Help! I've Got 10 Players!


Rise of the Runelords


Soooo I'm about to start running Burnt Offerings with 10 players. Has anybody run it with even close to this many? What can I expect? What is a simple way to alter things to keep some resemblance of balance (I'm not stickler on balance, but something resembling it would be nice haha.)


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2 groups, perhaps?


2x numbers of regular critters.

Bosses (solo critter encounters) the fastest, simplest solution is to add the Advanced Simple template twice & maximize hp.


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I ran a game with 10 players for nearly three years. It can be very hard to challenge a group of that size because they have 2.5 times the action economy the game is built around. In order to challenge them, you have to upgrade your enemies in a way that doesn't make them outclass the group in terms of CR.

Standard party makeup is 1 Primary offensive caster, 1 Utility, 2 Primary melee.

For every primary melee character beyond 2, add 50% to each enemy's HP. (an average melee character is expected to deal between 25 and 75% of an enemy's HP a round. Adding 50% means the extra melee characters will be needed.)

For every Utility character beyond 1, add 1 enemy of CR equal to the average party level. (Utility characters are usually defined by buffing the party or controlling the battlefield. Adding extra baddies means they might not control everything, giving other characters something to do)

For each Primary caster, add +1 to enemy saves. (Monsters that fail saves against primary casters are usually out of the fight. You want to make it so the bad guys have a better chance of making their saves so that other casters have a reason for being there. Beware multiple casters spamming AoE control/damage spells. A few failed saves in a row, and the fight is over on round 1.)

Lastly, Maximize all monster HP.

This isn't a perfect formula for every group, but it works as a pretty good gauge as to how much you should boost encounters to still challenge the party.

Finally, and I can't stress this enough, mixed groups of enemies. If you run a bunch of enemies of similar types, they'll crush them. If you're running goblins, throw a pet giant scorpion in and some goblin dogs. If you're running giants, add giant eagles and summoned elementals. Make them diversify their tactics.

Do not simply tack on Hit Dice. It creates a ton of problems, mostly linked to special ability DCs and saving throws that outstrip what the party can handle. Adding Hit Dice will quickly neuter your PC spellcasters, and make everyone more vulnerable to monster abilities than they should be. It will ruin your game. Don't do it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@ Doomed Hero: I would like a clarification of what you mean by "+50% to each enemy's HP" in combination with "maximise all monster HP". Would it ultimately be 150% of the maximum possible HP (vs. the standard 50% of maximum possible HP in the Bestiaries, etc.)?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Make full use of limited floorspace. I've noticed a lot of the maps make it difficult to move around if you have over five characters (for instance, fighting Mal in Thistletop, or the giant hermit crab). They're not going to be able to effectively focus attacks on their enemies.

Alternatively, ask if the group wants to break into two groups as a competition and run them both through the same game. They create teams and each team tries to out-do the other. Two groups of 5 players is much more viable than one swarm of 10. ^^;;


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Congratulations! You have attracted enough players to run two seperate groups!

Seriously, this is the simplest solution.

Best of Luck,
Weslocke of Phazdaliom


Agreeing with everyone else. I have six and it's a cluster there. Two groups. Hell, make it so that the group who can do certain things in certain turns, or who do them in the most original ways get better loot.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

The Runelords campaign I started some months ago has now grown to 10 players (on an average week; there are a few others whose attendance is irregular for a variety of reasons).

Originally it looked as though we were going to have six, or perhaps eight, players. But by the time everybody showed up in town for the Swallowtail festival it was likely that the group would grow in size. Fortunately for me one of the players was interested in finding out what it was like to be a GM. So I ran the introductory encounter in Sandpoint with all the players, and then we split into two tables.

Believe me, it's a whole lot easier than trying to scale encounters. There are several places where even having five or six PCs is a problem (sometimes due to physical constraints on movement; sometimes simply due to the way the number of participants affects combat).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Or to put it another way, you're going to have to have lots of archers and spellslingers and a couple front-line fighters if you go for a huge group. ^^;; Because there's no way even four front-line fighter-types can effectively do Runelords! ^^;;

Dark Archive

I have done 8 players before. The main thing I came across is they with so many players they often felt confident to split the party and have one "scout" type of crew. This can be dangerous if you have implemented some things to make encounters a challenge for 10 players and they are suddenly encountered by only 4. I would just remind the players that splitting the party comes with risks, but sometimes you have to live and learn.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I ran with six players through the attack on Fort Rannick in Hook Mountain Massacre. I found it took more work than I'd intended to beef up every single encounter to give the party a challenge. (We're down to 4 PCs now, as two players moved out of town.)

