Saturday, November 21, 2009

More New Players! Can I handle more than 10?

I just learned that I will be Lording over at least one and possibly as many as three new players tomorrow for our weekly Mutant Future session.  Brent has been watching the last few sessions and obviously enjoys what is going on in the game, but has no roleplaying experience and had so far turned down our invitations to just roll up a character and jump in the game.  But I guess curiosity finally got the better of his worries that he "won't do good enough", as he told me last night that he was going to play on Sunday.  I assured him that there is no such thing as not doing good when you are playing in one of my games - the worst thing that could happen is your character dies and then you just roll up a new one!  Several other newbies will be joining the game soon as well, either this Sunday or in the next few weeks.  For those of you who have ever seen my band play, lead guitarist Josh "Master of Rock" Marks may soon be experiencing life in the Mutant Future as well, which I am personally very excited about.

I believe that makes 14 or 15 (possibly even 16) people that  are going to be rotating in and out of the game as they see fit, and it probably means that I will occasionally be DMing for groups larger than 10.  Thats a lot of mutants in one room!

I have already been presiding over some pretty large groups for this campaign, so in general I am not that worried about it.  I have a few tricks that make it go easier - when the group gets that large, I more or less abandon individual initiative for combat.  I still have everybody roll for initiative as normal, then I have any players that beat the monsters go first, then the monsters, but from that point on all the players go then all the monsters go.  I just go clockwise around the table when it is time for the players to go and if somebody is not ready they just get skipped until everyone else has gone.  I have found that this makes combat go much faster, not to mention the fact that combat in Mutant Future is much faster than 3.5 or 4e D&D, for example, as it is based on Labyrinth Lord's B/X ruleset.

The more complicated part is how to ride herd on a large group outside of combat.  Very few problems in my world can be solved by simply riding in guns a blazin' - I do not believe in balancing encounters to the power level of the PCs, and my players could easily be destroyed by pretty much every faction in the Willing Mate valley if they did not carefully plan their actions and engage opponents on favorable terms and terrain.  This means that there is normally a lot of conversation and planning about what to do next, and this can get a little time consuming with large groups.  One device that I have used to make this sort of conversation among the players, if not go faster, at least seem a part of the game rather than a part of the meta-game, is the use of com-links among the characters.  My group found a bunch of com-links that are basically like the little bluetooth headsets that people use for their phones, except for that they are walkie-talkies with a five mile range.  This means that the party can always be conversing amongst themselves, so any conversation at the table between players about what to do next is also happening in game amongst the characters.  This may seem like a small point, but I think it has really helped my players gain full immersion into the world and their characters.

I also am not afraid of occasionally providing a little spur or subtle hint to get things moving on again.  Obviously, I try to let the players come up with everything on their own, but sometimes my job as Mutant Lord is to keep the action moving on.  This may become more of an issue with groups larger than 10, so I will have to keep on my toes.  Luckily, my players genuinely enjoy the time spent figuring out what to do next and they come up with some pretty wild and crazy ideas.  The more people putting in their input, the crazier the end result - all in all, I am more excited than nervous about having such a large group.

Another point in my favor is that Mutant Future is a very rules light system.  I normally do not have to open the rule book at all, and when I do it is usually to read the text of a particular mutation if some new issue with it comes up in play.  That doesn't happen very often, and when it does it only takes a couple of seconds because the text of all the mutations are very short  and mostly rely on DM interpretation to cover any complicated cases anyway.  I have printed out the few pages that I have to refer to often (the mental combat chart, the regular combat chart, the savings throw chart and a few other odds and ends) and eventually I am going to get around to making a Mutant Lord screen that has all that information on it.  I shudder to think about trying to run a session of 3.5 or even 4e D&D with this many players, but I think Mutant Future is close enough to its old school roots to be able to handle the large groups.

So I say bring 'em on!

If you are in the Eugene/Springfield area and you want to play Mutant Future, just let me know!

Mutant Lord Carl


  1. Are you going to do any original artwork for your homebrewed MF ref's screen?

  2. Of course! Whats a referee's screen without a badass drawing?

  3. Two things

    a) I wish I lived in Eugene/Springfield

    b) I wish I had an excess of players!

    My part of the UK is a bit dry on players at the momement. :-(

    Need to work harder!

  4. Just had two of the new players play last night, it went quite well. "Only" 8 players at the session, so I still haven't tested my chops with more than 10, but I am pretty confident I can handle it.

  5. The most I ever ran with was a 2e DnD campaign with 11 players. I had an assistant DM though to help with writing and running NPCs. He tended to do roleplaying whilst I did combat. Handy when the party split, cos we'd just divide the table in half and carry on.

    Oh to be back at uni with an excess of players. :( Just lost one this week. Down to two players now. I need to do some serious work on finding more.



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