For the 2nd session of my dungeon crawl campaign at my FLGS, I had 8 players show up, two had come to the first session and 6 new people.
That is probably the largest group I've ever sent into a dungeon (by 1 person), and it was a learning experience.
Lessons Learned (from both sessions):
- Using the start time for character generation is a fail.
- People who want to roll up characters, new players or existing, should either do it at home, or come early.
- Otherwise, pre-gens. I don't want to penalize anyone, but the start time should be for actual adventure.
- Photocopies of the equipment list is a must.
- Actually, I should photocopy the entire char generation process summary (it's less than a full page of instructions in b/x. I forget the page number) and prepare it as a hand out for new players and for those without the rule book.
- As I did for the one shot games, bring a hard copy of the Wampus Country Fantasy Name Generator. Most people have an idea of what class they want to play. Few have any idea about names.
- If the PCs don't want to talk to the monsters, the monsters can talk to the PCs. Perhaps this will slow the killing machine?
- Bring a water bottle.
- Bring a snack.
- Don't forget smells and sounds in addition to sights.
The biggest issue is that eight PCs skews the numbers I've generated, both in terms of creatures encountered and treasure XP generated per character.
On the one hand, it makes sense, the lower XP per character makes up for the reduced risk of the large party. On the other hand, it penalizes players for wanting to play when everyone else can, by delaying advancement beyond Moldvay's recommended 3 to 4 sessions until 2nd level, by several sessions (at 1 session a month planned on average, PCs might not advance until sometime in the summer at this rate).
There's also the complication that I don't know how many players will actually be there each session, never mind which players.
I'm hesitant to adjust treasure and number of creatures encountered on the fly, at least as it pertains to rooms - wandering encounters are generated on the fly, let the dice fall as they may. Mostly because, if they had fewer PCs, say only 3, I'd leave the encounter as is, and make them find a way around it that didn't involve charging headstrong into combat.
Adjusting for a larger party that week almost sounds like a variant of "my precious encounter" to me or Challenge Rating/ Encounter Difficulty levels.
Maybe I am better served using my own XP method - the one I have used solo and with small groups? It would be a lot to track for a large party, but some of it could be dished off to the players. The core mechanism rewards exploration and discovery, followed closely by class abilities.
I need to think on it more before the next session, scheduled for mid-April, and then present it to my players if that's the case.