View Full Version : That's not an adventuring party, it's a warband

2007-10-16, 07:38 AM
So I was out of my group for about 3 months. When I left we had 6 people (5 players and a DM). Perfect. Now that I'm back we have 9 people, 8 players and a dm. It just seems like a lot and it's a little hard to get things done. Right now our part is composed as such.

All level 6 (as far as I know)

Orc Duskblade - me
Elven Rogue
Elven Cleric
Human Sorceror
Human Fighter
Warforged Fighter
Human Cleric
Elven Ranger

Now normally, I wouldn't see this as a problem, but the thing is our encounters. We were pitted against a T-Rex of some sort and it got off one attack that it missed before it died. I don't know what the CR on the thing was but I'm sure we can gank it pretty handidly even getting surprised. Then the next encounter was against 4 digesters, who were able to concentrate their breathe weapons and get us multiple times. Well in the end the our Warmage (who now plays the Warforged) died. I can't help but feel this is how encounters are going to go for such a large group. We either defeat it without a sweat or it's so hard that 1 or 2 people die a game session.

Does anyone have any experience or advice on this?

2007-10-16, 07:47 AM
Large parties do not work well against single enemies. To be a challenge against an 8-man party, a single monster has to be so powerful that it'll be able to easily kill off a party member in a single round.

The solution is to have multiple opponents instead of one single one. For example, since you're all level 6, get the DM to set you up a fight against two CR 6 monsters. That way it's like you've got one party of four fighting one CR 6, and another party of four fighting the other CR 6.

- Saph

Citizen Joe
2007-10-16, 08:24 AM
In modern terms that is basically a special forces squad. They were designed for devastating surgical strikes, it is what they do. As a DM, challenging this group needs to go beyond the individual encounter towards the whole mission.

Example: Local Duke is having trouble with bandits in a nearby forest. They are seizing supply wagons and thus hurting the main war front in the kingdom's religious war against the orcs. The group is hired on to stop the bandits and given carte blanc to do so.

Now, if the group goes in there fully armed and bristling, they won't get anywhere, since the bandits won't attack a fully armed group. If they do manage to obscure themselves, they will easily defeat the attacking group, again to no avail since the whole band of thieves will simply move and attack some place else. Somehow, the party will have to track down the heart of the bandits and destroy that, otherwise they aren't doing anything but wasting time.

2007-10-16, 08:34 AM
A wizard can do it.

2007-10-16, 08:35 AM
Ugh. This happened in my first ever game. It was supposed to be me, my now bf, a guy friend and... I think two female friends, plus the DM. 6, not too bad. But the DM, she just couldn't say no to people who wanted to play. Worse, she couldn't stop inviting them :smallsigh: So we ended up with two more girls (who were and are very nice, and one of whom is in my game), an extremely loud and, it turned out, stupid and obnoxious guy, and an occasional extra guy. I suspect there may have been one or two others, as well. So. Our very first game, expected to be a fairly intimate affair among friends, all 6 of us, ended up a frustrating ruckus of 9.5.
Of course, then the DM pitted a large 15th level party against a bunch of stirges. And expected us to have trouble :smallsigh:

Anyway, I think the other two are both right. A more campaign-oriented adventure will help, as will facing up against multiple enemies.

2007-10-16, 08:39 AM
You do not have one party. You have two parties. Create encounters for two different parties occuring simultaneously. Multiple opponents is one method although that tends to require a lot of bookkeeping on the DM's part. Another method is to create non-opponent encounters like deathtraps and environmental hazards that occur WHILE the other members of the party are dealing with a combat threat.

2007-10-16, 09:36 AM
Fixer's right, that's practically two parties. There's redundancy in the roles that the classes fit into, so it can easily be two parties. And eight people against a stock T-Rex (CR 8) will easily smash the poor thing. I have a 6-man party (Paladin, Swashbuckler, TWF Ranger, Rogue, Cleric, Wizard) and they kinda demolish everything that I send at them that isn't at least of a CR that's 5 over their ECL. The boss in their first adventure was part of a CR 10 encounter, even though the party was only ECL 5. Such a situation would be very dangerous if characters don't play smart. Another party (Paladin, Druid, Monk, Wizard, Sorcerer, archer Ranger) went through the same encounter and got brutalized by the boss (a Hobgoblin fighter 9), who just kept five-foot-stepping and slicing them up. The druid almost died, and the wizard and ranger hit -10. They were fighting too much as individuals and not as a group. They ended up being too far from each other to prevent the boss from penetrating their lines, and at the same time were close enough to each other for the boss to get off several 5-foot-step full attacks.

2007-10-16, 10:07 AM
If you find yourself wanting to fight 1 big monster as a group, homebrew it a little, shift it a bit more towards defense.

