Crowd Control Rules, Crowd Size Rules, Dungeons & Dragons, House Rules

Breaking Up Crowds in RPGs

Me, Meg, and Courtney had just sat down,”  Susan said as she wiped some ash off her cheek. “And then this guy stands up and starts screaming. He grabbed his throat and tentacles shoot out of his mouth!”

“What did you do,” Jon asked, his coffee untouched.

“We ran like hell!” Susan said.

“Where did all the ash you’re covered in come from?”

“Oh,” she said with a shrug, “I set the couch on fire first.”

At this point our crowd is fleeing the coffee shop and the party ran with them. As they’re running down the road the crowd is going to naturally break apart; but how many are going to break off each time?

When I first started running, I used to answer that question with a random number I plucked from the air. Then, as the crowd would continue to shrink, I would continue picking out numbers and subtracting them from my running total. This was a bit of a crap shoot because if I did the math wrong, I could end up having too many people remaining for too long, or too few still running with the party too early in the action. My next solution was to roll dice each time which resulted in the same sorts of problems occurring.

Finally, though, I began looking back at my Quick Reference Crowd Size Chart and noticed something that would make for a quick and easy solution. If you look at the chart below, you’ll notice that each time I rolled a die on the chart that it provided me with a result for the total number of people in the area – but it also provided me with a number that would divide evenly into the whole. This meant that if I subtracted that number from the whole each time it was appropriate for a splintering of the crowd that I would be able to quickly and easily keep track of the crowd size.

Let’s do an example. In our previous coffee shop situation, we rolled a d4 to determine our crowd size and got a result of 3. This means that there were 12 people in the coffee shop at the time. Now, however, everyone is running away and down each dark alleyway, and each open door, the crowd is reducing in size. Using my method, we subtract the result of our roll (3) from our total (12) each time we want to reduce the crowd size. This means that while we start with 12, at our first fracturing of the crowd we reduce it by 3 to get 9 (12-3=9). At the next juncture we again reduce our total by 3 to get a total crowd size of 6 (6-3=3). This means that the next time we reduce the crowd size that we’ll be down to just our players.

To make this easier to keep track of I created the below charts so that I wouldn’t have to do math during the escape and slow things down. You’re welcome to download them at the link below.


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