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I have been running a campaign for a group of 8 people.

Two people in the campaign are mid age, very experienced, and know what they are doing.

6 people in the campaign are young and inexperienced, and don't now what to do. They just follow the other two, which is fine for a short period of time.

How do you get the other two to take a back seat and get the other six to play and take part more?

I tried asking the six players what do they want to do, but they just follow the other two. I tried separating the six from the other two, and get them to do puzzles and quizzes and mazes without them, but then the other two get annoyed saying things like "It's not that hard guys" and "they take forever".

Basically, the six get fed up of "the Two" controlling everything and running the show while "the Two" get fed up of the 6 taking too long and not thinking for themselves.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I improved your edits, though I don't know what you mean by: "but then the other two get annoyed saying not hard having to wait they take forever", can you clarify? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Apr 10 '17 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I edited to a clearer version of what you meant, but you should double check that. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 10 '17 at 5:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ What ages are we talking about here exactly? What is "mid age" and what is "young and inexperienced"? Are we talking about 40 year olds amid 20 year olds, or 15 year olds amid 8 year olds? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 10 '17 at 10:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. (This includes linking to other questions that would serve as solutions to this.) Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 10 '17 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, it looks like you have accidentally created more than one account. You will be unable to comment on or accept answers to your own question until you merge your accounts using the instructions in the help centre. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 10 '17 at 19:29
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You should run a session with only the 6 less experienced players once.

Let them play their characters in a side quest, for which they won't get help/pressure from the 2 experienced players. Don't run a too complex quest, but try to face them with multiple challenges, like puzzles, traps, social interactions, monsters and even a boss, maybe.

When playing, do not let one player take the lead. Ask all of them what they want to try, how they want to react. In combat, the initiative order takes care of that, but for the rest, all the players should be equally involved.

Encourage them to be creative with their actions, even if it does not match what you prepared for the quest. They want to explode the stone door instead of finding the key ? Fine ! They choose to intimidate the merchant to get food ? Let them try, but set a relatively high DC and/or add consequences if they do so !

Reducing the size of your group is really the good way to give each player the chance to get involved and try new things. You could also try to split the party in two groups of 4, each one with an experienced player ! Run separate sessions, and ask your experienced player to teach what he and his character know to the other players, like a mentor ! Everybody can - and should - always learn new things :-)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even "only" the 6 unexperienced players is still a big group, you may want to split then even more (like two groups of 3) \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Apr 10 '17 at 8:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding combat: you might want to reinforce that players only speak on their turn; no pressuring, no hinting, whether in-character or out-of-character. It's up to the current character's player to decide what to do. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Apr 10 '17 at 8:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Even in real life there are leaders in combat. In character hinting is perfectly fine, especially if it speeds up decision making. \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 10 '17 at 12:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András: It's fine, on your turn; but doing it out-of-turn feels like stealing the spot light. Shouting "Take cover" is a free action, giving complicated directions should not be. Beyond the rules, you cannot cast a spell and discuss at the same time (Verbal Components), you cannot point something with your hand and use it to wield either weapon or shield at the same time, ... \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Apr 10 '17 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the side quest idea, but I would do it one at a time. That way there is no pressure from anyone else. \$\endgroup\$ – wiredniko Apr 12 '17 at 13:32
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IMHO I think that you have two difficulties here:

  • The younger players naturally follow the elder players.

  • Your group is too large.

How can you start to resolve this situation?

You may want to temporarily split the group so that the more advanced players and the rookies can each game at their own pace, and so the younger ones can think for themselves without feeling the need to rush or impress the elders.

As soon as the younger ones catch up you can recombine your groups.

If your players don't want to split, the elder players could do the "Gandalf": "Of course, you could do this quest on your own in like 15 minutes, but you decided to just be there, give vague advice, and let the young ones figure it out while you smoke the pipe." I think Gandalf was stoned throughout the whole story.

