Friday, February 4, 2011

What is the Ideal Party Size?

I know this question is as much about circumstances as it is gameplay, but what is the ideal player party size?

When I was in college, it was the more the merrier, but gameplay bogged down when I went above 5 or 6 players. I used to run AD&D 2e sessions on Friday mornings back in those days, and I could have up to 10 players to juggle. As a DM I felt I was giving less then my best performance.

My old gaming group ranged from 3-6 players for the most part... although there were times that got huge too.

Or does it depend upon game system? D&D thru 3.5e has 4 core classes, and with multi-classing, more then one role could be fulfilled per PC. So, you didn't need 4 PCs, but it did help for balance.

Tunnels & Trolls has 3 core classes: Warrior, Rogue and Wizard. Rogue isn't a D&D Rogue, but more of a D&D Fighter / Magic-User with possibly some thief thrown in. I'm not sure what the ideal party size would be for a T&T game, but I suspect one of each core would fill the rolls nicely.

What is your ideal player party size when you GM a game?


  1. Four to six, five is optimal. Seven or more, too little individual time with the players.

  2. Most of my gaming has been with 4-6 players but I think I like 8+. With that many there's a group pressure to get things done and adventure over getting side-lined with gab. Players start to form little political and action combos inside the party and the action just happens. Of course I need a big enough table to fit everyone.

  3. We currently have 5, one of which Skypes in, this poses it's own challenges; plus, we have a 6th player that can't join us right now. For us, 4 is best, but I prefer 5 to 6, as there are always 1 or 2 that can't make it for whatever reason.

  4. If my Solo Great Pendragon Campaign posts didn't give it away, I enjoy small groups. Single player campaigns are a fun change of pace, but I think 3-4 players is optimal. I like to stretch out and let things amble, so keeping things focused and action-oriented is not a priority for me. Then again, I do very much like the critical mass brain trust that occurs when you hit 3 or more players.

  5. Four to six. Seven or more, too little individual time with the players. :)

  6. I agree with Paladin: 4-6 is ideal. Even 3 can be quite doa-ble and fairly intense. But seven or more starts to feel like chaos to me.

  7. Like most folks here 4-6 is ideal. Three is OK for RP intensive games as well. The most I am willing to consider is 7.

  8. Depends on the ruleset. 4E is so rules-heavy and overwrought with tactics and details that I think 3 is best there, even though the whole system is explicitly setup for 5.

    For previous D&D editions, 4 is ideal, unless they're all mages. Shadowrun fits in there as well.

    I'd go 5-6 for something like WoD or Savage Worlds and reserve 7 for something very low-combat, like a political campaign.

  9. I've ran groups of up to 14, but I prefer around 8 at the outside. I try to find a group for anyone over the cutoff size, though. Sometimes one of the others will GM. The more players out there, the better, I say!


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