Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two Campaigns At Once

Circumstances demand I start running two campaigns at once.

Which means everybody needs a second character.

For some people, especially new players, this is tough because that first character is their D&D character. Like that's them.

What they are interested in about fake medieval europe is entirely encapsulated in that character and they haven't yet become fascinated by something else.

For some people, it takes a while to feel like whatever need or urge is being fulfilled by pretending to be this little medieval person has been fulfilled enough that they can happily be some other and fundamentally different medieval person.

Frankie rolled up a brand new sneaky dark elf rogue the other day. The only difference from her last PC was her stats were worse. That didn't strike her as too terribly fun.

KK is so totally the right person to be a barbarian werewolf that I'm not entirely sure if she'll wanna go any other way, either.

Were you like that when you started? Or did you immediately start going in a million different directions?

If you were, when did your interests grow, if at all?


Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

I tend towards either two character types:

Grumpy taciturn - usually dwarf (1/2 orc in 3.5) fg, cl, th or mixture there of. sometimes monk.

Eccentric instigator - usually a magic user of some sort. any race but often elf, gnome, hobbit.

Even when I try to play something else I find myself purposefully or accidentally migrating towards one of those two.

It's cause I'm a horrible actor/role-player and those types resemble my RL manic/depressive personalities.

Anonymous said...

becous i started out running a D&D campagin i never had this trouble in D&D, but with old WoD i have real trouble moveing away from anti-athritrian bruja mussle.

Nick said...

I have pretty much only ever played 1 type of character - the smart-ass intellectual. In D&D that character is a wizard. That's what I play. Currently I'm playing Ars Magica - EVERYONE is a smart ass wizard. It's my kind of game.

Fran Terminiello said...

Long comment, my apologies.

I am the anomaly amongst my group in that I don't enjoy rolling up new PCs. THey seem to think that's the best part. Like your players I get attached to my PCs and don't feel like they're 'mine' until I get to a certain level/have been playing them for a while.

We currently run 3 parties. 2 in my husband's campaign world: one is what I think of as the 'epic' party, they are higher level, better established and do all the overground, dialogue, mystery solving adventures. We tend to play these when everyone is able to attend and we know we've got a lot of time. The second group is like the 'instant' party. They are lower level (but growing fast owing to the amount of adventuring they get done) and spend their days exploring a megadungeon. THe idea is if we are limited for time or people there's always something to play. Sometimes we even collaborate PCs if there's a big task (the lower level guys are more sneaky, the higher level more magical) which is a lot of fun.
The third group is my bro-in-law's campaign. It's on a different planet in the same crystal sphere (we do a lot of spelljamming) but it's 3E rather than 2E (the other groups) so that's more stuff to get heads round.

If your players are reluctant or find it hard to get into their new PCs head you might want to consider taking them each for a solo adventure, even if it's just random encounters. I found this helped me a lot and with my 'drop-in' PC. He never got an alignment I just let it grow with him (he's CG BTW) and I'm pretty attached to him now.

Fran Terminiello said...

OOps PS I always play someone totally different from the last race/class/sex wise. I find their personality grows from those factors although almost certainly a proportion of ME goes into them as well.

e.g. my current characters are an incredibly beautiful, CN, selfish, self-preserving, female elf mage who thinks the word Team starts with 'I'; and a wise, cheeky, CG, crafty male gnome with a heart of gold.

SC78 said...

Pretty sure that most of my characters could fit into 2 archetypes (sneaky rogue and not so bright but pretty heroic fighter guy). I never get much chance to actually play (stuck behind the DM screen) so I like to have the easy fun when I do.

SirAllen said...

It sounds like a nice problem to have though!

In situations like this (one offs with a different group, for example) I just let the players make a copy of their character sheet as it stands, and use the copy in an 'alternate universe'. That way they can play the dude they know, love, and are good at. The two beings then fork off and are completely separate.

Maybe if you color coded your character sheets, and had the players give the copy a different name (for example, John and Canadian John) it may be easier for them to keep things straight.

Jayson said...

@Sir Allen: That's a technique we use in the group (which has several players who've never played RPGs before) I currently DM for.

Myself, when I started playing I really got into creating PCs, and enjoyed rolling them up whether I ever expected to use them or not. But I've known people who have one PC they simply reuse over and over again. One guy called his fighter "Conan" and just numbered them as old ones died and new ones (with the exact same stats) replaced them.

Chris said...

Proto-gamer me only played brick types: human or dwarf, fighter or cleric. No exceptions. No pointy hats/ears, and no fat turdfoots ("That's turdfeet!").

When I started playing stuff other than D&D I realised how narrowly I'd been constraining myself. Now I'll play any class, any race, and (almost) any game. Still no pointy ears though. I hate elves.

