So tonight I finished my second "demo" session. First time around, two weeks ago, I think I had...7 players. Tonight I had 9. All teens, most between the ages of 12 and 15. We finished after a single action round against the giant crabstrosity guarding the treasure on the L'll du Bete. Good times but DAMN. Tracking raises with a big group will melt your brain.
The Good News: the kids LOVE the game. I don't really know if its the pirate angle or just the change of pace from dungeoncrawling but they are all ready to jump ship and switch to 7th Sea.
The Bad News: I'm not sure I can manage play for that many kids with that many tangents with the rules as written. At this level, the game feels almost entirely meta with very little room for actual role playing. Some of that no doubt comes from inexperience (both mine and theirs). I feel like I'm constantly having to police Approaches. The players are having a hard time with the idea that Approach =/= Action. I feel like I need to find a better way to explain it.
But I'm going to think about it hard. The game is relatively fast, even with that number of players. I think once we have a few more people who know the system, it'll get smoother. Right now where it gets choppy is when you have 9 different people trying to do weird things. For example, tonight we had two heroes poke their heads into a potre blissure to look around (can non-porte mages even do that?), only to become crazed psychopaths and attacked the two other PCs on the gun deck of the ship. Above deck, another PC barred the door and blocked another player from coming to their aid, resulting in a wrestling match. Meanwhile, another PC decided to take the ship out of harbor in pursuit of another ship. All the while the PC Fate Witch is trying to curse another PC because someone paid her. Yeah, some of the finer points of the setting are a bit lost on some of the players. But hey, they are young.
So I need to ponder my next course of action. I love the setting, and the game is growing on me. But this may not be the best place for it.