Large Groups?

  • 9 Replies
Large Groups?
« on: April 14, 2011, 05:02:20 PM »
My group has been planning our first game of Apocalypse World for a while now, and it's finally going to happen this Sunday, but we've managed to pick up a few players since then. In total there's going to be seven players and me, the MC. Does anyone think this group will be too large? How about any advice for running a group of this size?


Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 05:29:20 PM »
It's super large. Potentially unwieldy, but still manageable if you do it right.

Make sure that if there's a Hocus, their cult is made up largely of other PCs. The same rule goes for Operator's crew, Chopper's gang, Hardholder's security detail, etc, etc.

Only introduce an NPC if it's going to create a PC-NPC-PC triangle. Ask provocative questions and see if you can establish PC-PC-PC triangles as well ("Okay, Dusk... you're part of Goldie's gang AND Lark's cult. If shit comes to a head here, with this dispute, which one are you going to side with?").

Make Fronts about internal community politics, revolving around disputes and shortages that stem from PC actions.

Talk to people and let them know that this is a bigger-than-average Apocalypse World group size. Be upfront about concerns you have. Discuss possible solutions with them, as well as consulting the internet about it.



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Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 05:42:52 PM »
Yeah, it's gonna be tough.

I don't like running AW with five players, much less seven.

Joe's advice is spot on. Screen time is going to be a premium so all the player gonna have to be game on being tightly integrated in the fiction and no greedy and selfish little snowflakes. Let's them know that they need to play nice even if it doesn't match 'their' vision for the PC that they're running.

That's anyone thing. Stick to the Vx's rules as closely as possible. Don't try to spend table-time tweaking the game or coming up with fixes. Do that between sessions.

Another thing that might come up is that everyone needs to understand that they get what's on the menu, no sides or substitutions. Pick from the names list, the gear lists, the moves lists. Sure, if they want to run something by you between sessions, that's cool. But once you're at the table you gotta stick to you guns. You shouldn't be wasting time indulging player whims as soon as they think of them. Have them write down, and talk about over email or something.

Make sure you keep asking different player's what they're doing so no one get left out.

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 07:54:37 PM »
I don't think this is unworkable at all, although it might push some edges a bit, depending on people's past experiences. I have three concrete bits of advice and a couple suggestions:

Stay mostly in one place - Make sure there's a solid default location, a stable holding with a PC hardholder. This allows for lots of comings and goings as players inevitably can't make it due to real life, or as characters have different interests. A mobile group of traveling PCs is *far* more difficult to run for with a group that big, because you've got to pretend some PC's right there when the player is actually working late.

Move the spot-light around - If you've got more than 4 PCs, don't let any of them roll twice in a row. Move at the start of the action, in the middle, or at the end, and vary it.

Make relationship maps and take notes like crazy - However works best for you, and for session notes, best if it's not you; figure out which of your players is most naturally a note-taker, and delegate that to them. With 7 PCs, you're going to have some complex webs and connections, and tracking them will give you stuff to fall back on and interesting angles to exploit. This will also make your prep *much* easier.

Consider co-MCs - If making fronts that connect with so many PCs feels daunting, ask someone to help co-MC, especially for the prep work of creating fronts. If combat makes you anxious, ask someone else who's really solid on it to help MC those bits. Also, be really up-front about asking everyone to barf forth the apocalyptic details.

Don't sweat it - A group this large, someone's bound to be absent, or someone will have to drop out. When that happens, just roll with it. We were all sad to see Jodi's real life commitments increase and her really cool Hocus PC fade away, but that's how it goes. Move on with who's there.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 08:01:09 PM by Margolotte »

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2011, 12:36:15 AM »
Alright, thanks for the advice everyone! I took some notes that will hopefully turn out to be useful. I'll try to come back and give an update Sunday night after the game or Monday after I get out of class. I'll definitely be sure to communicate to the players that this is an above-average sized group and we'll have to do things a little differently.

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 11:23:10 AM »
After making characters and histories, I would go around asking some basic, "where do you live" questions, trying to keep it snappy.

Then start framing 3 -4 person scenes, so no one is out of the action for more then 10 min, or so.

Co mc-ing won't really help, in my opinion. There just aren't that many administrative tasks in AW. How ever it could be cool for like session two, to split the group up into a couple of rooms with different mcs. I wouldn't do that the world-building session though. The shared imaginative space would probably end up diverging too much to be able to come back together.

