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

AsenRG

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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?
 

ffilz

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Some further thoughts on this...

I went through a phase where replacement characters came in at the same "point" level as existing PCs. In this case whatever reason you want a new character sheet (whether to replace a dead character or you don't like the one you have), obviously you can make a change. These games also didn't have anything important about the character that wasn't part of the mechanics of the character. These days what was going on there seems pointless...

One thing that has increased the desire to change one's character rather than bring in a new one is the increase of "story telling" in the game combined with very stable play groups. In that case, bringing in a new character can feel like cutting yourself out of the history of the campaign.

Most recently all my gaming has been with a fair bit of random chargen (ok, Bushido is actually mostly point buy, with just random rolls for social class and starting equipment and money). They have also been old school games where PCs are expected to die and be replaced. In theory, if any campaign progressed to a significant level beyond starting characters (irrelevant for Classic Traveller...), I would eventually start new PCs with more than the original PCs started with. None of my campaigns have reached that point yet.

In a point buy system, especially a complex one, I'm very willing to allow early re-designs without losing any experience or goodies gained.

I don't remember if anyone wanted a re-design or a new character in any of my D20 campaigns. It definitely hasn't happened in any of my more recent campaigns. So I dunno, I don't think it's actually ever been that much of an issue. Maybe in college there were some players unhappy with their PC who rolled up new characters.
 

ffilz

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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.
This is a big problem with supplements adding character options. That could have been a big issue in D20, though I don't think it ever came up in my campaigns despite my picking up splat books every other week (what a waste of money...).

Actually, that's one advantage of running earlier game systems... All the supplements are out, and I won't be introducing new character options after play starts... And honestly IF I did add one and a player is interested in one of the new character options, roll up a new PC... What about the new option being a better fit for the original PC? Well, where he came from the option wasn't available or some other flimsy justification... Actually, having "changes" in the campaign is a great way to allow new options without feeling like you should have included them all at the start. Something the PCs did, or the villains did, or where the PCs when opens up new options. Want to play one of those new options? Start a new PC.
 

Brock Savage

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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.
IMHO changing sex is easy to justify in most fantasy settings. I imagine that kind of sorcery is part of the unspoken and mundane non-adventuring spell list that would plausibly exist in most settings (e.g. spells for fertility, harvesting, animal husbandry, fishing). At worst it might involve a little adventure.

Edit: In other words, it is a more interesting and plausible approach than retconning.
 

ffilz

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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.
That was another problem with D20. The long string of feat chains and if you messed up you were screwed. Yea, if you really messed up, let's retcon a feat or two and put you back on track... So that just fits in with the "oops I didn't understand something about the system and bought the wrong thing" so yea, if it comes up later in the campaign, fix it, but don't do a wholesale change of the character.
 

Bunch

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That was another problem with D20. The long string of feat chains and if you messed up you were screwed. Yea, if you really messed up, let's retcon a feat or two and put you back on track... So that just fits in with the "oops I didn't understand something about the system and bought the wrong thing" so yea, if it comes up later in the campaign, fix it, but don't do a wholesale change of the character.
It was a large and frequent enough issue that the PHB II had rules to cover how to alter a character.
 

ffilz

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It was a large and frequent enough issue that the PHB II had rules to cover how to alter a character.
Ah, I never noticed that because we played Arcana Unearthed/Evolved. Though I think I did get PHB II...

Frank
 

Dumarest

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I just last week let my kids reassign their dice for their Ghostbusters RPG characters before we played their 2nd session as they learned from the 1st session that their characters weren't diversified enough while also not having sufficient skill in the most useful areas.

That's generally how I roll for a game where you spend points to make a character: make one you think you'd like to play, we'll test it out, then you can change things around if it turned out not to be what you wanted/expected. But if we're more than a couple of sessions into the game you'll have to live with what you have or start a new character. And new characters don't get to start at Level 3 or with extra Character Points or whatever.
 

Ladybird

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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.
I actually considered changing a character's gender in a campaign this year, and in my defense I had a very good excuse as well as a perfect in-game reason for the switch (Feng Shui, and Time Shenanigans), but eventually decided against it as it felt a bit too much like drawing attention to myself out-of-game.

