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Thread: DM playing with PC?
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 08:05 AM #11
Magsman (Lvl 14)
I have seen it done well and seen it done badly.
When it is done well the DM is able to separate the knowledge of the DNPC from his knowledge of the overall game. The biggest drawback is trying to run him in combat it usually better to let another player do it though I have seen a DM run it just fine. He was also comfortable talking to himself.
When it is done badly the DMPC takes over the whole game and the rest become nothing but henchmen. I had a DM do this and it drove all of us crazy. Not only did he always shine and was a special DM creation who had amazing rogue skills, could fly and had innate magic but he would withhold things he discovered from the rest of us.Favorite line heard at the table "I am killing to subdue" Kavo the Dwarf
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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 09:04 AM #12
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
It's not good if the DM identifies with a character as "my character".
It's fine for the DM to have an NPC accompanying the party.
It's not rocket science.
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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 10:04 AM #13
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
IMO, signs you should not run a DMPC include:
1) You are excited about the character in some way. Doesn't matter whether it's the build or their back-story. File the character sheet for "next time I play"
2) You make the character vital to the plot line. Kill them (or retire them as non-adventuring NPC) immediately, and have one of the player PCs inherit the plot line.
3) You really want to play, and have reluctantly taken on the DM role because someone has to. Figure out how you might enjoy DM-ing without having your own PC, and/or talk it through with the group.
4) You have 4 or more regular players with PCs in the group already. You will need to concentrate on entertaining those players, and your own complex character to run is going to get in the way more often than it is entertaining on that ratio. If the story still requires that they have an adventuring companion, build it simply (as NPC/Monster), play it as an NPC and have it stay out of the way most of the time.
Signs you could (or even should) run a DMPC:
1) You have between 1 and 3 players, and they are not interested in managing extra characters themselves. They may also lack an important party role such as front-line fighter or healer. Make a DMPC to fill the gap, try to hand as much decision making for it to the players as they can accept.
2) I can't think of a (2) here . . . perhaps another poster can?
Last edited by slobo777; Monday, 15th October, 2012 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Clarified anti-(2) and pro-(1)
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 05:54 PM #14
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
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DMPCs are problematic, but in the right group, they can work.
This requires a dm who will not favor his own pc, a group that is okay with having the dm play a pc while he dms and a small enough number of players that the dm's added character doesn't slow the game down or detract from their game time.
I generally recommend against it, but it can work. Adding an npc to the party is a better choice.
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 06:44 PM #15
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Ideally there's no difference between any random NPC and a "PC" that the DM controls within the party. You just have to remember not to use said DMPC in any way that in-game that character wouldn't act, or using information that they wouldn't know. There shouldn't be any difference, and they can be valued, likeable characters.
When my first Planescape campaign was going, the PCs didn't have a rogue, so I came up with a level 1 tiefling rogue to accompany the PCs on the first adventure, thrown into the same blackmail situation as they were. They liked her, and they asked that she stay after that story arc was complete. Three years and almost twenty levels later I killed her off. I almost got tossed over a balcony by angry players, and they had their PCs travel to the depths of the negative energy plane to recover her soul in order to bring her back to life. Mind you, I used her more for social interaction and a likeable mouthpiece more than for her stats. More than once I forgot to level her up with the PCs, and she was built in such a way that made sense but would have made members of the WotC CharOP board bleed from their eyes (something like Rogue 8/Wiz1/Xaositect 10).
Never had issues like some have seen with "DMPCs", but I don't see any sort of competitive or adversarial relationship between the DM and players. I'm crafting a world and setting the stage for a story and they're acting in key roles for how a part (often a major part) of that world develops and plays out. A DM using a PC isn't a big deal in my view, and I have trouble seeing how it's any different from any old NPC.
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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 11:30 PM #16
Novice (Lvl 1)
It's your game, do what you feel is right!
Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 12:44 AM #17
Defender (Lvl 8)
Like they have said, a DMPC is not a problem with the right group. I once ended up with one without having actually planned for it. (Of course my group is fairly small and there is little room for envy, for example they treat PC resources as party resources. There is a memorable combat when the bard tossed his sword to the fighter so he could have an off-hand weapon for the particular situation).
The story is actually funny. The party was assaulted by a band of thieves and became their unwilling guests, however trough clever planning they convinced the band leader to allow them to live and proceed with their quest, while remaining their prisoners and giving away most of the spoils. Of course they also took advantage of the thieves using them as cannon fodder agaisnt the Big Bad Monster of the current level, one epic battle with lots of double cross later, the only remaining bandit was their dying leader (which was an actual rogue rather than just an expert or warrior like the rest of the bandits) whom the PC's made beg for his life and enslaved in exchange for the so needed healing. And that is how I ended up with a DMPC without having meant it.
Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 01:02 AM #18
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
Megadittoes to the majority of the above. DMPCs need to be killed with fire.
I've played under several different DMs who have tried DMPCs, and not a single one could pull it off. In three different cases, the DMPC became the *star* of the game, got preferential treatment, and subtracted time the DM should have been using to prepare the game while the DM discussed with the players what his PC should do for his next level, what shopping trip his PC would go on, etc. In one case, it contributed to a player revolt after five games that resulted in the DM being removed, to the benefit of all -- I'd name names, as the individual in question was once an EN World poster, but prefer not to speak ill of the dead.
A temporarily plot-essential NPC, a cleric who is there to provide some healing to the party but otherwise fades into the background, or other approaches to NPCs who do not cross the line into "PC" are fine.
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Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 01:31 AM #19
Guide (Lvl 11)
I just want to voice the opinion that not every NPC should be a minor blip on the radar. Kings and queens, evil nemeses, cunning competitors, powerful friends and allies; none of these should be avoided just because they're more powerful or important to the game world or story. But as a DM, care should be taken to make sure that they're not more important to you.
Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 01:53 AM #20
Novice (Lvl 1)
I would also be interested when I DM my own adventures, just to be able to "participate". But I may very well also be happy just being the DM and controlling the normal NPCs, and creating havoc for my other player's PCs.
I'm taking what everyone her has written into consideration, and think I may limit myself to just DMing without my PC, or even my own NPC for now, and try to get my PCing in when not DMing.