Party size

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Oake
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Party size

Postby Oake » Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:57 pm

Hi guys

Getting ready to start my first cmapaign gm'ing Conan. Theres 3 players (aside from me) who are going to be playing characters and my question is this; what do you find works better, a small party of 3 or a larger one of around 6 characters?

My friends are all experienced rp'ers and would have no trouble at all handling 2 characters at a time. I can rework the adventures easily enough to allow for a party of either size, so that isnt an issue. I'd just like to hear your thoughts on the matter. I'm leaning towards a smaller party as that feels more "Conan'ish" and people have to think harder to survive.
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Majestic7
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Postby Majestic7 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:10 pm

Small parties are simply easier to handle, both in the terms of gameplay and arranging common time to play. I prefer larger groups, say, 4-6 players, thinking of three as a minimum for playing. However, getting a such large amount of people together in the same place for one day or evening can be sometimes pretty hard.
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Postby slaughterj » Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:39 pm

I find small parties, 2-4 characters, each player just with one character, to be ideal for Conan. With the extra starting skill points (in background skills, etc.) and generally more competent nature of characters in Conan than other games, a few PCs can cover all the bases well enough, but too many may mean some feel they have no niche.

For instance, my current party is:
1. A Kushite Barbarian 5, Soldier 2, Thief 2 (emphasis on offensive fighting)
2. A Nordheimer Barbarian 8, Pirate 1 (emphasis on defensive fighting)
3. A Hyrkanian Nomad 3, Thief 6 (emphasis on stealth and archery)

They all have track, decent stealth, searching, and perception, with a smattering of other skills like some knowledge, profession, athletic (ride, swim), etc.
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Postby Ankhe » Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:26 am

Ill second on the 2-4 player count, with one character each. Too many people means the less talkative players tend to do next to nothing except participate in combat, its sometimes an issue in my game at least where we usually have about 3-7 players.
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Postby DaveNC » Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:29 am

I also prefer smaller parties of 2-4 characters, it just feels more like Howard's Conan to me.
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Re: Party size

Postby Ichabod » Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:30 am

Oake wrote:Hi guys

Getting ready to start my first cmapaign gm'ing Conan. Theres 3 players (aside from me) who are going to be playing characters and my question is this; what do you find works better, a small party of 3 or a larger one of around 6 characters?

My friends are all experienced rp'ers and would have no trouble at all handling 2 characters at a time. I can rework the adventures easily enough to allow for a party of either size, so that isnt an issue. I'd just like to hear your thoughts on the matter. I'm leaning towards a smaller party as that feels more "Conan'ish" and people have to think harder to survive.
Might not have trouble handling multiple characters, but I don't often see it being optimal. Whether you prefer roleplaying or rollplaying, having more than one character to look after divides your attention and distances you from a particular character.

Three PCs should be fine. If you really want support in the party for a particular skill/ability or just for damage soak, there can be 1-2 NPCs that get passed around as needed.

We often had 4-5 PCs with 1-2 NPCs. Though, we had the problem that one of the NPCs overshadowed PCs in various areas because she was three levels higher than the party when she got statted up. Eventually that was realized and she's offstage now. On the other hand, we've gotten a lot of other party NPCs nuked.
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Postby Oake » Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:01 am

Thanks for all your replies. i think I'll stick to my original thoughts and just go with 3 characters (one per player). I'll just add in a couple of npc under the control of some of the players for encounters that will play better like that. I've had mixed experiences in the past where GM's have played npc's (cannon-fodder type npc's i mean, not stroyline ones) in the party. One D&D GM we had controlled 2 npc fighters in a party of 10 pc's. He always had them get the first attacks in, deal the critical damage, solve his own puzzles etc before the pc's could even react - which left us feeling like spectators in his own game! I think I'll let the players control any unimportant npc's, lets me focus on giving them challenges then - and i like to make my players think on their feet :wink:
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Postby Halfbat » Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:59 pm

Glad to hear it. We run with 4-7 players, each with one character, and the "4" take the other's characters when need be. It's much better with one each, we've found, much more so than in D&D (where it's not so critical) as the feel of the game changes.

