View Full Version : Average Party Size

2007-09-07, 09:59 PM
Size and Roles, for that matter.

"Classic" D&D assumes you've got a four person party, the fighter, the wizard, the rogue, and the cleric. But even in a four person party that doesn't always happen (and would make for potentially boring times if it did). Sometimes you make due with a bard instead of a rogue or cleric (or both). Everyone plays differently, and not everyone is insistent on the group adhering to party roles. Some groups only have 3 or 2 players, or more than 4.

My group has five people, plus our DM. We're considering trying to let another friend of ours join or games regularily. Our DM thinks he can handle it, and I'm confident he's right (he's very good at keeping things just hard enough to be entertaining), but a 6 person party does seem a little large.

What size party do the rest of you usually play in? Anyone have any experience with unusually large parties? What kind of roles do you wind up seeing in a larger-than-4-person party?

2007-09-07, 10:08 PM
I usualy play with and DM for groups of around 6-8. There's a lot of players I know, but not many willing to run a game.

With party roles, we usualy get a pair of rogue types, and an extra tank usualy. Sometimes a spare arcane caster. For some reason, only 1 guy I know plays divine casters with regularity.

2007-09-07, 10:09 PM
Most games I see stick to around 6 players, so they can have a nice range of classes, or hybrid classes that can help fill in for healing or whatever you might be needing, and any more than 6 is hard to manage. It gives you a bit of cushion room, basically.

I heard about 1 game each of 10, 12, and 20 - they just got incredibly complicated and bogged down.

2007-09-07, 10:11 PM
I like a five-person party. Four is great and suits me just fine, but the opportunity for four plus a fifth wheel is usually entertaining. The fifth person also allows people to fudge the four strictly defined party roles a bit, meaning you don't need to have one Cleric for purely healing purposes if there's a paladin and a bard; a Batman Wizard could become a sorcerer and a warlock, or warmage and spellthief, etc.

My RL groups tend to have three solid players, with 1-3 who may or may not be there consistently. They're always fighter-types, though, so who cares? Someone else to swing the sword or shoot the pistol. :smalltongue:

For instance, my D&D group is a Cleric, a Rogue, a Sorc2/Monk4 ("You call that a primary arcanist?!"), with a barbarian and a fighter who may or may not get involved in the plot. The barbarian's been quite useful and plot-y lately, but there are times when the two of them are fidgeting in anticipation of a kobold attack. In the Deadlands group, there's a Hexslinger and a Tinker-Doctor, with three shootists who come and go. They were all there for the Epic Finale, which was nice, but since we ended up needing a magic bullet anyway it didn't amount to much. (Gods, winning at Deadlands is still damn depressing...)

Citizen Joe
2007-09-07, 10:22 PM
Go classic DND 6 man team... notice the lack of cleric:
Hank, the Ranger
Bobby, the Barbarian
Eric, the Cavalier
Diana, the Acrobat
Presto, the Magician
Shiela, the thief

And then add in some pets/familiars/companions:

2007-09-07, 10:30 PM
Earlier editions of D&D often seemed to assume 6 man teams. I find an iconic party of 4 much easier to handle and plot for as a GM: more 'spotlight time' for each character.

Even now though 4 players usually turns into 4 + animal companions, familiars, cohorts, followers, secondary characters, etc.: thereby taking us right back to the 6 man team style of play. It can all get a bit too soap opera at times... :smallamused:

Dean Fellithor
2007-09-07, 10:44 PM
last game we had there were 3 Rogues, a Barbarian, a Fighter, a Paladin and a Wizard.

2007-09-07, 10:45 PM
I usually have any number of people in the party except four, there have been times where we had to turn away players because he had too many, and times we search really hard for more players with little luck. I do find 4-6 to be the "sweet spot" however, without four people you cant fill all the party roles and you have to be really careful in encounter design to not screw your party. With more then 6 you simple have too many people to design for, and it becomes hard to work everyone in the plot and turns start taking forever.

2007-09-07, 11:37 PM
in my favorite game we have a human fighter, a half-orc fighter/barbarian, gnome chaos mage, were-wolf ranger/wood elf ranger/rogue, halfling rogue/fighter, and me a half-vampire human ranger/rogue/fighter.

we have a cleric but he doesn't show up lots, but hen he does he stays just long enough to screw everyone up

2007-09-08, 12:24 AM
We have a 3 person group
Human Fighter, Elf Wizard/wild soul, Me the Halfing rogue/swashbuckler/avenger
and a 4 person group
Human spellthief/swashbuckler, elven scout/fighter/dervishdancer, Elf wizard, and Me the Human duskblade.

