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D&D 5E As a Player, why do you play in games you haven't bought into?

Jeez, long thread for what basically amounts to: special snowflake That Guys are really annoying. Yes, yes they are.

I used to encounter my fair share of knee-jerk contrarians, special snowflakes, prima donnas, spotlight-hogs, and would-be "main" characters who expected their fellow players to be their supporting cast… years ago, when I still played role-playing games that came with a built-in assumption of restriction-free, kitchen-sink character creation. But I quit playing games like that for good over a decade and a half ago. And now I don't have that problem anymore. It went away, along with the need to spend an entire "session zero" on the rote business of character generation.

Like, I get the appeal of buy-in and planned campaigns and creating characters custom-tailored to a specific campaign theme or story arc, I really do. I used to be all about that stuff, ages ago. But I also used to feel a lingering sense of vague unease and dissatisfaction with that "standard model" of RPG, because it never really worked for me. Ever. What does work for me, I've discovered, is creating a milieu that lends itself to a tight set of character generation parameters, and players (open-minded players, or better yet, new players coming to the table without assumptions) who sit down willing to roll 3d6 in order before they pick a character class off of a list that's been tailored to the milieu.

Is that terribly old-fashioned and undemocratic? Yup. And it works a treat. The referee creates the setting, the setting determines the rules (as opposed to the rules determining the setting), and the rules constrain character generation. When you do it that way, there's not a lot of room for a player to sneak their attention-sucking Donut Steel into the campaign.
 
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Raunalyn

Adventurer
@Raunalyn did ask a very pertinent question though. What difference did it make that the players came to the session 0 with completely made characters?
I got a 1/2 orc bard who wanted to sell self help books, a firbolg druid runaway slave who was exiled from her people, a paladin soldier whose player refused the offer of a free house in Saltmarsh as part of the background, an illusionist charlatan and a human ranger smuggler.
So, every player shows up with a pre-made character, right? Could it be possible that you didn't communicate your expectation that everyone create characters in session zero as well as you thought you did? In every campaign we have done as a group, we show up to session zero with characters and discuss them with the DM. We've done this for years. You've done this with me when I ran my campaigns. Maybe it isn't so much that the players ignored you, or were special snowflakes (as mentioned in a previous comment), but maybe it is just what they are used to.
Oh, and did I mention no one actually read any of the setting background material that I presented?
That isn't quite true. I know quite a bit about Greyhawk, and a good amount about Saltmarsh. I did read the background material presented, and if I recall, I was helping you present some of that information to the other players. I own the module and read the introduction, but did not read anything else because you mentioned you would like to run it.
So, yeah, it was a major problem for me when everyone ignored what I said and showed up with fully made characters.
How would that have changed things? Would the players waiting until session zero to create characters have changed their character choices? As was mentioned before, at least one character wasn't completely created, and the mini-game would have done little to change character ideas since it was only to tie the characters to the setting in some way.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So, every player shows up with a pre-made character, right? Could it be possible that you didn't communicate your expectation that everyone create characters in session zero as well as you thought you did? In every campaign we have done as a group, we show up to session zero with characters and discuss them with the DM. We've done this for years. You've done this with me when I ran my campaigns. Maybe it isn't so much that the players ignored you, or were special snowflakes (as mentioned in a previous comment), but maybe it is just what they are used to.
To present another possibility. If it's what you all are used to, you could have ignored/forgotten about the request out of habit. :)
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
@Raunalyn did ask a very pertinent question though. What difference did it make that the players came to the session 0 with completely made characters? Well, here's what my expectations were and here's what I wound up with:

Expectation:

The character generation game that I was going to use would ensure that the PC's had ties to each other. But, just as importantly, they would have ties to events, NPC's and plots within Saltmarsh. Every PC would know at least one and probably several important NPCs, would know the political situation in Saltmarsh, and be embedded in the setting right from the outset.

What I got:

I got a 1/2 orc bard who wanted to sell self help books, a firbolg druid runaway slave who was exiled from her people, a paladin soldier whose player refused the offer of a free house in Saltmarsh as part of the background, an illusionist charlatan and a human ranger smuggler.