Another thing to think about when you've already got 2 characters per person is when they start acquiring cohorts....
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Postby Oake » Sun Mar 25, 2007 8:03 pm

Tried things out for the first time today. Two of the players rolled up their characters - a Cimmerian barbarian and a Bossonian borderer. Took us a few hours to get them rolled up due to me being unfamiliar with the process and ahving to flick around the book a good deal. I'll get some stuff typed up and printed out to speed the process up a bit now i know what I'm doing.

Didnt start an adventure, but we played out a couple of combat scenarios to see how things worked. The first was a nice simple affair which pitted our two heroes against two level one nomads (stats taken from the npc sheets). In the first round the barbarian charged at one nomad swing his bardiche and shouting obscenities (true to character of the person palying him :D ) but missed, while the borderer managed to lightly hurt the other with an arrow from his longbow. Round 2 showed us all just how brutal combat can be! The barbarian got critted by his opponent, taking him to 0hp and disabling him in one go, while the borderer got a crit and lucky rolls on the other nomad, totally filleting him (it was 36 points of damage in total I think, made with a +2 longbow against 0dr). I was quite happy that the players will now be thinking a bit more carefully about combat when we start the campaign proper in a few weeks time.

Couple of questions though:

1) I couldnt see any "to hit" penalty for ranged weapons at long range. I know they lose AP per range increment, but I must have missed the bit where it shows how much of a penalty per increment they get.

2) Do you usually allow npc's fighting the party critical hits if their roll would be one? I'm talking about regulalr goons, not leaders or important enemies. Havent tried any large combats yet but it seems very dicey for the players especially at low levels. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, just wondered how people handle it.

Thanks
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Postby urdinaran » Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:16 pm

Oake wrote: 1) I couldnt see any "to hit" penalty for ranged weapons at long range. I know they lose AP per range increment, but I must have missed the bit where it shows how much of a penalty per increment they get.

2) Do you usually allow npc's fighting the party critical hits if their roll would be one? I'm talking about regulalr goons, not leaders or important enemies. Havent tried any large combats yet but it seems very dicey for the players especially at low levels. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, just wondered how people handle it.

Thanks
1. It should be -2 per range increment past the 1st. So, -2 at 2nd increment, -4 at 3rd, etc.

2. Yup. If you are using large groups of NPC you might not want to though as this might slow down the game; on the other hand, if there are that many mooks and the PCs are wading through them, a Crit might be the only way they they might be a challenge.
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Postby Auggie » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:31 am

For my Conan campaign, I have 3 players and myself as GM. Depending on what we're involved in, my players will sometimes run more than one character. All of us have 20+ years of gaming experience, so it's second-nature for us to run multiple characters if an adventure requires more people...
"And they say I am a barbarian?! Thus far, my time amongst 'civilized' folk has shown me that I am less barbarian than they!" - Tharn Ausonn of Asgard
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Postby Dpetroc » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:09 pm

Great thing about Conan is that it the type of story telling lends itself nicely to smaller parties. I run two pbem games and one live game with one player each (they are somewhat interrelated, but the characters will most likely never meet). It's worked out quite nicely... it's a good way of getting hesitant new players into the hobby if they have (or even if they haven't) read Howard and want to dip their toes.
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Postby Harlock » Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:18 am

I hate to be the parrot here but I agree 3 is a good party size. Seems to me to fit the Conan setting rather well. And personally I find it a good size to GM, especially when I was new at being the GM. Especially when you dont know all the players as well. This is especially noticeable at conventions, the better run events tend to be 2 or 3 players, maybe up to 5 for some games. One of the worst was a game I like (which shall remain nameless) but had 45 to 55 players and a total of 6 GM's. As you can imagine it went out of control very quickly, players were backstabbing each other, nobody could come up with a coherent plan what to do next. The game droned on that way for 6 long deadly dull hours. An hour into it I went to dealer room for half hour then spent another 2 hours in another event. When I came back, literally nothing had happened and the GM's no doubt had migraines running from table to table trying to find out what the players were doing.