I find that i like anywhere from 3-6.

2007-09-08, 12:32 AM
One of my groups was very... special. We've had games ranging from 2 to 9 players.

2007-09-08, 12:43 AM
Ive been in varying group sizes, 4 once, 6 alot, and that one was my favorite group to be a part of, um there was like an eight man group and that was hard to keep up with and not be ignored, then a 9 or 10 man group that was too cluttered to function, I preferred 6.

2007-09-08, 02:33 AM
group IRL has 4 people+dm, at least one person usually plays multiple characters, sometimes all 4 of us, because it makes it allows some slack in character design, we dont all have to be equally optimized, and can screw around with out characters a bit which is fun.

8 is too many
4 is too few
6 is pretty damn good, just try to make it so taht people dont overuse familiars and animal companions in combat.

2007-09-08, 04:08 AM
It varies far too much. The smallest was a group of 3. The largest was a group of around 22. Both sucked pretty hard... I myself prefer group of around 4 or 5.

2007-09-08, 04:41 AM
I think the perfect number is 5. This means you can have one player missing (and let's face it, players will miss sessions) and still have a respectably-sized party of 4.

When I'm DMing, I usually aim for a party of 5. 6 is okay, but anything over that is too many.

- Saph

2007-09-08, 06:35 AM
The current party I am playing in has seven players:
2x Cleric
2x Wizard
1x Fighter
1x Ranger
1x Rogue

Fights tend to bog down a little, but not too badly. Our DM adds more hp/damage/to hit to monsters instead of adding boatloads of them. Typically monsters will have +20-80% more hp, +2 more to hit, +50% more damage.

I would really recommend getting a couple of clerics, or a cleric and a druid in a large party. Area of effect damage spells really ruins the day.. :P

I am DMing a party with six players:
1x Wizard
1x Druid
1x Cleric
1x Fighter/Cleric/Cavalier (secondary caster in other words)
1x Fighter/Rogue/Barbarian (party face)
1x Barbarian/rogue (sneaky guy)

I think five players is a good size :)

2007-09-08, 06:38 AM
In D&D, I think it's best to have 4-5 people in the party. But it's sometimes hard to gather this amount of people.

2007-09-08, 06:47 AM
Both of my groups have six people:

-Monk (quit, now replaced with a Bard)
-Sorcerer (plans to take Dragon Disciple)

The obvious advantage as that the group as a whole has more HP between everyone, and will take much more to kill. They're certainly capable of taking down an Encounter that's five levels above the party ECL---just that they end up taking a lot of casualties in the process.

2007-09-08, 06:48 AM
My group has five people, plus our DM. We're considering trying to let another friend of ours join or games regularily. Our DM thinks he can handle it, and I'm confident he's right (he's very good at keeping things just hard enough to be entertaining), but a 6 person party does seem a little large.

The day before yesterday, I left the gaming group I've played in for a year. I left it for the simple reason that roleplaying gets a lot more difficult with more players involved.

Playing with 5 persons, we had a nice and good atmosphere at the table, even though it was a little pun-heavy. The players interacted, played along, argued and sometimes even split, but we had a lot of fun and felt like a group.

Believe it or not, after the sixth player had joined, gaming has changed radically. Half of the players have been hanging around waiting for some kind of combat happening, and there has been no time left for inter-character roleplaying because it would have taken too long. Always remember: With 5 players, you have 10 player-player-relationships, with 6 players, you have 15.

Long story made short: Whatever your GM says, 6 players are too much for roleplaying. If you just wanna go hack'n'slay, go ahead, but otherwise veto that decision.

2007-09-08, 07:21 AM
The group I've played with every week for the last... 7 months has has 6 players.
We get lots of role-playing done, but that is partly because of how long it has been going for, our character spend more time with specific ones, and thus we roleplay on the side of the main action, and the DM rolls round getting a bit from each sub unit. Then whenever someone goes off solo, we make sure that it is entertaining or quick.

