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Ideal Number of Players

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  • Ideal Number of Players

    So what does everyone think is the sweet spot for number of PCs in a game of Exalted? I’ve personally run games with as few as five and as many as ten, but I get the feeling that 3-4 might be best. The combat scenes are fun, but often times you need to have groups of foes that may outnumber your PCs at nearly two to one, especially with Solars. With larger groups it makes things take quite a bit longer. Also with larger PC groups sometimes it can be hard to follow everyone’s agenda, and a lot of the time I find some players might go off and do their own thing where half the party may not be involved. The characters are just so big that it can become taxing.

    Anyway what’s everyone else’s experience? Or tips to make games with 1-2 people or 6-7 people work?

  • #2
    Solos are fun

    I'd like to try to play or ST a duo, with players having a special connection (solar/lunar mates, Drabonblood brother in arms, you name it)

    I appreciate 3 players. I think it allows you to follow multiple different agendas without spending too much time with one player not doing something. However, the interactions are less rich than with more players, and often less "specialized" than with fewer players. I think it's my favorite number of players for "generic campaign"

    4 players is good, allows to make little adventures with 2 and 2, and lot of different interactions. However, you easily start to lose track of players agenda, and at that number it's likely you have at least 2 players being political, which means less time for fun adventures for the 2 others. Of course conversely, if the adventure part is too present, you risk having at least 2 players not always finding their place because they have a different agenda.

    5 players starts to be a bit too much for me. I had a little campaign of 7 sessions with 5 players and it was fun, but at this point you spend a lot of time doing stuff for every individual and the time can rarely be fairly balanced.

    I would never play with more than 5 players. I had a few experiences with 6 players on other "simpler" games, and it was a Nightmare. I can't even fathom trying more players for a campaign, maybe for a 1-5 session story I would be curious to try it.

    My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters


    • #3 ten player one was a nightmare and that was with a bunch of people getting almost ignored for fairly large stretches of game time. I also had to do crazy things like have the Mask of Winters jack Final Maelstrom and do a pincer attack with it and Juggernaut.


      • #4
        3-4 is also the sweet spot for me. 2 players is fun but it's a completely different type of game. 5 works out if players are OK with long combat scenes and/or spending chunks of games doing nothing. Anything above that and players start spending a significant amount of time just arguing about what they want to do, rather than actually doing things.

        As ST less players means less constraints on what you can do, but it also means that more of the game's success rests on your shoulders. So in my 2 player game I try to make the story much more personal to the characters in a way which simply wouldn't be possible with a larger group.


        • #5
          I mostly play in groups of 6. Honestly, it's a bit too big, individuals don't all get enough screen time. I have played with groups of 7 before; if the players are happy to have times when they're playing on their phone for 20 minutes or something, it's okay. If people want to be constantly involved, it's not.

          I think the best number is 4. But it really depends on the players and format. If it's a game with loads of player interaction for roleplaying purposes, then sending 2-3 players to the kitchen for an in-character conversation works well, and others can do other things with the ST.
          So it also depends on whether it's a game where everyone does everything together, or one where the players are all off doing their own thing. My Essence 1 Lunar game involves 6 PCs traveling around together in a boat. That works fine. The two high-xp Celestial games went through a phase where with 6 PCs, there were basically 3-5 different groups, and for that 6 players was a nightmare, you basically only got to play for 30 minutes (the STs have encouraged/forced us back together now, so they're only split into about two groups generally).

          The truth is though, it's always going to depend more on your group of friends than what you think is the optimal number of players. I mean, if I did find 6 players too awkward, which friend am I going to kick out?

          (Also, if your players have bad attendance, as a couple of mine do, it's better to have 5 or 6; otherwise you might only get 3 players turning up and that can be boring. As Chausse said, the interactions can be less interesting. But it depends a lot on the players.)

          STing Bronze Age Exalted


          • #6
            Five for me. It's about my happy spot for group dynamics and player interaction and while it is a bit much in Exalted sometimes if people are going charm happy all at once it gives me room to not feel like cancelling if one person has to be down. For some reason a 20% player absence feels psychologically less bad to me than 25% and I cannot adequately explain it in any game.


            • #7
              Yeah, I agree with you there.

              STing Bronze Age Exalted


              • #8
                Well... First why my answer is as it is.

                One-on-one gaming: I can give full attention on the player, no problem if things takes a 90 degree turn, and time jumps can be used whenever the character is doing a longer project and nothing happens. However, there is no option of dynamic between player characters.

                Two players: Works for a focused game and can work well for that. However, it has the drawbacks of the one-on-one game and the drawbacks of larger games. Because now, one character might end up doing a focused task while the other are doing something suitable for downtime.

                Three players and up: Now, we can start to have inter-character dynamics. Coordinate schedules starts to become a hassle.

                Four players: The amount of players starts to require optimization and focus to make sure it doesn't take to long between they got a chance to actually role-play and not just wait their turn.

                Five players: The actual minimum to have any good inter-character dynamics.

                So, in my opinion. There is no optimal amount of players. Everything is suboptimal.

                Depending on what I'm currently "hungry" for, I can accept different drawbacks. The amount of player in any actual game are still more dependent the possibility to scrape together a group with compatible gaming preferences. Just that a bunch of people all say they want to play exalted doesn't mean they are compatible.


                • #9
                  That all seems pretty fair.

                  STing Bronze Age Exalted


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                    Anyway what’s everyone else’s experience? Or tips to make games with 1-2 people or 6-7 people work?
                    For me, 3-5 players is perfect. More than that and I start running into issues with making sure that every character can get time in the spotlight during a given session. Fewer than that and if something comes up and a player can't make it to the session or has to leave early, the session pretty much has to stop since it's hard to keep it going.

                    The biggest game I ever played in was a 3rd edition D&D game with 9 players and boy, that was a pretty terrible experience. A single combat would take almost half of the session, so the pacing of the campaign was glacial.


                    • #11
                      I played DnD with 9 players+DM once... after 1 session we just split into two groups of 4+DM, as it was so awkward. I'm sort of impressed your DM kept at it.

                      I actually did do a session with 8 PCs + ST once (1 dawn, 2 zeniths, 1 twilight, 2 eclipses, 2 lunars... yeah, 8), but it was a Conclave of the Cult of the Illuminated; lots of networking, talking, introductions, etc. No combat. Normally that game has 6 players, the other two were old players who'd dropped out (one was bored with Exalted and his PC, the other dislikes most of the other characters) ages ago. They just returned for a special guest appearance.
                      Lots of groups of 2-3 players going off for different conversations.

                      I would hate to run/play a game that big normally. I ran with 7 for a few months, way too big, until one guy dropped out (probably because of that, not sure).

                      STing Bronze Age Exalted


                      • #12
                        I shoot for 5, and am content when I fall short at 4. At 3, I suspend the campaign until we can find another player. I've never tried 6+.

                        My players are rather system-lite, and are probably only playing Exalted to humor me (they'd play other roleplaying systems and it would fit their system proclivity better, I imagine). I've sold them on the world, though, so I can get them to show up for a good story.

                        I'm the opposite. I love a good, crunchy system that has lots of systems to hang exception-based effects like Charms upon, like a well decorated Christmas tree.

                        Sidereal Jumpstart (3e fanwork Charmset)
                        Cascades (the above in flowchart form)