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

AsenRG

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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.
Agreed, it would be prety funny...for the first session:tongue:.

Has there been any such system?
Somewhere, someone has probably written one:shade:.

I'm unsurprised that it became unpopular enough even I don't know its name:grin:!
 

Spellslinging Sellsword

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Regarding skill atrophy, there are differences between physical based skills and knowledge based skills. Physical ones stay with you more, e.g. riding a bike, whereas knowledge ones get lost, e.g. calculus when not used. There are specific terms for this, but I don't recall them atm.
 

Ladybird

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Regarding skill atrophy, there are differences between physical based skills and knowledge based skills. Physical ones stay with you more, e.g. riding a bike, whereas knowledge ones get lost, e.g. calculus when not used. There are specific terms for this, but I don't recall them atm.
You'd have to be very careful with a system that went this deep, because there are definitely skills that come up more often in games than others due to their sheer nature, and you'd need to account for this in the design of your atrophy rules; if you need to use your Ride : Bike and Maths : Calculus skills just as often to retain them, I think you'd end up with some very odd-looking sessions.
 

Spellslinging Sellsword

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You'd have to be very careful with a system that went this deep, because there are definitely skills that come up more often in games than others due to their sheer nature, and you'd need to account for this in the design of your atrophy rules; if you need to use your Ride : Bike and Maths : Calculus skills just as often to retain them, I think you'd end up with some very odd-looking sessions.
Yeah, skill atrophy is just not something that I think adds enough fun to the play to be worth adding it to a game.
 

tenbones

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I know of no RPG that players would tolerate losing things they paid hard-earned XP for without justifiably revolting.
 

jay

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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.
This is where I'm at. I've allowed it after several sessions where the player realized that his character just wasn't playing the way he thought it was or ended up not being as useful as he hoped. I tend to tailor the games I run to give each person their time in the spotlight but he never felt like he was doing enough for the team even when I tried to focus the challenges around his skills/abilities. Once he remade the character he was much happier.
 

ffilz

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This is where I'm at. I've allowed it after several sessions where the player realized that his character just wasn't playing the way he thought it was or ended up not being as useful as he hoped. I tend to tailor the games I run to give each person their time in the spotlight but he never felt like he was doing enough for the team even when I tried to focus the challenges around his skills/abilities. Once he remade the character he was much happier.
So I hear this, but why not just introduce a new character? How major a rewrite was it?
 

VisionStorm

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People used to tolerate level drain without revolting in D&D...
Yah, but in fairness it wasn't exactly loved either, except by OSR tryhards (and even then I've seen some OSR types admit they don't like it or use it in their games). There's a reason why level drain is no longer a thing, as of 3e.
 

jay

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So I hear this, but why not just introduce a new character? How major a rewrite was it?
We were playing FFG Star Wars and he changed his career and spec. It was significant but he likes the backstory and the way it was worked into the campaign, he just didn’t like his character mechanically. Key parts stayed the same (both careers were from Force and Destiny and him being force sensitive was important) so it wasn’t a big deal to change the other stuff.
 

Antiquation!

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Just popping in to mention, GURPS does happen to have an optional rule for "skill maintenance" to prevent the atrophy of high-level skills. The higher the skill level, the more time you need to dedicate over increasingly shorter periods of time to maintain it; though, they don't atrophy below a certain point.
Not that I've ever felt the need to use it, and it primarily just exists as a time element to track for downtime purposes, but hey... it does technically exist!
 

AsenRG

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I know of no RPG that players would tolerate losing things they paid hard-earned XP for without justifiably revolting.
I happen to know a few:thumbsup:. In fact your whole character can die, and you usually get nothing for it...
For a less extreme example, in some systems buying advantages like Allies is done with XP, but losing them might well happen due to the dice.

