Friday, April 3, 2015

Gaming a Horde

The charge of the light frog-men brigade
It's been really busy lately, but now is a good time to get caught up on some blogging.

First of all, I will not be doing the April A-to-Z Challenge.  With Easter in April and a lot of things going on, I didn't feel like making another commitment, even a hobby-related one, was a good idea.  Besides, I couldn't come up with a topic.

In this post I want to share with you a few of the lessons I learned running D&D 5E with eleven players at once.  Before the session began, I laid down a few ground rules.


  • No disruptive behavior.  This was primarily targeted at the four youth in my gaming group who were present.  If they started to clown around, start singing songs or talking loudly off topic, I would ask them to step away from the table for five minutes during which they could have no impact on the game (basically the same as being "boggled" in Toon)
  • Transparent initiative order.  Usually I keep the initiative order secret behind the DM screen so that the players are kept on their toes about when the monsters are going to kick in.  This time I decided to post it publicly so players could have a rough idea how long or soon it would be until it was time for them to act.  This helped a lot, but the downside was some of the players started "gaming" the initiative order tactically right off the bat.
  • Look up your spells.  I understand that the monster who are considering attacking might be killed by one of the four people going ahead of you, but I was pretty clear that I would be quickly frustrated if players who had spent the last ten minutes surfing with their smartphones would be caught unawares about what spell they want to cast.  Or special attack power, or whatever.
  • Three combats.  That's about all you get when you have eleven players and four hours to play.  One was against a medium sized group, another against a large group, and another against a singe opponent (who got steam-rolled).  That doesn't seem like a lot, really.
Now, despite my being all heavy-handed, the group said they had a really good time.  That gets back to the fact that my group really does like each other, and sacrificing a lot of game play for the sake of hanging out together and feeling like a big, victorious mass was worth it.

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