Personally I wouldn't bother with gender restrictions on classes at all, that shit can go in the bin.
 

Bunch

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It was a large and frequent enough issue that the PHB II had rules to cover how to alter a character.
It has rules for switching race and gender as well.
 

Malleustein

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When I referee, I usually allow my players to make changes up to and including the third session. This varies according to game and intended length of scenario or campaign.

Normally, we have a post-game chat around that time to see how everyone feels about the campaign, rules and characters. Sometimes a campaign just isn't fun. Sometimes the players feel the characters are at odds, prompting some realignment of character goals and relationships, sometimes creating new characters, more rarely it has resulted in large groups being split and playing separate sessions.

We aren't against doing these discussions more often, but have almost never needed to do them more than once unless the group changes dramatically, which means old characters leaving and perhaps new ones arriving. A shake-up that allows existing players to swap characters if desired.
 

robiswrong

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Depends.

Overall, if you're just rebuilding the character mechanically, while keeping the same concept? Go for it.

Beyond that, if you're doing it to reflect changes in the character? I'm good with that. I actually like it when systems have some ability to slowly change what a character is as they evolve throughout the game.

If you just decide one day you'd rather play a wizard instead of a fighter and want to be a wizard next session? Cool, let's build a new character.
 

Brander

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Minor changes allowed unless it was a major part of something in the past. E.g. No dropping vehicle skill if you were the driver chosen in the chase last game because you were known to be a great driver.

However I track XP by player, not by character, so you can swap characters any time it might make sense and not lose any progression in a campaign. I like it because it can end up as troupe style play and it feels more like many fictional stories where the cast changes from time to time. I don't like retcons, but I do like variety.

Edit to add: That means you can make a new character at the same "level" as your old one and insert them into the game (if it makes sense at the time). I also allow banking of points, so you can spend them when it comes up needed. So if no one has a skill or ability and you have banked points (or slots or whatever) you can spend them on that ability right now. Mostly only for new characters and honestly almost no one has ever done it even though I allow it.
 
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zarion

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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.
 

CRKrueger

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*Sigh* Remember when Disney Mulan was good?
We remember.
I take it the new Mulan isn’t any good? Shocked, shocked I say. If they were going to try and bring actual history and culture into it, they should have let the Chinese, or at least people who knew anything about it write the story. The writing is the biggest criticism I see. The Hong Kong studios probably would have done a better job.
 

tenbones

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This is why I prefer classless systems.

I *want* my player's PC's to evolve according to the dictates of what the PC's are doing. What I don't want is wholesale retcons of "class" just because their mounted Paladin suddenly is caught up in a Pirates adventure where his mounted abilities are not as useful. This is a system issue, not a player/PC issue.
 

Shipyard Locked

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I take it the new Mulan isn’t any good? Shocked, shocked I say. If they were going to try and bring actual history and culture into it, they should have let the Chinese, or at least people who knew anything about it write the story. The writing is the biggest criticism I see. The Hong Kong studios probably would have done a better job.
The Chinese have actually brought the Mulan story to the screen many times:

Disney dropping what made their version special to compete in a crowded field of authentic rivals was a baffling move.
 

VisionStorm

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This is a big problem with supplements adding character options. That could have been a big issue in D20, though I don't think it ever came up in my campaigns despite my picking up splat books every other week (what a waste of money...).

Actually, that's one advantage of running earlier game systems... All the supplements are out, and I won't be introducing new character options after play starts... And honestly IF I did add one and a player is interested in one of the new character options, roll up a new PC... What about the new option being a better fit for the original PC? Well, where he came from the option wasn't available or some other flimsy justification... Actually, having "changes" in the campaign is a great way to allow new options without feeling like you should have included them all at the start. Something the PCs did, or the villains did, or where the PCs when opens up new options. Want to play one of those new options? Start a new PC.
Back in the old days (the 90s) playing 2e my games were all about the options and customization, and I kept getting stuff like the Complete Handbooks (I eventually got all of them I think) and also working on homebrewed ideas I would come up with, so new options were constantly being added to the game. Usually we’d just make new characters to try the new stuff out. But if we had a character that we were already invested in, and they were always supposed to be something like a Beast Rider fighter or a Witch—it’s just that we didn’t have the options available at the time, then we’d simply update the character to fit the new options.
 

robiswrong

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This is why I prefer classless systems.

