In recent weeks, we've been discussing on this blog various elements that go into tabletop role-playing, such as props, one-shots vs.campaigns, the evolution of RP ideas, and communication. This week, I thought we’d tackle another element of tabletop role-playing that varies: the size of the gaming group.
Tabletop role-play gaming groups come in various sizes, from 2 or 3 players (plus a GM) and up. The question is: at what point does a gaming group become too large? Are there certain GM styles that are better suited for different sized groups? Are there advantages to different sizes? Like all the other elements of RP we've discussed so far, the size of the group is all about GM and player preference, but let’s looks at some advantages and disadvantages of large groups.
One of the GMing styles that can cause problems in large groups is splitting the party. Certain sessions or one-shots are built for much splitting up of characters and this can cause problems. A GM can’t talk to different groups of PCs at the same time and can slow down game play. One way to remedy this is to have a co-GM help out. Two members of our team here at Black Hat Writing run a game with a large group of players together and that usually helps with this problem.
However, if you are thinking about running or playing in a game, you may want a lot of players if your players like interpersonal interactions between characters. One of the first games I played in was in group of about 10 players, and I enjoyed the complicated group dynamics that formed from the large group.
In my opinion, a RP group becomes too large when a GM cannot handle it or players start to become bored. For large groups, as a player, you need to be invested in the story as a whole, and not just what you, as a player and character, is doing. By playing in a large group, the GM will most likely have less time to focus on you.
We’d love to hear how large your gaming group is and why. What’s the perfect size for you? Does it depend on who is GMing or what system you are playing in? Comment or send us a message. Want to learn more about Theatre Noir or would like to help? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If this discussion has inspired you, consider signing up to become a playtest GM for Theatre Noir.