Dealing with 6 players, a new way?


Homebrew

Dark Archive

hi there
I'm currently dming the CotCT campaing and my players walked through the 2 first books without almost any casualities. I'm not fond of killing PCs, but it seems a little bit too stressless for them. I see two resons for this : 1) the cartacters are strong 2) they are six and i'm alone.

Due to the 1st point, there are no risk when they deal with minions
and due to the second, they act 6times when the big bad guy act one.

The classical answer to a big group of character is to add "monsters", but I don't like that. It always looks "overcrowded" or "fake". moreover some BBG just came alone.
An other answer is to boost the monsters, more HP, more AC and so on... but it can lead to a fight where the pc touch only on 20+ and there is no more fun.

So I came to think about this: let the leader of the encounter act twice more often.
In that case, the BBG will act twice when they act 6times. I don't need to add monsters and I don't need to artificially increase his stats.

what do you think about ? did you ever try something like that ?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The problem with your solution to your perceived problem is it goes against the rules laid out in the game. This in and of itself will cause discourse at your table, which in turn will bog down the game ( at best)or outright break it down. At least that's what I believe would happen at our table, due to the fact that the BBG receives more output per round than the rest of the character's at the table.

There's many ways in which you can add impediments, creature's or other NPC's to the combat that will not make it seem clunky. You can add pet's, companions, traps and/or terrain effect's to name a few.

Another quick way of powering up the monster's is by adding NPC levels which can add a feat, improved initiative foe example which can also change the outcome on any given encounter.

At the end of the day, throwing basic rules out the window is usually not a good idea and if I am reading it correctly that is what you are doing, instead of using so many of the other tools the game has to offer.

P.S. Our group play's with 6 character's at the table each and every time we play, even doubling up on character's if the need arises, do to the fact that this is our overall preference.

The Exchange

r-Kelleg wrote:
I'm currently dming the CotCT campaing and my players walked through the 2 first books without almost any casualities. I'm not fond of killing PCs, but it seems a little bit too stressless for them.

Have any of the players complained about the lack of challenge, or is everyone else having fun?


What are the rest of the specifics of the campaign? I am currently DMing a CotCT campaign where I have 6 players, and we're just getting into the final book. I'll post later with some specific suggestions (without spoilers, of course), but give me a bit more details.

What classes/races are your characters?

What point buy or array did you use for stats?

Are you following the wealth in the book?

Quickly, I will say that the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP was written for dungeons and dragons 3.5e, and Pathfinder characters are just innately more powerful than 3.5e characters, so you will HAVE to increase the difficulty of nearly every encounter if you want to keep things a bit dangerous for the PCs. (Danger adds drama, so it's good to at least have some encounters feel like they could end in horrible, horrible death, even if the don't in the end.) In many encounters with BBEGs, I add the advanced template (+2 to all stats) and even add minions on top of that depending on the encounter. Since I have 6 players, I also keep them a level behind where the book expects them to be at any given time - which effectively reduces their effectiveness to that of a party of 5. (Each of their actions are less valuable because their lower attack rolls will miss, or the monsters will resist their lower DC spells.)

Between the fact that Pathfinder creates stronger characters, the fact that the AP expects a party of 4 players and 15 point buy, and where you are actually (most people actually play 20 or 25 point buy for some reason), it could get out of hand quickly. Give me some details and I'll make some additional suggestions.

Dark Archive

brock, no the other one... wrote:
r-Kelleg wrote:
I'm currently dming the CotCT campaing and my players walked through the 2 first books without almost any casualities. I'm not fond of killing PCs, but it seems a little bit too stressless for them.
Have any of the players complained about the lack of challenge, or is everyone else having fun?

no one complained, but they are less and less cautious, and the what should be epic fights turn out in two or three rounds. Quite frustrating when you prepared it. Still you are right, everybody enjoy the game and that's important.

thx for your comments

Dark Archive

Guy Ladouceur wrote:

The problem with your solution to your perceived problem is it goes against the rules laid out in the game. This in and of itself will cause discourse at your table, which in turn will bog down the game ( at best)or outright break it down. At least that's what I believe would happen at our table, due to the fact that the BBG receives more output per round than the rest of the character's at the table.