So, instead of hitting the ground running with things already settled, I had to spend the first two or three sessions trying to get as much information as I could from into the hands of the players so that they could make informed decisions about what they wanted to do, all the while trying to accommodate backgrounds that had virtually nothing to do with the campaign, and drop enough hooks to get them going on the introductory adventure - Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. I had to introduce locations, NPC's, politics and everything else, all in three hour sessions while still making the session interesting enough for everyone involved.

Oh, and did I mention no one actually read any of the setting background material that I presented?

So, yeah, it was a major problem for me when everyone ignored what I said and showed up with fully made characters.

So, I'm confused. How did having them show up partially or completely made prevent you from tying them together or tying them to Saltmarsh?

Was there something about being, I don't know, a Firbolg that prevented that player from having ties to the community? Did the guy selling self-help books prevent him from having met the paladin on the road and fighting off a bandit ambush together?



I mean, if my players knew I wanted them to have ties to each other, it generally only takes a little bit of group discussion to create connections, like maybe the Charlatan enjoys the work of the half-orc bard and is enthused about the chance to have the author to add credibility to a con.

I almost feel like you just threw up your hands and gave up trying to tie these characters to each other and the town, but they arrived to the session 0, which tells me that there was still plenty of time to re-work backgrounds and build these connections. Maybe even completely alter a character or two.


I understand frustration with people ignoring the rules you want to set out, my most recent game I wanted to try a new way of rolling stats, where they rolled in batches of three so they could move their mental stats or their physical ones, but not mix them.

Everyone ignored me. A lot of players rolling even after I had said I didn't want them to roll yet, because I was helping newer players. And it was frustrating... but it wasn't really a big deal.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Maybe you didn't read the rest of it, or see my question from earlier. I didn't finish my character...I did everything but create the background.

My question is what, outside of background, is different about using a standard array to create your character abilities, your race, class, spells, and equipment before the session than it is during session zero? I can see waiting for the background (which I did), but not the rest of it.
How about this....

You have a prewritten character in your head...a heavily armored dwarven cleric who is also a blacksmith runeshaper type of character.

You show up at the table. You realize the other 4 players also had heavily armored dwarven clerics in their head as character ideas.

Then the GM show up and pitches the idea of running Tomb of Annihilation as the campaign where they want to strictly enforce the feel of the heat and oppression of life in the jungle....including penalties for heavy armor AND a lack of access to civilization.

At this point you can trash your concept and create something totally new so that you aren't a party of 5 heavily armored dwarves trudging through the jungles of Chult, or you can stick to your guns and see how it works.

The point is that it's not WRONG or BAD to come to session 0 with a concept in mind but people are trying to say ideally that concept will gel once you are sitting at the table and collaborating with the other players and GM.

My group during session 0 literally does a bit of bargaining amongst the players to decide who is going to play what class/style to ensure the party has the basics it's going to need to succeed. If one player strongly wants to play a ranged attacker, then the next player who is more open might be more likely to take a character concept that is melee to synergize better.

In a way, it's more important to create a PARTY during session 0, not a loosely meshed set of 4 adventurers each created in a vacuum.

That's my take, anyway.
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
How about this....

You have a prewritten character in your head...a heavily armored dwarven cleric who is also a blacksmith runeshaper type of character.

You show up at the table. You realize the other 4 players also had heavily armored dwarven clerics in their head as character ideas.

Then the GM show up and pitches the idea of running Tomb of Annihilation as the campaign where they want to strictly enforce the feel of the heat and oppression of life in the jungle....including penalties for heavy armor AND a lack of access to civilization.

At this point you can trash your concept and create something totally new so that you aren't a party of 5 heavily armored dwarves trudging through the jungles of Chult, or you can stick to your guns and see how it works.

The point is that it's not WRONG or BAD to come to session 0 with a concept in mind but people are trying to say ideally that concept will gel once you are sitting at the table and collaborating with the other players and GM.

My group during session 0 literally does a bit of bargaining amongst the players to decide who is going to play what class/style to ensure the party has the basics it's going to need to succeed. If one player strongly wants to play a ranged attacker, then the next player who is more open might be more likely to take a character concept that is melee to synergize better.

