Managing combat with 7 players



Hello everyone,

I would like to summon the runehammerians to answer my question:

How do you manage combat with oversized groups (7 players in my case)?

I feel placing a lot of enemys slow too much the combat rythm.

I tried making double turns for monsters, in turn 4 and 8 between the players, but that is unfair for the players that hasn’t act yet.

Thank you in advance for the wisdom you provide.



For large groups I like to use a series of tricks.

  1. pre roll for what they fight. Doing this saves a lot of time, just roll a d20 like 100 times, document all the results and go one by one.

  2. Keep a flow by letting players decide all together. Perhaps consider ICRPG’s initiative rules for this.

  3. Consider d&d 5e’s mob combat and feel free to let out all your desire to swarm them as those rules really clean it up and make the encounters faster.
    (Edit: clarifying a point)


I’ve been debating something similar…I’m thinking the magic number is about 30~40 actions for combat…so for you, you should be targeting 3~4 rounds. With 7 players…2 choices, you take 3 actions a round, or you make combat 2 rounds…

You can use chunks to offer multiple targets…at full strength the unit does 3d6 Of damage on up to 3 targets…
Example: this 1 large creature…6 kobolds is split into 4 chunks (20hp), you roll once for an action and they where targeting 2 PCs. If the one roll is higher than both their armor classes, 2 D6 to one PC and 1 to the other…if miss one but hit the other…2d6 to that PC…one PC does 15 points of damage…that PC cleaves through 5 kobolds, leaving one poor kobold that can only attack one opponent for 1 D6.

That kind of hard hitting but reduced effectiveness as it takes damage mob encourages your PCs to spread the love, and use actions doing things other than hitting your poor kobolds!!!

So, against your guys I would go with, 2 or 3 of these 6 kobold units. You are really only acting 3 times, and hitting some of the PCs hard…so time is saved. You’re only tracking HP on 3 bad guys do time is saved…your PCs can carve through a legion of foes!!!

I would give AoEs double damage since they are actually a bunch of small mobs!!!


Now, having disciplined players helps a ton…once the player before them is done, they start describing their action and roll the dice…d20 and base damage of their attack…
If a player doesn’t know what to do…ask what their most used attack is…if still delaying…(character name here) has a momentary flashback of a character background moment, next player…

I get bored with combat as it is…waiting more than 15 minutes for my next turn, takes me out of the game!!!


Do all players at the table have to be in control of a PC? For a large group, consider recruiting a player or two as a GM Assistant or to run the Monsters in combat. This will reduce the number of PC’s on the map, increase the cunning of the Monsters, and give the GM an extra hand in coordinating so many people.

I agree with @Lettucecheese that you have to streamline initiative per the ICRPG rules of just going clockwise around the table. If everyone rolls to see when they can act, then that just adds to the confusion.

You can reduce the number of monsters at the table by upping their lethality. @Runehammer suggests in the RPG Mainframe podcast to give Monsters multiple actions in a turn and provide them powers that duplicate the PC’s feats or Loot items.

@Paxx makes a good point too, treat multiple enemies as a Chunk or Hoard. Just group multiple enemies of the same type, have them act as one and take damage as a team.


i don’t manage groups that big. My advice: limit my games 4-5 per table. break it up into 2 games… learn to say No… good luck


In addition to having players pre-roll their actions and damage, I would not roll for monster damage and use set damage instead. E.g., this monster does 5 damage.

Finally, if there’s a way to limit the group, I would do that. Seven is enough you could run two groups on different nights — a great problem to have, as 3 to 4 in a group is a sweet spot.


I often have a lot of PCs, and share your problem. To manage, I’ve been gravitating towards more “boss-fight” style encounters or encounters where the bulk of the NPCs are reduced to an environment effect. Like: these NPCs never roll to attack, but everyone within 2" suffer 5 damage at their turn.


I am amazed for your feedback, it is much appreciated.

@Lettucecheese Very interesting point in prerolling I will do that for sure.
I have the courtesy maybe unattended of being always the last one in the iniciative order, we follow the iniciative random in the order or player connection, Thank you for your answer!

