Having a large group of of people that all want to show up and game is one of those "good problems." Usually. From our stable of 12 regular players (all adults) and a few occasionals, we usually get 8 and sometimes ten players. Running an old school system (Castles and Crusades), we still get several combats and a lot of exploration and conversation.
10 is just too much. Even without inter-party conflicts, there are just too many inputs on the DM, the table is too large, etc. We've had a couple of sessions where both co-DMs ran sessions (of 4 and 5) in separate rooms. But we don't always have that luxury, and it makes it hard on the DM that was looking forward to taking their turn at playing.
And last week we had a problem. The party was confronted with a difficult tactical situation, and there were some strong disagreements on how to proceed. There were some bad feelings, and one player carried his resentment through the remainder of the game. He's apologized, but it left a bad impression on a new player. The other side of the argument hasn't apologized for their role in it and that's unfortunate.
Some may think that as the DM I should have put a stop to it. I don't think it is my role to handle inter-party conflicts. But what happens at the table is my concern, and I did attempt to force them to settle and called the party to vote. Likely I should have done that earlier.
I've looked through Dragonsfoot and found references to requiring callers in several posts from old schoolers, but I've not found a description of how a caller works. I'm also hesitant to take away individual player choices and hand them over. So this is the result:
Proposed Caller Rules
When I am DM and we have seven or more players, I propose we play by these guidelines:
The players should elect a caller. This could be the player who is most motivated to take on the current adventure, someone they trust with tactical decisions or even just to make the quiet player in the corner talk more. When the group (not an individual) is confronted by a choice, the DM will listen to the caller.
When major group decisions (like plans, or whether to talk or fight) are to be made, the group can and should have a discussion. After 10 minutes (or player request, DM boredom, use of profanity) either the DM or the caller will call a vote. The players will vote, and the DM will consider the players to begin the actions voted.
3.Individual decisions during combat
Each player will have 30 seconds (1 minute? seems too long) to decide their action, or lose it. There should be time enough to decide your action before it is your turn.
Does anyone else have any experience with callers? Played in Tim Kask's game at a convention and have something to share?