: The table have growth beyond my expectations: we currently have 9 players and i'm stopping other two from joining (especifically due logistical problems involing time avaiability and distance), my question: when the table is to big ? there is a ideal number? and how do you guys deal with it?

Currently, i split the players into 3, more manageable groups, and i plan to have then explore the Island they are in from diferents point of view (one group was capture by the villians and will see their point of view about the scenario, other group is with the persecuted locals and another will be fighting on their own in the jungle), they will be reunited in some moments in the story to allow some roleplaying between all the players and then split into random groups again.

Tips on how to accomplish that with success? anyone DM'ed a similar situation? Share some insights with me :D  

btw, on a curiosity note, my inspirations for this thing of diferent points of view came mainly from A Song of Ice and Fire books and how Martin present the facts to the reader.
My personal stopping point is 4 players, MAYBE 5 if they're all familiar with the game system and won't be asking a lot of procedural questions.

I would recommend splitting your group into two, and running them on alternating sessions (every other week, or whatever you do), if possible.  If not, you may want to see if you can find someone else who is willing to DM and split the group that way.
9 is too many players my almost anyones standards. I'd try and find another person in there who would be willing to DM, that way you can each have a group of 4-5 players, which is ideal.

"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

The table is only too big when the DM feels it is too big.  I have run and played in campaigns with as many as nine players and it worked out OK.  You as the DM just have to keep the game flowing so that the players are engaged.

First question I have is...how consistently do ALL the players show up?

The reason I ask is because I currently play in a game where we have seven players but it is rare that all show up to a given session.  We play with a minimum of four (lower than that and we cancel the session), we usually have five.  The DM scales encounters accordingly.  The DM has also implemented a system where players can come and go with little consequence - basically characters come and go as players do.  In game mechanics terms, if a player cannot make a session their character is present but does not do anything (and therefore does not get XP or treasure).  When the player returns his/her character can act.

Second question...is this an existing group or have nine players signed up?

The reason I ask is because, in my experience, when new groups are forming a lot of players will sign up but about half will actually show up.  Furthermore, even if all nine show up to start, there may be a few who lose interest and leave.

My point is, just because you have nine players now, does not mean you will always have nine players at your table.

 

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If anyone asked me to dm game involving 9 people, I would slap him on the head...although the challenge to pull that off seem alluring. Combat wise I would have to resort to average dmg for sure for fast rounds. Perhaps give 3 scenario problems 3 grps can split & brain storm so everyone feel like they contributing intellectually, then come back, and each grp give me their solution, then maybe I make them do some kill checks or something, to see which grp succeeds. I might run a shorter RP and simple story maybe pitting 3 grps into an arena type of situation, harry potter goblet run type scenario...groups competing under one setting, and I just referee...

I still would slap the person who ask but the challenge seem alluring. ;p
You might divide them into teams. Assign a team leader to coordinate the plan with his team.

Play goes something like this.

1. Describe the Red team's situation.
2. Describe the Blue team's situation. Meanwhile, Red Team makes their plans.
3. Hear Red team's actions from Red Leader.
4. Resolve Red team's actions and describe the Red team's new situation.
5. Hear Blue team's actions from Blue Leader.
6. Resolve Blue team's actions and describe the Blue team's new situation.
7. Repeat with Red Team/Blue team.


Or just take turns as normal. Make sure to swap up the initiative tables. Last on the list gets left out otherwise, especially in combat.

Let everyone know beforehand that such a large group will be difficult for you, and to bear with you. Also let players know that if that if they haven't decided what to do by the time you made it through the actions of their 8 companions, then you'll assume they are taking a delay action. Skip them.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I find the ideal number to be between 4 and 6.

That said, I have DMed many games with 9+ players.  Many conventions insist on groups of players that exceed 8, even for more complex games like D&D 3.5.  My experience is that the more simple the system, the more players one can accommodate.  For example, the record amount of players I have ever had in one game is 22, back in the AD&D era and while it worked, it was nuts.  I would never ever try that in 3.5.  A couple of years back, I ran a Teenagers From Outer Space game that had 15 players in it and it went very well-- TFOS is a very simple and silly system.

The most important skills a DM can have in mastering large groups is superior listening skills, descriptive skills and the ability to multitask.  Being organized and knowing the rules is essential.

While your skills as DM matters as to how big a group you can handle, the caliber of your players matters too.  A group of 5 players who don't listen or struggle with the game can be very much worse than 9 players who have their stuff together.
I find the ideal number to be between 4 and 6.

That said, I have DMed many games with 9+ players.  Many conventions insist on groups of players that exceed 8, even for more complex games like D&D 3.5.  My experience is that the more simple the system, the more players one can accommodate.  For example, the record amount of players I have ever had in one game is 22, back in the AD&D era and while it worked, it was nuts.  I would never ever try that in 3.5.  A couple of years back, I ran a Teenagers From Outer Space game that had 15 players in it and it went very well-- TFOS is a very simple and silly system.