You are absolutely right (and this is one of the worst thing in the 4th ed, the difference between encounters and pc)

I might change my suggestion this way. "when one team is fighting at one vs many, the one can act twice. It reflect the last stand heroic fight, even for the npc" in this case the rule is the same for everyone (pc included)

Adding level or feats and so on, don't seems a good idea. Of course you will change the stats, but the fight by itself will not be that different. (in other words, the high priest will still cast one spell on her round and higher is her level and higher are the risk of a TPK imho)
if you played the Curse, you know what the hight priest of Urghatoa looks like. The PC managed to kill her in two rounds thanks to a 1-lvl spell cast by the bard. she acted only one time, then she failed her Saves and was dazed. Then she took 10+ attacks and died. There is no feat that can change this (except on the success failure of the Saving Throw)... I'm not sure I made my point clear :/

thx for your comments anyway !

Dark Archive

MechE_ wrote:

What are the rest of the specifics of the campaign? I am currently DMing a CotCT campaign where I have 6 players, and we're just getting into the final book. I'll post later with some specific suggestions (without spoilers, of course), but give me a bit more details.

What classes/races are your characters?
What point buy or array did you use for stats?
Are you following the wealth in the book?

Quickly, I will say that the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP was written for dungeons and dragons 3.5e, and Pathfinder characters are just innately more powerful than 3.5e characters, so you will HAVE to increase the difficulty of nearly every encounter if you want to keep things a bit dangerous for the PCs. (Danger adds drama, so it's good to at least have some encounters feel like they could end in horrible, horrible death, even if the don't in the end.) In many encounters with BBEGs, I add the advanced template (+2 to all stats) and even add minions on top of that depending on the encounter. Since I have 6 players, I also keep them a level behind where the book expects them to be at any given time - which effectively reduces their effectiveness to that of a party of 5. (Each of their actions are less valuable because their lower attack rolls will miss, or the monsters will resist their lower DC spells.)

Between the fact that Pathfinder creates stronger characters, the fact that the AP expects a party of 4 players and 15 point buy, and where you are actually (most people actually play 20 or 25 point buy for some reason), it could get out of hand quickly. Give me some details and I'll make some additional suggestions.

half elf Magus

gnome alchemist
human cleric of pharasma
human bard
human lure cavalier of the secret order
human wiz, specialized in evocation

they had 25pt. yes, I know it's too much. My main big mistake

for the NPC and monsters I'm using the conversion suggested on the forum. They are lvl 5 at the beggining of the 3rd book. And I did add a little bit of gold (10%) during the first part of the AP.

Thank you :)


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Very gradually increase the power of the encounters. Use your knowledge of the player characters' strengths and weaknesses to predict which encounters will be easy. The "sweet spot" for my group is when one PC almost dies per adventure on average.

Obviously, if you hit a point where multiple characters are in serious risk at the same time, you're probably just over the line.

As long as you're aiming for one PC almost dying, be at peace if the encounter turns out too easy or if a PC actually dies. The game makes death a solvable problem, but it is much more punitive than hard-core permadeath advocates let on.

If a PC does die, don't let resurrection be a foregone conclusion. It's expensive. It's also a side-quest waiting to happen. I make mid-high level clerics rare in my campaign, on the basis that they all planeshift off to be with their deities (a fine religious tradition on earth...) Doesn't mean I ban rez spells outright, but I don't treat them as something you can get at any local temple.

Liberty's Edge

In my opinion, the best way to balance a large group against an AP is to hand out experience as it is described in the adventures. I am not a fan of XP awards and much prefer to choose set points to have everyone level up. However, that becomes problematic with a large group because the power level is harder to scale. If you hand out XP it will be spread thinner and the power levels will even themselves out by the end of the first book. Your party will end up overpowered for the first level or two but the math in the game will correct the imbalance.

My Reign of Winter game has six players with a possible seventh coming on board. The game has been fun so far, though running so many characters is tough. This is the same group I played Skulls and Shackles with and we were challenged the whole time.

The big factor here, for me, is that this group is not terribly organized and has no sense of tactics, despite the best efforts of the tactically minded players. This lack of tactics or organization leads to greater challenges. I still hand out XP in case they suddenly get their act together, but this is still their biggest issue.


To most DM problems, there are two approaches - in game solutions and out of game solutions. My first suggestion would be to ask the players how they feel the game is going. Truthfully, I did very little adjusting to the encounters in CotCT through the first 2 books and when I sent a "Feedback Requested" email to my players, four out of the six of them said that they thought the game was too easy to that point.

My in game solution was that I started adding the advanced template to any creature with a CR at the party's level or higher and for encounters where no one creature dominated, I upped the amount of creatures (3 skeletons to 4, etc.)

Out of game, I sent a reply to my players letting them know that most people thought the game was a bit easy to that point, and told them that I'd investigated into the power difference between 3.5e characters (what the curse of the crimson throne AP was originally written for) and Pathfinder, and found that this was part of the reason things were simple to that point. So I let them know to expect more challenging and memorable encounters and only once have my players suggested that an encounter was too difficult - and in that instance, the rolls just weren't going their way.