In a way, it's more important to create a PARTY during session 0, not a loosely meshed set of 4 adventurers each created in a vacuum.

That's my take, anyway.
Except, beforehand, we did exactly this. We talked about our concepts (and the DM was present), and discussed which roles our characters would take.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Except, beforehand, we did exactly this. We talked about our concepts (and the DM was present), and discussed which roles our characters would take.

On minute 1 of session 1 if all the PCs were standing in the town square would they all know each other and be recognized by the townfolk with your backstories?
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
On minute 1 of session 1 if all the PCs were standing in the town square would they all know each other and be recognized by the townfolk with your backstories?
What is the difference between discussing characters with each other with the DM present before session zero and creating those exact same characters in session zero?
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
So, I'm confused. How did having them show up partially or completely made prevent you from tying them together or tying them to Saltmarsh?

Was there something about being, I don't know, a Firbolg that prevented that player from having ties to the community? Did the guy selling self-help books prevent him from having met the paladin on the road and fighting off a bandit ambush together?



I mean, if my players knew I wanted them to have ties to each other, it generally only takes a little bit of group discussion to create connections, like maybe the Charlatan enjoys the work of the half-orc bard and is enthused about the chance to have the author to add credibility to a con.

I almost feel like you just threw up your hands and gave up trying to tie these characters to each other and the town, but they arrived to the session 0, which tells me that there was still plenty of time to re-work backgrounds and build these connections. Maybe even completely alter a character or two.


I understand frustration with people ignoring the rules you want to set out, my most recent game I wanted to try a new way of rolling stats, where they rolled in batches of three so they could move their mental stats or their physical ones, but not mix them.

Everyone ignored me. A lot of players rolling even after I had said I didn't want them to roll yet, because I was helping newer players. And it was frustrating... but it wasn't really a big deal.
Bingo!
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
On minute 1 of session 1 if all the PCs were standing in the town square would they all know each other and be recognized by the townfolk with your backstories?

Wait, isn't this shifting goal posts?

Nothing in your first post necessitated that the party know each other, just that the players figured out their roles and the setting. That doesn't mean that they are already starting off in a group and working together.

Also, who cares if they are recognized by the Townsfolk? I mean, sure, Hussar has been saying he wanted to connect them to Saltmarsh, but you can be connected to a place without the majority of townspeople recognizing you.

You've moved from "You should be willing to change your concept if it doesn't fit" to "you should all be a pre-formed group, with defined roles attached to the starting town in recognizable ways" which is a way more specific ask.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In a way, it's more important to create a PARTY during session 0, not a loosely meshed set of 4 adventurers each created in a vacuum.
I'd rather they create their characters mostly in a vacuum such that as far as the dice and setting allow they're playing what they want; and if by some chance they all end up with the same thing they can either run with it as is or go out and recruit some NPCs (or roll up second characters) to fill holes.

I really try to avoid situations where people are saying "I'll be the tank, you be the caster" as that inevitably leads to someone getting stuck playing a character out of necessity rather than desire.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
What is the difference between discussing characters with each other with the DM present before session zero and creating those exact same characters in session zero?
Creating the exact same characters during session zero would be worse, honestly. At that point, you've made a more conscious decision to completely ignore the hooks the GM is offering into the setting and adventure than if you just do it beforehand.

I feel there's some additional information hiding in the gaps here. When you say you discussed the characters and the GM was present, what format was this in? Was it after a session online, or in chat, or some other social media? How involved was the GM in your character discussion -- so far we have you saying the GM was present and the GM saying they explicitly said (and you've acknowledged) to not make characters prior to session zero. Right now, it really reads like you're trying to use the GM's presence during pre-session zero discussion to justify completely ignoring the instructions on character generation. And, now, you're presenting an argument that the exact same characters would have been created during session zero even if there had been no pre-session discussion or planning. I can even understand this last argument -- it makes no sense to me. You're saying that all the players would have done exactly the same thing even if they had no pre-conceived concepts and had played the planned character creation mini-game. That suggests that it wouldn't matter to the players what was being presented in any way -- they'd still just do whatever they wanted. Which is the actual point of the thread -- why indicate you've bought into a concept if you're going to ignore it?