Just popping in to mention, GURPS does happen to have an optional rule for "skill maintenance" to prevent the atrophy of high-level skills. The higher the skill level, the more time you need to dedicate over increasingly shorter periods of time to maintain it; though, they don't atrophy below a certain point.
Not that I've ever felt the need to use it, and it primarily just exists as a time element to track for downtime purposes, but hey... it does technically exist!
I know, and there was a time when I used to use said rule. But while it's not a bad rule, it's not adding much to the game anyway, mostly because it seldom came up:tongue:.
It might be useful given a game focused on acquiring and developing skills s high as possible, like a wuxia campaign. If preserving your skills while chasing an enemy or hiding undercover might become part of the game, especially if you need a training facility and/or equipment, I can see it being useful. But outside of such corner cases, I doubt it would be of much use, and at the same time it adds a non-insignificant complication in tracking the uses and maintenance training of all your high skills:shade:.
 

Antiquation!

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I know, and there was a time when I used to use said rule. But while it's not a bad rule, it's not adding much to the game anyway, mostly because it seldom came up:tongue:.
Agreed! I can't think of many genres or campaign styles where such a rule would be either relevant or beneficial...
It might be useful given a game focused on acquiring and developing skills s high as possible, like a wuxia campaign. If preserving your skills while chasing an enemy or hiding undercover might become part of the game, especially if you need a training facility and/or equipment, I can see it being useful. But outside of such corner cases, I doubt it would be of much use, and at the same time it adds a non-insignificant complication in tracking the uses and maintenance training of all your high skills:shade:.
... but a wuxia campaign could definitely qualify, to your point. :thumbsup: Particularly if, as you mentioned, there's an emphasis on training in general, learning new techniques and finding new masters, perhaps even training your own students or other player characters. Those things combined would certainly add up if sweeping downtime is an integral part of your campaign, which I could see happening in the course of an epic martial arts game spanning potentially decades of intermittent conflict.
I could imagine similar utility in, say, an Ars Magica-style ongoing campaign where magicians spend the majority of their time holed up anyway (or even troupe style campaigns in general, where you're juggling prioritization of downtime activities for any given group at a time).

"C'mon Gramps we need you to bind and banish the demon razing the capitol!"
"Hm? Sorry, I gave up staying current on those incantations years ago so I could practice my black-sea-to-black-tea transmutation rituals."
 

Black Vulmea

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Yeah, skill atrophy is just not something that I think adds enough fun to the play to be worth adding it to a game.
If it's seen as a penalty, perhaps not, but it can also be used to a character's advantage.

In Traveller, there's a hard cap on the number of skills and skill levels your character may have, equal to the sum of the character's Intelligence and Education: frex, a character with Int 9 and Edu 5 can have a total of fourteen skills and skill levels. You can raise you character's Edu score through training, so that it's equal to the character's Int, to create additional space for improving existing skills or adding new skills through training. Once that hard cap of Int = Edu is reached, there's no more room to improve.

What I permit players to do is allow unused skills to atrophy, in effect allowing a character to trade a skill level in, say, Forward Observer, for a skill that is more relevant and useful to the character, like Tactics. Like a sportsball player deferring money due from her contract, it creates space 'under the cap' to continue improving a skill once Int = Edu is reached. As per the Experience rules, the character must still make a successful roll to improve two skills, then must designate the skill to atrophy and cannot use it for the remainder of the time spent increasing a skill level in another skill.
 

robiswrong

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What I permit players to do is allow unused skills to atrophy, in effect allowing a character to trade a skill level in, say, Forward Observer, for a skill that is more relevant and useful to the character, like Tactics. Like a sportsball player deferring money due from her contract, it creates space 'under the cap' to continue improving a skill once Int = Edu is reached. As per the Experience rules, the character must still make a successful roll to improve two skills, then must designate the skill to atrophy and cannot use it for the remainder of the time spent increasing a skill level in another skill.
Fate is similar in that it lets you swap the ratings of skills.

However, both of these are based on a decision the player is making, ostensibly to better reflect who the character is at that point, rather than something that is mechanically forced. I mean, the decision is mechanically forced in some way, I suppose, but that's not the same as "you haven't ticked this enough times, it goes down 1 this session".
 

soltakss

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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 normally play RuneQuest or HeroQuest/QuestWorlds, which don't really have a problem with this. It is fairly easy in those systems to change cults, or to move one skill into another. You effectively park what went before and continue with gaining experience in other skills.
 