If your players think the game is too easy, then approach them about an out of game solution of retconing characters to the correct point buy - 15. Or potentially better (in my personal opinion), utilize a standard array instead of the point buy system. Point buy encourages dump stats in order to make your primary stats higher and this greatly benefits single attribute dependant classes (most casters) over multiple attributed dependant classes (most martials). 15, 14, 13, 12, 12, 10 or 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 are both reasonable and work out to 20-ish points, but are powered more closely to a point buy of 15 due to the (relative) even distribution of stats. Explain to them that you believe you made a mistake in giving them a point buy of 25 which has exasorabted the problem of more players at the table than the AP took into account, resulting in an AP that is easier than intended. This will be a hard sell, but if your players think the AP is too easy, it may be doable. Understand though, that your players may turn this idea down.

Assuming the out of game solution doesn't work out (it's a long shot to be honest), then you'll have to go to the in game solutions (you probably will have to anyways, but to a lesser extent if your players agree to a lower point buy.) There are lots of ways to increase the difficulty of encounters, but I would recommend against your original suggestion for the previously noted reasons. Do a quick search around the forums and see what ideas you can find, then post back here with what you're thinking about doing (use spoiler tags if you want to discuss individual encounters with me) and I'll give you feedback on it based on experience.

Best of luck!

Dark Archive

@Joshua. I think they are 2 level lower than expected by the start of this 3rd book. We are playing tonight (Laori encounter + emperor may be) I'll see how it run.
@MechE. here is how I will probably do:
let see if they can survive at lvl 5 in a lvl 7+ AP. If it become harder, I will not change anything. If it is still too easy. I will use the +2 rules. During that time I will ask them how they feel about the way the game is running.

thank you all for your inputs !


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
r-Kelleg wrote:

hi there

The classical answer to a big group of character is to add "monsters", but I don't like that. It always looks "overcrowded" or "fake". moreover some BBG just came alone.
An other answer is to boost the monsters, more HP, more AC and so on... but it can lead to a fight where the pc touch only on 20+ and there is no more fun.

This is your biggest problem. The best way to handle a large group is to increase the number of monsters. Seriously reconsider your stance here. You can try to fiddle with the system, or you can use the simple and straight forward solution.

In terms of crowded, given your larger party you should already be making the locations bigger. Expand the size of hallways, doorways, and rooms/caverns. Make clearing bigger etc. If you do that it wont look over crowded, and if done right can make for some really entertaining fights when there are large numbers of enemies. Honestly, though its really common in our game, single enemy encounters for the most part shouldnt happen without alot of circumstances to aid the single enemy.

You can try to fight against the system by messing with the action economy of your monsters, but it wont be easy to get right. Especially given how powerful actions can be. If a dragon for instance can act twice in a round, it can be absolutely deadly. Move in, breath weapon (normally players can respond here) full attack. That can be a dead player and on your way to a party wipe all in one turn depending on the CR of the dragon.

As for the players being too strong, well, you gave them 25 point buy. They are more powerful then the 15 points AP assumes. Add the simple advanced template to every monster to compensate and that part at least should even out. You shouldnt go overboard boosting monsters individually (as you are right they can be too much of a threat to any one pc) but advanced template should come close to evening out with 10 extra points.

Liberty's Edge

Keep me posted about how the lower level party vs higher level adventure goes. If it doesn't pan out so well I might try the advanced template thing to boost the encounters a little in my Reign of Winter game. I like that idea because I really dislike tracking XP. Of course, if my players are going to be inconsistent in their attendance than I will be forced to go with XP so some players aren't benefiting for things they didn't participate in.

Liberty's Edge

One thing that I have done for some time to make boss fights more memorable is give max HP to the boss critter. I have had far too many opponents go down to a lucky hit or two and completely nullify what was supposed to be a memorable encounter.

Dark Archive

BTW I really didn't know for the 15points for AP.


I run with a large group of players. I did what you suggested and sometimes have a BBEG act twice or even three times in a round. I asked my players their thoughts on it and they all thought it was a good idea. If they did not, I wouldn't have done it.

I didn't do it for every encounter and I had the actions occur on seperate initiatives. I used the same penalties as attacks. Regular intiative, -5 on the second, -10 on the last. The BBEG never got to multiple actions during a surprise round was my other rule.

I also did stuff that other people recommended, but as things got to higher level it got pretty nutty all the things I had to add and sometimes I wanted to keep my tracking down a little.

(I took around 6 to 7 other players in a campaign from 1 to 20.)


