Monday, December 20, 2010

The Replacement Killers aka the New PCs

This one is directly inspired by the posting over at Comics in Crisis. See, I'm a big fan of Super Hero comics. I've read many and owned many and even started a little subscription to Marvel's online thing to see how it handles. I figure if WoTC could suck out some money for years before leaving me in the dust with their terrible online offering, I'd see how another online offering that wasn't game related went.

Before I drift too far off the point though, replacement characters in mid campaign can be somewhat problematic. How do you easily slide in new players with a minimum impact to the current game? Depending the style of game you run, it may be as simple as, "Bam, you're there. Let's get gaming." That works well for games where the actual gaming is the main thing everyone is there for. But for other games... Let me talk about some of the ways I've seen it done.

1. Prisoner: The cheap and easy way to add a member to a party that's in mid-dungeon crawl. I've done it myself and while I'd hate to say it is a classic method, it is one that I've seen used several times. The thing is though, and perhaps I'm just fortunate, that at no time did the other players mess with the prisoner. You've got this guy, supposedly about the same level as you, with no gear or equipment, and you've got him at your mercy. Most gamers will go, "Hey dude, we just lost X. Glad to have you above. Here's your gear." For those groups that may not though...

2. Survivor: This fellow isn't some down and out hero that needs rescuring. He's been exploring the dungeon as well but his whole group bit the bucket and he managed to escape. It is indeed a shame that the fireball or collapsing cavern destroyed all of the items of his team mates, but not only is he ready to go and in top spirits and form needing only some stout allies to assist him, he doesn't necessarily have to rely on the other players to 'save' him from his situation.

3. Enemy Mine: The new player is actually one of the enemy! In 3rd ed and 4th ed and other games, such as Hero or GURPS, the lure of playing something odd may be strong. In a situation that allows for it, such as when the players are fighting drow, lizard men, or other humanoid entities that can easily be swaped into the party, especially the half-breeds that may have something against their betters like the half-orcs, this can be an easy time to throw in a character that may or may not have the party's best interest at heart. Like with the escaped slave scenario though, it relies on the players not to abusre each other over such things. After all, the empire of monsters have more treasure than a single monster right?

4. NPC Promotion: In this case, the players have brought along with them a wide variety of henchmen and hirelings to take the brunt, I mean, explore from the front. These characters may with the GM's permission move from the low level rankings of NPCs to full fledged player character. Sure, the character may experience a power growth and may be slightly different, but unless it is really going to effect the game, what's the point of worrying about it?

When replacing a character in mid stream, try to work not only with the GM, but with the current situation to allow the fit to be one that's as seemless as possible and one that allows the dungeon exploration to continue.