Whoever mentioned 2 characters per player had a good idea. That can definately work, not always but quite often. If the party needs help an NPC or two can be added to the mix as sidekicks to cover the players backs.
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Damien
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Postby Damien » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:40 am

Took us a few hours to get them rolled up due to me being unfamiliar with the process and ahving to flick around the book a good deal.
No worries there. It STILL takes me and most of my players an hour or two to make a character (though we tend to do it prior to a game, rather than during - so we come to the game with ready character sheets).

There's a lot of material to know and remember -- and it's always better to make sure you're checking and double-checking what you're doing rather than start a game unprepared or with a character whose abilities don't work well together.

A bit of advice if I may be so bold: Since you're just starting, don't be afraid to let players, in certain circumstances, change one feat they started with for a different one they could have had instead. When you're just learning, sometimes you think a feat will compliment your character well, but in the actual gameplay it doesn't do squat. Definitely don't stringently make them keep what they chose if it obviously isn't doing anything for them. Gotta allow for some learning time.
made with a +2 longbow against 0dr).
I'm just curious - how did the player end up with a "+2 longbow?"

2) Do you usually allow npc's fighting the party critical hits if their roll would be one? I'm talking about regulalr goons, not leaders or important enemies. Havent tried any large combats yet but it seems very dicey for the players especially at low levels. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, just wondered how people handle it.
It depends. The way I GM is under the presumption that I'm there to make sure everyone has fun. Dying is fun - it's cinematic and heroic. On the other hand, dying all the time, or dying right at the start, isn't fun at all. Sometimes a GM's job includes fudging die rolls to make sure the FUN keeps going. That's also why I roll all my dice in secret. Usually I go with the dice, but occasionally I'll say "oops, a 7" when it was really a 20, because it's better for the game if the character survives instead of getting his head chopped off at the start of the adventure.

However, if the player is doing something excessively stupid, like charging into a group of 50 enemies with only one other character at his side -- yeah, if the dice come up with a critical, it's staying that way. Generally, the more goons I'm adding, the more I fudge the rolls to keep the characters alive long enough to enjoy the visceral feel of a Conan game. There's few things you could do to make a game less Conanish than to have your mighty-thewed heroes done in by a level 1 wimp with a dagger.

That's just how I do it, though. Some GM's players really don't mind dying all the time. It depends on your style as a GM, and their style as players - and what you hope to accomplish in the session. Especially as new players, you may want to fudge some rolls because stopping in the middle of a game to take 2 hours to create a new character is just not logical.
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Postby Oake » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:08 am

I'm just curious - how did the player end up with a "+2 longbow?"
I shouldnt have been so lazy and taken the time to describe that properly - I've made it sound like some sort of fantastic D&D magical bow! It was actually a Bossonian Longbow with a +2 Str rating to match the characters strength. He was a Bossonian Borderer and wanted to buy his own equipment so I let him have a +2 bow made.

I'll take your advice about letting them change a feat if it doesnt play as they imagine it will. Good idea. I'm also typing up for them some handouts describing the feats and how they work so they can have a good read through and start planning out their characters future development, as a lot of the feats require other feats as prerequisites. Same for skills. I'll give them chance to change what they chose at the start after theyve had a good read through.
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Damien
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Postby Damien » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:17 am

I shouldnt have been so lazy and taken the time to describe that properly - I've made it sound like some sort of fantastic D&D magical bow! It was actually a Bossonian Longbow with a +2 Str rating to match the characters strength. He was a Bossonian Borderer and wanted to buy his own equipment so I let him have a +2 bow made.
Oh, duh! That was my fault for not realizing what you meant. Now that you say it, I realize how freakin' obvious it should have been. Sheesh. I need to stop drinking, clearly it's having a lasting effect on my mind.
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