I would recommend splitting this into two separate groups of 5 PCs each.


I've said it before (and been shot down) and I'll say it again: If your players are interested in any roleplaying at all, then 10 is just too many.

Combat-wise, it's easy enough to scale encounters, expand areas, and otherwise deal with such a large group of players; I've spent many a year playing tactical board games, so a battle map with 30 pieces on it isn't an issue.

However, when each player is guaranteed to have 10% of the spotlight or less, you can have significant issues once combat is over. I'm running a group of "only" 7 through Kingmaker, where NPCs are few and far between, as are encounters you can talk your way out of. Yet with 5 of those 7 players wanting significant roleplay time to grow their characters, a lot of toes are being stepped on, and people aren't having fun because they're not having enough time to explore their characters' psyches.

So if you've got a roleplay-heavy group, I agree with the "split it in two" arguments. If you've got a "killed that, what's next?" group, it's not nearly as much of an issue.

I'd love to see useplanb chime in -- he has 9 players, and they're all fairly roleplay-heavy, so he has them split up into two groups fairly frequently just to deal with all the roleplay. I have no idea how he manages to GM it all without having two different sessions for the two different groups.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Before divorce split my original long-term group (she got most of the group, her ex-husband got me (the GM) and one other player), we regularly would number six (though once we were up to nine). After another player insisted on running his one-shot and I was overruled by the group to let him, he refused to ever run another game. He had no idea how I was able to handle so many players. (In my case, I had a tendency to roll with the punches and when players said "oh my word, I didn't realize but A and B and C here are responsible for X and Y!" I'd smile and integrate parts of their imagination into the campaign.)

The importance is flexibility and taking advantage of people's imagination and "perception" into what's going on. So is 10 players unmanageable? Well, with such tools as Hero Labs or spreadsheets to keep track of data (which I didn't have in that old game) then yes. It's doable. But you'd be doing your group a big favor by splitting them into two groups. And if you make it a competition between the two, then they'll enjoy it too rather than feel you're breaking them up.


Bellona wrote:
@ Doomed Hero: I would like a clarification of what you mean by "+50% to each enemy's HP" in combination with "maximise all monster HP". Would it ultimately be 150% of the maximum possible HP (vs. the standard 50% of maximum possible HP in the Bestiaries, etc.)?

Sorry it wasn't clear.

Yes, that's basically what I'm saying. With a 5 person party, Maximize all enemy HP, even if the 5th person isn't Primary Melee.

If the 5th party member is primary melee, go to 150%.

This seems like a lot, but in practice it just makes an average fight last an average of one round longer than usual.

Liberty's Edge

Aside from the great suggestions above, I'd probably ask that no one play characters with summoned creatures/animal companions. Combat rounds will last forever as is...

-Vaz


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I thought I'd chip in with my thoughts on this one, since my RotRL Group(s) have changed quite a bit over the 18 months or so I have been running it!!

I originally started running the campaign with two seperate groups of 6 players each. This wasn't too much of a problem, as the majority of the players in the first group were younger and weren't interested in roleplaying as much as they were cracking skulls!

The older group did roleplay a bit more however, and I found running two groups through the same adventure to be pretty interesting, as the differences in how they tackled each section kept it from being boring for me as the GM!

Both groups were then at 7 players for a time, which was quite hard going, but at lower levels it wasn't too much of an issue.

Due to circumstances beyond my control however, I lost 5 players from the second group all at once...

This obviously caused a problem, and I then merged the two groups...
We had 9 players for a short time, but this really wasn't working out, so I split them down into a group of 5 and a group of 4.

We're now just starting adventure 6, and both groups are back to a regular 6 players, with one having an occasional seventh...

This has been a really challenge, as 6 players at high level really wreck the adventures as written, and I've needed to up hitpoints and add extra enemies on a few ocassions to keep things on track!

Still very good fun though and I hope you enjoy the campaign!

Tim

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Vaziir Jivaan wrote:
Aside from the great suggestions above, I'd probably ask that no one play characters with summoned creatures/animal companions.

Back when I thought I was going to be running for perhaps eight characters I had that as one of the house rules (well, you could have an animal companion, but in combat either you or your companion could participate, not both in the same encounter).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

You'd be amused at how often I forget about familiars. Though when indoors it makes sense that the Sylph's hawk won't attack (and in my other group the Ranger chose not to have an Animal Companion, while the mage/priest won't risk his familiar despite the utter lethality of cats in these games). One way around this is if you use a spreadsheet program or Hero Labs then talk to the PC that summons ahead of time and get a pre-arranged critter they summon (for instance, one cleric summons riding dogs primarily) and then create a specific sheet for that type of summon. When it's summoned you have the pertinent info right there.


