What an evening! For over 4 hours I was part of a Castles & Crusades game made up of 24 players. Most people would scoff at such an idea – for how could you get anything done? How do you manage that many people? Well, Stephen Chenault, our GM and one of the main forces behind the C&C game succeeded. I haven’t laughed this hard with people in a long time – it was almost constant laughter and fun! A few things come to mind as to why this game was successful:
1. C&C is rules-light. There was no time-wasted squabbling over rules or counting squares of terrain for movement. Theatre of mind and good and thorough descriptions of the environment by the GM made this work.
Having broad and flexible attribute checks over specific skill checks and complicated feats also removes game progression obstacles and allows open-minded and free-flowing interpretations to take place in the moment.
Just doing one thing each round was also a key contributor to speed of combat. If you allow multiple actions/reactions each round per character, this just slows things down. I really think if you want a fast-paced game with many people you need to eliminate that stuff and keep things simple and to the point.
Keep in mind that we also rolled initiative each round, so the dynamics of combat was always up in the air and kept things fresh and exciting. Some might think that rolling initiative each round might slow down a game. It didn’t.
2. The game took place outdoors, this allowed people to really move about, trying this in a dungeon setting would not have been as easy.
3. Player management is key. While one person was rolling their die, Stephen was asking the next person what they were doing, then, once they announced what they were doing he went back to the other person and got the results of their roll(s). There was rarely a time when people weren’t doing something – the game was always moving and players were always involved.
There was also a surprising amount of interaction and role-playing. You would think 24 people would be shouting over each other, and yet there was very little of that.
Also, although some people were C&C veterans, there were plenty for whom this was their first C&C game experience and they knew nothing about the game, and yet they picked it up quickly during character creation (all 24 of us had our characters created within 15-20 minutes) and we built up an almost immediate camaraderie within the first 20 minutes of the adventure.
I have rarely gamed with a group that had this much free-flowing, comfortable, banter, and yet managed to get things done – and never with this many people. There were a lot of positive lessons to be taken away from this experience. This was a real fun game. I will be trying to get into this game again next year. Several players had been in this game from previous years and had stories to share with us, and tonight I was able to add to that story. What a great evening!