I *want* my player's PC's to evolve according to the dictates of what the PC's are doing. What I don't want is wholesale retcons of "class" just because their mounted Paladin suddenly is caught up in a Pirates adventure where his mounted abilities are not as useful. This is a system issue, not a player/PC issue.
Yeah, agreed. Unfortunately, most skill-based systems don't handle that evolution really well in my mind - they do addition of skills well, but shifting of priorities/focus over time not so well. But most systems handle skill "degradation" pretty clunkily, if at all.
 

Ravenswing

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Unfortunately, most skill-based systems don't handle that evolution really well in my mind - they do addition of skills well, but shifting of priorities/focus over time not so well.
Sure they do. They just don't handle shifting of knowledge so well ... but then again neither do we in real life. If I've been a blacksmith all my life, I don't suddenly forget how just because I've decided to be a banker instead.

That being said, to answer the OP, I allow some very modest tinkering, but that's really only by way of a newish player saying that X skill/spell didn't do what he thought it did. Other than that, someone can do a wholesale tradeout. This very rarely happens, though: I like to tailor adventures to the skills and preferences of the PCs.
 

AsenRG

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Sure they do. They just don't handle shifting of knowledge so well ... but then again neither do we in real life. If I've been a blacksmith all my life, I don't suddenly forget how just because I've decided to be a banker instead.

That being said, to answer the OP, I allow some very modest tinkering, but that's really only by way of a newish player saying that X skill/spell didn't do what he thought it did. Other than that, someone can do a wholesale tradeout. This very rarely happens, though: I like to tailor adventures to the skills and preferences of the PCs.
Hi, Ravenswing, welcome to the Pun...or the Pub, whatever:smile:!
Let me just check, do you run GURPS in your custom setting:wink:?
 

robiswrong

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Sure they do. They just don't handle shifting of knowledge so well ... but then again neither do we in real life. If I've been a blacksmith all my life, I don't suddenly forget how just because I've decided to be a banker instead.
No, but skills do atrophy.

There's a lot of tech I used to know really well that I couldn't do to save my life. And a bunch of math I don't remember any more.

Did I forget 100% of it? No. Would it be easier to pick up the second time? Probably. Has it atrophied through disuse? Absolutely.
 

Necrozius

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I'm cool when a player asks if they can swap out a class feature (skill, spell etc...) if they found it useless. Especially if they rarely (if ever) used it.

However if it is a character-defining trait, or something that they've effectively used in just about every session... Then we work the change into the story. Trauma, retraining, a pact... I feel that it ruins the "story" so far if it means retconning so many events.

I'd rather someone abandon a character and make a new one at the same level. But work it into the story somehow. Get the other players (and characters) involved somehow.
 

Ravenswing

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No, but skills do atrophy.
Sure. If I stepped out on a hockey rink now I'd get killed. I retired from swordfighting because my wrists and knees got too bad to manage, and I was already the oldest player in the organization when I'd joined 14 years earlier.

But that was nearly 20 years ago now. It's approaching 40 years since I strapped on the pads and skates. Those skills would have atrophied through sheer age if nothing else.

And what we're talking about isn't a senior citizen who was athletic half a lifetime ago. We're talking about the span of a PC's adventuring career. A decision made over some months, perhaps? Unlikely to be years, highly unlikely to be decades. *That* guy isn't going to forget how to fight, a few months after he's started magical studies, any more than I had three years after I quit swordfighting, and just happened to walk into a demo and was talked into some sparring.
 

ffilz

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So let me ask a question here...

How many folks have had a player want to make a radical change to their character and not be willing to start a new character? And what is driving that desire?

I may be more or less hard nosed depending on the system, player, and campaign, and how far into things we are, for smaller changes. Picked a bad spell or feat last level? Sure we can talk. Your first PC just didn't do it for you after a session or two? Let's get you a new character, and maybe not penalize you. But where is the need to totally revamp a character well into a campaign coming from? If it's just boredom, these days I'm not willing to let you switch PCs without losing some investment in the "position" (experience, treasure, fictional positioning) of the former PC.