Nobby-W

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I normally play RuneQuest or HeroQuest/QuestWorlds, which don't really have a problem with this. It is fairly easy in those systems to change cults, or to move one skill into another. You effectively park what went before and continue with gaining experience in other skills.
Plus, under RQ you can just train up to about 30, and getting to 50 or 60 in a skill is pretty quick.
 

Sommerjon

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So I hear this, but why not just introduce a new character? How major a rewrite was it?
Why introduce a new character when the player has already established a character in the setting?
 

Ravenswing

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"C'mon Gramps we need you to bind and banish the demon razing the capitol!"
"Hm? Sorry, I gave up staying current on those incantations years ago so I could practice my black-sea-to-black-tea transmutation rituals."
Interesting thought this sparked. I was in a fantasy boffer LARP for many years, playing (for most of it) the game's most powerful wizard. At one point I was the chief healer, until the magic rules changed in 1997 and I shifted to a more strategic clerical package. Anyway, a timing limitation on most spells was a chant of a certain number of words. Heal Limb was 10; Raise Dead was 40. Having cast that raise spell somewhere around ten thousand times -- that's a conservative estimate -- I can still rattle off that chant in four seconds flat. I still remember the chant for three other spells, but not the ones for my other eleven. Definite skill atrophy, and in only 23 years.
 

Shipyard Locked

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Having cast that raise spell somewhere around ten thousand times -- that's a conservative estimate -- I can still rattle off that chant in four seconds flat.
Care to transcribe it? That's not a world I've ever delved into and I'm curious.
 

ffilz

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Why introduce a new character when the player has already established a character in the setting?
But the established character is a particular class or profession or has a particular set of skills or powers. What does it mean to the setting that someone can totally change what they are?
 

Ladybird

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But the established character is a particular class or profession or has a particular set of skills or powers. What does it mean to the setting that someone can totally change what they are?
I kinda think that the setting should take a back seat to the players, because it's the players who turn up every week; if a player likes the RP aspects of their character but has had serious enough issues with the mechanical side that they want to change it, I feel they've already suffered enough that asking the DM to work out the details and do them a favour isn't a big deal. But as stated, I have a fairly flexible attitude towards respeccing anyway.
 
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ffilz

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I kinda think that the setting should take a back seat to the players, because it's the players who turn up every week; if a player likes the RP aspects of their character but has had serious enough issues with the mechanical side that they want to change it, I feel they've already suffered enough that asking the DM to work out the details and do them a favour isn't a big deal. But as stated, I have a fairly flexible attitude towards respeccing anyway.
I'm struggling to understand why a player can't just create a new character if the one they have is no longer interesting to them if the setting doesn't matter.

I think the problem is that we're talking abstract, so we don't know what the investment is that is being retained. It can't be what some would call verisimilitude because last week Bob the Baker defeated the Stay Puff Marshmallow man by turning him into a pie topping, but now the character is Bob the Mechanic. What is Bob's role in this setting and what has gone on? That idea seems so out of whack to me which is why I'm asking the questions I'm asking. I'm missing what is important to the play groups that would allow such a change.

Note I'm talking about major change to the character. Bob the Baker realizing he forgot to take some skill relevant to baking or didn't understand that he needed Oven Operations at 75% or better to be able to bake is not the kind of change I'm asking about. I'm curious why Bob's player can't bring in Bill the Car Mechanic as a new PC to replace Bob the Baker? What is going on that requires such a change, and what is being preserved by allowing Bob to become a Car Mechanic instead of a Baker?

But maybe you're talking about something different than Sommerjon. If there is a problem because the mechanics of the PC don't work for the concept, many of us have suggested they would fix that within the first few sessions. If the issue is a mechanical problem that showed up later, that's something I'm open to also (and some of us have pointed out that, for example, a problem with D&D 3.x feat chains might not be apparent until later). But some, like Sommerjon, below seem to be advocating a complete character replacement.

This statement is what I'm wondering about:
Why introduce a new character when the player has already established a character in the setting?
What is "established" that the player doesn't want to lose? Understanding that is critical to understanding the resistance to bringing in a new character.

