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Default Optimal Size of a RPG party

July 19th, 2010, 22:04
Yes.
I agree.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 19th, 2010, 22:15
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Haha, I am the same myself….. I keep saying to myself I will choose something new… but when I get the chance.. I choose the same again. Of course that might be the problem with the choices you get being too easy especially in BG it is ussually easy to tell which path is "evil" for example.
That's true, but I even find myself playing the same type of character (Paladin, occasionally mage) and asking the same NPC's to join me! Arie isn't the best character in the game by far, but I end up adding her to my party and romancing her everytime!

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July 20th, 2010, 01:47
Everyone loves Aerie.

The absolutely ancient Wizard's Crown, IIRC had 8 or 10 to a party, all player-created (can't remember, this has been many years since I've played that). But, the tradition generally runs 4 or 6 characters, sometimes with slots for NPCs to join later.

In a game like you've been describing yours to be, a few dedicated slots for such NPCs may be a must. Also, consider if your mages/casters have access to permanent summoning spells (like in Bard's Tale).

Interesting question, one I haven't considered much since I knew I'd go with tradition on this one. Still, you can't go wrong with offering 10 slots total; a few to account for NPCs that are required to join at various times (probably 2 will be fine, but whatever may be needed) and the rest player-made. Of course, if the entire party is NPCs, like in BG, save the main character, then 6 or 8 may be fine there. Though, if you have a lot of options for character classes, then offering room to employ more of them at once may be good.

It's kind of a hard question, as we don't know exactly how in depth the battles might become. Only you, and a few others, can really answer that. A huge party may be necessary if you have battles in the scope of Age of Wonders, which would have upwards of 56 units in a single battle. If it's more like many of the fights in say, Treasures of the Savage Frontier or Ultima 6, then smaller parties should work fine.

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July 20th, 2010, 12:57
I just imagine 8 party members standing around a HUGE boss to fight … Like insects standing around a human …
Only, that in my imagination that boss isn't fast enough to be everywhere …

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July 20th, 2010, 15:19
To me it's simple… 8 is too much
Several reasons:
- Long battles: 8 characters means enough monsters to have 8 characters challenged, or big opponents go against 8, but then it's like, too many hands in the cake.
- Micromanagement hell: I like controlling each character, but with 8, might be easily cumbersome to handle equipment, skills, spells, etc.
- Replayability: One of the main factors for replayability (for me) is try different party compositions. 8 seems to me that I'll probably have pretty much 1 of everything, leaving few things out to try (that are not really a variation of something I already saw).
- Characters: Just like students in a classroom of 40 get each less attention than those in a classroom of 30, my attention to each character will 'dilute'.

So, to me, 6 is the magic number. Enough to make tactical battles interesting, not too many as to have my brain treat each character as just a class instead of a character.
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July 20th, 2010, 15:51
So many interesting opinions, I love the feedback so far!

Well, wolfing you can have fewer characters if you want….. acctually I felt in FF-tactics that I always had too few characters… it is one of the reason I am considering 8.

Another reason is like someone mentioned there'll be some NPC characters and some player created characters…. if there is 6…. let us say there are two or three NPC characters…. that only allows 3 of your own characters which is a bit too few IMHO.

I kind of agree about the micromanagement but that also depends on how much micromanagement there is? wouldn't you say?

Let us say each character have 8 equipment slots and you don't get newer better equipment that often….. I don't think that creates so much overhead…… + healings etc could be automagic, I will acctually offer a choice… automagic or player controlled for several things that way people who like micromanagement can go wild.

Same for skills, when the party rest the best skills of a character will be automagicly used unless the character selects another one….. or do nothing….
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July 20th, 2010, 17:29
If you set micromanegement settings / values for once, these ould be carried out throughout the game automatically, until the player decides to change them.

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July 21st, 2010, 14:48
6 PCs really is a magic number I think. Think of all the classics: Wizardry 8, JA2, Gold Box, etc, etc.

I'd say I prefer party based games with 4-6 PCs. 3 is too few, 8 could work depending on the game play, variety of classes & skills and very importantly, the interface. Really the more the merrier if the game stays interesting and easy to manage. Though too many characters and they tend to blur together and lose their uniqueness. Like wolfing said, it dilutes my attention to each character.

