This morning, I checked the meetup page and discovered to my delight...and horror...that I have NINE players. For many of them, it will be their first time playing CoC. For all of them, it will be their first time playing the new edition.
Two thoughts immediately popped into my head:
1. Call of Cthulhu is even more popular than I realized.
2. The adventure in the book, "Amidst the Ancient Trees," is designed for three to five investigators. I'm going to need to either make heavy changes to the adventure, or come up with something else entirely.
As I said before, I am excited and horrified. Five of the nine are new people...fresh blood! But how the HELL am I going to handle a nine-player game? There are only two other times I've gamed with this many people. The first time, ironically, was the very first adventure I ran when I returned to role-playing. That was a Dungeon World game that I hosted at a local public library. The second time was last year; a 12-player D&D 4th edition game. The session was only supposed to be character creation, so I didn't sweat the cap, but then everybody started looking at me with hungry eyes. I wanted to give everyone a little taste of the game, so I whipped out my Dungeon Tiles, created a dungeon on the fly, split the group in half, and had them battle each other in a skirmish. It was EPIC. But, unfortunately, that's not going to fly in a game of Call of Cthulhu. So what are my options?
The key to success in games this large is to work with what you have. Never use an NPC if you can avoid it; instead, pull a player aside, give him/her the information, and then have him/her roleplay out the scene with the others where that information comes out. Pre-structured plots tend to fall apart fairly quickly in groups of this size, as well; instead, try and work with what the players come up with. Use their backstories, their occupations, to create a story, then start weaving it into the other players' ideas.
Finally, knowing myself, I know that my favorite adventures are the ones where a large problem needs to be solved. I'll need to create something accomodating a group this large; a problem that the investigators have to break into smaller groups to work through.
Now, I'm going to start brainstorming ideas, gimmicks, and mechanics that might work for this group. The only other criteria is I don't want to go too far outside the lines, here; people signed up to play Call of Cthulhu, not some weird Ed Gibbs house-blend. Let's see what we come up with:
-Some situation where a vote needs to be made, and there's a clear divide between at least two investigators on what needs to be done.
-A situation/scenario where players can narrate to me what happens.
-The situation/scenario should be very lethal; this is a one-shot, afterall, and there are plenty of viable targets to take out...
-Despite the inevitable chaos of the situation, I'm going to want to at least attempt to stick to the classic CoC playbook: gather evidence, conduct research, solve the mystery.
Hmm...by Jove, I think I've got something. I'll have to keep quiet here, as at least a few of the players read this blog, but tune in Monday to see if this works out!