Further, you've indicated that you'd actually read the adventure setting. Yet, you still created a character that had no connection to that setting and then stated you became dissatisfied because your background -- again, unrelated to the adventure or adventure setting -- had not been made important by the GM. This is, again, directly in line with the OP complaint.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Wait, isn't this shifting goal posts?

Nothing in your first post necessitated that the party know each other, just that the players figured out their roles and the setting. That doesn't mean that they are already starting off in a group and working together.

Also, who cares if they are recognized by the Townsfolk? I mean, sure, Hussar has been saying he wanted to connect them to Saltmarsh, but you can be connected to a place without the majority of townspeople recognizing you.

You've moved from "You should be willing to change your concept if it doesn't fit" to "you should all be a pre-formed group, with defined roles attached to the starting town in recognizable ways" which is a way more specific ask.
The OP has stated that the intent of the character creation mini-game was to tie the PCs together and to the setting. While I agree with you that being recognized by all the townsfolk isn't required, being recognized by some seems legit, and definitely knowing the other (or some of the other) PCs. The question isn't entirely invalidated because it went further than the premise, and it's easily corrected by just adding "some" in two places.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
On minute 1 of session 1 if all the PCs were standing in the town square would they all know each other and be recognized by the townfolk with your backstories?
If they all already know each other right at puck drop something's gone wrong; as it means we somehow skipped over roleplaying their introductions to each other, their first impressions, and so forth.

That said, if they're all locals they certainly might know of each other - but that's a big difference from actually knowing each other, as on first meeting you then have to square what you've heard about the person with what's standing in front of you.
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
Creating the exact same characters during session zero would be worse, honestly. At that point, you've made a more conscious decision to completely ignore the hooks the GM is offering into the setting and adventure than if you just do it beforehand.
I think you're misinterpreting my argument. We discussed our characters together before session zero when the DM was present. Then we made those exact characters during session zero.

I feel there's some additional information hiding in the gaps here. When you say you discussed the characters and the GM was present, what format was this in? Was it after a session online, or in chat, or some other social media? How involved was the GM in your character discussion -- so far we have you saying the GM was present and the GM saying they explicitly said (and you've acknowledged) to not make characters prior to session zero. Right now, it really reads like you're trying to use the GM's presence during pre-session zero discussion to justify completely ignoring the instructions on character generation. And, now, you're presenting an argument that the exact same characters would have been created during session zero even if there had been no pre-session discussion or planning. I can even understand this last argument -- it makes no sense to me. You're saying that all the players would have done exactly the same thing even if they had no pre-conceived concepts and had played the planned character creation mini-game. That suggests that it wouldn't matter to the players what was being presented in any way -- they'd still just do whatever they wanted. Which is the actual point of the thread -- why indicate you've bought into a concept if you're going to ignore it?
We play online. He was in the Discord call when we had our discussion. He was involved in the discussion in so much as he provided what generation method we would use, what races and classes were available, etc. If he didn't like one of the characters during that process, he had an option to completely veto that character then. The interesting thing about his instructions to not make characters before session zero is that all 5 of these players made their characters before session zero. Some of us waited to finish our characters during session zero.

So, there are a few scenarios here; either he didn't communicate that requirement as well as he thought he did, or, as I suggested, all of us are in the habit of presenting our characters during session zero for DM approval and to discuss how we are connected. Hussar's mini-game helped us establish that connection to each other and to the town. What difference would it have made if we had created characters prior to session zero to play that mini-game, or to make the characters during session zero to do the exact same thing?
Further, you've indicated that you'd actually read the adventure setting. Yet, you still created a character that had no connection to that setting and then stated you became dissatisfied because your background -- again, unrelated to the adventure or adventure setting -- had not been made important by the GM. This is, again, directly in line with the OP complaint.
What makes you think my character wasn't tied to the setting? I explained several times in this very thread how I was connected; I was a charlatan who was selling my wares to the town. Someone in the town thought of me as a fraud, so I was doing good deeds for the town to gain the good-will of the townsfolk so I could continue with my scam. One of the other PCs was my guard. That ties me to the town, ties me to an NPC, and ties me to another character. All established during the mini-game.