The 'one off chain' I play in on the other hand varies greatly, we had 4 players one time, of which two were rogues, to that time were we had 8...
Not much actaully happens interparty, though 3 of the players from the other game are often in these, so much of the goings on and decisions are upto us so we are doing stuff most the time... don't know how the others feel though.

Kurald Galain
2007-09-08, 07:25 AM
In my experience, having 4 or 5 people works best for a group; if there are more, players tend to get not enough relative "spotlight time". The game Paranoia is an exception and can easily handle more.

2007-09-08, 07:34 AM
Four to five works best for my group. If we can't plan a session where everyone is present, we simply don't plan it, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
It does mean you don't have to take a 'buffer' into account, for whenever people don't show up.

In this respect, I'd say five would be the best. Four severely limits your options in class selection, whereas five (or maybe even six, but then it's getting quite large already...) means you can play mixed classes (duskblade, bard, spellthief, marshal, and the like...).
Everyone likes diversity.

2007-09-08, 08:21 AM
We have two parties of 6 characters each. One consists of:
Gnome Wizard
Half-Orc Barbarian (Eye of Gruumsh)
Wild Elf Fighter
Moon Elf Ranger
Gnoll Cleric
Catfolk Rogue (Invisible Blade)

And the other:
Half-Aquatic Elf Sorcerer
Tiefling Ranger
Air Genasi Bard
Tiefling Monk
Half-Drow Rogue
Forestkith Goblin Druid

Both work fine.

2007-09-08, 08:25 AM
I find 6 as the best. That way if 1 person if missing (happens all the time), we can usually power our way out the "spotlight" challenges. When all 6 are there, the DM tends to use more cheesy tactics to cripple 1 or 2 guys for awhile.

2007-09-08, 09:33 AM
I usually play with a 6 person party, but thats about as large as it can get. People start getting bored between their turns in combat with 6 people. But I've played with that many for 6 years and now that we're down to a 4 person party we want two more members in our group.

2007-09-08, 09:40 AM
My acceptable size of a group are 3-6 players, preferring the lower end of the scale - I think that 3 people is the perfect size.

2007-09-08, 12:24 PM
Three campaigns going on at the moment.

Dungeons and Dragons
1. Half-Elven Rogue
2. Elven Ranger
3. Elven Barbarian
4. Dwarven Fighter
5. Elven Druid DMC

I added the druid at first because there were only 3 players (the dwarf joined later) and they had no magic user. The ranger's wisdom is too low to cast any spells and the rogue refused to put any ranks into UMD.

Star Wars
1. Falleen Scoundrel
2. Farghul Force Adept
3. Arkanian Tech Specialist
4. Zabrak Soldier
5. Chiss Jedi Sentinel
6. Miraluka Jedi Guardian

Mutants and Masterminds
1. Shapechanger
2. Hydro elemental
3. Vampire
4. Psionic
5. Gunslinger

2007-09-08, 12:31 PM
Four is generally needed to cover all the bases (heal, tank, arcane, and skillmonkey), although it can be done with less (CoDzilla for tank and heal).

I try to run my games with 4-6 players, and refuse to run any with more than 8.

2007-09-08, 01:45 PM
I usually prefer to run games with 3-4 gestalt characters. The players aren't limited by class choices and can pick freely how to build their character without metagame restrictions ("you can't be a bard, we need a cleric"), it also allows us to play as a small group. The other bonus is that we can still play if one is missing.

My group also prefers gestalt, they like the fact that they can do different things with one character and not be restricted to a single class role.

2007-09-08, 01:57 PM
.Long story made short: Whatever your GM says, 6 players are too much for roleplaying.

Depends on the quality and type of roleplay. You know, you don't have to roleplay out the whole of the day. When something happens, we roleplay. We manage to keep tensions between the party, keeping it still together (For example, 3 of us say we should use goblins as allies, the other 3 say that we should either kill the goblins or use them as slaves. Both sides have good arguments.) So... 6 players aren't too much for roleplaying.

2007-09-08, 02:28 PM
My party is definately oversized with 1 DM and 7 players. despite this we still manage to meet up 2-3 times a month. we do get rediculously loud though.

