IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Running two Teams at once, Or: How to cope with huge player groups
Eurotroll
post Oct 30 2007, 04:12 PM
Post #1


Target
*

Group: Members
Posts: 87
Joined: 11-September 07
From: Saeder-Krupp Rhine-Ruhr Regional HQ
Member No.: 13,215



Guys, I'm in need of some brainstorming help.

My introductory SR group has grown, through inattentiveness of my own, to a humongous nine (9!) players plus myself as GM. That is of course far beyond the optimal size for any RP group, but unfortunately at this point in time, splitting the group is not an option -- we're playing SR4, and I am the only one with even an inkling of the rules of the game.

The situation will likely rectify itself over time, as people drop out for time constraints or other reasons (we run a set bi-weekly schedule), considering that most of us are students or have only recently graduated. However, for the time being, I need to cope with the group as is, giving them stuff to do as a whole while not keeping the spotlight on a particular character for too long. (This, as the GMs among you will be well-aware, is of course The Tricky Thing about running any game.)

The characters are such that there is a more or less even split between offensive combat chars and sneaky/non-combat types: a Sam, two Riggers (one specializing in drone, the other in vehicles), a Weapon Specialist as per the template, one Bear-spirited Eco-Shaman, a Hermetic Mage following Artemis (Moon Maiden), a Gunslinger Adept, a Techomancer, and a former Cop turned face with combat paralysis and no ranged combat skills whatsoever.

This sort of distribution made me think that it might be possible to run two teams at once -- essentially doing traditional Distract & Enter type of runs, only with the difference that my players will be playing both the full-frontal assault and the backdoor rob-them-blind operation the former is there to distract from.

That sort of setup requires some serious GM-Fu, however, and I'd be happy to get some advice and/or ideas as to how, exactly, to manage action in two places at once without neglecting either side. Thankfully, technology in the Sixth World is such that I won't need to take one party out of the room to run with the other; but should I run both in a sort of Jagged Alliance mode, where combat rounds determine movement for both parties once one of them is embroiled in combat, or a more traditional approach where I run them sequentially by group rather than by Initiative.

tl;dr: help my players are going to gang up on me! :eek:
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon May
post Oct 30 2007, 04:46 PM
Post #2


Moving Target
**

Group: Members
Posts: 232
Joined: 7-October 07
Member No.: 13,604



I wish I could offer up helpful advice, but after a 7 player one shot got out of hand for me as a fairly new GM, I decided the only way to solve issues like that was to limit the size. I have friends asking to play in my current Shadowrun group, but I've limited it to 5 players (6 if I need a temp PC for 1 game). Everyone has been really understanding, so all I can say is that if you're really having issues, try to split the group in two or give a few people the boot. If you go on a run where the team gets separated, it'll allow you to run weekly games (which may be harder for you, but each game would be half-size) with each respective group switching off. That way you can keep everyone involved and not have to worry about dealing with 9 players at once.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Moon-Hawk
post Oct 30 2007, 04:50 PM
Post #3


Genuine Artificial Intelligence
********

Group: Members
Posts: 4,019
Joined: 12-June 03
Member No.: 4,715



Oh my. Well, first off, if you're running a set bi-weekly schedule, then unless your group is very different from mine you're never going to see those 9 people in one room. You're probably only dealing with, what, 5-7 people at a time? That's not so bad.

As for splitting up and running two teams, they're going to come up with their own plans, and if they have that many people they might well choose a plan like that, but I feel like that's sort of their choice, not something you need to plan for them.

The place where this is going to be a real problem is combat. In order to challenge a large group, the obvious solution is to counter with large groups of enemies, and the resulting single combat turn could take a very, very long time. So until your group shrinks a bit, as you seem to predict, I say focus on runs that stay away from lots of heavy combat. Make sure the combat is taking the form of neutralizing a couple of guards very quickly, so the super combat types have a moment to shine, and the others don't get bored waiting for a massive fight to finish. I'd say focus more on runs that are heavier on planning. A big group could spend a couple hours easily coming up with an elaborate plan (large groups allow for, and tend to create, more complicated plans), and while there may not be any dice rolled or actions happening, as long as everyone is having fun it's gaming gold.

