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  1. #1

    Do you prefer a small (3 or 4) or large (5 or 6) party? Why?

    Ultimately in a large party it feels like your character gets so much less time in the spotlight. The larger the party the less time you are a protagonist and the more time you are a spectator.

    In large parties, characters often feel redundant. In small parties, it can often feel like you have a niche that your character excels in. In small parties all characters feel integral to the party's success.

    For larger parties, it is harder to make sure that everyone's voice at the table matters. Often players fade into the background or even completely disengage without the DM even noticing.

    Large parties suffer from slow combat as there are more players and more monsters to compensate. There is also more to keep track of slowing down the game further. DMs often have to rush players to keep any sense of reasonable pacing.
    Last edited by Moon Wizard; March 30th, 2021 at 04:50.

  2. #2
    damned's Avatar
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    You have only listed Pros for Small and Cons for big.

    Big parties fill more boxes in terms of capabilities/abilities.
    Big parties can take on more difficult challenges.
    Big parties can handle 2 players being missing from a session and the game still going ahead.

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  3. #3
    Zacchaeus's Avatar
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    I have six players - so I don't have a choice

    And they all contribute to every turn even when it's not their character's go since they work combats out quite strategically. Each party is different and I don't think you can generalise that big or small is better or worse - it all depends on the DM and players.
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  4. #4
    I lean towards 6. If I had a very vocal group I might want 4 tho.
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  5. #5
    I definitely prefer 6 if at all possible. Allows for a more involved game play and they can take on more challenges and more difficult encounters....

  6. #6
    JohnD's Avatar
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    I like a larger group. Life is life and its on the rare side that everyone can make every game session, so you still generally have enough people to play (personally I need 50%+1 of the player list).
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  7. #7
    In face to face play my sweet spot has always been five players plus the GM. In most groups I've run games for this allows everyone to participate in a single conversation around the table. My experience with six players is that it usually falls apart into three-plus-three, which makes for a much more disjointed session. Larger groups work for freeforms and one-shots using looser rules where players might naturally be expected to divide into more groups in corners around the house as the plot and plan. I've run games with 20+ players that way.

    But for an extended campaign with a crunchy ruleset I find five ideal. I can handle six, seven at a push. It's OK for straightforward action-heavy games, but anything relying on players to discuss and put together lots of information can fall apart. As the GM I start to struggle with all the record-keeping, who was doing what, and making sure everyone gets some nice spotlight time with more than seven players.

    When I first started running games virtually a year ago I found the whole thing overwhelming. Three or four players was much easier to handle than a larger group at first for me.

    I'd say that smaller group sizes are still good for anything that's going to be really talk-heavy.

    I think I've now let go of worrying about the fact that conversation doesn't happen as naturally with online gaming, and stop stressing out about it so much as a GM. We've probably all got used to videoconference etiquette too! It helps a lot if players spontaneously start to chat with each other via text message while the GM is handling other players' turns. I've never had a round-table discussion and roleplaying session where the conversation happens as naturally as it does offline, but if the players get used to each other's rhythms it can lead to a perfectly enjoyable (if slightly more stilted) experience with five or six players even online.

    I have played in (not run) games with more players but I didn't enjoy it as much - they were quite combat heavy and I ended up struggling to stay involved with the story and the game when I was only getting to take a decision every 40 minutes. I would want a light-weight system for larger groups if I were to try running for larger groups, and I think I'd be very strict about having players get ready for their turn in advance. I believe there are some people who run ultra-crunchy Pathfinder with 8 players and I don't quite know how they manage it!

    One-on-one works OK for online gaming, better than in person I think, but it's still a HUGE drain on the GM unless it is done as a side session for one player as part of a larger game. It burns through material at a horrific rate, and as the GM you never get to sit back and relax and listen to the group for even a second.

    Two works better, actually pretty good for dungeon delves and the like. Two players each with two characters is quite managable the couple of times I tried it.

    But three works much better in terms of conversational dynamics IMO, four is better still, and five is still my sweet spot now that I've got on top of VTT etiquette. Let go of trying to make it flow like an in-person game and concentrate on making it the best video-conference-plus-VTT game you can by leveraging the advantages of the medium. Like that everyone can be presented with the same map and pretty pictures and Syrinscape sounds and have all the book-keeping done automatically. A spectacular map, dramatic soundscape, text chat for banter, good manners for voice time, and you can run 30 pirate skeletons vs 5 characters way better than you could do so offline

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  8. #8

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    Four for me. Anything else is an exercise in crown control.

    I find that four players, some playing a second character as a henchmen for added party manpower was a good mix.

    Granted nowadays I only play through Fantasy grounds, so perhaps more than four is a lot easier than doing it in person.


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