I find I hate NPCs, even if they're 100% the character I would have created anyway, I don't like taking them along. Something about the feeling they're stealing my XP and might just leave at any time so I'm always hesitant to give them any decent equipment. Games like KotOR or Drakensang where it's you + NPCs, I never feel the same attachment to the characters.
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August 16th, 2010, 01:14
First of all, I'd like to point out a that temple of elemental evil had a possible party of up to 8 characters.

Second, I think that hardcoded number of party members should be unlimited, I don't see any logic why would someone not join your party if you already have x members. Perhaps there could be penalties for too large parties. Also depending on choices you make, some npc probably won't wish to join you.

Also as for party members, just thinking of classic mediaval roles in battles makes several possible roles for npc-s.

A infantry could probably be considered as a tank and there's nothing wrong with having two defensive tanks in a party. Light cavalry was primary used for flanking and chasing stragglers, something like a thief in most western rpg-s. Heavy cavalry were shock troopers and d&d barbarian class fits that type nicely. There were ofcourse skirmishers and ranged troops who's tasks were to soften up enemy. I often felt western rpg-s never made archers that effective, particularly at high levels. It would be nice to play a longbow sniper. Anyway those would be primary combat oriented characters/roles without even going into the spelcasters domain.
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September 7th, 2012, 19:32
Go with 8. Hell I would not mind 10 or more (Jagged Alliance 2 allowed for 18! Split into 3 or more squads of 6 each but still…) but 8 is best. One of the things that makes Natuk and Helherron so fun is being able to create a full party and not have to make every party member a 'jack of all trades' the way most 4 person party games do. I do not like it when my mage must also be my thief and a decent fighter because there are not enough members to go around with specialized roles.

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September 7th, 2012, 19:53
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
To me it's simple… 8 is too much
Several reasons:
- Long battles: 8 characters means enough monsters to have 8 characters challenged, or big opponents go against 8, but then it's like, too many hands in the cake.
Not necessarily true but some of us LIKE long battles full of tactics and such.


- Micromanagement hell: I like controlling each character, but with 8, might be easily cumbersome to handle equipment, skills, spells, etc.
I cannot for the life of me understand this contention. I have never, in all the 8+ party member RPGs I have played run into such a problem. Wizardry 8, Helherron, Natuk/P.O.W.S./ Nahlakh, Wizard's Crown, etc. Never had a problem with handling equipment, spells etc. In fact I would argue that an 8 person party makes it EASIER to manage since there are more people to carry stuff and more options for item use. In a 4 or even 6 person part you run into the "Wow…this hand axe is awesome! Would really help in that fight against the Snozzwoggler. Too bad I don't have anyone who can use axes…" scenario, which leads to having to lug around valuable gear until you find a shop that will buy the items you cannot use.


- Replayability: One of the main factors for replayability (for me) is try different party compositions. 8 seems to me that I'll probably have pretty much 1 of everything, leaving few things out to try (that are not really a variation of something I already saw).
While I can understand your reasoning here in my experience this is never really the case. True in Natuk or Helherron for example I usually play 'one of each' character type but I have replayed those games literally dozens of times and it never gets boring because there is more to replayability than party composition. And besides, the way to 'fix' this would be to design the game so that no one party can cover all the possibilities. In Natuk there are only 3 races and 5 classes so there are only 8 possible builds (half-trolls can only be warriors, ogres can only be shamans and warriors) but if Tom had added one or two more races and/or classes (not that this was needed) then the 'problem' would have been solved.


- Characters: Just like students in a classroom of 40 get each less attention than those in a classroom of 30, my attention to each character will 'dilute'.
I cannot understand this contention at all. Maybe it's because I do not get too emotionally invested in computer game characters but really…how much attention do you have to give to these characters?! spending level-up/exp. points/raising skills and sometimes selecting new spells? The classroom analogy is a false analogy because the point of a CRPG is not to teach a class room full of easily distracted, attention deficit children and managing a CRPG party is nothing at all like teaching a class full of children.

So, to me, 6 is the magic number. Enough to make tactical battles interesting, not too many as to have my brain treat each character as just a class instead of a character.
To each his own.

