Tips for larger parties

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I have around 7 people possibly turning up next session (yikes! I normally only get 2!) and I was wondering if anyone has tips, experiences, etc for larger parties... particular those of this number? 
Here's the biggest lesson that I learned when hosting a larger group of players: Try and limit/curtail NPC creatures/mounts/cohorts, and familiars that also have to be given a turn in the line-up. When you've already got double the number of normal party, the turns rotation gets longer and longer. Every creature added to the initiative list makes it that much longer for each player's actual turn to come back around the initiative. Factor in a large number of enemies, it gets even longer; You may have it come down that each player waits 30 minutes real time for his turn again! That leads to a lot of boredom, people wandering off for snacks, not paying attention...  If possible, I would even try and set up a "gentleman's agreement" not to add summoned monsters/nature's allies for this session, as it is again only adding creatures to the queue and making the game drag.

Best of luck,
Neue 
1) Ask people to pay attention and not start chatting among themselves if it's not their turn.
2) Have people ready with their action when their turn comes up, otherwise they get skipped.

I find summons and pets are not a big deal if you keep these two rules. Much more time is lost in players not paying attention and having to explain what's going on twice or three times, and players taking a long time when it's their turn to decide what they're doing, especially if they first need to get told what happened since their last turn.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

When it comes to play you really need to have players ready when their turn comes up.  If they aren't you can just tell them that because they haven't decided on a course of action they are now using DELAY and just skip right over them until they figure out what they want to do.  I mean you really could be doing this with a "normal" sized group but with twice the number of players time management becomes even more important.

Now when it comes to building encounters for a much larger group you should be treating them as a group with an "average party level" +2 higher then it may actually be.  This means that a party of seven 6th-level characters gets treated like a standard (four member) party of 8th-level characters.  When you do this you should still limit the maximum CR used in the encounter to the actually party level +4 which would mean CR 10 for the example instead of a CR 12 which would be for actual 8th-level characters.  Ultimately, this often means increasing the number of creatures encountered (double creatures equals +2 EL) which maginifies any inefficiency when it comes to taking turns on time.
 
LOTS of random encounters. (Especially if they insist on taking all their henchmen with them.)

That many people fumbling about in the dark corridors of a twistes, trap-filled and monster infested dungeon isn't going to be stealthy. EVER.

Even elves have flatulence.

Personally, I think a great deal of it is going to depend on the players. Players that are easily distracted or who grow bored for any number of reasons, will certainly be much more disruptive to a party this size since they tend to slow the game down with their nonsense. 

(This occurs most often with immature players who only care about what's happening in the game to their character and otherwise tune everything else out. I've seen it in younger & older gamers alike. My friend's son LOVES bouncing dice so he doesn't get into the roleplaying as much & we have to keep him focused once in awhile. On the other hand, we had a guy in his 20's who joined us for a bit & whenever the "action" slowed down, he liked to get up from the table & wander around the room & even tried out my throwing knives. Needless to say, he has been banished from my table.)

Certainly this can happen with only two players at the table but it makes things very tedious for seven players and a DM.

All I can say is keep the pace hard & fast if you think any of your players will drift during game time.

As a DM, it may be helpful to announce your concerns with a group this size before the game begins. Tell them like others have said, to have their character actions planned ahead & be familiar with their characters' abilities. tactics & equipment.

This is why I prefer running combat with players announcing character actions BEFORE the initiative is rolled.

Those who have problems with proper motivation attract extra attention from the denizens of the dungeon. Eventually they will either get the idea or perish.

Personally, I'd LOVE to have a larger group of say, 6 or 7 GOOD players who each ran one character, used good tactics, roleplayed reasonably well & enjoyed exploring without dice bouncing and who didn't focus on drama and party conflict. 

However, the more people you have, the more personalities you're gonna see & some players have a lot more "personality" than others.

(This is why I despise evil campaigns. Tried it more than once & it always disintegrated because evryone stayed true to roleplaying their alignment. While respect must be given for roleplaying, I'd prefer running a much longer campaign.)

I love it when everyone has to pause for a good laugh. It's supposed to be fun after all. Funny is ALWAYS good. 

I don't tolerate silly. There's a HUGE difference.

(A good example of this was when I was a player in a Marvel Superheroes campaign about a year ago & one of the other players, the same one who was infatuated with my throwing knives in fact, had his character get drunk on vodka while we were in the middle of an underground Skrull base just outside New York City! Absurdity at its worst!)

Don't get me wrong, a drunken dwarf or barbarian who blunders about the dungeon with the rest of the party can be entertaining & actually, very much in-character but this was Marvel!

(I have to add that the drunken dwarf or barbarian is very old hat and I'd like to see a drunk magic-user who has difficulty casting his spells or something else daring and refreshing.)

Give everyone their moment to shine but if they don't take advantage of it, that's not on you. 

An old school thing which they discussed in 1E is that certain players have job assignments. You have your mapper, (Something that is slowly going by the wayside with dungeon tiles and the UBER-COOL Dwarven Forge stuff.) and you have your leader/caller. When they first enter a room, give everyone a minute to bounce thoughts & ideas around but make sure it's only a minute. Once this is done, have the caller tell you what everyone is doing. If you have one or two who disagree, they can be dealt with by the party (left behind to guard the door or some other mundane task) and it takes some pressure off of you.

Gary Gygax told tales of running 20+ people at his table at one time. Simply awesome!

You can do it my friend! You're the Dungeonmaster! Don't get intimidated, know the rules but be flexible,  be prepared, but again be flexible and be fair. 

If you have seven good players at your table then you & your game are truly blessed & you should have a great time!

Let us know how it goes!

Dungeonmaster314






 
Thanks for the feedback! I'm excited, and a little scared, but I should be able to handle it. I've got a timer app on my phone, which can be reset with one button press, so I won't need to get a pair of minute egg-timers (not that I'm scared of the $4 that'll cost). 

Now to tell my players what food to expect. We apparently have heaps.  
Just read DMPi's response and want to say that there is a difference between editions when it comes to running large groups.  In the earlier editions (AD&D) bigger parties weren't as complex because overall characters were far less complex.  As I like to say when someone tells me they are playing a Fighter 12 in AD&D I have a FAR better understanding of what they can do then if they tell me they are playing a Fighter 12 (or heaven forbid a multiclass Fighter mix at 12th-level) in 3.0 or 3.5.  I'll also say that the way encounters were designed in 2e was a lot more fluid than it is in the more recent editions.
 
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