@Paxx very detailed and useful information. I am thinking also in making more actions per turn, also very interesting idea of having monsters tthat target more than one character. Thank you.

@Ravaan increasing lethality is something I am thinking on also. Thanks for the insight

@Ezzerharden erharden Yeah, me too, I usually have groups from 3 to 5 players but some new players wanted to try rpg and I welcome them. Hard to say no when you want to satisfy someones curiosity. Thank you for the reasonable advise.

@Alex that idea of pregen damage is insteresting as well, might put it in practise.
Yeah, I though mabe when the storyline advances the group split up.
Superb job in altered state by the way! that is the setting we are playing on.

@Olav I like a lot environment effects, and put some player out of combat trying to figure our how to fix that problem, Boss fight is something I have to work on, when they focus fire on the boss they easily delete him. specially with altered state guns. Thanks for your answer .


Thank you very much for the props regarding Altered State. For bosses, they need to have a combination of things. High movement. Use of cover. Stealth or shield tech, or both. Have bosses use surge to heal or soak damage. Or, in general, have a damage reduction mechanic. And then they need to hit hard. I usually run bosses that are glass cannons, but I try to have all the minions wear the players down and then have the bosses hit hard. Also, saving throws are my favorite prized pony I like to trot out with bosses. Make a save or take damage! However, this last mechanic may be better saved for when the group is split. And have minions do dirty work, like knock players prone, try to drag them off, put them to sleep — anything that takes one or two out of the fight. Or have focused fire on minions because they’re setting up an E-Web or rocket launcher in 1D4 rounds. Really mess with the players’ tempo by pulling them off the boss.


Late seeing this, but I’ve probably run close to 20 sessions over the past 3 years that had 6 or more PCs at the physical table. Of those, once I had 10, and several 7 or 8 packs. The biggest challenge is keeping that many folks engaged, and luckily ICRPG is a ship ton faster, furiouser, and funner than some others in this regard.

I never pre-rolled once. I find it just sucks all the dopamine out of the room. So I tried a lot of stuff and here’s the “table-fun-optimized” solutions I come back to over and over.

  1. For some very large table combats, every PC melee combat roll is done simultaneous to a melee foe. This gives the feel of trading blows and real peril in the moment. AND it also cuts the number of baddies actions needed to handle on GM turn way down. In effect, I sneak in slow and fast actions, kinda. Because it’s a decent compromise vs. a GM turn that takes forever rolling out all those attacks while nine people check their phones and go to the bathroom.

  2. Sometimes for big tables, I set it up and narrate it so there’s just so damn many baddies every swing or shot has to hit something! (like thinking about The Library in early Halo still gives me goosebumps!) So just have those players roll effort. Sorry casters, you still gotta roll to cast and check spellburn, you glass cannons you.

  3. The flip side of that, On the baddies’ turn? if there’s THAT many of them, they’re sure to get at least one hit in, right? Well I stat enemies as a mob and let them roll a single effort dice too
    and then EITHER have the party divide up that (D8 or 1D12) lickin’ as they see fit… OR allow each PC to deduct their base, bio, and relevant Loot ARMOR before taking that (D4 or D6) damage.

  4. Last large table combat trick is bringing that ol’ Legolas & Gimli & Aragorn magic to the table by allowing characters to fight (And Roll!) together in packs. And if you’re really feeling the love, give the pack an extra camaraderie bonus or something. This one pairs well with #3 above, too.

Hope something here is helpful to you!


I run 6 players so I understand the struggle.

What Ive found works for me is to not make MORE enemies but instead make enemies more deadly.

3 Enemies vs 6 PCs

Each enemy gets 2 actions and only 1 movement so it matches action economy from the start.

If they attack the same target twice they can be very dangerous for a 1 Heart PC.

And of course making the enemies have synergy is always a plus.

1 Hulking enemy does ULTIMATE effort to a CLOSE target

2 Enemies have knockback effects where they try to push you toward the Hulking enemy. Or maybe they bind PCs in place so they can’t run away from the hulking enemy.

1 enemy vs 6 PCs
For Big boss battles vs a single enemy I let the boss have a turn after every player turn and this has worked well for me in past. Boss can even have a special move they do every 1d4 ROUNDS (not turns)