Frank
 
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Ladybird

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But maybe you're talking about something different than Sommerjon. If there is a problem because the mechanics of the PC don't work for the concept, many of us have suggested they would fix that within the first few sessions. If the issue is a mechanical problem that showed up later, that's something I'm open to also (and some of us have pointed out that, for example, a problem with D&D 3.x feat chains might not be apparent until later). But some, like Sommerjon, below seem to be advocating a complete character replacement.

This statement is what I'm wondering about:

What is "established" that the player doesn't want to lose? Understanding that is critical to understanding the resistance to bringing in a new character.
I think you're right, we are probably somewhat talking at cross purposes. That said, and while I'd probably veto any major changes I couldn't easily retcon as a GM, personally I don't consider changes to a character to be saying that the setting doesn't matter; by asking for a character edit (And admittedly, potentially a retcon of some parts of their personal history) the player is clearly trying to retain as much of the PC's established place in it as possible, whereas bringing in an entirely new character effectively removes the old one from the game.
 

Nobby-W

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I don't think I've ever had to deal with this as a DM, but not so long ago, I had this problem as a player. The character had originally been conceived as a sort of gentleman-thief, but the campaign turned out to be mainly dungeon crawls, so I ended up having to pivot the character into a fighting scout by multi-classing enough ranger levels to get two attacks.
 

ffilz

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I think you're right, we are probably somewhat talking at cross purposes. That said, and while I'd probably veto any major changes I couldn't easily retcon as a GM, personally I don't consider changes to a character to be saying that the setting doesn't matter; by asking for a character edit (And admittedly, potentially a retcon of some parts of their personal history) the player is clearly trying to retain as much of the PC's established place in it as possible, whereas bringing in an entirely new character effectively removes the old one from the game.
That certainly puts things in a different light. Minor changes that can be made without having to rip apart the campaign history with a major retcon are way more understandable, especially if one was looking at a real situation rather than talking hypothetical situations.
 

ffilz

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I don't think I've ever had to deal with this as a DM, but not so long ago, I had this problem as a player. The character had originally been conceived as a sort of gentleman-thief, but the campaign turned out to be mainly dungeon crawls, so I ended up having to pivot the character into a fighting scout by multi-classing enough ranger levels to get two attacks.
That's a serious problem of a communication breakdown at the start of the campaign, unless it was a shift in focus after play started. It also sounds like you managed the change by changing focus as you went forward rather than re-write of the character.

I do see an issue here with heavy "design" character "builds" in that it's very easy for a build to be totally off base for the actual campaign. It highlights the need to have conversations up front, and a willingness to help folks less experienced with the system (combined with a liberal rewrite after a few sessions).

It's harder when the campaign changes focus in mid-campaign. My preference there though would be for a player to bring in a new character if their existing character just couldn't make the switch.
 

Nobby-W

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That's a serious problem of a communication breakdown at the start of the campaign, unless it was a shift in focus after play started. It also sounds like you managed the change by changing focus as you went forward rather than re-write of the character.
I did, but it was a pretty heavyweight process - taking 5 levels of Ranger over the course of several months. That's my only experience of this type of situation. It might have been better to start another character or swizzle it about mid-game, had that option been available.
 

ffilz

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I did, but it was a pretty heavyweight process - taking 5 levels of Ranger over the course of several months. That's my only experience of this type of situation. It might have been better to start another character or swizzle it about mid-game, had that option been available.
Yea, you might have been better off with a new character, even if it started a level lower than the other PCs or something. You could have had a more finely tuned build that might have offset the lower level rather than having some now not so relevant class levels, feats, and skills. This continued character build IS one of the reasons I left D&D 3.x behind, though my reaction was to go 1970s and early 1980s games...
 

Sommerjon

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What is "established" that the player doesn't want to lose? Understanding that is critical to understanding the resistance to bringing in a new character.
The character in the setting.
Wyther Alden is already alive in the setting. He's made contacts, made enemies, has friends, has rivals, has commitments, etc. Why give up all of that impact on the setting over some skills or class levels?

Is Bob the Baker so different from Bob the Mechanic? Larry has been playing Bob the Baker, but found it hasn't itched his scratch so wants to be Bob the Mechanic. Bob is still the easy going, hands talking dude who loves his italian food.
It's still Bob right?

