How liberal are you about character re-building mid-campaign?

Shipyard Locked

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It happens all the time: the player starts the campaign with a character concept, plays a few sessions, realizes the character isn't what they really wanted and pleads for the right to re-build their character instead of starting a new one from scratch and losing their character's place in the story.

How liberal are you in allowing this?

As a huge Final Fantasy fan*, I've reached the point where I allow this very freely, but only at appropriate break points in the action. If the changes warrant it, I then ret-con the previous sessions to reflect the new reality. I figure a tabletop RPG is too serious a time investment for people to be stuck with a build they don't love.

* Many of these games allow characters to change classes very freely, and even build strategies around this ability.

 

K_Peterson

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I don't have any problem with this, if it's done after the first few sessions. I'm fine with a player reallocating skill points (or the like) to get closer to the character concept that they want. I wouldn't be that amused if this was something that became regular throughout the campaign. My message to the player would be: figure out what you want to play based off examples or templates, and then adapt the character with experience gained as the campaign develops - don't constantly retool the original concept.

But, reading your post closer, I don't run mechanically-complex systems where characters are built/constructed and their development occurs along explicit paths. So, a rebuild is as simple as shuffling points around. Not planning a character's mechanical development (through feat trees, or class feature paths, or whatever) throughout the entire campaign.
 

Baulderstone

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I'm cool with it after a session or two. I don't have any strict rules on it. In my experience, the abilities the player wants to dump are the ones that they weren't using to any benefit. As those abilities never really manifested in a meaningful way in the fiction of the gameworld, retconning them has no real effect. As for the new abilities they get instead, RPG characters develop new abilities all the time, so no big deal.

I've done a lot of gaming with casual gamers over the years, so I've spent a lot of time helping players build the characters they want. I like for players to have the character that best suits the idea they have in their head, and if that takes a little tweaking after play starts, I am fine with it.

It's like when you watch the first few episodes of a TV show, and the characters haven't quite become what you expect them be yet.
 

The Butcher

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Depends on the system, but generally I'll allow for a degree of "retconning" on your character sheet as long as the player is trading off or switching out something that hasn't been used yet. Or if the player is truly miserable, though I find this is usually better handled by creating a new character altogether.

God I knows I have benefited from GM leniency on this in the past.
 

Simlasa

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As a Player I'd generally prefer to just make a new character... like when I first played Earthdawn as an elf Weaponmaster... and it wasn't what I was expecting at all (I should have read further into the description on what a weaponmaster is).

But generally I run classless systems where it's not too big a deal to change focus to different skills and take on a new career... but completely new skills start from base.
 

Raleel

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I pretty much let them do what they want. I want to know what they are doing and why so that I can alter the story as needed and also figure out what they are going to like in the future. if there was something they were expecting to do and it didn't manifest, perhaps I can make it happen and prevent the work.
 

Imperator

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As long as it makes sense, I let them do it whenever. In my experience, this usually can happen after 3-4 sessions, tops.
 

opaopajr

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Very not, unless they are totally newbie and at a loss for what they're doing in the game and why. I'm about exploring characterization and the adventures therefrom. It's the limits and playing through them that interests me. If you wanna build a switch character, build a toolboxy PC and enjoy the challenge of being a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

Life's too short for me to play my RPGs like a video game when I already have plenty of video games. It'd be like playing Final Fantasy with your party and being able to switch out classes mid-battle... ( :mad: FF X-2 the fashion idols RPG :mad:smile: Why explore party strategy & tactics efficiency when I can just swap out into whatever power I need?
 

Shipyard Locked

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It'd be like playing Final Fantasy with your party and being able to switch out classes mid-battle... ( :mad: FF X-2 the fashion idols RPG :mad:smile: Why explore party strategy & tactics efficiency when I can just swap out into whatever power I need?
Heh, funny you mention it, I'm going to start FF 10-2 for the first time in about a month. I've heard the gripes, but I'm going to see for myself. People told me FF 13 was the worst thing since Super Mario Bros. The Movie, and they turned out to be wrong. For the record, the worst Final Fantasy main series games I've played remain 2 and 3 (Japanese numbering, not the American re-titled releases of 4 and 6), the ones I enjoyed the most are 5, 9, and 10, and my favorite is 8.

Obviously you shouldn't allow people to change classes mid-battle unless the system was specifically designed to accommodate that.
 

opaopajr

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It is hard to top Mario breast feeding Luigi, so there's that... But FF8? *tsk* Why not just play Card Captor Sakura instead? :p Game's all about using Quetzalcoatl to turn enemies into cards and avoiding XP like the plague. :mad:
 

Necrozius

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I'd like to echo what others have already said: I'm fine with it after session 3 or 4, and if they talk it out with me.