You could go for runs with a more investigation-style feel. Normally that format is doomed since somehow everyone manages to miss the totally obvious clue, but with so many people the odds of that really do go down quite a bit. You'll be able to easily bounce back and forth between them, even as they run their separate ways, if what they're doing is mostly legwork and following up on leads, etc.

Mostly, though, just stay away from big fights. 9PCs vs 9 enemies with a few drones, vehicles, and spirits on both sides, yikes, your first initiative pass has easily 30 people acting, with 100+ die rolls.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Mercer
post Oct 30 2007, 04:58 PM
Post #4


Running Target
***

Group: Members
Posts: 1,326
Joined: 15-April 02
Member No.: 2,600



My experience has been similar to Simon's. I've always considered 5 the upper limit for SR, with 3 or 4 (depending on the players) to be best.

If you can't bear to get rid of any of your players, I'd try one of two things. Either split them into two groups and run them on different days, or split them into two groups and get somebody to run the other one as a co-GM. I don't know how practical either idea is, but its probably at least as practical as trying to run SR for 9 people.

Either way, be looking for a co-GM. Farm out responsibility as much as you can. Assign one player to keep track of Initiative, for example.

I'd be tempted to run a street-level ganger game. 9 characters with 1 IP a piece is easier to keep track of than 9 characters with a total of 27 IP's. I'd also be tempted to split the pc's into different teams and run them against each other. That way you have fewer npcs to deal with and can concentrate on rules adjudication and keeping the game moving.

Also, the 9 pc's can roleplay with each other. If you have 9 players and only 2 or 3 characters are dealing with an npc at a time, that's 2/3's of the group twiddling their thumbs.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Eurotroll
post Oct 30 2007, 05:19 PM
Post #5


Target
*

Group: Members
Posts: 87
Joined: 11-September 07
From: Saeder-Krupp Rhine-Ruhr Regional HQ
Member No.: 13,215



Thank you Simon, Moon-Hawk and Mercer, for your comments thus far. I will certainly consider limiting the combat emphasis, though I am lucky in that only two of my players have more than one IP, currently, barring magical enhancement of the others by the shaman.

Yes, ideally the group will shrink to a more manageable size before I complete even the first leg of the Emergence campaign. One player I know for a fact will show up only when the session in question is somewhere conveniently located for her (we rotate among the player's homes, depending on who offers to host), and several others are not exactly reliable when it comes to commitments to our RP group -- but RL for them is particularly time-consuming, so we don't hold it against them. My hope is, therefore, that I'll be dealing with 5-7 players per session on average.

That throws up a different question, however: how to deal with the characters of players not present at a given session. Now, between runs this is isn't a problem -- the character is simply considered to be busy handling his downtime affairs. It turns into a predicament of an entirely different sort should I hapen to have to make a cut during the "hot" phase of a run, when all the plans have been made and the PCs are doing their job. Is the "Bunny from a Hat" trick feasible? Ie., does it work to consider absent player's characters to be present regardless? There can be no question about how much it sucks to miss a session for whatever reason and be told "Too bad, you gotta sit this one out."
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Moon-Hawk
post Oct 30 2007, 05:51 PM
Post #6


Genuine Artificial Intelligence
********

Group: Members
Posts: 4,019
Joined: 12-June 03
Member No.: 4,715



QUOTE (Eurotroll)
That throws up a different question, however: how to deal with the characters of players not present at a given session. Now, between runs this is isn't a problem -- the character is simply considered to be busy handling his downtime affairs. It turns into a predicament of an entirely different sort should I hapen to have to make a cut during the "hot" phase of a run, when all the plans have been made and the PCs are doing their job. Is the "Bunny from a Hat" trick feasible? Ie., does it work to consider absent player's characters to be present regardless? There can be no question about how much it sucks to miss a session for whatever reason and be told "Too bad, you gotta sit this one out."