I will give Hussar the benefit of the doubt in that he didn't have time to do anything with it...as I stated before, I had to drop out early. Things might have gone differently in the game if I had remained; one of the players likes the tactical aspect of the game...i.e. combat. Another is a bit loud and has a tendency to talk over other players (this happens sometimes...Hussar does that too. Nothing negative about either of them because strong personalities do that). He tends to try to tell everyone else what to do. A third likes to make unique and quirky characters, and the 4th likes to role-play. Me, I tend to think that I am a balance of all of this and try to be the one to keep focus (not always successful). Maybe if I had stayed, I could have helped keep focus. But life happens.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'd rather they create their characters mostly in a vacuum such that as far as the dice and setting allow they're playing what they want; and if by some chance they all end up with the same thing they can either run with it as is or go out and recruit some NPCs (or roll up second characters) to fill holes.

I really try to avoid situations where people are saying "I'll be the tank, you be the caster" as that inevitably leads to someone getting stuck playing a character out of necessity rather than desire.
Hey we found a thing we agree on!

Well, except that I'd rather still create characters more or less together, and just reassure players that it won't matter if there are two clerics. Because IME a lot of players just aren't going to have fun if the player next to them is playing the same thing as them.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
The OP has stated that the intent of the character creation mini-game was to tie the PCs together and to the setting. While I agree with you that being recognized by all the townsfolk isn't required, being recognized by some seems legit, and definitely knowing the other (or some of the other) PCs. The question isn't entirely invalidated because it went further than the premise, and it's easily corrected by just adding "some" in two places.

I get what the OP is, but that was not what Sabathius was presenting.

He presented a hypothetical. Raunalyn answered that hypothetical as presented.

Then Sabathius countered by asking if the characters could be recognize each other and be recognized by the town in minute one.

That was not part of the hypothetical they presented, so why act like it was a legitimate counter to the response Raunalyn crafted. If that was supposed to be part of the initial hypothetical, I certainly didn't catch it. And so I'm wondering why there were these additional stipulations added in after the answer was given.



Sure, for the OP, being recognized by the town is important... but if we are taking the OPs exact scenario, then that could still be trivially accomplished in some ways. Such as the townsfolk recognizing the author bard, or maybe the soldier has an old war buddy in town.

Yes, the characters did not already include those elements, but they came into session 0 with characters, and those characters could still be molded to match those expectations. So I'm still not understanding how what the players did was so terrible. Did they do something he told them not to do in making the characters early? Yes, but that was standard practice for this group, so that is a minor infraction at best. And everything the DM wanted to accomplish sounds like it was still accomplishable. So... why wasn't it?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I think you're misinterpreting my argument. We discussed our characters together before session zero when the DM was present. Then we made those exact characters during session zero.
The problem I have here is that you basically ignored any GM input in session zero. You say below you incorporated the GM's hooks, but no such evidence has been presented. Your character doesn't have any connection to the setting, for instance, and another character refused a house in the area. You went with your preconceived ideas -- there was no attempt to align with the setting or adventure hooks as far as I can tell. Please, if I'm wrong, present the evidence.
We play online. He was in the Discord call when we had our discussion. He was involved in the discussion in so much as he provided what generation method we would use, what races and classes were available, etc. If he didn't like one of the characters during that process, he had an option to completely veto that character then. The interesting thing about his instructions to not make characters before session zero is that all 5 of these players made their characters before session zero. Some of us waited to finish our characters during session zero.
You're overselling the "GM was present" angle, here and trying to make it seem like the GM was actively engaged with whatever character creation the players performed. However, when you present specifics, there's nothing here about discussions with the GM, or the GM providing hooks for characters. Instead, you present the rather anodyne statement that GM involvement was telling you the generation method and races/classes available and then providing instruction to not create characters until session zero. That you ignored this and did so anyway does not indicate the GM was okay with that.
So, there are a few scenarios here; either he didn't communicate that requirement as well as he thought he did, or, as I suggested, all of us are in the habit of presenting our characters during session zero for DM approval and to discuss how we are connected. Hussar's mini-game helped us establish that connection to each other and to the town. What difference would it have made if we had created characters prior to session zero to play that mini-game, or to make the characters during session zero to do the exact same thing?
No, there cannot be multiple scenarios here -- the thing has happened; there is just the one scenario. When you present things like this -- counterfactual arguments about what might have happened -- it undercuts your credibility. You've already indicated you were aware of the instruction to not create characters prior to session zero, so there's no failure to communicate for you. Perhaps another player failed to hear this, but you're hypothesizing, and doing so in a way that undercuts your argument that the GM was present when you created characters and so knew about it. If one of the players could fail to understand or hear the instruction to not create characters, and this is a plausible and valid argument, then it cuts back to say that the GM could have failed to understand any discussion wasn't just spitballing ideas prior to actual character creation. You cannot have it both ways. Regardless, you cannot speak for others, so the hypothetical doesn't apply when asking you for your recollections.