The scope of the change depends on the game system, but usually shuffling skills/talents are not a big deal.

In my last Adventures in Middle Earth session, I asked the players during the downtime phase if they were happy with their characters; if they wanted to swap anything out. Conveniently, they had all reached level 3 (when they chose their archetypes), so the timing was perfect for such changes.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Super, with the caveat that if you do it too much, I will lose my patience.

But generally, we are here to have fun. If your character isn't working for you, change your character to one you want to play.
 

TristramEvans

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I've had this come up during the initial session...the character is just discovered to either not be much fun or through spontaneous roleplaying just developes in a different direction from the initial concept, but I really wouldn't go for it a few sessions into a campaign. I wouldn't see that as fair to the other players. I'd be fine with introducing a new character instead.
 

Sommerjon

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If the player isn't enjoying their character why force them to continue with the character?

Me? I'll let players switch characters all the way up to the 1,150th session of a 23 years long campaign. Switching characters doesn't even register on my OMG radar.
 

K_Peterson

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If the player isn't enjoying their character why force them to continue with the character?
Would any GM force a player to use a character that they didn't enjoy? Maybe some random-chargen-extremist that demands that you play what you rolled? Did anyone in this thread actually imply anyone would be forced?

For me, it's more a case of helping a player determine the character that they want, and then getting on with roleplaying and having the character develop further through experience (mechanical and campaign). If a player is making continual changes to the baseline build of their character, through all 1,150 sessions, what's the point? Are they doing this to craft their optimal build for the campaign? Seems kind of weird to me, like using insider information for assured success.
Me? I'll let players switch characters all the way up to the 1,150th session of a 23 years long campaign. Switching characters doesn't even register on my OMG radar.
Are we talking "switching characters" in a troupe-style sense? A player having a cadre of characters at their disposal that they switch in and out of sessions? Or are you talking about "switching" in the sense of continually tweaking the character mechanically to reach their ideal build?
 

Sommerjon

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Would any GM force a player to use a character that they didn't enjoy? Maybe some random-chargen-extremist that demands that you play what you rolled? Did anyone in this thread actually imply anyone would be forced?
Did I say anyone here did? You do remember the title of this thread "How liberal are you about character re-building mid-campaign?" However if i go and look, I woulda swore at least 2 people said something along the lines of in the first couple or 3 some odd sessions. That would mean after 5 sessions it's either make new or you're SOL.

For me, it's more a case of helping a player determine the character that they want, and then getting on with roleplaying and having the character develop further through experience (mechanical and campaign). If a player is making continual changes to the baseline build of their character, through all 1,150 sessions, what's the point? Are they doing this to craft their optimal build for the campaign? Seems kind of weird to me, like using insider information for assured success.
IDK, maybe because there is more then just that dude playing? Or perhaps it's because I haven't looked at this hobby as a competition in 30 years. Or maybe it's from the other players telling Sandy Switcheroo to stop constantly changing characters. But most likely it's because I don't give two flips what someone plays. I don't care if someone feels the need to use insider information for assured success.

Are we talking "switching characters" in a troupe-style sense? A player having a cadre of characters at their disposal that they switch in and out of sessions? Or are you talking about "switching" in the sense of continually tweaking the character mechanically to reach their ideal build?
This might have been better asked before getting on your soapbox.
 

K_Peterson

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I'm not getting up on a soapbox. Just trying to understand where you're coming from. You don't give a shit; fair enough.
 

natty bodak

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I suppose it depends on the zeitgest of the game/table to some degree, but here's my kneejerk reaction.

I don't mind a little tweaking of the character early on if it's not disruptive to the game at that point. I'm thinking about a skill point/proficiency here or there, or maybe a feat that was misunderstood or affected by errata.

If we are talking about a deep gnome witchalock wanting to mulligan that same character into a orc battle-squelcher because whatever, but they also had saved the duke's prize rooster just like the gnome witchalock did then, no, it's time to actually switch characters, not change the current character.

My inner village reaches for the pitchfork and torch when I think about hyper-protean characters who are one class one minute, and another the next as in SL's OP. That's just not for me.

I never want anybody to play a character they don't want to play. Or if I do, it's quietly on the inside, and with much self-recrimination.
 

Shipyard Locked

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If we are talking about a deep gnome witchalock wanting to mulligan that same character into a orc battle-squelcher because whatever...
Oh, I should have been explicit that I don't generally allow changes in race or gender or whatever. The character is still the same, their abilities are different. So, I suppose I'm not that generous.
 

natty bodak

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Oh, I should have been explicit that I don't generally allow changes in race or gender or whatever. The character is still the same, their abilities are different. So, I suppose I'm not that generous.
Ah, yeah. I was being overly silly. I haven't played any of the FF games, but I was assuming something along the lines of a general CRPG skill tree re-spec.
 

noman

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I pretty much let them do what they want. I want to know what they are doing and why so that I can alter the story as needed and also figure out what they are going to like in the future. if there was something they were expecting to do and it didn't manifest, perhaps I can make it happen and prevent the work.
Pretty much this.