Or is Bob only the mods on the sheet?
 
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ffilz

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The character in the setting.
Wyther Alden is already alive in the setting. He's made contacts, made enemies, has friends, has rivals, has commitments, etc. Why give up all of that impact on the setting over some skills or class levels?

Is Bob the Baker so different from Bob the Mechanic? Larry has been playing Bob the Baker, but found it hasn't itched his scratch so wants to be Bob the Mechanic. Bob is still the easy going, hands talking dude who loves his italian food.
It's still Bob right?

Or is Bob only the mods on the sheet?
So one question I would have is if the mods on the sheet aren't an important part of the "impact" on the setting, why does it matter what they are, and why need to change them?

I guess I just don't understand the investment in this "impact" (I would also call it "fiction") that seems to be able to be divorced from the mechanics of the game.

In the games I run, a lot of the "impact" a character has on the setting derives from the numbers on the character sheet.

I honestly haven't played or ran any campaign where it would make any sense to me to make a radical change in a character while assigning the "impact" of the previous incarnation of the character to the new incarnation of the character.

But I think we're also suffering from a lack of a real example of why someone wants to make a radical change to their character and still retain the "impact". As long as we talk theoreticals, it's impossible for any of us to judge whether the requested change is reasonable or not.

I have another question, if the mechanics result in the death of the character (in such a way that any mechanic or procedure within the game system and setting for restoring the life of the character is not possible), thus ending the character's "impact" on the setting, does this desire to allow radical changes extend to restoring the life of the character (after all, all we're doing is changing some numbers on the sheet). If not, why not? Do you draw a line here? If so, how? Why? Perhaps answering the extreme and understanding if there is a line draw, and what it looks like, will help understand why other radical changes are allowed or not allowed.

I'm genuinely trying to understand the motivation and desire to be able to rewrite Bob the Baker into Bob the Mechanic because the player is bored with the game mechanics covering bakers.
 

Sommerjon

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So one question I would have is if the mods on the sheet aren't an important part of the "impact" on the setting, why does it matter what they are, and why need to change them?
Most players can't get past the mods on the character sheet?

I guess I just don't understand the investment in this "impact" (I would also call it "fiction") that seems to be able to be divorced from the mechanics of the game.

In the games I run, a lot of the "impact" a character has on the setting derives from the numbers on the character sheet.
Um.. Having a hard time trying to explain this without sounding like a dick.
Ever see those players when asked "what is Gimli Stonearm doing?" immediately look down at the character sheet? That somehow the +mods on the sheet will tell them where to go next.
He's made contacts, made enemies, has friends, has rivals, has commitments, etc. imo has nothing to do with the character sheet or game mechanics. That is a player playing his character in a Living World.

I honestly haven't played or ran any campaign where it would make any sense to me to make a radical change in a character while assigning the "impact" of the previous incarnation of the character to the new incarnation of the character.
Okay. Sounds to me you put the emphasis on what the character does. It's Bob the Fighter.
I don't. It's just Bob to me.

But I think we're also suffering from a lack of a real example of why someone wants to make a radical change to their character and still retain the "impact". As long as we talk theoreticals, it's impossible for any of us to judge whether the requested change is reasonable or not.
Last year a friend wanted me to join in his already running SR5e game. I said sure, what do you need? I have some ideas. We settle on one. I start playing. My character does not fit. I try to make it work, but I am definitely the odd man out. I am paying a second story man in a group of kick in the door a'shootin types. 10 sessions in I'm like Dude this isn't working, what's your thoughts on me reworking the character to fit the rest of the group? I'm thinking keeping the character concept, contacts and the like, changing from PhysAd to StreetSam going from Second Story to Brawler. That doable? It was. Then the game stops 2 sessions later....

I have another question, if the mechanics result in the death of the character (in such a way that any mechanic or procedure within the game system and setting for restoring the life of the character is not possible), thus ending the character's "impact" on the setting, does this desire to allow radical changes extend to restoring the life of the character (after all, all we're doing is changing some numbers on the sheet). If not, why not? Do you draw a line here? If so, how? Why? Perhaps answering the extreme and understanding if there is a line draw, and what it looks like, will help understand why other radical changes are allowed or not allowed.
Why wouldn't the death of a character not have an impact on the setting?