Edit: Since the edit to the question, I absolutely think you should split your group.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even after everyone is experienced, 8 players is too much \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 10 '17 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I Agree, but i think there are good questions and answers about how many players are good. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Christian Apr 11 '17 at 9:16
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You could ask the more experience players to mentor the less experience ones. the mentoring can take the form of explaining the system, how to use their abilities to the best effect, and offering advise as to how to get better at role playing. As long as it is constructive criticism, then all is fine.

A similar approach would be to make the two experience characters the mentors of the rest of the party.

Clearly, this must not devolve into a master and his three apprentices. ☺

PS: Others have said it already but your group is way too big for inexperience players to come out of their shell. I would split the game into two.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In general this is a great idea, but these particular experienced players don't seem to have the patience to be good mentor figures. Perhaps it might be best to split the party along experience lines. \$\endgroup\$ – ThunderGuppy Apr 10 '17 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThunderGuppy Maybe they are, maybe not. It is hard to tell from the limited information in the question. They are clearly frustrated by the situation but might not have thought that mentoring the younger players will help then get more out of the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Apr 10 '17 at 14:15
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As others have said, splitting the 2 more experienced players off from the group and letting the 6 newer have their own moment in the sun is a great idea. I strongly recommend that, if possible. (It may not be, for many reasons.)

You should also talk privately with the experienced players and remind them that:

  • The game is supposed to be fun for everyone
  • They were new once too

Get their take on the situation, and ask them to back off a little and give the new players a chance to learn.

Some puzzles may have solutions that require more than one action to complete - akin to the "turn 2 keys simultaneously" that we see in fail-safe situations. Set up a scenario where there are 3 (or more) puzzle parts that all must be completed together. Once one team member has committed to solving a part, he is effectively shut off from working on the other parts. This will force everyone to work the puzzles and keep the experienced players out of the action temporarily. You can even "rubber-band" the situation a bit by having several versions of each puzzle and feed the experienced players the hard puzzles while the new players get simpler ones - thus they'll all finish in roughly the same "real time" and you don't get arguments about "how simple" or "how long" things are taking. (Of course, your experienced players may complain about it not being fair, but a reasonable player will understand why you did it.)

Finally, consider creating puzzles that will actually pit the two experienced players against each other in some way - maybe the solution requires giving up an ability for a period of time, or burning a magic item, or some other moral/ethical decision based on their characters. If they're busy maneuvering against each other, then the newer characters can decide whether to back one side or the other, or find a different solution. Or you can use that time to let the new characters do something totally different and build their skills that way.

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You should maybe do a non-gaming meeting once in a while where your players can talk about the game and the characters and the rules without actually gaming. Prepare some questions as to figure out what everyone is expecting out of roleplaying in general. Let the experienced players tell a few anecdotes from past games and give the less experienced players time to ask questions and read up on rules.

Figure out why the less experienced players do not know what to do. Do they not know the rules? Are they afraid to do something wrong? Don't they know what roleplaying is about? Are they shy to speak up?

You can come up with a decision making process that shortens the wait time for the rest of the group. Like default options in combat or suggesting (several) pathes of action yourself based on the character instead of letting the experienced players make other players decisions.

Either way handling 8 players of either experience level is lot of work, and you should definitely tell your more experienced players to have more patience due to the amount of players.

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The same way you maintain autonomous behavior in older players. Allow them to act autonomously. Younger players can build confidence by overcoming smaller challenges. And with confidence comes the desire to think for themselves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Though this is true, the answer seems to gloss over the question's details, such as the problems encountered with previous attempts to do this. Do you have anything to offer regarding the roadblocks the asker has already encountered in trying this method? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 10 '17 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, my suggestion was to present easier challenges to the novices than the challenges presented to the experienced players. Which is different from a suggestion to give them simply separate challenges (which is what the asker indicated they did). \$\endgroup\$ – grovkin Apr 10 '17 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi grovkin, and welcome to RPG Stack Exchange. Check out our tour to see how we work here. Could you explain how you'd handle this at a table, or how you've handled it or seen it handled in the past, to help this work out well? This seems like one of those things that's easier said than done, and which would be helped by guidance on how to do it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 11 '17 at 9:28

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