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We are a party of 5 (not including our DM) and we have been playing a campaign for about 2 months. The DM has mentioned the idea of adding some new players (potentially 3). He mentioned that he knew some mutual friends that wanted to start so he just brought it up in group text without asking.

I have a problem with it since I like the number of our current party. Should I offer putting it to a group vote or is it the DM’s right to add new players?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer, but I would warn the DM that running D&D 5e with more than 5 or 6 is extremely taxing on the DM and slow paced, especially with regard to combat encounters. I personally would rather run two different campaigns on different nights than one giant group campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – Renegade Jun 20 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't bringing it up in the group chat asking? Or did he tell you all in group chat that the new peeps were joining? \$\endgroup\$ – aslum Jun 21 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say that the DM "mentioned" the idea of adding 1-3 new players to the group. Did the DM ask for any feedback at the time? Did you provide any? Is there a deadline for you or your group to have this conversation? \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Jun 21 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zibbobz the DM did not ask for feedback at the time I just wanted to know before I suggest the group voting about adding new players. No particular deadline. \$\endgroup\$ – Undead-bedhead Jun 21 at 20:57
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Adding new players should be a group decision

When you form a gaming group and begin playing a game, the DM often gets some sort of authority given to them by the game. However, the DM does not (and should not) run the gaming group — the group does. They have just as much (but no more) say in group-affecting decisions as every other member of the group.

Just because someone is the DM doesn't automatically give them the right to add players without consulting the group just as it doesn't give them the right to arbitrarily change the location and time of game night, the type and presence of food at the table, or any other out of the game details.

Now you could give the DM this authority, but that would have to be something the group cedes to the DM, not something automatically given to them without discussion. If you haven't had that discussion explicitly, then they can't and shouldn't be making this (or any) decision for the group.

You should talk to the DM about this as soon as you can, not just for the sake of your current group size, but because a DM that thinks they can add players at will without asking may have a completely different view of their role at the table than you and the rest of the group.

Experience

I've been in the position of DM and player both as a person suggesting someone new to the table and as someone who was concerned about another proposal to add a player. So, I speak with experience when I say that discussing this as a group is the way to go (and that not talking with the group is asking for trouble).

We've had some times where discussion with the group brought up and nipped some serious issues in the bud. For example, one time the DM wanted to invite a player that not only was (unbeknownst to them) extremely insulting to several other members of the table, but would also have introduced logistical issues that would have negatively affected everyone. In the end, we talked it out as a group and decided not to add the person. I firmly believe that had the DM added this person without consulting us not only would it have been a huge breach of our trust, but it would have killed our group.

We've also had much more positive experiences where everyone talked over and decided to let another person in.

Large groups are not easy

Completely aside from the issue of who gets to decide who plays at the table, the number of players can drastically affect how the game goes. Larger groups amplify many of the problems that small groups already experience and can bring some completely new ones to the table as well. If the players and DM aren't experienced this can (but doesn't necessarily have to) be a recipe for unfun to happen.

I've played with more and I've played with less. There's no perfect number for every table, but you have a right and foundation on which you can base your concerns about adding people and you should definitely bring them up to your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik: Yes, the DM invests more time than most players. No, the DM does not have the right to unilaterally take decision on behalf of the group. Group decisions are based on reaching a consensus within the group, the DM is uniquely suited to sway other players, and may use ultimatums: "This guy's never stepping in my house again", "I am not DM'ing as long as this guy's coming", however at the end of the day the group is perfectly within its rights to choose the player over the DM (and find another house, or another DM). \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jun 21 at 6:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik It's not a D&D group while you're not playing, it's just a group. A DM is a role held by a player, while in a game. It does not have a meaning outside of the game, and who is or isn't playing is a metagame issue, not a game issue. The person with the role of DM within the game often has a privileged role outside of the game as well, but the two aren't inherently linked. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 21 at 11:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik You at correct that removing a player is a completely different thing with a different dynamic. I've removed that part. I'd also agree that my answer could be improved by talking about the asymmetry in the DM player relationship that can pop up. I'm considering how best to address this. I completely disagree that adding a player is a DM's decision alone though. I consider that an abuse of power on the DM's part and while it does happen, it should not. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 21 at 11:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I struggled with that part as well for my own answer. The problem here is that the OP is essentially pitting himself against "those 3 new people" if he turns it into a group vote. It might be DM abuse, but if the DM feels strongly enough about including those three new players, insisting on a group vote majority might just push the DM to decide that op is more trouble than he's worth and replace him with one of the 3 new players. 3 players is already mostly a D&D group, so he is entirely replaceable if he pushes the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jun 21 at 11:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik yeah I actually think a vote is going to be a poor option in most cases mainly because it's seemingly not part of their social contact right now and the DM didn't have anything that would hard force them to accept a decision. I'll think on it and add to my answer to try to cover this better. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 21 at 11:46
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In general, a game consists of one DM deciding to run a game, and one or more players showing up to play. In general (at least in my area), DMs are a lot harder to find than players are, and being the DM takes (a lot) more work. If a player shows up or a player leaves, the game can continue. If the DM leaves, the game almost always collapses unless someone else steps up.