The most important skills a DM can have in mastering large groups is superior listening skills, descriptive skills and the ability to multitask.  Being organized and knowing the rules is essential.

While your skills as DM matters as to how big a group you can handle, the caliber of your players matters too.  A group of 5 players who don't listen or struggle with the game can be very much worse than 9 players who have their stuff together.

While your skills as DM matters as to how big a group you can handle, the caliber of your players matters too.  A group of 5 players who don't listen or struggle with the game can be very much worse than 9 players who have their stuff together.


YEP!

I ran a game with 31 players. 31! But as crazy as that was... it went better than trying to DM for 3 teenage boys pumped up on energy drinks.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I DM a group of seven players regularly. That can be large and chaotic at times, but it's more fun than anything. Before we split our groups, we had eleven to twelve players for a month. That was way too many. Nine is an odd number if you're also including a DM. Large enough to be unwieldy, small enough to not be able to functionally split into two groups.  

3-5 is my idea. Lower being better. I have gone as high as 11, and its not awesome. When you do that, I find its best to include loads of monsters in every encounter. 


The best thing you can do to speed things up is have players hold their action if they don't know what to do. And don't let them make the call, you do it. "What do you do?" "umm I dunno" "Ok let me know when you do, next?"

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

when the table is to big ?

7 players

there is a ideal number?

5 players

how do you guys deal with it?

Don't allow more players in, or split the group.

Tips on how to accomplish that with success? anyone DM'ed a similar situation?

Are there multiple DM's, or are you just running the groups on different days?

I've used both techniques, but 'episodic' adventures (especially from LFR) make this easier.

Like others have said it is whatever you feel you can manage efficiently.  I used to run a 6-8 person campaign and it was tough when 8 showed up.  We are all great friends but the chatter can be very hard on progression.  I run a 3 person group right now and a 4th is showing up tomorrow cause he wants to see D&D in action.  Time to get another person hooked on the D&D world.
Currently, i split the players into 3, more manageable groups, and i plan to have then explore the Island they are in from diferents point of view (one group was capture by the villians and will see their point of view about the scenario, other group is with the persecuted locals and another will be fighting on their own in the jungle), they will be reunited in some moments in the story to allow some roleplaying between all the players and then split into random groups again.

Tips on how to accomplish that with success? anyone DM'ed a similar situation? Share some insights with me :D

Maybe you're already doing this, but I would run each of these groups at a separate time so you can give each one your full attention. Then occasionally you can have a big session with everyone there.

With so many interested players, you should also see if anyone else is interested in being a DM to split the work.
For a newer DM and newer players a lower number is better.  Probably 4 players per DM is good for newbies IMO.  However, if you do want to include a larger number of players I would recommend seeing if you can get one of the others in the group to be your assistant DM or run two groups instead of one, and alternate them between sessions as other have suggested.

I also have to agree that there really is a difference between running a group with experienced players vs. newer players.  Our group has between 8 and 9 players at every session currently playing 3.5e.  All but one of us in the group have been playing and/or running games for many years, and the new guy has picked up things extremely quickly and is asking for and following the advice of the veterans so that he can learn at an accelerated rate.  Our group also works very well together, is considerate of others ideas and communicates well.  In a group like this 8 to 9 players in a session isn't really that hard at all because we all work together and the game goes smoothly.

I am a fairly experienced DM and have no problem running a group like this, however if I were to be running a game with all new players I would limit it to 4 maybe 5 players to start with until the players got a really good handle on the rules and how everything works, and to see how well we could work together as a group.  Once they became more experienced and if we all worked together really well, then I would consider letting others join the group on a trail basis to see how well they would mesh with what we had already established.
4 players is the ideal number. 5 is OK. I used to cap my groups at 6 when I was in college and could play for 6 hours at a time every week, but...not anymore. So 5's my limit, and 3-4 is better.
Incredible how sometimes we just don't think of the obvious hahahaha i'll try convince them into playing into 2 different days.

anyway, as Ghost007 said, the challange to do this attracts me XD and since they will be split into groups, i would really like to see the PCs confronting each other defending the beliefs gain through interactions with the NPCs and the world, showing the bad guy is not that bad once you understand his motivations.

Also, the time limitation and avg dmg. in combat seems like a good ideia to speed up things a little more!

Thanks for the ideias and replys everyone. 
If anyone is willing to help co-DM for NPC's and help arrange combat, that might make it better if you cant run multiple days with multiple groups.  Everyone always likes to play a PC, but if you can get 1 person to co-DM with you, that might make it easier and streamline some things as long as you both are on the same page.  Just a thought! 

9 does seem far too hard for me to personally run - 6 is the most I can run once combat begins.  I've had 7 but boy oh boy does combat really begin to crawl the session along.  In my personal opinion, 5 is a great number, 4 is fun and tends to give limelight to all, with 3 as my absolute minimum.  (I have a revolving door of 8, mostly 7 people - makes story telling interesting throughout the campaign).

9 either needs a co-DM or spliting the groups up.

Good luck!