Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is Your Ideal RPG Group Size?

What is your ideal RPG group size?

For me, as a GM, my sweet spot is 5 players. Not so large that players that might not be in the spotlight at the moment have too long a downtime, and not so small that the party has trouble filling needed roles.

With 5 players, if one or two are missing from a session, the game can still go on (so long as the remaining party exerts some extra care). On the other hand, with 5 players, I can add a guest player or two for a session without things getting too unwieldily.

I've run steady campaigns with 3 and 4 players, but the loss of a player for a session usually led us to a board or card game.

So, what's your ideal RPG group size?


  1. 5 is good for the reasons you list, though 4 is more typical for me.

  2. 5 is a good number. Since I usually play magic-high, occult-based games I can do a lot with 5.

  3. 5 as well.

    a) Fits the table-2 each side 1 on the end, DM other end.
    b) Read an article about game design some years ago, it claimed that 5 players created the most dynamic games (although in that case they would be playing against each other, so...)
    c) My Management Prof. cited (just yesterday) studies that said the most effective working/project group was 5 people. (2 Men & 3 Women the preferred mix apparently)

  4. Four plus the GM, although my group struggles to get three plus the GM nowadays.

  5. Do we just bring more rubbish to the table, or do you guys have bigger tables? With 4 players and a GM at my dining room table there is barely room for anything else, once character sheets, maps, handouts and a few snacks are scattered about. But you're right that 5 players insulates you against cancellation. We've had one player cancel tonight which has pretty much knocked the session on its head until at least Friday.

  6. Five seems to work best for most games, but I find three works for others. I prefer a group of three to five though.

  7. I like a half dozen or more. Smaller numbers of players = more cancelled sessions. I like the energy of many players as well, things keep moving.

  8. I'm the odd man out, but I do agree with your reasons for 5. Our sessions are 3 hours at most, we have to game weeknights and everyone works the next day. With three hours, three players, plus GM, works rather well. With 5, things take longer and less gets accomplished.

  9. I'd stick with 4 PCs and one Referee, but these days our group can only manage two PCs and the Referee.

  10. Depends on system, I think. For a heavier game like 3.x, five starts slowing things down fairly considerably compared to four. Five was less trouble in Traveller, and I'm hoping this will be true of ACKS as well when I get around to running it in a month or so.

  11. I love improvisation and character driven role-play. I have found that for my style of play (involving a lot of role-play) three players plus myself as referee is ideal. I can manage four just fine ... But 5 or 6 and things tend to lag for me.


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