That doesn't mean that your opinion doesn't or shouldn't matter. You can and should make your concerns known. Among other things, parties of more than 5 players start to have serious bloat issues (sometimes even before that) that your DM might not be taking into account. Also, if your group has agreed on rules about who can join and when, or how major decisions are made (it sounds like they haven't), then those might apply. Finally, and most importantly, a good DM will at least listen to their players and pay attention to their concerns. Games work much better if everyone is getting along, and the DM is the one with the greatest influence on party harmony - and thus has a larger slice of the responsibility in that area.

At the same time, if your gaming space is like the gaming spaces I play in, the DM really is the one with the soft power. The worst you can do if you are unsatisfied is leave, and the very nature of the question suggests that he has at least three other players who'd love to take your place. Trying to put it to a vote is effectively running a power play with power you don't have. Suppose you do "put it to a vote", and then the DM says "I'm going to do it anyway." What are you going to do? What do you have to back this up?

Basically, your best bet (and one that might still fail) is to talk with him and try to convince him. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to bring in the the other members of the party. If the other players agree with you, that will likely make for a more compelling argument. At the same time, trying to wield power you don't actually have is at least as likely to backfire as anything else. I wouldn't suggest it.

Also, as others have noted, there are apparently gaming spaces where the DMs are plentiful and players relatively hard to come by. This seems odd to me, and I suspect it is relatively rare, but if you are in one of those spaces, the dynamic changes accordingly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, as the one running the game the DM is “more equal than the rest.” \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 20 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the correct answer. At the end of the day, if the DM wants somebody in their party or wants somebody gone, it's going to happen unless you can convince them not to somehow. Pretending like there's some magical power preventing a DM from making these decisions because "the game is played as a group" is naive as to the kind of power a DM holds over the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jun 21 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik The magical power is called group dynamics, or, in the particular case of games, "fun". With three new players added to a party of five, the DM is risking killing the fun for the old players, the new players and himself, and finally he either will quit or the players will start to leave until the problem solves or the campaign dies. The DM has the power to do everything he wants to the game... as long everyone is having fun. When gaming stops being fun, it stops being played. And as such, a prudent DM won't take decisions like those, unless he's not aware of that. So you tell them. \$\endgroup\$ – Rekesoft Jun 21 at 9:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekesoft Yeah, but at the end of the day, there's a very limited supply of DMs and a huge amount of people who want to play. If the group turns this into a make or break issue, the DM will very easily replace those players. This is the only answer that actually seems to properly acknowledge that, the rest naively seems to imply that this is some sort of group vote where players have as much say as the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jun 21 at 10:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Is that so? My mileage does vary. Whenever I've played, it has been either with my friends IRL or with the members of a roleplaying club (who ended being friends and acquitances), and whenever some of them have wanted to play they haven't had much trouble in finding a DM. People wanting to DM for a campaign have often had problems finding players because they were already involved in other games and leisure time is not the inexhaustible resource it was while we were young students. \$\endgroup\$ – Rekesoft Jun 21 at 11:25
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Up to the group

This isn't something where DM fiat applies, because it concerns the makeup of your group, not the game world or the rules. Some groups have the DM run all the organisational stuff on their own, including finding players and things like that, but having the situation be like that is still a social agreement between the group not something inherent to the position of DM.

You should talk to the rest of the group about you being uncomfortable with more players being added.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd add that if someone other than the DM wants to add people to the group, and the DM is not happy, they should not be forced to take them. But that isn't your current situation. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dallman Jun 20 at 19:04
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Adding players is a group decision facilitated by the DM

Adding new players to an existing group is a difficult proposition. It requires openness, honesty and a willingness to work through issues from all people involved. I will go through how and why I added a player to my group and what I learned from that.

Rubikmoose has an excellent answer on why the DM should not have the authority do make these decisions unilaterally. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that this is a group game and adding a player effects the entire group, therefore the entire group should have a say in the decision.

