Seven Lessons Learned from Running a Tabletop RPG with a Big Group

Posted by on May 5, 2009


We can have up to 10 players at my tabletop gaming group. That’s a lot of people to manage; most groups max out at 5 or so. While I’m trying to get better at splitting the group up with another GM, I’ve had times where I’ve had to run a game wtih 10 players.

A few suggestions:

  1. Notify the next few players in the turn sequence. When you tell somebody that it’s their turn, point to the next person and advise them that they’ll be next. They can then use the upcoming few minutes to prepare their next action.
  2. Enforce turn time limits. Our group is upfront about the fact that, with a large group, we can’t wait for minutes on each person’s turn. In fact, I keep out a one-minute egg timer, which I use on anyone who isn’t ready with their action when their turn starts (myself included).
  3. Avoid combat. “True” role-playing, in the sense of acting out a role, is actually easier for large groups. The group can act off each other. You don’t have to completely eliminate combat, but dropping one or two fights is probably a good idea.
  4. Make combat quick. With 10 people, two fights can chew up the entire session. On the other hand….
  5. Scale your enemies. By the time 9 players have taken a whack at a creature, it might be dead without getting the chance to use that one cool life-draining spell. Just beware making it so tough that one fight takes all night.
  6. Make combat interesting. In a fight with several different kinds of creatures, different players can concentrate on particular enemies.
  7. Pay special attention to quiet players. It’s extremely easy for one or two players to fall through the cracks in a game like this. At least engage them in conversation.

The good news? A big group feels more like a party. A large group can be just as much fun as a small one, especially if big groups are rare. So have fun with it!

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