2007-09-08, 02:33 PM
My party is definately oversized with 1 DM and 7 players. despite this we still manage to meet up 2-3 times a month. we do get rediculously loud though.

to damm right we do hehe and also its annoying how in the last cmapign everyone played support classes basicly, with the odd mian role

Chaos Bringer
2007-09-10, 10:25 AM
My group recently went from 5 players to 6, and it really seemed to clutter things a lot. Of course the newest player is loud and annoying, so that could have a lot to do with it. The most I ever played with was 7, which was just too much. We dont really hold a buffer slot, so we usually dont play without everyone there. As terrible as it sounds (but still true) if one of the less important player (sadly thats almost half) doesnt show up we throw them into what we call "mercenary mode". Basically we get a quick overview of their attacks and skills and play em like a henchman.

2007-09-10, 10:57 AM
I'm currently DMing a group of 5. Play is pretty fast and the game runs smoothly. I'll be adding a 6th player in a month but that would be the limit to my sanity. :smallsmile:

My gaming group has two campaigns running ATM. One is the AoWAP I'm running and then the other is a heavily modified STAP run by one of the players, who was the sole DM for the last 6 years. The party breakdown is as follows:

My AoW campaign (character/ECL/role):
Human Cleric of Wee-Jas/7/summoner and healer
Human Evoker Master Specialist/7/blaster
Human Figher-Cleric of Shaluud (homebrew god)/7/secondary fighter
Human Rogue/6/skill monkey + traps (our new player replacing one that quit)
+1 more to join in October?

STAP campaign (character/ECL/Role):
Weretiger monk/3/primary fighter :smalleek:
Human wizard/cleric of Thoth/3/healer-necromancer
Half-elf Warlock/3/diplomancer-minor blaster
Kobold Artificer/3/batman + traps
Human Bard/3/skill monkey (player that quit)
New player/3/?
+1 more to join?

As you can see, the AoW character roles are pretty traditional. You have a cleric, a rogue, a blaster mage and a couple of beaters. The STAP team is very...erm...different. The party roles are more spread out and there is no front line fighter, which hurts a lot. We are frequently getting our butts handed to us in melee because a front line monk as fighter doesn't cut the mustard. Hopefully one or both new players will want their characters to hold a sword. :smallwink:

2007-09-10, 11:24 AM
For D&D I have run anywhere between 2 and 6. My ideal size is between 3 and 5. My current campaign went from 6 to 4 and became monumentally easier to run. I was sad to lose my two players (reality intervened) but keeping track of everything became a lot easier... I also noticed that the party split itself up a lot less once the party became small. The large party was *always* splitting ways, and then players would get frustrated as I had to run one side of the team and they would have to wait for me to finish with them (I learned to balance between switching between groups, but it was very difficult for me to keep track of what I was supposed to be doing in two different scenes).

BUT.... "ideal" party size is very dependent on both player and GM. Boisterous players who like to make a lot of their own mischief can be fun in small quantities but frustrating in large groups. Passive players who generally wait for the GM to drop the plot on their heads are awful if that's all you have to run with, and mixing them in a larger group allows for more possibilities for stuff to happen and can actually require *less* work on the GM's part at times.

GM flexibility and ability to multitask is a big factor. I know what my limitations are.

It can also be somewhat system dependent, or on how the GM uses a system. People who favor crunch and work a lot on the little details -- this slows down larger groups a lot. Freeform gaming may work better with more people contributing.

2007-09-10, 12:19 PM
IMO, four people is ideal. Five or six can work; in terms of character roles, melee is the most common choice for "doubling up," since another tank is always handy. More than six players and the game quickly degenerates.

Viscount Einstrauss
2007-09-10, 12:31 PM
I've DM'd for anywhere between 2 and 8 players before, with a sweet spot around 4. Only the larger groups tend to fill all the "classic" roles, though. In the games I play we tend to be more balanced, but that tends to be because of me. I'll usually shift to another class type to fill in whatever gap we have, though this isn't always true.

In the new campaign I'm playing, I decided to stick with my plan to be a leader instead of fill in the skill monkey role, despite how much I absolutely love playing skill monkeys. The team's presently a wizard, a cleric, a warblade, and a crusader (myself). We've yet to have many instances where a skill monkey would have been truly necessary, but the absence has been felt a bit (like during the battle sequence where sneaking off would have been the best possible course of action, or when we were sleeping in a castle with a lightly guarded treasury that the DM was trying to tempt us with), but our tactical responsiveness makes up for the lack of roguery options, for now. I think I'll try to pick up a rogue cohort later on.