Essentially, it would have the offense of a CR 8 monster, say, and the defense of a CR 10 monster (maybe some more). That way, it's not ripping through you but it can still last a half-dozen rounds before you drop it (or run away). In doing this, I find that raising AC and saves is more acceptable to players than things like buckets of hp, dr, or fast healing; since the latter 3 are either invisible or demoralizing to the party when all their hard earned damage starts healing away.

2007-10-16, 10:25 AM
Despite the three "It's two parties" posts, I think it's a bit more than that. Synergy works in D&D. The first such post suggested 2 CR6 mobs against the group of 8, as that would approximate 1 CR6 mob against each group of 4. But it doesn't. Any reasonably intelligent group of people will use the "Beat on one until it's dead, then beat on the second" tactic, and with an additional 4 against a single CR6 foe, the other foe being ignored while the first is slain, it'll drop fast and before the ignored one does much. And then the second one gets all the attention, and also dies fast.

I'd try pitting 3 CR6 foes against such a group. They'll still slay them fast, but at least they'll start to get into a challenge level where they'll need to expend spells/charges/expendables in order to do so fast enough to prevent a bit of damage.

Or 2 CR6 and a small number of lower CR chaff which can possibly draw attention away from the larger foes just by being in the way, and may get a few AoO if the party wants to focus on one CR6 mob due to movement restrictions, etc.

2007-10-16, 11:14 AM
You do not have one party. You have two parties. Create encounters for two different parties occuring simultaneously. Multiple opponents is one method although that tends to require a lot of bookkeeping on the DM's part. Another method is to create non-opponent encounters like deathtraps and environmental hazards that occur WHILE the other members of the party are dealing with a combat threat.

Wouldn't that actually be more bookkeeping?

2007-10-16, 11:33 AM
Traps are pretty straightforward. A few that disable some characters while actual opponenets beat on whoever didn't fall for the traps (like most rogues, bards, some fighters, rangers, etc.) I find traps to be far less tactical than opponents. They don't move, for starters.

2007-10-16, 11:43 AM
Wouldn't that actually be more bookkeeping?

Well, I've done that before, in a diceless campaign, and I can honestly say the biggest killer would be the combat round and initiative; it's not so bad when your timescale is more negotiable.

2007-10-16, 11:52 AM
I played in a 2nd edition group a few years ago that had 12 players. 5 of which were playing wizards. I was playing an Elven Ranger / Priest of Sheverash.

The encounter would go something like this.

"you see a mob of enemies coming at you"

Wizard 1 Fireball
Wizard 2 Fireball
Wizard 3 Fireball
Wizard 4 ...
Wizard 5 ...
Encounter over

The fighter types go to the point where we would exclaim "I pull the director's chair out of my pack and sit down" at the start of combat.

Why the DM allowed so many wizards I'll never know. I left the group shortly afterwards.

Later found out that there was a rift in the group and it split so I came back and now it is a nice 6 players.

And only 1 wizard :smallsmile:

2007-10-16, 12:08 PM
The encounter would go something like this.

"you see a mob of enemies coming at you"

You'd think a group of enemies would be standing more than 20 feet away from each other if they see a pack of Wizards running around.

Kurald Galain
2007-10-16, 12:35 PM
"you see a mob of enemies coming at you"

Wizard 1 Fireball
Wizard 2 Fireball
Wizard 3 Fireball

It would be the easiest thing for the DM to set up an encounter with enemies immune to fire.

2007-10-16, 12:36 PM
Does anyone have any experience or advice on this? My honest advice is something you probably won't like...turn that into two groups. It'll run SO much better that way. You can even play in the same campaign world and move characters back and forth between groups now and then, just have them in two different sessions.

2007-10-16, 01:15 PM
Here's my advice:

Instead of many small monsters, get them a bigger one. Instead of 1 mortal foe, get an undead or outsider of the group's basic CR. Give the undead (or outsider) the boost spell resistance feat and 4-5 times the thick skinned feat. Give the monster a better constitution but keep everything else the same. Finally give 2-3 class levels and a magic item.

For example, against a group of 8 ECL 7 players, a succubus hexblade 3 with a constitution of 20 (assumed to have rolled 18 for that stat), thick skinned 5x (with flaws), boost spell resistance has a nice 102 HP, DR 20/cold iron or good, good resistances and saves vs spells at +15 or more. That succubus has a CR of 9. Because she's wearing a full plate (glamered) she has an AC of 28-not bad-and a SR of 20. As a magic item it has a ring of Shield (so +4 to AC)

It doesn't matter if 5 wizards hit her with fireballs at once. 3 of those fireballs will fail anyway due to SR and she will save against the rest taking half damage. Due to fire resistance, that half damage will result to no damage at all or very little damage. It also doesn't matter if the remaining 3 meelers swarm her-they'll have to contend with her AC of 32 and her DR of 20/cold iron or good.

