About two months ago, I started DMing for the homeschool teen group I belong to. Even though I haven't been DMing for very long, I've come to realize something very important. That little bit of wisdom?
You shouldn't give a crap how many people are in your D&D group, so long as you can all work together, actually role play, have fun, and beat the crap out of a the twenty minions your DM throws at you.
In our D&D club, we have two DMs (myself included), and six other players. Because neither Cole nor myself felt confident DMing for seven people, we decided that the best thing to do would be to split the group up so we each DMed for three people. That way too we could have our own adventures and do things our own way.
No problem, right?
In my group, I originally had Jake- Human fighter-, Elizabeth- Human fighter-, and Alex- Longtooth ranger-. Sure. It sounds like an alright combo. We're missing a leader and a controller, sure, but it could work out pretty well, right?
(this is where I laugh at you.)
See, Elizabeth is new, so she didn't really know the rules all that well, and Jake is the "watcher" type... he doesn't really want to play, he just wants to make sure that everyone is having a bit of fun, and Alex just wants to beat up every single thing he sees.
Not that this is a bad thing.
In fact, all three of these types are acceptable- even encouraged- in Dungeons and Dragons. The game is designed so that every role has it's own thing to do. A campaign has a plot line so the storyteller has something to do, it has RP moments so the actor (that would be me) has talking to do and a chance to get into character. It has moments where you need to talk out of character, which is great for the watcher, it has bits where you level up and the optimizer can... well... optimize their character. The battles are great for the ones who live on smashing as many things as they can in as little time as they could, taking as few hit points against themselves as possible.
The fact is that in my original group, we had no one who liked to "role play". No one got into character. Even after Jake stopped coming and Kenny- Alex's friend- joined, we still didn't have a role player. No one cared about the plot line. No one wanted to talk to the squeaky voiced gnome mayor. (That disappointed me. He was personally one of my favorite NPCs ever.)
So, last night I DMed again. Because Elizabeth couldn't come, Cole and I decided that it would be a good thing to combine our groups. No one wants to play with two players only, and apparently his players weren't getting excited about the extensive and complicated plot line. (Cole- story teller all the way.)
So, I DMed for six people. Technically, this is the perfect amount of players, because all the roles can be covered. We had a wizard, two rangers, a rogue, a cleric, and a paladin. That would be, one controller, three strikers, and two leaders.
The thing is, though, is that for the people who were used to a tiny group, they decided that things were going to slow. (I don't blame them. I had about six inches by six inches to put all my books, my dice, my notebook, my pencil, my pen, my bag of glassglobs, and my adventure. It took me a while to do anything.)
Halfway through the game- right after an encounter- we decided to take a break.
Somewhere in this break three of our members were eaten by cave trolls and absorbed into the magical slime of the TV.
It ended up that only the serious D&Ders were left. By serious I mean, not getting up every five minutes to talk to someone out of game, not spacing out, not talking about video games in the middle of the game. Think- the ones who had their own dice. Yeah. They're that dedicated. [/sarcasm]
And you know what? Even with one ranger, a cleric, and a paladin (a different paladin than before- Cole's character got past -10 HP), they did awesome. They blasted through a level 4 encounter with three level two characters, and got probably about 600 XP in the process.
The weird thing is is that the more well balanced group of six had barely managed to get through a level two encounter.
So, I've come to this conclusion.
It is better to have a well role balanced small group of gamers that know how to use strategy and who don't pout when they miss, than it is to have a larger group of gamers who aren't all that interested in helping out the goliath that just dropped to 2 hit points kill three orcs.
Like my conclusion?
I do too. :)