Doomed Hero wrote:

I ran a game with 10 players for nearly three years. It can be very hard to challenge a group of that size because they have 2.5 times the action economy the game is built around. In order to challenge them, you have to upgrade your enemies in a way that doesn't make them outclass the group in terms of CR.

Standard party makeup is 1 Primary offensive caster, 1 Utility, 2 Primary melee.

For every primary melee character beyond 2, add 50% to each enemy's HP. (an average melee character is expected to deal between 25 and 75% of an enemy's HP a round. Adding 50% means the extra melee characters will be needed.)

For every Utility character beyond 1, add 1 enemy of CR equal to the average party level. (Utility characters are usually defined by buffing the party or controlling the battlefield. Adding extra baddies means they might not control everything, giving other characters something to do)

For each Primary caster, add +1 to enemy saves. (Monsters that fail saves against primary casters are usually out of the fight. You want to make it so the bad guys have a better chance of making their saves so that other casters have a reason for being there. Beware multiple casters spamming AoE control/damage spells. A few failed saves in a row, and the fight is over on round 1.)

Lastly, Maximize all monster HP.

This isn't a perfect formula for every group, but it works as a pretty good gauge as to how much you should boost encounters to still challenge the party.

Finally, and I can't stress this enough, mixed groups of enemies. If you run a bunch of enemies of similar types, they'll crush them. If you're running goblins, throw a pet giant scorpion in and some goblin dogs. If you're running giants, add giant eagles and summoned elementals. Make them diversify their tactics.

Do not simply tack on Hit Dice. It creates a ton of problems, mostly linked to special ability DCs and saving throws that outstrip what the party can handle. Adding Hit Dice will quickly neuter...

Doomed, you truly are a hero. This sounds like a solid formula. It goes into practice tonight and I'll report back! Thanks!

Just for clarification, do you consider Druids and paladins utility? And am I ignoring things like rogues, rangers, scouts etc? Thanks!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

It depends. How are they build? If a Paladin has a high strength and is built to be a front-line fighter then he's a primary melee character. If, however, a paladin was built with a decent Wisdom, high Charisma, and seems designed more to take advantage of the Paladin's healing abilities (which can become truly spectacular at higher levels) then he's a utility character.

The same goes of course for Druids. And for other characters. If they are meant to go toe-to-toe then they are likely melee characters. This can include a rogue - if the rogue takes Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, and Offensive Defense then the Rogue is well on his or her way to becoming a frontline fighter (especially if a few other feats are tossed in to enhance damage). I'm talking about someone who, with Vital Strike and Improved Vital Strike, could be doing 12d6 damage with a Rapier at 17th level before magic enhancements.

-------

I take it the group doesn't want to break into two smaller groups? It would be a lot easier for you. And it would mean they won't be stuck at lower levels for some time.


Tangent101 wrote:

It depends. How are they build? If a Paladin has a high strength and is built to be a front-line fighter then he's a primary melee character. If, however, a paladin was built with a decent Wisdom, high Charisma, and seems designed more to take advantage of the Paladin's healing abilities (which can become truly spectacular at higher levels) then he's a utility character.

The same goes of course for Druids. And for other characters. If they are meant to go toe-to-toe then they are likely melee characters. This can include a rogue - if the rogue takes Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, and Offensive Defense then the Rogue is well on his or her way to becoming a frontline fighter (especially if a few other feats are tossed in to enhance damage). I'm talking about someone who, with Vital Strike and Improved Vital Strike, could be doing 12d6 damage with a Rapier at 17th level before magic enhancements.

-------

I take it the group doesn't want to break into two smaller groups? It would be a lot easier for you. And it would mean they won't be stuck at lower levels for some time.

I see. Well here is the group makeup and what I think each falls under...

Barbarian (melee)
Scout (utility)
Bard (utility)
Swashbuckler (melee)
Druid (utility)
Druid (utility)
Knight (melee)
Shaman (not sure yet..)
Fighter (melee)
Inquisitor (back ported to 3.5 since we're stil using that)

As far as them splitting up, probably not. My last homebrew campaign had 9 of them for 8 months and it worked out, mostly because I didn't worry much about balance, I just put monsters where they made sense to be and they could either fight or run. It was very sandboxy. They are all of my best friends and we work well together so I have no problem "handling" them at the table. I'm just concerned here because an AP is much more balanced and structured than running your own sandbox.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, let's put it this way. In my game I'm running three players and a GMPC who are all one level higher starting off. To compensate I've increased the CR of everything by one. For the first encounter I doubled the number of goblins and increased the level of the goblin ranger and bard to 2nd level.

