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How did you handle large groups

Shackled City Adventure Path

Scarab Sages

Assuming everyone shows up, which seems to be a rare occurance, I have 8 PC's. I never have groups that large, but am running the game for the owner of my local game shop and his wife and several friends. It started with 5, then a couple of people heard about it and wanted to join, and a person who bought a ton of PF stuff, but never played asked if he could sit it..and it has grown.

How would you account for a group of this size? Double the encounter sized? Beef up the encounters/

I was thinking about just adding a couple antagonists and making them tougher...what would you do?


I can only relate my experiance here but table size managment is a top priority if your going to pull off a good game.

We are currently starting a new shackled city campaign this saturday and I have had to turn away a player that really wants to play but the table limit is 6. Any more than that and nobody gets the exp to advance.

These things are written so that if you do not hit the benchmarks indicated. I.E. the wizard not haveing fireball for mook control or the cleric not haveing the heal spell when it's assumed he will have it can lead to a TPK.

It's assumed that the average party size if the core 4. wiz,cleric,theif and some sort of sword swinger a.k.a. HP damage sponge. With two others you may progress a little slower but you won't miss the bench marks. You won't as a DM have to face running an adventure written for 4 fourth level people when you have 3 thirds and a second level. The damage output from the monsters is based on the party level.

My recommendation for what it's worth either split the group in to two and run on seperate days or reduce the number to 6 by asking for volunteers or impliment the first to die first to leave rule( be warned that's a very harsh measure but it works).

My situation is similar to yours, Patman; I have 9 players in a Shackled City campaign. They are all friends with each other, and are pretty good at playing nice with each other and being fair. The way I have handled it is to have a rule that only 6 players can be active at a time when there is any danger involved; when they head into a dungeon or whatever, at least 3 stay at "base camp" while the rest head on into peril. Because of this I've had to play the game a little differently than usual, including the following adjustments:
-- I don't worry about tracking XP, but instead level up the whole party at specific points driven by the plot.
-- Where XP costs of spells and crafting are concerned, I have a fate point system in place, where they can use fate points to stand in for XP when needed.
-- For the first chapter, I added to the treasure in the official campaign by 1/3 (not 1/2 because one character has taken a vow of poverty) to keep everyone in line with treasure expectations. I have stopped doing that, though, because I find they already have a huge advantage in having a deep bench of players to draw on (one player gets hurt or runs out of spells? Bring up the next player!), and I think being behind in wealth per level compensates a little for that.
-- We have to be creative sometimes when we need to switch personnel in the middle of an encounter. Sometimes a player whose character is in the middle of a big melee can't make the next meeting, and we have to decide whether to have someone else run that character in his absence, or tell some goofy story about how that player ducked out of combat and somebody else had wandered from base camp to check on them and jumped into the fray. We try to avoid that when we can, though, by making good choices about when to wrap a session, and when we have decided we just can't make a change of personnel plausible, everyone has been good-natured about sitting out for a little extra. And whoever is sitting out gets a job, like keeping the party journal (they write down fricking *everything*), looking up rules, making the map, etc.

It's tricky, and it can be a lot of work for the DM if you're not careful, but we've managed to make it work, and on the other hand, it's very rare we don't have enough players to be able to play!

Scarab Sages

I'm running with a group of seven players at the moment, all 4th level:
Human cleric of Gozreh
Human monk
Human rogue
Half-elf fighter
Human wizard
Half-orc bard/paladin
Human ranger

With this large a group I've had to beef up the opposition quite a bit, due not only to the number of PCs, but also because they are the improved Pathfinder classes. For starters, I now routinely give all opponents maximum hit dice. I had to give Kazmojen (Malachite Fortress) two mercenary troll bodyguards to keep that fight a challenging one.

I am gradually re-doing the major NPCs to make them Pathfinder versions and maybe add a level or two. I will also be giving the major NPCs mooks/bodyguards of some sort to make for better boss battles. I've toned down the stock of the magic shop (Skie's place), mostly because I object to the concept of a "magic shop". The amounts of cash are working out okay, since it's quite a lot even for four PCs. Many of the characters are donating bags of cash to charity already, especially to the orphanage in town.

I've started a campaign wiki at with some info on my game.

Scarab Sages

Thanks guys..

Zarz, I am going about alot of things in a similar fashion. I am not giving out XP, just levelling them when approriate. I am just gonna go with whoever shows, is cool..I have been playing and GMing for almost 30 years, so I am not worried about pacing or anything. We are only in chapter 3, and who knows, some people may decide the game is not for them. I'm thinking, since I too have PF charaters, max HP, +2 or so on attacks, and maybe give everything Power Attack.