A lot of gamers (new or experienced) can/will only play one archetype. That's their choice. So long as it ain't "snooty elf" (that's a cliché, not a character) I'm cool with it. Sometimes its fun to see the same type of character in different settings.

Leopardi said...

My current character is a spoilt LN Str 4 wizard with a hormonal problem so he never hit puberty.

(in the same lo-fi 3E campagin as Dungeonmum, lo-fi because since 3E came out nobody's ever taken a prestige class gone over level 12 or taken any ridicolous splat-book feats).

My previous character was a CG hulking barbarian.

I find whatever character I play they end up having similar personality traits though, stupidly brave (if they die I can just make another one) and a bit annoying in a played for laughs way.

Anonymous said...

My first character was classic "my role-playing character". I think I've spent a couple weeks playing him, and then we thought of an adventure which would require a strong, stupid, evil guy - he actually was supposed to be the punching-bag of the adventure. "Sure", I said. "That would be cool".
Some time later I started thinking about having a wisecracking female character, followed by a sage-like cool old dude.
I guess I just couldn't put all of my gaming interests into just one character, however cool he was.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, initially, everyone played their character in any and all campaigns. You just had the one character at a time. Later, after the store sponsored gaming went away we settled into a campaign with 1 DM and 2 players. So we had 2 characters apiece. A few levels in, the M-U got stuck doing something at the magic college(or somesuch), the party ended up city bound. The Cleric ended up doing service at his temple/church so the Fighter and thief were left to their own devices. Fafhrd and Grey Mouser antics ensued. The thief did the second story work and when necessary my Fighter would pour a flask of oil over himself and set it aflame(I'm not sure we were doing fire damage properly). Lots of screaming, running and being chased by the watch followed. And thus the Legend of the Flaming Barbarian was born!

After that campaign fizzled out, we recruited 3-4 more players; and started adding LOTS of random stuff to character generation. Rolled for gender, Comeliness and used charts from ARDUIN or THE DRAGON for just about anything. The challenge was to weave all that into a character that made sense. My best character from this era was a female ranger. She probably was the most realized character I ever played, BECAUSE all the random bits forced me to really think about who this person was and why she was the way she was.

I really think you should strongly encourage your players to create new character that are completely different from their first characters. KK won an acting award, she shouldn't have trouble playing something not fitting her real life temperment. Maybe an all Dwarf party-encourage them to wear fake beards ala ZZTop style-take and post pics.

Caleb The Heretic said...

First character i rolled up with D&D 3.0 was a human monk, rather LG than being LN, but rather of the thinking sort of LG.
Then, after some discussion and debate, me and my group switched to point-buy and abolished rolling of ability scores.
So my second character was a human Red Wizard of Thay, evoker, fascinated with spells like ball lightning, fireball and similar mass destruction spells.
Third was a human necromancer being a follower of Kelemvor trying to destroy undead with some kind of hidden agenda.
Fourth character was a human telepath/thrallherder, a follower of Deneir.

I didn't start roleplaying with D&D 3.0 but with Shadowrun 2.01D(german edition of 2nd ed.)and the third edition of a German RPG named "Das Schwarze Auge"("The Dark Eye), that was about '93/94 or so. Regarding characters and growing interests... I guess i had those right from the start from since when i read and "soaked up" the Shadowrun core rulebook.

Just asking out of interest: Do you use LA for templates?

BigFella said...

I've always tended to like the dice to tell me what I'm gonna play over constructing the character from whole cloth. Since I write, and also have spent a lot of time on the numbery side of the GM screen, there are often too many possible routes to go, so I prefer using the game system as an "exquisite corpse" exercise and build on that. You can have a lot of fun if you let the game system surprise you.

That being said, over the past few years I've noticed that I do have character types I prefer. I like to play big brawly type characters who like to get creative with their mayhem. I also tend to like affable, unassuming fellas over driven or angry or dark characters.

E.G.Palmer said...

As a kid, I was a ruthless Min/Maxer. It was usually elf or half elf Fighter/Magic-user for me, since that seemed the most versitile and powerful combination. I gave them character and developed it in play, but I built that character on the most dangerous weapons platform I could come up with.

I'm of course, a lot older now, and I'll play anything now. At this point character and personality are more satisfiying to me than runing the main battle tank of the dark ages.

I'm still an unrelenting tactician though, it's just that winning with a "sub-optimal" character is more challenging and interesting.

Adam Dickstein said...

Because I'm more of a Sci-Fi and Comic Book guy than a medieval fantasy buff, I really had no qualms about the types of characters I played, except Human characters. I don't think I've ever played a Human in any game whose milieu allowed for other intelligent species. I also tend to be the GM in 90% of the games I play in.