The above means she will last as an encounter at least 4-5 rounds even against an ECL 7 group with 8 players.

2007-10-16, 01:19 PM
im sure that title was my line on one of these threads. but yeah tooooo big of a group and i have only one suggestion split the group to a more manageable size

2007-10-16, 02:19 PM
Well, I've done that before, in a diceless campaign, and I can honestly say the biggest killer would be the combat round and initiative; it's not so bad when your timescale is more negotiable.

To be fair, from the OP's post, combat round/initiative is exactly the kind of thing he's talking about. He's also talking about D&D, not another system, let alone a diceless one.

2007-10-16, 03:06 PM
Big parties definately take some extra work on the DMs part. Our group was 5 people, and even an extra person can make you a lot more effective when working together.
We've recently added a 6th person, but our DM has managed to keep things flowing. It helps that not all of our problems are "Hit it until it dies", but he has a number of tricks to make things play naturally. Sometimes he just ups certain monsters hitpoints or saves, sometimes he forcibily splits us up, or sometimes he just puts us in situations where we have to fight cleverly to overcome things.

I'm not positive he could handle 8 players though. I'm no DM, but if I were trying to handle 8 players, I'd consider giving 2 or 3 simultaneous objectives, and urging everyone to split up into various groups to tackle them.

2007-10-16, 04:06 PM
A couple of good things the DM has been doing is...

1. One of the players will handle the inititive order calling out whose turn it is and letting the person on deck know as well.

2. He doesn't let anyone waste time by trying to figure out the best possible square to land a spell (on your turn, if you figure it out before your turn, your fine) and uses a homebrew intelligence type roll to see if your character could figure it out on the fly.

3. He trys to hold people to deciding on their turn what their doing and if they delay, then their holding their inititive or loose it for that turn.

I will say one thing though, with that many players, the group dynamic and character interaction is a lot of fun. You can definitly see small factions within the group forming.

2007-10-16, 06:23 PM
I once played in a Shadowrun game with thirteen players and a GM. Anyone familiar with Shadowrun and how long things take will be shuddering into unconciousness right about now.

Largest party I ever ran in D&D was nine, basically the only way I could keep it challenging was to hit them with lots of mid level mobs and they cut them down with minimal issue. Not easy, but not hard. But there were _long_ periods between the first person in the initiative order and the last person. It basically tore the campaign down because no one wanted to wait half an hour between turns.

Thats my experience..

2007-10-16, 07:15 PM
this is my game, every week, for the last year, with me DMing. ill tell you what i have learned.

GOLDEN RULE: split the party.

i know you have 9 people including the DM and i know its hard but you gotta spilt the party into 1 group of 4 and 1 group of 3. your like my group, stuck in that numbers space. too many players in the group but too few to actually split into 2 4 player groups. luckily recruiting one more person will get you that balance. scaling D&D for 3 people is easier than for 8.

failing that here are the options.

1) Double encounter size, but limit CR range. you should be looking at 2 CR 6 creatures or 4 CR 4-5 creatures. anything lower will just get nuked, even with their numbers they will be wiped out by a good fireball or AOE effect. go too high and you will find the monsters win by default (too high DR, immunities too great etc.).

2) Action time, you have a lot of time between turns. so if your not at the table or cant decide on your attack in 15 seconds you pass your turn.

3) Avoid dungeons. that 5ft wide, or even 10ft wide tunnel is not gonna cut it anymore, too many PC will be left out of the action simply by space hassles. run games in open spaces instead.

4) DON'T SPLIT THE PARTY (in an in game sense), its a golden rule with 4 players and it scales with numbers. its a strain on the DM, a hassle for PCs and will just slow down the game even more.

5) avoid special actions. delaying, readying, etc. because the DM will forget you and you will lose your turn or wast time screwing with the initiative table when you remember after the fact.

honesty, everything after the golden rule is a stopgap. you have too many PCs and D&D doesn't scale well at all. im running a group through expedition to undermountain, a pregen game. and they are now having serious hassles with encounters. because now that they have progressed a while they are stuck. the increased number of people has left everyone underpowered and under-equipped for their level. level 5 (they should probably be 6-7)and only 2 out of 10 have magic weapons. so now i have to make up a new dungeon section to spoon feed them enough gold to get their equipment back on track.

Edit: your thread title should also tell you the direction to take. your not a dungeon crawling group of adventurers anymore, your a warband and your encounters and missions should reflect that. an adventuring party might avoid a potential conflict between a village and some orcs by sneaking in and killing the leader. your group should be kicking in the front door and wiping out the orc population.