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2011, 06:05:24 PM »

I would expand on Joe's suggestion (and the classic Leader + Gang setup often recommended for groups) and say that if you decide to run it as one group, aim to have two distinct social groups of the Hocus + cult / Operator + friends / Chopper + gang variety. Basically you want to create as many multi-PC social units as possible so that instead of having to worry about getting each PC individually involved, you just worry about getting more than one of these social units involved.

Note that the social units should overlap -- I suggested starting with two distinct groups (at chargen), but the immediate priority in the first session would then be to establish an additional 2-3 social units that include PCs from both of those chargen groups.

So for example, you have a Hocus and their cult, and a Chopper and their gang. First off, at least one or two PCs might be part of both the cult and the gang. But then on top of that, three other PCs are blood relatives, and four others were all survivors of some traumatic past event -- and three more are working directly for a local Hardhholder. Basically the goal is to reduce your 7 PCs to 4 overlapping PC-units, so that you can manage play as though you had only 4 PCs and let the players themselves provide any variety they like on top of that.

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2011, 12:23:03 AM »
Apparently I can't count, because I have no idea why I said I would have seven players. There were only six, but that was still a few more than is suggested. I ran the game earlier today, and things went pretty well! We mainly just created the characters and established the relationships between them, and created the world. That took up most of the time, but I gave them some chances to use some of their moves with the time they had left so everyone could get a grasp on how it worked. Everyone seemed to latch on to the story and the game, and everyone is eager for the next session.

One of the players, who is totally new to tabletop RPGs was particularly awesome. I didn't expect her to pipe up much, but she added in a bunch of great stuff about the back story on the fly. I was impressed, and I feel like having that many people added to the game a little, but I can definitely see how it could be beneficial to have a smaller group. I didn't give each character as much face time as I would have liked, but everyone seemed okay with how things went.

I also got some decent threats out of them, so I have plenty to work with for the next session.

Overall, I think it was great having the number of players we did, and everyone else had a blast as well. It seems like the only problem we're going to have is getting all the schedule's to jive.

I would like to thank everyone for their input! It definitely helped things along.

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011, 12:53:58 PM »
Glad to hear it went well! "We mainly just created the characters and established the relationships between them, and created the world" sounds like you got a really solid 1st Session, and now you can go make fronts and stuff. I'm not surprised that the newest player was a big contributor; I often find that folks new to gaming are less worried about what's "right" and are more able to just out with their ideas.

As for scheduling, remember that ApW can handle people being absent, and while it's great to have everyone there, 3/4 will still get you some good gaming, plus the chance to make cool love letters for the folks who had to miss that session. With the group I'm running for now, which has four players with fairly busy lives, we seem to hammer out schedules to play roughly once every three weeks, with occasional longer spells. Every week is super-excellent if you can get it!

Re: Large Groups?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2011, 01:59:54 PM »
Thanks! The new player (Violetta the Battlebabe) was great. For the first part of the game she was fairly quiet, but once she got a grasp of things, she took off. There's a Hocus character (Dust), and 2 of the others plus her are part of his cult. We also have a Quarantine, so they decided she was the to find him. Turned out she ended up turning into his mistress and using him to get out of the cult. "Well, why do you want out of the cult so bad?" "Because I was born into it and raised this way, and the cult leader killed my parents. Now I finally have a chance to escape."

We have a Brainer in the group as well (Pity) who was/is stalking Violetta, so he manipulated the Quarantine into letting him stay in his facility as well. Pity slipped up and she found out she was being stalked, so she decided she wanted him dead. When I tried to steer her away from murdering the other characters in the first session, she said that she wanted to try to manipulate him into marrying the Hocus, as she was about to have to enter into an arranged/forced marriage with him, but Pity could take her place. Pity's player hasn't decided whether Pity is male/female yet (chose ambiguous and concealed as his look), so he jumped at the idea as a chance to figure out his character, and the Hocus went for it as well.

Then there's the big dumb oaf (the character, not the player) of a Faceless named Big Fucker who acts as the muscles for the cult and is smitten with Pity, so he's feeling abandoned by Pity and betrayed by Dust.

This is going to be fun!

And yeah, the love letters sound cool, that's going to be fun as well. I don't think anyone will feel too left out if they have to miss a session, so I don't think scheduling will be TOO much of a problem.