Adding a player changes the group dynamics

No matter how well you know the new player, or how much of a fit you think they will be, adding them will change something in the group dynamics. It is important to try to work out if everyone is ok with this.

In my group there was an issue with the group dynamic. One player was more experienced and older than the others, and is somewhat of a IRL role model to the other players. It was harming the groups enjoy of the game so as DM I realised that adding another experienced player that would share the limelight would improve the group dynamics.

How I added the player

  1. After one session I had a discussion with the current group. I outlined my reasons for wanting to add the player and why I thought the person would be a good fit. I then asked them to take some time to think about it rather than decide on the spot.
  2. During the next week I spoke to each player individually to ensure they were personally ok with it. Not everyone feels comfortable voicing disagreement in a group setting so giving them an opportunity to provide this feedback one-on-one is important.
  3. I put the decision to a vote following the next session. Even though I already knew each players opinion I feel it was important to make it clear this was a group decision.
  4. I worked with the new player to create a character that wouldn't step on the toes of the current party. This won't be required for all groups but I have some quieter players and I didn't want them to be overshadowed.
  5. I found a logical point to add the new character and invited them to the game.

Adding the player this way meant we had very few issues when they started playing. They quickly helped to correct the group dynamic issues we had had previous and the game has been going well ever since.

Your situation

You should absolutely approached the DM with your concerns. Request that they allow the group to discuss the topic before they tell the other players they can join. When doing to you will need to be honest about how you feel this will impact you. If it is something you are willing to leave the game over you should say so.

I would be particularly worried about the dynamics change of adding 3 players at once. It's something I would never do with my own group. 8 players is quite a lot for a D&D game and while some DMs can do it, I would want to here how they are planning to handle it. You can suggest to them that they could run a separate group in the same world for the other players. This would allow occasional cross-overs if desired while still preserving the original group.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great stuff here. \$\endgroup\$ – Undead-bedhead Jun 24 at 6:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Undead-bedhead Glad I could be helpful. If you have any question feel free to hit me up in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 24 at 6:09
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Be careful with this

Ideally, these kinds of decisions are a group-based decision, but a D&D group is generally not an ideal world. A DM spents disproportionately more time preparing a game session and as a result, there are far more players looking for a game than there are actual dungeon masters.

Putting this up to a group vote is going to be essentially useless. Even if all players vote "keep this size", if the DM insists on adding the players anyway, that group vote is entirely meaningless. Three new players is already a D&D group by itself, if the current players turn this into a make or break issue with an ultimatum, you're essentially hoping that the DM would rather play with you guys than with the other mutual friends. If your bet ends poorly, you're down a DM and he's still playing with those three new guys. (+ whomever of the current group doesn't find this a make-or-break issue.)

Ideally, you'll want to talk to the DM and try to convince him, because 8 players is far too much for most DMs to handle, and as a player it'd also be less-than-ideal (anything over 4 is already pushing it if you ask me personally), but if your DM insists, there's very little you'll be able to do with a group vote. That's just the way the power dynamics in a D&D group work, where one person is more essential for keeping the game going than another.

A personal anecdote

At some point I decided that I no longer wanted to DM for a specific person. Long story short, having them involved in the game was ruining my personal fun, and considering I spent upwards of 4 hours each week preparing the game, I'd really like to have fun in that game. I informed my group that I wanted to remove the player in question, and one of the players (a close friend of the other player) wanted to have a group vote on the subject, claiming that we needed a group majority to agree to such a decision. I told him he was welcome to find a new group if he disagreed with my decision, but it was not up to debate. Ultimately he decided he wasn't going to turn it into a make-or-break issue, but as a player, he simply didn't have the same sway on the group as the DM. You risk the same thing if you try to push a group vote.

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It's best to work it out as a group, with the DM having the same say as the players. If it can't be worked out as a group, there's a hierarchy of "who matters" in the answer.

Host > DM > Players

In the end the Host has the final say because, well, its the host's place. The DM has second priority because they are running the game. Adding players can mess up a lot for a DM, especially if they already feel the group is too large to handle. Players have the lowest priority because they just show up to play without putting in much out of session work.

Some of the comments have suggested the DM have more power than the host to add players. Whereas I do see the point that DMing an extra player is hard, it's really not the DM's place to tell the host "You can't do what you want to in your own house." The DM could always say something like, "I can't DM for any more people, would you be able to DM?" There's also the option of finding another place to host it. This solution is far from optimal.