I'm genuinely trying to understand the motivation and desire to be able to rewrite Bob the Baker into Bob the Mechanic because the player is bored with the game mechanics covering bakers.
It may be more than the player is bored with the game mechanics covering bakers?
 
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CRKrueger

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Yah, but in fairness it wasn't exactly loved either, except by OSR tryhards (and even then I've seen some OSR types admit they don't like it or use it in their games). There's a reason why level drain is no longer a thing, as of 3e.
Yeah, whining crybabies who want their Perfectly Curated Encounter, to give them a false sense of accomplishment while not really risking anything. :gunslinger: :devil: (You started it.)

Level Drain and Save or Die abilities were a pain in the ass in older D&D, but they sure made encounters scary as fuck. Fighting a vampire was a goddamn nightmare and took teamwork, tactics and everything you had to get out without serious level drain. The “tryhards” got to feel real accomplishment in vanquishing a much tougher foe.
 

ffilz

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Most players can't get past the mods on the character sheet?

Um.. Having a hard time trying to explain this without sounding like a dick.
Ever see those players when asked "what is Gimli Stonearm doing?" immediately look down at the character sheet? That somehow the +mods on the sheet will tell them where to go next.
He's made contacts, made enemies, has friends, has rivals, has commitments, etc. imo has nothing to do with the character sheet or game mechanics. That is a player playing his character in a Living World.
And I like a Living World too... And a though, some games actually put all that stuff on the character sheet with mechanical weight... Often you can even start with some of that stuff. Serious question, if you can put some of that stuff on the character sheet, and in the campaign, Bob utilizes his contact with Jane that he put on his character sheet at the start to help him get on a baking competition TV show, should he later be able to change that contact? Does that contact and his presence and performance on the baking show even make sense when we change the mechanics on the character sheet from baker to car mechanic? I mean a car mechanic getting on a baking show and performing well is a cool story, but it's a different story from someone who always wanted to be a baker and found ways to learn baking despite their family not being able to afford to send him to baking school, who now gets on the baking show.

See that's why I don't like changing the character. Because changing the character mechanics DOES change that "impact" on the setting for me.

Okay. Sounds to me you put the emphasis on what the character does. It's Bob the Fighter.
I don't. It's just Bob to me.
Yea, maybe I do. To be honest, I've played campaigns where the mechanics on the character sheet were either pretty wishy washy or the way the GM ran the ga,e was pretty wishy washy. And I've found I didn't like those campaigns. I'm playing a Role Playing Game I expect it to be a game.

But the real me is a programmer not a doctor and I'm neither a baker nor a car mechanic (though I can bake a few things and fix a few things on a car). I would not expect to become one of those things without taking some time to really learn. I can't just rewrite my "character sheet" and if the Living World means anything, my character shouldn't be able to do that either.

Last year a friend wanted me to join in his already running SR5e game. I said sure, what do you need? I have some ideas. We settle on one. I start playing. My character does not fit. I try to make it work, but I am definitely the odd man out. I am paying a second story man in a group of kick in the door a'shootin types. 10 sessions in I'm like Dude this isn't working, what's your thoughts on me reworking the character to fit the rest of the group? I'm thinking keeping the character concept, contacts and the like, changing from PhysAd to StreetSam going from Second Story to Brawler. That doable? It was. Then the game stops 2 sessions later....
I've always supported redoing a character after say 1-3 sessions. Ten sessions is a bit much, but if it REALLY took that long to see that your character didn't fit well, then let's talk. If you've been playing the character for 20 or 100 sessions and you don't like it any more, time for a new character. Depending on the game, I may allow you to create your new character with more points/experience/levels etc. that starting characters. And a new player would have the same opportunity. But the "impact" on the setting your old character accrued stays with that character.