Frank
 

VisionStorm

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I don’t think it would be useful to track skill atrophy outside of penalties due to old age, because it would take too much bookkeeping and I don’t think that there’s an elegant and realistic way to do it anyway. I’m not even entirely sure how skill atrophy works in real life, I just know that it happens because it’s happened to me. And not just physical activity, but mental tasks like drawing and painting, which I used to be good at decades ago, but now I’m crap cuz I haven’t practiced in decades.

The biggest issue with skill-based systems IMO is specificity. Most skill-based systems (particularly old ones) tend to include extensive lists of very specific skills that are often variations of the same type of task, or at the very least interrelated tasks that involve some degree of overlap or shared knowledge. But it treats every single skill as completely separate abilities that you have to learn and improve in level independently without training in one contributing in any way to another. So you end up having to blow all your points picking up variants of essentially the same type of skill (like a bunch of melee weapon skills, when IRL all melee weapons involve very similar body mechanics and techniques, so that if you’re good with one you’re good with all of them, just better at some than others), which is both tedious and unrealistic, as well as very punishing if you try to diversify your character for concept purposes. Plus a lot of those skills involve very specific knowledge (like law or specific fields of science) that, while useful or important IRL, are rarely if ever going to come up during play.

I’ve heard it described as skill systems ending up being more about what you don’t know than about what you do.

IMO, skill-based systems work better when they focus on a list very general skills (melee combat, ranged combat, interaction, knowledge, piloting, etc.), instead of excessive specificity, then treat very specific skill functions as specialties within those general skills. That way you can train in general areas of activity and define what your overall talents are, but still be able to define the specific things your character is good at.
 

ffilz

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I think skill atrophy is over rated. Back in the 90s, I went ice skating in North Carolina after having not skated for at least 10 years if not longer. Within a short span of time I was zipping around the rink. Back in 2006 I went skiing after having not skied for close to 10 years and soon left my coworkers behind on the bunny slopes and headed to the top of the mountain. The next ski trip a month or so later I was zipping down black diamonds.

No ones physical fitness might lag, but you can also regain that pretty quickly, though granted, as you age, your peak may be lower.

And consider that most RPG campaigns take place over the space of a few years of game time unless the game has mechanics that dramatically speed up the passage of time, or you run for a really long time.
 

AsenRG

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Yes, some skill atrophy rules rules probably turn it into a nightmare just to justify their own existence. I don't think anyone needs to be much surprised at that:thumbsup:.
And of course class systems that make you "forget" most of your old skills are simply laughable...but then they're already class systems, so there's not much reason to add mockery to the ridicule:shade:.

In reality, it does exist. But it impacts different skills differently, can be recovered from much faster than just gaining new XP, and is seldom used.
There was a time when I was tracking skill atrophy over different skills. Then I realized I'm spending way too much time basically doing accounting for something that seldom came up, so I stopped. Other people might feel differently, of course, and I don't doubt some do:grin:!

Now what is interesting is what the rules for skill atrophy should be like in Ars Magica, where your wizard learns by staying in his lab to begin with:tongue:!
 

Torque2100

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I'm somewhat liberal with this. If the player is just not having fun, I'll let them make different choices. However if this starts happening every other session, I'll be pulling them aside and asking them why.
 

robiswrong

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Yes, some skill atrophy rules rules probably turn it into a nightmare just to justify their own existence. I don't think anyone needs to be much surprised at that:thumbsup:.

...

In reality, it does exist. But it impacts different skills differently, can be recovered from much faster than just gaining new XP, and is seldom used.
There was a time when I was tracking skill atrophy over different skills. Then I realized I'm spending way too much time basically doing accounting for something that seldom came up, so I stopped. Other people might feel differently, of course, and I don't doubt some do:grin:!
Yeah, 100% on all of this. Absolutely.

And I can't imagine the nightmare of a system which tried to do this in a prescriptive way. "You must use the skill at least x times per session or you lose points...." Bleccch. No.
 

Ravenswing

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And I can't imagine the nightmare of a system which tried to do this in a prescriptive way. "You must use the skill at least x times per session or you lose points...." Bleccch. No.
Has there been any such system?
 
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