My biggest problem with the idea of letting an enemy go twice in a round (or more) is that it REALLY breaks Verisimilitude, unless some very good reason exists for the enemies being able to do such a thing and the players are not able to do so. (For example, an unholy haste that is granted by a powerful devil as part of a contract involving the soul of the signator.)

Another problem is that the characters may have a hard time in determining the difficulty level of an encounter in the initial steps, until they know if the enemy is "moving with great speed", though I suppose that could be described as part of the enemy's appearance to the party.


The enemies in the campaign I ran had some bad Mojo that allowed them to do it, that the PCs had time to become aware through knowledge checks, spells, and NPC interactions. The one I can think of was able to do it because of an Artificat under his control. The other two was because they were becoming the avatar of a powerful being.


I always suggest making either more monsters or making your current monsters take a lot more damage.

Alternatively, if you're really sore about having so many characters in a single fight but don't want to fudge any stats around, try knocking a few out. Maybe your BBG has a sense of honor, and he wants to fight your party's meleeist alone, in a duel. Maybe in the night two of the party got captured. Maybe a wall's sprung up pitting half your party against one monster and the other half against another.

The idea of multiple turns to the party's 1 isn't necessarily a BAD one, it's just one you have to implement with flavors attached.


I like the 'act twice' idea and think it can work great.

Adding extra monsters, IMO, is still the most balanced way to compensate for extra PCs. If you put some thought into the extra foes rather than making them nameless mooks, it might not feel as 'fake'. You should also be making all the rooms bigger to accommodate additional PCs; that might help with the overcrowdedness.

If you still want to have single BBEGs, I'd run the idea of extra actions by your players first to get their input. Also, don't let the BBEG act twice in a row, have the second action be at initiative -10 or something. Third, action economy isn't the only resource you need to worry about. Give the BBEG about 50%-100% more Hp so a large group of PCs won't drop him before he can act; also consider giving him as much 50% more limited-use abilities if those abilities are his focus. You should also give him 50% more gear since the PCs have to split the loot more ways.
These changes should be worth the 50% increase in XP you should be aiming for to keep the party on track.

This is a very fiddly, of course, and will require a lot of fine tuning by you to create balanced encounters. Adding extra monsters is still easier, but with enough effort, you can make this work too.


A simpler suggestion than "go twice every turn" is to give them Hero Points from the APG-- or, give them to yourself so you can use them on whoever you want. Use them to interrupt the PC actions with a standard action, give yourself a spell back, take +8 to a roll, re-roll failed checks, all that kind of thing, and it will work better than taking two full turns every round.

Will also make summoning-focused BBEGs far less powerful!

Dark Archive

I don't see why giving the BBEG 100% more HP is more acceptable in term of rules coherence than giving more action to the "last one up in the fight". Imho, Giving him more limited use abilities is a complete waste of time if the fight run for 2 or 3 rounds he will not be able to use them anyway. That's exactly my point in fact. A group of six lvl-5 can bring down one 10th Cleric with almost no pain even if the cleric can cast column of fire. Because she will cast one, then she will takes 6 attacks/spell before she can act again...

I also like the hero point idea, but I'm affraid my players will ask for them too :-)


I'm with Lincoln and several others in this thread.

I'd also like to sympathize, as I have 8 regular players. However, I'm also thankful for them. There are plenty of folks out there who can't even fill a 4-man group.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The only issue I tske with adding multiple "adds" is that it can slow down combat, but I think that, or anything that can limit the actions/strategy of players is a better idea than just buffing up the boss.

You can have the BBEG hide in a room that only one person can enter at a time, sending mini enemies out one by one and preparing to stab the first person to walk in with a poisoned knife, or have unstable terrain that has the chance of knocking PCs prone or making them loose their spells.

All of these, I find, make the game feel dangerous and exciting.


Firstly I write my own adventures and secondly our normal group is 5 but I've ran for 6 loads of times. I tend to write an encounter on an equal hit dice basis - so say 20 pc levels then 20 bad guy levels, then look at magic (give the pcs the edge here usually) and the environment (give the bad guys the edge here usually). This allows me to make the pcs think about how they will overcome a challenge and they usually use utility spells to counter the environmental disadvantage - it's rare they 'blast' per se.

The Big Bad Guy encounters will pan out slightly more in favour of the BBG but this approach to balancing the encounter works for me. Re examine the encounters the players will be facing and see how you can optimise the challenge, particularly of environmental factors (darkness, mobility, noise, attacks from more than one direction/level, etc.)


The group I run with over Skype is always 5-6 members, this will be useful for all of us.

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