I understand one of the biggest hurdles of playing TB (as well as most RPGs) is giving enough spotlight time to each player once you get above 4 or 5, but do the mechanics of the game start breaking down once you have more than that as well? I have a larger group of 6 players + 1 GM, and I was just wondering if TB would work with a larger group. Part of me thinks it might work with how HPs are split up between players in conflicts, but I’d be curious to see if this has worked with anyone else first.
I have found 3-5 players +gm to be the optimal for TB. But that’s true for any TTRPG I’ve played.
TB does work relatively well with a big group. A little more work for the GM to try and keep the spotlight balanced. Also, you will either have to be more strict on who can help with what skill, or up the obstacles a little.
The nice thing with Torchbearer is if you make sure each character has a nice balance of skills, the help rules make it easy to stay involved with each roll. If you want to keep the engagement, you could even have players roll their help dice instead of tossing them into the one pool.
In my experience, one of the nice things about TB is the fact that hogging the spotlight is a much harder thing to do. Even if one player spends the entire night doing everything, every one of their actions is almost guaranteed to be the group doing things together as a group.
The spotlight hog climbs the wall? Everybody else is explaining how they’re helping and lending them dice. Spotlight hog tries smooth talking the guards to get everyone inside the inner city? The halfling shows them forged papers, the theurge offers a friendly blessing, the elf with the bounty on her head hides in the wagon.
My game normally runs with 3 players, but we’ve had it up to 6 on a couple of occasions. The biggest issue I recall is that they seemed to get a lot less done, just because they discussed each option in greater detail.
Also, don’t get trapped in the mindset that Conflicts will be the backbone of play, or even the standard substitute for every fight. They’re climactic scenes, not every obstacle. I’m definitely not in the “never use Conflicts” camp, but they tend to show up about once every two or three sessions for me.
The game is hard to teach with many players at the table, but it does hold up fairly well with 6+ players if they already know the rules well.
All the group participation in every roll can really make it a fun game for large parties. Once in a while, anyway. I don’t know if I would want to run a weekly with 6, but a one- or two-shot with players who know the game? Absolutely.
In my assessment, there’s too many helping dice available for critical tests (especially in conflicts) and the chaos of six characters all trying to express their individual identities causes the grind to spin out of control.