If you are in the habit of making characters beforehand, so what? In what way does that actually excuse not paying attention to the GM? I mean, you certainly don't have to, but you can't claim a moral high ground in the discussion by effectively saying you ignored him because it wasn't what you were used to.
What makes you think my character wasn't tied to the setting? I explained several times in this very thread how I was connected; I was a charlatan who was selling my wares to the town. Someone in the town thought of me as a fraud, so I was doing good deeds for the town to gain the good-will of the townsfolk so I could continue with my scam. One of the other PCs was my guard. That ties me to the town, ties me to an NPC, and ties me to another character. All established during the mini-game.
Perhaps my understanding of connected is different from yours, and perhaps the GM's. I don't see anything in there that suggests actual connection. Your story is utterly generic -- it works in any town -- and doesn't give you any motivation to actually do anything except for money, which, presumably, if the task is too dangerous or too onerous then you just move to the next mark of a town. The connection to another PC is mercenary -- he's your hired hand. No loyalty, no personal connection, nothing. The NPC connection is similar -- a NPC thinks I swindled them? That's not a connection, it's an accusation -- there's no motivation to do anything for or against this NPC.

Maybe that's what the GM thought was a good connection, although, given his posts, that seems unlikely. It seems more like that was the maximum extent to which you were willing to accommodate, and seems in line with many stories where a player doesn't actually want levers on their PCs the GM has access to. As such, none of the hooks you're touting for your character have a barb -- they're pain free to ignore.
I will give Hussar the benefit of the doubt in that he didn't have time to do anything with it...as I stated before, I had to drop out early. Things might have gone differently in the game if I had remained; one of the players likes the tactical aspect of the game...i.e. combat. Another is a bit loud and has a tendency to talk over other players (this happens sometimes...Hussar does that too. Nothing negative about either of them because strong personalities do that). He tends to try to tell everyone else what to do. A third likes to make unique and quirky characters, and the 4th likes to role-play. Me, I tend to think that I am a balance of all of this and try to be the one to keep focus (not always successful). Maybe if I had stayed, I could have helped keep focus. But life happens.
The GM has said that they were not a good fit with the group -- that the play goals were misaligned. Nothing you've posted in this thread suggests that you were the one to align them. After all, your participation in this thread has been to defend your own actions and place blame on the GM, which isn't a strong sign that you'd have been the voice of reconciliation.

Look, I hate pregen adventures for precisely the reasons shown in this thread -- they work best with strong direction of PC generation by the GM. I don't like that. I do, however, insist that players work within the themes we've decided to play. My current 5e game is a Planescape game, and so anything goes PC wise. However, I did insist that the PCs must be ones that would seek adventure and that they would be willing and able to work in a group and to not finalize characters until the first session of play (session 1/2, as it was a mixture of 0 and 1). In the first part of that session, we ran a mini-game where I had the first select player select another player and tell me what they were doing together when they met or became friends -- ie provide the scene. I then provided a setting NPC or organization that complicated things and we rolled a die to determine how that scene went, and the second player narrated the result of what happened. This way, each character had a story binding them both to the setting and to each other. We repeated this for each player selecting a different character and then reversing the result of the first die roll. So, each character had close connection and shared stories with two other characters, the group as a whole was tightly interconnected, and each character has a positive relation with a setting NPC or organization and a negative one. This set the scene for the game, and we finalized PCs (one player made a large change because he thought it better fit with the fiction generated) and proceeded to play. The first adventure was pre-done, but also not very consequential, and was used to set up campaign themes more strongly, but since then it's been character backstories and the rogues gallery we created together to see what happens next.