My first character was Basic D&D Halfling and my second was a Dwarf. I often played short species but jumped around alot between Halfling, Dwarf and Gnome. While my favorite class is Cleric, I can just as easily play a Fighter, a Wizard/Magic User or a Rogue. It doesn't matter to me so much. As long as I can come up with a cool angle to make my PC interesting I'll pretty much play anything.

When it comes to SF and Superheroes its a different matter. I want to be the type of adventuing hero who I've always dreamed of. In Star Trek, Andorian Helmsman or Engineer. In Star Wars, Rodian Smuggler or Fighter Pilot. Traveller, Scout from some obscure minor race. Superheroes...tougher...I vary my supers alot but on average an Alien or Future Tech Space Guy.

Alex said...

I don't think I've ever had two characters going at once. When my friends have, it's been different genres and game systems.

I think I'd find it hard to play two different D&D characters at once; there aren't that many character concepts that I find engaging. Playing copies of the same character would be a bit off-putting, too, because I figure I'd quickly start to think of them as "the cool one" and "the sucky one", even on the basis of minor differences.

What would make it way, way easier for me is giving that second campaign a clearly different premise. I think the easiest way to do this is to change up the party's job description. Instead of "you're adventurers", it could be like "you're a tribe of barbarians on a quest to awaken your dead god" or "you're a team of do-gooding super-thieves" -- some sort of setup that still supports the kinds of adventures you want to be having, but changes up the party dynamic a bit and gives everyone this one new element to add to their character.

-- Alex

Herobizkit said...

I'm a vet player with over 20 years experience, so I've pretty much played 'em all. I'm a role-player; I enjoy the character creation process, both the fiddly bits and the character fluff.

I have often played solo with one DM, and in such cases, I have played two characters at once. It's not easy, but it's dang entertaining.

I gravitate towards the bard/scholar/skill types most often. Magic is annoying to keep track of so I invariably play spontaneous casters, or Warlocks. I also play Clerics a lot.

Re: your situation. Is there any reason why the girls can't use the same characters in both sections? You're the only one who's worried about the verisimilitude of your campaign world, so you answer: Portals.

Watch Stargate and Stargate: Atlantis to see whre I'm going with this. They have a home base they work out of, but then Portal to a new area to deal with other stuff.

Zak Sabbath said...


re: portals.

i could write a whole post about why i don;t want to do that or you could just trust me that it's not a good fit for this campaign, these players, or this DM.

Unknown said...

When I first started the game I would be perfectly happy making a new character every game session. This led to me starting to DM so I could play a different monster every week.

Now, I have a character I've run for five years straight in one campaign and a menagerie of different characters in another campaign.

I think some DM's become a DM to be able to play the ultimate variety of characters (akak monsters).

Nation said...

My first "serious" DM had some strict house rules about race & class - everybody's first character had to be single-class human. From there, as characters died or retired, levels gained with those characters would dictate the degree to which a player could start diversifying.

As a result, my first *real* (i.e. long-term campaign) character was not one that I would have otherwise chosen. I became very attached to him, though; by being forced to roleplay outside my comfort zone, I had a much fuller experience.

After that character retired, it took several "misses" before I got another "hit". It's really tough to transfer your loyalties to a new character if you're leaving behind one you're proud of. What makes it a little easier is realizing that you can't really *recreate* the exploits of characters past... You can only honor the memories and try to outdo them in the future...

Herobizkit said...

@Zak S...

I would love to see a post about why Portals Are Bad For Me And My Girls. :)

Anonymous said...

I've always been attracted to D&D for the same reason I was attracted to theatre as a youth: it allows me to be someone other than me. In fact, both allow me to be many other someones. Also, I find character creation almost as much fun as actually playing the game.

Anonymous said...

I’ve always played either the group’s sneaky guy or, given the chance, an unassuming, totally not METAL fighter type with more brains than brawn (read: more Int than Str). He fought dirty, used whatever was in his reach as a weapon (proficiencies: club, short sword, knife, IIRC), and always had a backpack full of non-magical tricks. He played like the fucking batman, incredible fun.

That was pretty much the only character I ever played, until I discovered that it can be a lot of fun to introduce the PCs into all kinds of dire situations. Thus came the Flawed Characters Phase. (We had a forgiving DM.)

Then I encountered story games and the Forge. I don’t buy into GNS, but some games provided me with valuable insight, so I generally create characters that in some way resonate with the other PCs, pretty much regardless of class/race. I have only had the chance to do so once, but it worked out pretty well.

Grey said...

"Were you like that when you started?"

Yes, Maeglin the elf wizard.

"If you were, when did your interests grow, if at all?"

He died - in a cool enough time/place/way that it felt like a fitting end.

After that I became more flexible.