You're going through something similar here. Except instead of one higher level, you're dealing with "five extra characters" in essence.

For the lower levels you would probably do well to do the same: double the number of enemies, or enhance them by having Goblin fighters instead of goblin warriors and the like. Higher levels and "bosses" you may want to give your Bosses probably two levels of Fighter to improve their survivability, and probably feats to improve their defenses or the like.

I'm not sure if you're using miniatures and maps. If you are, you'll have to enlarge certain rooms. Even five characters can make certain rooms seem rather small. Of course, from my days of running a large group you can also make effective use of flanking maneuvers and tactics to increase the threat to parties, especially with groups of goblins (a central core group and two flanker groups that hit each side once the core is engaged, along with a reserve unit to either fire arrows or pile in where there's an opening). Though I will warn, use of tactics like that can result in character deaths. (And then arguments from paladin players on why they can't do a double-move and then lay-on-hands to cure a characters at -9 hit points.)

Given your front-line fighter crew (three of which seem dedicated melee types, while the Fighter could possibly switch between bow and sword) I suspect your Druids may very well become the primary spell-slingers of the party. I doubt they'll become melee types that often.

I wish you good luck. It looks like an interesting and effective group.


I just wanted to come back here and say that I've been using the method that DoomedHero presented here for close to 6 months now and it hasn't failed me. It works wonderfully :)

Liberty's Edge

Cull 6 players. There no more 10 players. Now 4 , which is what it is effectively designed for.


Tell them you've only got half a dozen spots, and wait for the gifts and bribes to roll in? ;)

Liberty's Edge

Im perplexed while people would even consider going over 6 players.


I've done seven before, it was not very pleasant. Not enough room in many dungeons for a group that size to effectively fight.
For example, I would have many players simply passing their turn due to inability to move close enough to do anything.

Ten players seems downright undoable without severely changing the make-up of some of the smaller corridors.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Why do people consider over six players? Because they have a group of friends and don't want them to feel left out. The game is not so much people roleplaying and making a serious effort to make it through the campaign and more a large social get-together where some roleplaying and gaming happens while they snack on large amounts of food.

And some GMs work well with large groups. Don't be dismissive because of someone else's gaming group, just because it doesn't fit with your square-peg concept of what the group should be.


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I agree with tangent, if everyone is having fun and the GM isn't overwhelmed whats the big deal if its 4, 6, or 12 people!

i used to be a construction foreman and honestly once you get over 6 people you're supervising it gets easier, RPGs are a bit different, but not much in my experience, i'd love to have 10 people!

its all about action economy and making sure there's enough people to kill for everyone, which i think Tangent and DoomedHero have both addressed wonderfully

as my mom always told me "Don't knock it until you try it!"


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Here's a suggestion to try and lighten the load a bit: Ask if one of the players will volunteer to be assistant GM and help you out with combats, paperwork, etc. That way you can try to keep the game running at a decent speed to give the players more contact time, and hopefully you'll not come out of it totally frazzled from trying to keep up :)

Liberty's Edge

Tangent, Captain:

Oh I do speak from experience. I have tried it (not as a gm though). I was in a 9 man 3.5 game. Again as indicated above it was more a social event for us to all get together. We had a combination of serious gamers (id probably classify myself as one) and more casual types.

I dont remember a whole lot of it bar

A) Way way too many pop culture puns/ jokes
B) Us all dying because of multiple readied fireballs
C) One guy stealing from party members.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The pop culture puns and jokes do not come from too many players. It comes from several experienced gamers being together who start reminiscing and using the game to talk about "the good old days" and the like. I have given the novice players permission to pummel myself and Bill (the other experienced player though he's a Pathfinder novice) (I'd say I'm one too except I'm obsessive about game systems and thus in a year and a half left my Core Handbook with a tattered binding that is held together via duct tape) should we start going off on tangents about old games.

In addition, we have the Three Knock Rule. If we start going off on a tangent, knock three times and the game goes back on track. Mind you, I've used this on the group as well. It's proven effective.

As for one guy stealing from party members? I'm an evil GM. I will screw over players who do things like that. I'm perfectly fine if the players work together and are cooperative. But should someone start manipulating the others and dominating the group unfairly? That person will end up the target. They will often end up facing consequences for their actions.


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hey tangent i'm totally using that 3 knock rule!
i also frown on in-party theft, thats what the monsters are for after all, if someone is stealing they obviously need more loot :)
or they don't realize it isn't appropriate and need to be corrected or knocked off once or twice if they keep it up (by a timely monster courtesy of the GM, never by the party of course, keeps things civil)

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