I say this because if you followed what you've outlined you did here, we'd probably have strongly clashed, especially given your position that you were correct to do as you did because that's how you always did it.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I get what the OP is, but that was not what Sabathius was presenting.

He presented a hypothetical. Raunalyn answered that hypothetical as presented.

Then Sabathius countered by asking if the characters could be recognize each other and be recognized by the town in minute one.

That was not part of the hypothetical they presented, so why act like it was a legitimate counter to the response Raunalyn crafted. If that was supposed to be part of the initial hypothetical, I certainly didn't catch it. And so I'm wondering why there were these additional stipulations added in after the answer was given.



Sure, for the OP, being recognized by the town is important... but if we are taking the OPs exact scenario, then that could still be trivially accomplished in some ways. Such as the townsfolk recognizing the author bard, or maybe the soldier has an old war buddy in town.

Yes, the characters did not already include those elements, but they came into session 0 with characters, and those characters could still be molded to match those expectations. So I'm still not understanding how what the players did was so terrible. Did they do something he told them not to do in making the characters early? Yes, but that was standard practice for this group, so that is a minor infraction at best. And everything the DM wanted to accomplish sounds like it was still accomplishable. So... why wasn't it?
I read the second question more as a followup to the response given to the first rather than a modification to the first hypothetical. YMMV.
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
The problem I have here is that you basically ignored any GM input in session zero. You say below you incorporated the GM's hooks, but no such evidence has been presented. Your character doesn't have any connection to the setting, for instance, and another character refused a house in the area. You went with your preconceived ideas -- there was no attempt to align with the setting or adventure hooks as far as I can tell. Please, if I'm wrong, present the evidence.
The GM didn't present any hooks until session zero. The hooks he presented were generic, as is what usually happens in an adventure path.
You're overselling the "GM was present" angle, here and trying to make it seem like the GM was actively engaged with whatever character creation the players performed. However, when you present specifics, there's nothing here about discussions with the GM, or the GM providing hooks for characters. Instead, you present the rather anodyne statement that GM involvement was telling you the generation method and races/classes available and then providing instruction to not create characters until session zero. That you ignored this and did so anyway does not indicate the GM was okay with that.
Not overselling. As I said, he had full power to veto any character idea or concept at that time. He was aware of what we were discussing, and he was aware of what we were creating. He had input and was part of the conversation, which is pretty much what happens during session zero.
No, there cannot be multiple scenarios here -- the thing has happened; there is just the one scenario. When you present things like this -- counterfactual arguments about what might have happened -- it undercuts your credibility. You've already indicated you were aware of the instruction to not create characters prior to session zero, so there's no failure to communicate for you. Perhaps another player failed to hear this, but you're hypothesizing, and doing so in a way that undercuts your argument that the GM was present when you created characters and so knew about it. If one of the players could fail to understand or hear the instruction to not create characters, and this is a plausible and valid argument, then it cuts back to say that the GM could have failed to understand any discussion wasn't just spitballing ideas prior to actual character creation. You cannot have it both ways. Regardless, you cannot speak for others, so the hypothetical doesn't apply when asking you for your recollections.

