First day of actual gaming with the school group today. It went . . . adequately. There were some problems, but it wasn't a disaster.
We only had about two and a half hours. An extra person showed up, so we had eight players in total. We had to spend entirely too much time at the beginning getting everyone's characters finished. The GM is showing signs of getting attached to his plot. Given all that, it really went about as well as could be expected.
The biggest problem for me was just the number of people involved. I've GMed a party of that size, that didn't work too well. The party just sort of waltzed through the game as an amorphous mass; this game looks like it's heading in the same generation. I'm sure there are some GMs, and some players, who can handle and enjoy that size of party. I'm just not one of them.
I tend to like a game that integrates the characters fairly tightly into the game. That's what I go for, anyway. I don't know how well I succeed. But my goal is to give every character specific reasons to be involved with the game, and specific things to do that only they can. I take their specific qualities into account when I'm planning; their styles inform the themes.
It's hard for me to do that in a game with more than four or five characters. Add in the difficulty I have managing that many people at the table, and the grinding hell that combat becomes when you have eight initiative spots to resolve, and it just gets unpleasant.
And that many people is bad for me on the player side, because I'm easily distracted. If there's not something shiny going on right now, and I'm not involved with it, I tend to start thinking about something else. I'll start reading a book, or come up with weird and counterproductive conspiracy theories. Then I'll be totally off track whenever I am back in the spotlight, and I slow the game down trying to figure out what's happening.
So. Current verdict: not bad, but too many people. And too many of them are freshmen.
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