Good question. As always, talk to your players and see if there are any strong feelings. (warning, there's no right/wrong way to handle this, all of the following is heavily biased by my personal preferences)
For example, I hate it when one of my PCs is turned into an NPC and played for me when I'm not there. I hate it. The GM has control of the whole f-ing universe, and I have control of one measly little guy, don't take that away from me. But a lot of people don't feel that way at all.
I would say, really really try not to end sessions in the middle of the action. During a run, fine, but if you're going to break really try to do it at a time when someone could possibly arrive or leave, even if it would take just a little bit of handwaving and suspension of disbelief. Personally, I would prefer to have a teammate parachute in or just happen to be vacationing on the same island than have them simply appear in the middle of the evil underground lair. I can handle unlikely situations and roll with them, but breaks in continuity just bother me.
On the flip-side of that, make sure every player provides you with a reason why their character might be unavailable on very short notice. (families and drug addictions are good for this) That gives you an excuse to yank them out of the run when they can't play without having them go *poof*
And I certainly agree with you about not making someone sit a run out because their character wasn't there. Again, this is personal preference, but if I had PCs already in the evil underground lair and needed to add someone, I would prefer to tell someone "Oh, uh, Bob's character must've tried some crazy stunt on his own, because he got captured and is being guarded by that one guard, who also has some of his stuff." The players will chuckle at the obviously contrived situation, whack the guard, and fun will continue for all, with no one excluded. Your players will forgive you for the contrivance.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Simon May
post Oct 30 2007, 07:11 PM
Post #7


Moving Target
**

Group: Members
Posts: 232
Joined: 7-October 07
Member No.: 13,604



I generally run with 3 solutions:

1) The Backup Plan: So you're going to be missing one of your prime runners for the second half of this run? Well, that kind of sucks. So instead of running the second half this session, prep a backup plan. Either have players have secondary characters elsewhere in the world or run a one shot of another system. I, personally, am preferable to a fun, lighthearted throwaway like Paranoia or Kobolds Ate My Baby. This way, your players still get to play, you don't leave anyone out, and you get week off from planning (though you do have to double time it for the current session).

2) Mid-Run Breaks: If a run is going to take several days or hours in game time, there will certainly be travel and other issues. If you stop at one of these moments (as Moon-Hawk says), you offer the players the opportunity to cut and run if they can't make it, either for personal reasons (kid brother fell in with a barrens gang/he doesn't run on shabbos) or private ones (mistress needs some quick help/PC requires a fix). It also allows your team to realize they're shorthanded and needto call a chummer for the next step as a way to fit in a player who wasn't there last time. This way players who miss a session can still take part in the early going or the later going.

3) Divide And Conquer: It's a little more work, but the same way you divide to get numbers clear, you can divide to adjust for missing players. Run a short session with the missing players before the next session, and they can be off doing matrix hunts and legwork that will make the next session easier for the rest of the team, despite the fact they won't actually be there. It also allows players to get their game on regardless of whether they can make every session. The only down side is suddenly having to run an extra night one week.

-----

In one game I play in, my GM has a policy that if you miss two sessions without a good excuse, you're booted from the game. This makes sure people make it except in the case of emergencies.

If you do miss and have a good reason, he usually punishes the character anyway: captured and tortured, beaten within an inch of life and recovering that week, or even mugged and dropped in a remote locale, spending the week trying to traverse the city with no money and no ride. I'm not quite as cruel, but I don't deal with flakey players nearly as much as he seems to.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Wounded Ronin
post Oct 30 2007, 10:30 PM
Post #8


Great Dragon
*********

Group: Members
Posts: 6,640
Joined: 6-June 04
Member No.: 6,383



I have handled large groups like this myself in the past, but over IRC.

I just let people go off in different directions and sucked it up and dealt with it. This included a real world/matrix split.

However, it was really demanding on mental energy.

If I were to do it again and for some reason needed to minimize the mental energy spent, I would just have the large team (9 people) have well defended objectives to assault. Thus there'd be meat for everyone. Think squad of marines instead of SEAL team.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 17th April 2024 - 08:45 PM

Topps, Inc has sole ownership of the names, logo, artwork, marks, photographs, sounds, audio, video and/or any proprietary material used in connection with the game Shadowrun. Topps, Inc has granted permission to the Dumpshock Forums to use such names, logos, artwork, marks and/or any proprietary materials for promotional and informational purposes on its website but does not endorse, and is not affiliated with the Dumpshock Forums in any official capacity whatsoever.