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Old 08-22-2019, 05:54 AM   #1
Hobgoblin
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Default Tips for managing a large group of players?

As I mentioned in the pistols thread, I'm shortly going to be running a one-shot game for my son's birthday with a very large group of players (10, probably). I actually bought TFT partially for that purpose (and also because of very positive childhood memories of Car Wars, Ogre, etc.), as I'd heard that it was one of the best games for large groups of players.

From the games of Melee and Wizard that we've played so far, I think that assessment's right. The strict range of combat options and the depth of tactics in fights should help to keep everyone focused and involved. And things like the ability to shoot into a fight help too.

But I thought it might be worth asking for any tips and experiences of running large groups with the system, in case there's something glaring that I've missed. I've run games for groups of this size before, usually with OD&D retroclones; the problem there tends to be that combats are dull because of a lack of options and are hard to balance.

My own thoughts so far are these:

1. Limited character sheets - probably ignoring weapon talents and just adding two or three other talents to each PC (all pre-prepared). If some of the characters carry on into a campaign, I'll "backfill" weapon talents using the spare IQ points.

2. Big, fairly open encounter areas, so everyone has room to manoeuvre, rather than tight corridors or rooms.

3. Plenty of terrain (obstacles, higher ground, cover) within those large areas.

4. Combinations of challenges with combat in the same encounter, so that some PCs have to deal with traps or puzzles while their friends hold off enemies.

5. Rapid replacement of PCs in the event of deaths. I want the game to be a high-risk affair, with PC death a constant threat. But as the starting point is a boatload of pirates reaching shore on a "Treasure Island" after the sinking of their ship, there's always the possibility that other lifeboats have made it to shore too. So it will be easy to introduce another band of survivors after each encounter (enter, pursued by crabmen or whatever ...). And because the players will have picked their character and miniature from the full crew at the start of the game, they'll recognise the fresh survivors.

Anyway, I'd be very grateful for any tips or experiences for running a group of this size in TFT. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-22-2019, 07:06 PM   #2
Shostak
 
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Default Re: Tips for managing a large group of players?

Sounds like fun! My suggestions:
1. Give each player a page of options or option cards.
2. A single initiative roll for players and a single roll for the GM's baddies, then go by DX within those groups for movement.
3. Give everyone a name tag to wear with their figures name, DX, and counter letter on it written large so you can see it easily.
4. Have cards you can give players, or chits you can place on the counters that say things like "-2DX 1 round" to help keep track of damage-based DX adjustments.
5. Have a card for yourself with turn sequence, including things like "remove/discard expiring AdjDX cards.
6. Unless you the GM are very good at keeping track of such things, ignore rule regarding acting by AdjDX when it comes to things like facing, missile range, etc. It is great to include those when players are more seasoned, but with a large group of beginnners, you'll be doing yourself a favor by ignoring.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:12 PM   #3
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Tips for managing a large group of players?

I find that requiring players to say what they do right away when it becomes their turn to act, can MASSIVE speed up play.

No detailed rules questions.

No discussions with other players about what to do.

No thinking about what to do for a minute when it's you're turn - think about it during the other players' turns, so you're ready when it's your turn.

No reading rulebooks when it's your turn.
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:12 PM   #4
JohnPaulB
 
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Default Re: Tips for managing a large group of players?

If you are playing on a big table (20+ hexes wide), then there is a possibility that the figures will split up into smaller groups and move away from each other. When this happens, I usually fall back on ĎArea of Influence.í If group A (with 3 figures) moves 10 hexes away from group B (with 6 figures) and both groups encounter enemies, I split the combat into Combat 1 and Combat 2. As long as none of the figures in Combat 1 can influence (take a swing, throw a spell/weapon, etc.) anything in Combat 2, then handle each combat separately (using highest DX for each Combat grouping.)

If someone can shoot into Combat 1, but is not a part of Combat 2, then you can use regular rules for that. However, when splitting Combats, I find it easier to go into Magic and Missiles first, then proceed onto fighting in Combat 1, then Combat 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobgoblin View Post
My own thoughts so far are these:

1. Limited character sheets - probably ignoring weapon talents and just adding two or three other talents to each PC (all pre-prepared). If some of the characters carry on into a campaign, I'll "backfill" weapon talents using the spare IQ points.

Agreed. But also include something that makes a character unique. For those interested, let them pick from Main Motivation or Personality on page 14 of ITL.

2. Big, fairly open encounter areas, so everyone has room to manoeuvre, rather than tight corridors or rooms.

Agreed. However, you can have a megahex tower that the PCs can scramble onto; or a mausoleum.