I'm happy to do some extreme, hatha yoga level twisting of game reality in order to accommodate a new or reengineered character. I may deny a request if I feel it'd be disrupting to the game, and insist that any changes take place during party downtime, after the major quests have been overcome. Otherwise, I'm happy to deal with this kind of thing. I want my players to have characters they're happy with.
 

Spinachcat

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In general, I'd rather them bring a new character. But I also rarely play games with point build chargen.
Also, I am a fan of players having multiple characters. I believe in fast leveling so its not an issue.
 

Black Vulmea

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Most games I play this isn't really an issue - there aren't enough moving parts to make big changes in ability so it's mostly 'roleplay it out.'

The one exception I can think of, a game with lots of moving parts, is d20 Modern: I let players make adjustments to their characters' skills, feats and such, though again, I asked for a roleplaying component alongside changing the rules around which the character was built. If you swap a feat when you level up, tie it to some ongoing training or something. I could even see swapping something like Dedicated hero levels for Tough hero levels, or even changing a Strong Soldier to a Fast Gunslinger: 'Hey, you've lost weight, and all those days at the range are really paying off!'

I expect a player asking to make such a change to be respectful toward me and the other players; the most important 'backstory' is the one built from our shared experience, so consider the others around the table and really invest in making the change a part of actual play, not just editing stuff on your character sheet.
 

TJS

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It depends on what they are doing but if it's basically just moving things around to better realise a concept they've clearly been aiming for all along, or removing an ability that has seen little or no use then I don't see a problem.
 

CRKrueger

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I play in Skill-based systems these days usually, with Lifepath chargen, and answer any questions, as well as give advice during chargen, so I don’t expect any switching. If it’s a change like swapping one skill for another, I will probably allow it if it’s early and hasn’t been used much. If it’s a major change, no, time for a new character.
 

ffilz

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When I ran Hero Games I would allow character rebuild after the first session or two. Other than that, character rebuild has been an extremely rare thing.
 

TristramEvans

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It happens all the time: the player starts the campaign with a character concept, plays a few sessions, realizes the character isn't what they really wanted and pleads for the right to re-build their character instead of starting a new one from scratch and losing their character's place in the story.

How liberal are you in allowing this?

I've never had it happen, but I'm against it. They can introduce a new character, but not alter reality to "tag in" a new one.
I would not see that as fair to the other players
 

Gabriel

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I have no problem. The important thing is the player get to play something they want to play and enjoy playing.
 

Ladybird

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It's not really a problem - sometimes players realise that they didn't get the mechanics right during character gen, something just doesn't quite work as they thought it would, or the personality goes a different way. I consider character sheets to be written "in pencil" for the first few sessions, with players able to tweak things as long as they don't require major fiction retcons; using 5e as an example, I'd allow tweaking subraces but not races ("They're a swamp dwarf not a hill dwarf", cool, "they're a swamp dwarf not a dark elf", not so much), classes to conceptually-similar ones (Paladin - Cleric, Fighter - Barbarian - Rogue - Ranger, etc), skill picks, spell picks, feat picks, and stat points. As long as I can rationalise it with "it's a bit more complicated than what you saw", it's all good.

After that, I think you've probably had enough time to tweak things out, and your sheet is written "in pen"; in spend-points-to-advance systems, I figure the system already allows any reasonable level of tweaks you might want, but in finite-advancement-choice systems like 5e (Again) I'd be pretty open to requests for retraining.
 

Tom B

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I'm fine with it. I'll allow pretty extreme modifications and changes for the first several sessions. After that, I'll almost always allow tweaks if it makes sense. I really only draw the line if it would require retconning events that had already happened due to the use of skills or abilities that would no longer exist after the changes. Something that extreme, later on, would require a decision to play a different character, I think. It's not something that has come up yet.
 

Bunch

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It's not really a problem - sometimes players realise that they didn't get the mechanics right during character gen, something just doesn't quite work as they thought it would, or the personality goes a different way. I consider character sheets to be written "in pencil" for the first few sessions, with players able to tweak things as long as they don't require major fiction retcons; using 5e as an example, I'd allow tweaking subraces but not races ("They're a swamp dwarf not a hill dwarf", cool, "they're a swamp dwarf not a dark elf", not so much), classes to conceptually-similar ones (Paladin - Cleric, Fighter - Barbarian - Rogue - Ranger, etc), skill picks, spell picks, feat picks, and stat points. As long as I can rationalise it with "it's a bit more complicated than what you saw", it's all good.