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September 7th, 2012, 20:02
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
6 PCs really is a magic number I think. Think of all the classics: Wizardry 8, JA2, Gold Box, etc, etc.
Wizardry 8 had 8 party members (two RPCs and 6 PCs…all of them controlled by the player). JA2 had 18 party members, split into 'squads' of no more than 6 (one of the weaknesses of the game IMO. Would have been a lot better to not limit squad size at all).

I find I hate NPCs, even if they're 100% the character I would have created anyway, I don't like taking them along. Something about the feeling they're stealing my XP and might just leave at any time so I'm always hesitant to give them any decent equipment. Games like KotOR or Drakensang where it's you + NPCs, I never feel the same attachment to the characters.
A problem in vanilla Wizardry 8 (and Baldur's Gate) I will grant you but this is easily fixable using Mad God's Cosmic Forge editor and removing the RPC's refusal to go to certain areas. In most CRPGs the RPCs are fully PCs and will not do anything you do not want them to do.

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December 27th, 2012, 16:12
Originally Posted by SkeleTony View Post
Wizardry 8 had 8 party members (two RPCs and 6 PCs…all of them controlled by the player). JA2 had 18 party members, split into 'squads' of no more than 6 (one of the weaknesses of the game IMO. Would have been a lot better to not limit squad size at all).
Well, the problem is if you have 18 as the max limit, you can have fights that lasts forever. Imagine spending several hours in each fight? that's why I am against having too many party members which you can use at the same time.
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December 27th, 2012, 16:54
In my All-Time-Favourite Game "Fate - Gates of Dawn" you could recruit up to 28 Characters, but you had to split them in parties up to 7. Each Character needed food and water and skills had to be bought on level-up, so each member was a noticable burden for the income - at least until I found a mana-fountain and had a Alchemist who had the Gold-Rain-Spell

A Explorer-Party, that would run around in the wilderness during the day and a Dungeoncrawler-Group, that worked at night was a good solution; especially since time moved on and your Group - and your fixed main-hero - aged (well, there was a fountain of youth somewhere). I never finished it though - I blame the strange copy-protection, that never told you if you insert something wrong, but simply removed plot-relevant things - and the game had really epic proportions…

It was only released on Amiga and Atari ST

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And the english version was censored; my german Discs got corrupted after a few years and I only could get an english version; I also couldn't get a workable german version for WinUAE
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December 27th, 2012, 17:23
At the Moment I think 8 is a good solution - particulary if Tank-Characters are easy to manage. This is something that irks me with Projekt Eternity from Obsidian; they want to balance the classes; while I can understand that balanced classes are important in PnP I don't see the need to balance classes in a single-player CRPG - on the contrary, i.e. to protect a healer and to know when to use a healing-spell is often a important decision in a computer-game, while it is certainly boring in PnP if you can only decide to try to hit a enemy or not or to heal someone or not.
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December 27th, 2012, 18:27
Bucking the trend I like 4. Rather enjoyed how it was done in DAO. Managing more than that gets to be a bit much. I grew up with the traditional 6 party and that is fine as well, but my own personal preference is 4.

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December 27th, 2012, 18:44
6 , closing in on micromanagement hassle.
In those games I seldom use more than 5.

So for tactical and more turnbased rpg as in the IE games I prefer 4-5.

In more "movie like" games with more action and immersion Im fine with 3.
I rather have fewer but more fleshed out companions.

On that note, the followers in Skyrim takes the price, You can have one and they are completely without personality or story. Fodder!

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December 27th, 2012, 18:58
Yep wolf, 4 is ideal.
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December 27th, 2012, 20:24
4 ? only in popamole bioware games where you have to romance everyone.

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December 28th, 2012, 05:08
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Well, the problem is if you have 18 as the max limit, you can have fights that lasts forever. Imagine spending several hours in each fight? that's why I am against having too many party members which you can use at the same time.
Depends on a lot of things as far as the length of battles go but to me that is relatively irrelevant. For starters it was rare that you would have all 3 squads (18 PCs) in the same battle and secondly good turn-based combat is never too long (unless the length is caused by animation speeds or some such crap rather than detailed combat mechanics.).

But back to my point: 8 is the best in traditional single party RPGs (as opposed to having multiple parties of 6-8). It allows for a wide variety of play styles (even playing with 1-4 PCs if that is your thing), strategies and tactics.

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