3. Plenty of terrain (obstacles, higher ground, cover) within those large areas.

Yup. Possibly a stream and a small bridge?

4. Combinations of challenges with combat in the same encounter, so that some PCs have to deal with traps or puzzles while their friends hold off enemies.

Provide personal goals for some of the characters, like: Figure A will not allow others to loot bodies; Figure B wants to capture an enemy for torture and information; Figure C wants to shoot from a distance away from any combat. Though this might be handled through page 14 of ITL as per above.

You might even include civilian non-combatants who are neutral, unless you provoke them.

Assign a leader (Captain) and a first mate (Second in Command). Provide a physicker (even if they donít have time to heal, it will add a sense that they could do it if they had the time.)



5. Rapid replacement of PCs in the event of deaths. I want the game to be a high-risk affair, with PC death a constant threat. But as the starting point is a boatload of pirates reaching shore on a "Treasure Island" after the sinking of their ship, there's always the possibility that other lifeboats have made it to shore too. So it will be easy to introduce another band of survivors after each encounter (enter, pursued by crabmen or whatever ...). And because the players will have picked their character and miniature from the full crew at the start of the game, they'll recognise the fresh survivors.

You might start off the replacements as already having 1 point of wounds when they arrive. The more they spawn, the worse they will get.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Sounds like fun! My suggestions:

3. Give everyone a name tag to wear with their figures name, DX, and counter letter on it written large so you can see it easily.

This is a very good idea.

4. Have cards you can give players, or chits you can place on the counters that say things like "-2DX 1 round" to help keep track of damage-based DX adjustments.
5. Have a card for yourself with turn sequence, including things like "remove/discard expiring AdjDX cards.

I have a small monthly calendar whiteboard (without the dates) that I use for turns. When something significant happens, I note it on the board and possibly put a dot on the square when whatever it is expires. The dot is to remind you of some administrative function.

Have a cheat sheet of the game sequence and some of the major rules. Blow this up onto 11x17 paper and post it where all can see and study it during game.
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Old 08-23-2019, 02:05 AM   #5
Hobgoblin
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Default Re: Tips for managing a large group of players?

Thanks very much - excellent points, all!

We're going to be using miniatures and a WYSIWYG approach to weapons and kit; I'm envisaging each character sheet having two or three (non-combat) talents, plus a specific goal or two.

These goals will probably be related to the treasure indicated on the map that they'll have at the start (the map that drew them to the island; I'm issuing formal invitations to the players next week in the form of the map).

So, the ship's captain may be very keen to find the Chaos Knife (and will know what it is) and so will be urging the other PCs to enter the jungle to look for it. Meanwhile, the ship's surgeon will have the goal of finding a healing amulet that's in the ruined temple, according to the map. Another character might know that reptile-men hides sell for high prices in Saltport. And so on. They know from past games that they should stick together. And they've all read Treasure Island at school, so I should be able to riff on that quite a bit.

Great points about ordering by DX and speeding up turns: my son, who's the most familiar with the game, wants to start playing the ship's monkey. Conveniently, that'll give him the highest DX, so I'm hoping he can set the tone for decisive actions.

The AdjDX chits are a great idea! I confess I was going to ignore that rule for speed, but this should make it work easily enough.

I like the idea of new PCs already being wounded; most of the players are used to that concept from our Song of Blades and Heroes games, where replacement warbands are built on 200 points rather than 300.

The game will essentially be a point crawl around the island, after an opening encounter with crabmen on the beach. I'll have a few non-combat encounters (a hermit or marooned Ben Gunn type, perhaps, plus some uninhabited ruins or warning ghosts or whatnot) and a couple of potentially non-combat encounters (reptile men in the jungle - unless you're after their hides or steal treasure from their shrine or try to rescue your shipmates that they're going to sacrifice to the living god lurking deep in the jungle).

If, at a certain point (i.e. towards the end of the five-hour session), replacements would ruin the narrative, the players of dead PCs will be able to play the monsters. I've got three big 'set-piece' battles planned: against Sahuagin types in semi-flooded ruins; against demons in the Demon Tower that dominates the island; and - potentially - against lizardmen at their jungle shrine. So the game could end up as essentially a big skirmish wargame with several players a side. I think that might work quite well, as the 'dead' will be suitably vengeful ghosts!
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Old 08-28-2019, 06:59 PM   #6
Frost Giant
 
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Default Re: Tips for managing a large group of players?

I'd be real interested in how you make out with this.
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