If a Living Setting is important then I feel like the "who the character is" which includes what's on the character sheet is important too. And if the stuff on the character sheet is irrelevant to the campaign, if the fact that Bob has the baker or car mechanic profession doesn't matter, then I really struggle to see why the fact that Bob is a baker is such a downer to the player.

Why wouldn't the death of a character not have an impact on the setting?
I'm stretching the line of what character changes are acceptable or not to see if we can determine anything about why some folks want to be able to chage their characters despite what has happened in the campaign that might depend on the numbers on the character sheet.

It may be more than the player is bored with the game mechanics covering bakers?
I'm struggling to understand why the mechanics of Bob matter if you see Bob as Bob, not Bob the Baker.

But again, I fear part of the problem is that we're not examining a real at the table situation, we're just theorizing.
 

VisionStorm

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Yeah, whining crybabies who want their Perfectly Curated Encounter, to give them a false sense of accomplishment while not really risking anything. :gunslinger: :devil: (You started it.)

Level Drain and Save or Die abilities were a pain in the ass in older D&D, but they sure made encounters scary as fuck. Fighting a vampire was a goddamn nightmare and took teamwork, tactics and everything you had to get out without serious level drain. The “tryhards” got to feel real accomplishment in vanquishing a much tougher foe.
There’s no real accomplishment in fighting a vampire in old D&D. You lose more levels from a single hit than you’ll ever gain from the XP awarded for killing them. Then you have to slog through endless encounters to get them back cuz leveling in old D&D takes forever. Fighting vampires in old D&D is one of those battles where you go in to come out with less than you had from a single fight, unless you managed to surprise them completely and kill them in a single round. Which doesn’t deserve full combat XP (maybe XP for planning, but that isn’t even covered by the rules so you have to make it up).

And it isn’t even classic vampire ability in fiction. You never see vampires level drain someone in books or films. It’s strictly a made up D&D mechanic. Vampires in fiction drink blood, of course, but that isn’t the same as level drain. More like temporary Con loss, with maybe some additional side effects (like falling under the vampire’s control or maybe becoming one) depending on the story. Plus vampires have to grab someone in fiction before trying to sink their teeth in (which would be a separate attack after a successful grappling attempt). Old D&D vampires only have to slap you to take out two levels.

Save or Die mechanics are a different thing because, while I’m not a fan of the binary (usually all or nothing) nature of Save or Die I’m not entirely against it. I think that some things should potentially kill you instantly, but I prefer some in between state where a fail leaves you comatose and it takes a critical failure to outright kill you. Which is an issue with death in old D&D where you’re always good to go, even with one HP, or you’re completely and irrevocably dead at the other end. I also don’t like how a lot of Save or Die effects do nothing on a successful save, except maybe a meager amount of damage. You’re either completely dead or the death effect barely gave you a shiver. It’s absurd.

Somewhere between old D&D made up level drain mechanics and new school treating them with kid gloves “You get your full HP back in just ONE night of rest” mechanics the truth lies.
 

tenbones

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People used to tolerate level drain without revolting in D&D...
LOL touche'

It's funny at Saturday's game one of my players was telling some of the new players about how soft I've become... and how our games "back in the day" were utterly ruthless, citing an incident where one of my players lost three levels in a fight. The look on his face when it was over was pure dejection.

And he soldiered through.

There is no one in my group to day that could handle that who didn't come from the old-school.

That said - there is a big difference between being able to shift-emphasis mechanically and having your abilities removed. For example... in 5e if you're the Mounted Guy with all the associated Feats and gear, then suddenly the game goes aquatic and it's Pirates on the high-seas, you're kinda stuck, but you don't lose any of your core stats, just your "specialization" you're kind of shoe-horned deeply into becomes sub-optimal.

In a system like Savage Worlds where the Edges are discrete and have multiple uses, being that mounted guy can easily transfer with very little pain to a Pirate-theme game without missing a beat. The cost is much less and it feels organic - because now you'll spend your advances on Pirate-themed stuff as part of the conceits of the campaign.

It's much harder to do when you're playing a class that's almost explicitly designed for certain kinds of fare.

Fantasy Craft is handles it pretty well.
 