If you are in the habit of making characters beforehand, so what? In what way does that actually excuse not paying attention to the GM? I mean, you certainly don't have to, but you can't claim a moral high ground in the discussion by effectively saying you ignored him because it wasn't what you were used to.
5 players created characters before session zero...strange that all 5 of us did this, isn't it? They weren't "ignoring" the DM purposely, which is what your argument (and, frankly, Hussar's argument) seems to imply (if this isn't what you are saying, feel free to correct me). So what, we all ignored him just to tick him off? No. The likely scenario is one of the two I mentioned; he didn't communicate it as well as he thought he did (i.e. a soft requirement versus a hard requirement), or this is something we have always done, and people were willing to change things if necessary during session zero. I am not claiming a moral high ground; I am providing a different perspective.
Perhaps my understanding of connected is different from yours, and perhaps the GM's. I don't see anything in there that suggests actual connection. Your story is utterly generic -- it works in any town -- and doesn't give you any motivation to actually do anything except for money, which, presumably, if the task is too dangerous or too onerous then you just move to the next mark of a town. The connection to another PC is mercenary -- he's your hired hand. No loyalty, no personal connection, nothing. The NPC connection is similar -- a NPC thinks I swindled them? That's not a connection, it's an accusation -- there's no motivation to do anything for or against this NPC.
Uhhh...that was what he gave us to work with. The mini-game was generic connections to townsfolk and had few or no personal connections. So yeah...I came up with something that tied me to the town and to another character while providing me a reason to adventure. That is plenty for someone to start making connections, and would have likely, if I had continued play, developed further.
Maybe that's what the GM thought was a good connection, although, given his posts, that seems unlikely. It seems more like that was the maximum extent to which you were willing to accommodate, and seems in line with many stories where a player doesn't actually want levers on their PCs the GM has access to. As such, none of the hooks you're touting for your character have a barb -- they're pain free to ignore.
He must have, because he said he could work with it and approved it.
The GM has said that they were not a good fit with the group -- that the play goals were misaligned. Nothing you've posted in this thread suggests that you were the one to align them. After all, your participation in this thread has been to defend your own actions and place blame on the GM, which isn't a strong sign that you'd have been the voice of reconciliation.
We've played together for years. We have played together in other campaigns, and I have run him through several campaigns of my own. My personal issues with him aside, I enjoyed playing with him. And I am pretty sure he would agree that when I was playing as a PC, I was very much what I mentioned. He apologized for his statements earlier where it seemed that he was placing all of the blame on the players, and if it seems like I was placing the blame on him, then I also apologize. The problem here is that you weren't getting the complete story, which is why I interjected.
Look, I hate pregen adventures for precisely the reasons shown in this thread -- they work best with strong direction of PC generation by the GM. I don't like that. I do, however, insist that players work within the themes we've decided to play. My current 5e game is a Planescape game, and so anything goes PC wise. However, I did insist that the PCs must be ones that would seek adventure and that they would be willing and able to work in a group and to not finalize characters until the first session of play (session 1/2, as it was a mixture of 0 and 1). In the first part of that session, we ran a mini-game where I had the first select player select another player and tell me what they were doing together when they met or became friends -- ie provide the scene. I then provided a setting NPC or organization that complicated things and we rolled a die to determine how that scene went, and the second player narrated the result of what happened. This way, each character had a story binding them both to the setting and to each other. We repeated this for each player selecting a different character and then reversing the result of the first die roll. So, each character had close connection and shared stories with two other characters, the group as a whole was tightly interconnected, and each character has a positive relation with a setting NPC or organization and a negative one. This set the scene for the game, and we finalized PCs (one player made a large change because he thought it better fit with the fiction generated) and proceeded to play. The first adventure was pre-done, but also not very consequential, and was used to set up campaign themes more strongly, but since then it's been character backstories and the rogues gallery we created together to see what happens next.

I say this because if you followed what you've outlined you did here, we'd probably have strongly clashed, especially given your position that you were correct to do as you did because that's how you always did it.
I believe the results of this scenario would have been very similar if we had waited until session zero to create characters. The mini-game was generic (not @Hussar's fault), it didn't control any aspect of character generation other than possibly background. All it did was tie characters to each other and to the setting, all which can be done with any character regardless of whether or not they were generated pre-session zero or during. There is nothing in the scenario you outlined that cannot be done with first level characters whether or not they are partially generated or completely finalized.

@Chaosmancer summed it up perfectly here:
So, I'm confused. How did having them show up partially or completely made prevent you from tying them together or tying them to Saltmarsh?

Was there something about being, I don't know, a Firbolg that prevented that player from having ties to the community? Did the guy selling self-help books prevent him from having met the paladin on the road and fighting off a bandit ambush together?

I mean, if my players knew I wanted them to have ties to each other, it generally only takes a little bit of group discussion to create connections, like maybe the Charlatan enjoys the work of the half-orc bard and is enthused about the chance to have the author to add credibility to a con.
 
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