After that, I think you've probably had enough time to tweak things out, and your sheet is written "in pen"; in spend-points-to-advance systems, I figure the system already allows any reasonable level of tweaks you might want, but in finite-advancement-choice systems like 5e (Again) I'd be pretty open to requests for retraining.
For the most part this. The one area where I would allow additional modification is if you use something like 3.5 where you are constantly getting feats,etc which require whole build paths to successfully implement I would come up with some way for them to retrain. It's the combination of the character,campaign and mechanics that have to all align right to have fun and sometimes despite best intentions it doesnt. Then you have to allow for adjustments.
 

AsenRG

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My attitude changes a lot depending on whether the system uses random chargen, lifepath, or point-buy.
If it's point-buy, I'd allow it if it hasn't been used much. And provided the goal isn't to exploit a rules loophole, but to compensate for, say, a poor understanding of the rules at the beginning of the campaign:smile:.
Of course, if I see you buying up 20 different Dex-based skills in GURPS I am going to point it to you that this is sub-optimal.

If it is random or lifepath, I'm like CRK:wink:.
I play in Skill-based systems these days usually, with Lifepath chargen, and answer any questions, as well as give advice during chargen, so I don’t expect any switching. If it’s a change like swapping one skill for another, I will probably allow it if it’s early and hasn’t been used much. If it’s a major change, no, time for a new character.
Yeah, otherwise what's the point:shade:?
 

Brock Savage

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I try to mitigate character re-building by doing a thorough session zero and publishing every house rule but it still happens once in a blue moon. I don't have any hard and fast rules. If someone wants to tweak their character after a session or two it's not a problem. If a player requests a drastic change such as race or class I would firmly but politely ask them to please make another character (the Mrs had to do that a couple years ago).

In certain circumstances a minor change mid-campaign is appropriate. Usually this is a case where a player buys a skill or ability then asks to change it after one session because it did not match their expectations at all. I try to be understanding because I have been on the player side more than once where I invested in a feat/ability/skill that turned out to be wildly out of line with my expectations (usually because the GM had a pet interpretation that differs from the RAW/RAI). If player expectations for an ability are a gross mismatch with how things play out in-game, the first thing I do is consider whether I did my job as GM in managing those expectations and educating the player. If it's my error then the player has a legit gripe and I have to fix it.
 

VisionStorm

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Obviously it depends on the system and what the changes are, as well as the reasons for them, but I’m generally very flexible as long as they’re not radical arbitrary changes. Some players just aren’t very good at character building and I’m not going to penalize them for not being min/maxing “powergamers”.

If they picked a skill that didn’t work the way they thought it did, or failed to pick a required feat or something needed for something else (prestige class, another feat, etc.), I might let them swap it.

Another issue that’s cropped up is new editions or supplements, or maybe homebrewed stuff I add later on, that introduces new options that weren’t available before and might be a better fit for the character. If you have an AD&D 2e mage you always RPed as a “witch”, for example, then we get the Complete Wizards Handbook, which features witches as a kit, that character has the witch kit now. If that same character always had high Cha and her force of personality was always part of her mystique and we swap to D&D 3e, where Cha-based sorcerers are a thing, that character is a sorceress now, etc.

As long as it’s not ridiculous race/gender swapping stuff, picking a completely different and unrelated class, or general player indecisiveness wanting to change stuff up every month, I have no problem with changing characters.
 

Spellslinging Sellsword

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It depends, if the player didn't really understand the rules well and it was within the same concept just tweaking feats, proficiency, or what not, then probably. If they played a fighter for the past 3 months and they want him to morph into a wizard but still be the same character, probably not. However, I'd be fine with them swapping the fighter character out for a similar power level wizard if the group was cool with it. I've found the past few years that the thing most important to me is that the group I'm gaming with as a whole is having fun.
 

Dammit Viktor

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I think I'm fairly loose. It happens during downtime, your character stays pretty similar or else has a major character development that justifies it... and if it's the latter, it sets you back to the beginning of your previous level (or the equivalent).

Obviously, changing kith counts as a major change that requires major justification. Changing sex... I've never run into this. My first instinct is that changing sex is a big fucking whatever-- that weird mushroom you ate sure made a man out of you!-- but retconning sex is pretty iffy. On the other hand, I reckon someone who wants their character to have been the other sex all along... the more of a problem I think it's going to be for me, the more of a problem it is for them currently.

That's exactly as much thought as I'm willing to put into it unless and until it actually comes up in a game.

Has anyone ever stopped to consider whether or not elves can qualify for both male and female feats/PrCs?
 
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