And again, it's best if the group as a whole can make the decision to add someone in.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Though there’s a little asymmetry right... I agree with your hierarchy in terms of kicking someone, but does it work in terms of adding someone? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jun 20 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Certainly - if the host doesn't want an extra person in their house their say is final. As an example, I have 2 kids who are asleep during D&D. The house needs to stay quiet, so a small group is necessary. As a DM I've been at 7 people before and they wanted to add two more people. The group of 7 was barely manageable, so I told them we couldn't do it. And as a player, well, you should just be thankful to have a group. But really, coming to a group consensus is much better, but if needed, follow that hierarchy. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Tydryszewski Jun 20 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you should add a caveat that a Host can't add a player without the DM's approval. Adding players creates a lot of work for the DM and if they aren't comfortable with it they shouldn't be added. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 21 at 2:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Changing DM because the host added a player isn't adding a player to the game. It's starting a new game. Do you have experience as a DM where you have added players? I think your answer is underestimating the work that this puts on a DM. I agree that the host should have a significant voice, but the DM should be allowed to say no. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 21 at 3:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately... I don't think this "hierarchy" really exists as you put it, because a decision by any of the entities can be "vetoed" by the others. If the host decides something the others don't like, the game can be hosted elsewhere; if the DM decides something and refuses to budge if the players don't like it, the players can find a new DM or a player can decide to DM themselves; if a player does something unacceptable and the DM/other players don't like it, they can leave or eject the unwanted player. Even if some of these solutions are "suboptimal", that's already the worst-case scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 21 at 3:51
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There's an issue here that hasn't been addressed - most of the answers here go over whether or not the DM should be allowed to introduce new players, and how many are optimal in a group.

But we don't even know if the players he's inviting will be a good fit for your group.

I had an experience like this myself - trying to introduce two separate groups together into a DM group, before vetting the group against one another. It came to a head with one pair deciding that a group member was 'toxic', for rather benign roleplay choices they disagreed with.

Introducing a new player to a group should definitely be a group discussion - for this very reason. Your DM may be confident in the players' inclusion into the group, but you and the rest of the group have no familiarity with these new players, and you should at the very least be introduced to them before any decision to add them to the group is made.

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This is a group game to have fun as a group, so the group should discuss it.

"he just brought it up in group text without asking" sounds to me like DM was asking the group, so I am not sure what OP's concern is.

Note that a vote is unlikely to be the best way to "discuss" it. It is about group creating a consensus.

However, when creating consensus, in reality the GM is "more equal than others". Anyone who does not like a decision can leave the group - but if the DM leaves usually game ends for everyone. This gives the GM an implied veto - but a GM abusing this will loose players (and if you cannot manage consensus and conflict in a group without a veto-stick, you may not be DM material anyway)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. You should support your answer by citing your own relevant experience. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 21 at 21:41
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D&D is a social event, participants should be dictated by the host as in western etiquette which predates and encompasses D&D as a social event within western culture.

The host maybe a player or the DM, the host is the person inviting people into their home. Or the person primarily responsible for bringing the group together at another location - potentially providing or organizing food (snacks or a meal) or other materials to improve the shared experience, in D&D this could be the battle-maps, models etc.

Attendees may suggest to the host who should be invited, but ultimately its the host who decides who may enter their home for etiquette and practical reasons.

To be clear its also the host who can decide (even prematurely) it’s time for everyone to leave. Should there still be disagreement, the host may call the police and have the trespassing adjudicated in court.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you think the host's word should override other's ? What about the GM's word ? After all they're the one who'll be running the game so they'll be more impacted by the change than other players... \$\endgroup\$ – Pierre Cathé Jun 21 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the same way as a host invites people over to a party, an attendee may choose to bartend - but that doesn’t mean the bartender gatekeeps and decides who attends the party. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jun 21 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you suggesting no Eastern cultures play D&D and that their etiquette doesn't matter? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 21 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ D&D was an emergent development of wargaming which links its direct lineage to western military strategy and history from colonial britain to the american revolution to today. So although people everywhere from any culture can play D&D, they are engaging in a western cultural practice. Since the concept of host / attendee is a common domestic practice in cultures with property ownership, I imagine these etiquette rules broadly cover many other cultures as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Jun 21 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The bartending example is apt, but not in the way you intended: A guest who takes on the bartender role may well choose to refuse to serve alcohol to other guests (and, in cases such as someone who has obviously already had too much, they should refuse). In the same way, even if the host invites someone into the house, the DM can refuse them service (i.e., not allow them into the game) and, in some cases, the DM should refuse to do so (e.g., if the player is known to cause problems or to get along poorly with other players. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Sherohman Jun 23 at 10:29

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