Ravenswing

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Care to transcribe it? That's not a world I've ever delved into and I'm curious.
"By all the powers of Fire, Air and Star's Light, do I compel the spirits of the Ever Dark to yield unto me this one's soul, that I might reunite it with life! So may it be, now and always."

As it said, it was a timing mechanism. Most healers had at most two iterations of the spell, which they could cast a total of eight times a day. But our combat system was pretty brutal (a strike to an unarmored head or torso was an automatic kill), and people wanted lots of mayhem, so they came up with a strategic level raise called Circle of Healing ... something that was fragile, easily broken, had some serious limitations, but if the caster was willing to stay put in it, they could cast unlimited Raise Dead. The guild I ran had an effective monopoly on the spell, and I could cast it more times than anyone else. So even if there was a near-complete TPK, a hundred people dead on the field, as long as I managed to escape -- let's just say that I had a fine sense of when to run or "play dead" -- I could save the situation. (Also, I'm pretty sure that more than once eventholders gave orders to the NPCs NOT to take me down: "eh, if Prince Morgil's still active, the players can keep on having fun.")

But there were some events at which I had to use that chant a LOT, and the record was an estimate of about 1500 times over four hours. (Well before the end, I could only speak in a whisper, and my IC daughter had to hold me upright.) So I could rattle that sucker off like a tobacco auctioneer, in under three seconds at the time.
 

Sommerjon

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And I like a Living World too... And a though, some games actually put all that stuff on the character sheet with mechanical weight... Often you can even start with some of that stuff. Serious question, if you can put some of that stuff on the character sheet, and in the campaign, Bob utilizes his contact with Jane that he put on his character sheet at the start to help him get on a baking competition TV show, should he later be able to change that contact? Does that contact and his presence and performance on the baking show even make sense when we change the mechanics on the character sheet from baker to car mechanic? I mean a car mechanic getting on a baking show and performing well is a cool story, but it's a different story from someone who always wanted to be a baker and found ways to learn baking despite their family not being able to afford to send him to baking school, who now gets on the baking show.

See that's why I don't like changing the character. Because changing the character mechanics DOES change that "impact" on the setting for me.
I would assume if Jane is that specific of a contact for such a precise purpose that Bob instead of being in a baking show was in a car build-off show?

I've always supported redoing a character after say 1-3 sessions. Ten sessions is a bit much, but if it REALLY took that long to see that your character didn't fit well, then let's talk. If you've been playing the character for 20 or 100 sessions and you don't like it any more, time for a new character. Depending on the game, I may allow you to create your new character with more points/experience/levels etc. that starting characters. And a new player would have the same opportunity. But the "impact" on the setting your old character accrued stays with that character.
That italic is the part that lead me down this path of not minding players changing parts of their characters.
Like you said this is a game. Not the type of game that is won or lost. The type that the winning is in the playing of the game.
I never liked being punished for finding out what I made wasn't working with the group make up, or fizzled mechanically because of bad rules or GM decisions, or what I thought would be fun to play wasn't.

I'm struggling to understand why the mechanics of Bob matter if you see Bob as Bob, not Bob the Baker.
I look at the GUI not at the code?

But again, I fear part of the problem is that we're not examining a real at the table situation, we're just theorizing.
I already gave you a real at the table situation.
 
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Ravenswing

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He's made contacts, made enemies, has friends, has rivals, has commitments, etc. imo has nothing to do with the character sheet or game mechanics. That is a player playing his character in a Living World.
I quite understand that. I have what I'm sure almost all of you would consider to be a crazily low-mortality rate campaign for just that reason: to give people the chance to build their characters.

(By the bye, if you don't have a low-mortality campaign, this shouldn't be an issue: people would be USED to beloved characters snuffing it.)

But here's the disconnect I see: if a player's decided, a couple sessions in, that he's either not into the character enough or he doesn't have the right skill set, he hasn't had TIME to make contacts, enemies, friends, rivals, commitments ... especially since few campaigns start out with multiple sessions of home-base schmoozing, instead of getting right into the action. This is still tabula rasa. What would that person be giving up?

If we're talking ten sessions in, the player's had time to pivot to begin acquiring the skills he's decided he wants, presuming we're not talking an inflexible system.
 
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