My groups is
1/2 Orc 2 handed fighter
Human Urban Ranger
Human Paladin
1/2 Elf Cleric of Sarenrae
Human Cleric of CC
Human Rogue (only shows to about half the sessions)
Human Ninja (just starting, told him he can be a fill in if someone doesn't show)
Human Evoker
Human Fire Elementalist (Also just joining, good friends with some other players)

Maybe if I add a little AC, some beef and a few more creatures to the encounters, we should be OK...just wondering how others handled it.

I'll check out your site Zarz. I wish I had the time to do one as well..I am runing this campaign every Saturday night, and a different group on Sundays when we finish Rise of the RuneLords..that one will only be 4-5 big...

Pat, isn't it wonderful to have this delemma?!

I have 8 players in my current campaign and have kept the group up to speed with boosts in XP due to "good roleplaying", and a few side quests to add more treasure and flesh out some players character stories.

I think it's awesome that you are just "leveling up" whenever the DM says so. If I could, I would use this method myself for a large group. How are you handling Item Creation? That would be my big question. Also, remember that if XP is not tied to the number of opponents they face in combat, you can hit a group with just about ANYTHING you can think of, and make the bad guys fight SMART. (Why use one dragon when you can hit them with two for the same price!)

Big groups lead to big fights over treasure if there is only a few big ticket items. I would suggest using the Magic Item Compendium to create treasure lists that have a bunch of smaller items to spread around to the groups. Hand out potions and scrolls like candy!

Good Luck!

When adding to an encounter, add extra mooks first before "beefing up" your tougher NPCS. Your PCs aren't any tougher - there's just more of them. Beyond maybe maxing out their hit points I would leave named NPCs alone.

Scarab Sages


Thanks for the input. So far, the only PC creating anything is the Ninja, and he is just making non-lethal poisons and antidotes.

i do not believe Pathfinder rules use Xp to create items anymore. I'll have to check if it becomes an issue. We are doing the Demonskar Ball tonight, and may have all 8 present.

One thing I did was to make the Stormblades a group of 6 by adding 2 more.

I'll let you know how the ball goes tonight, then I have to get to work on Zenith, and bolstering it a bit for these guys...

Scarab Sages

Well, I had all 8 show up tonight for the Demonskar was really a bit too much. I don't mind combat intensive sessions for that number, but trying to get any "role-playing" done is difficult. Too many side conversations, too many people to keep track of...

Patman wrote:
Well, I had all 8 show up tonight for the Demonskar was really a bit too much. I don't mind combat intensive sessions for that number, but trying to get any "role-playing" done is difficult. Too many side conversations, too many people to keep track of...

Heck we have that problem even when theres only 4 players at the table let alone 6. I couldn't imagine 8.

Scarab Sages

My problem was different play styles. I have 3 players who like to "stay in character" and 3 who want to "discuss" everythin. We had a minute when a party member lost the test of strength to Delann, and he then started a fist fight with him. He was getting his ass kicked and another party member jumped in and they beat him up. After the fight the paladin was chastising delann about fighting, even though he did not start it, and Delann started throwing insults at him. The problem is that the player has to step back and calm down and think about being a Paladin, and several, including me, wanted it to all be "in character". So 2 players were discussing the raminfications of the fight and what they should do, even though they did not really have time to.

When I mentioned it after the session, he said that he really needs to step back and cool down to think how a paladin would react, and I told him that that was cool, we can take a break, but not to talk about what he should do, or why he is doing it while it is happening...

I like all of the players, but having to juggle several different play styles, without offending anyone is difficult at best.

Awesome Patman, just knowing that you have to do that makes you a good DM, even if you don't manage to pull it off all the time!

My group favors the "out of game" approach to playing with a few exceptions during the more dramatic moments of play. Who doesn't want to spew off a few well placed lines as they take down the Big Bad Evil Guy?


Scarab Sages

Roth wrote:

Awesome Patman, just knowing that you have to do that makes you a good DM, even if you don't manage to pull it off all the time!

My group favors the "out of game" approach to playing with a few exceptions during the more dramatic moments of play. Who doesn't want to spew off a few well placed lines as they take down the Big Bad Evil Guy?


Oh, you misunderstand my friend, I love the lines, the laughs etc...what i don't like is having the rogue tell the wizard which spell to cast, or have the fighter tell the wizard which square to tactically place his fireball to get the best advantage. Or the cleric telling the warriors which squares to move to, or which path to take to get a more tactical advantage. I do not mind them shouting suggestions, because a combat is a living thing, and it is not done in silence, but giving that kind of advice while gottrod the Dragon is breathing fown you a** just doesn't seem right to me...

Tomorrow night they hit the Kuo-Toan shrine..let's see how they do there...

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