D&D 5E Relocated PC approaches

jgsugden

Legend
Hypothetical for DMs: You're running a game (around 7th level PCs) and one of your players moves away. You continue on a player down, but meet someone new, speak with them and decide they'd be a good fit with your group. You tell the player about your game and they say they're interested and - excitedly - ask if they can bring in a beloved PC they had been playing in a game that fizzled out. They pull out the character sheet and you can see that it is a balanced PC and - mechanically speaking - there are no issues with a PC like it joining the game.

How would you approach the situation?
 

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aco175

Legend
Get the other players buy-in first. Everyone should have a say about bringing a new player into the group. My group may elect to start a new campaign, we tend to get to around level 9-10 before a new campaign starts anyway.

If the PC is balanced and not superman compared to the others and not loaded with magic or something then I have no problems with bringing an ew PC in from another game.
 

Where are you drawing the line between pulling out the character sheet that they used in the old game, and simply generating the same character according to the rules of your game?
I'm really not seeing much of a distinction.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Where are you drawing the line between pulling out the character sheet that they used in the old game, and simply generating the same character according to the rules of your game?
I'm really not seeing much of a distinction.

If there is no distinction then accepting the character should not be an issue.
But anyway, as @aco175 mentioned, assuming the rest of the group is okay with bringing in a new player and they seem like a good "social fit" (I'd probably have them sit in for a session or two first just to see our style of play first hand and just all get to know each other a bit - maybe let them run an NPC for a session) then my guess is there would have to be some tweaks to the character's backstory to fit the setting and maybe having to give them more or less magical items depending on how generous (or not) their previous DM was with them.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The character would have to be a fit for the campaign, so I'd share what would need changing in order to make this character work. If it does not, then the player can perhaps play the character in a future campaign. I would then establish, per our table rules, that the current PCs all know this new character and trust them at least enough to boldly confront deadly perils together in ways the players are free to establish. Then we play on!
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
First: like has already been said raising the idea of a new player by your current players is only good manners, ‘hey i met someone who’s interested in seeing if they can join our group, is that fine with you guys?’

Second: how much baggage are they bringing with them from their previous session, this comes in two forms: equipment and history, you said their sheet looked fine so presumably they’re not dripping with magic items or gold and therefore equipment is fine but history, take another minute to see if they’re bringing anything that doesn’t align with your gameworld ‘your parents were killed by tieflings and you forever renounce them and feinds because of it? But my campaign doesn’t even have tieflings or the outer planes’ or referencing hyper-specific people or places from the previous campaign that don’t exist in yours or otherwise untranslatable narrative boons ‘i am a recognised knight of the realm who everyone knows’

Otherwise I don’t see why not it couldn’t be done
Edit: would you not just be introducing them like you would any other replacement pc, For a player who’s character died and just rolled up a new one? The only difference is that 1)there was an interim period before they were replaced, 2)a different player is filling the party slot and 3)the new character might have slightly more history to them than your average fresh out of character creation addition.
 
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I'd obviously scrutinize the character for OP magic items and other nonsense, but the hypothetical already assumes the mechanics are good. I'd probably have the PC fall through a magical portal to my world, taking out any concerns about overlap with events from the other campaign. Other than that, it'd just be the usual issues with introducing a new player to the group.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Hypothetical for DMs: You're running a game (around 7th level PCs) and one of your players moves away.
Online gaming with this person is not an option? Setting up a video conference, FaceTime, Zoom, etc simply not possible? I work around whatever needed to be worked around to keep that player in the game. Only if that's not an option would I move on from there.
You continue on a player down, but meet someone new, speak with them and decide they'd be a good fit with your group. You tell the player about your game and they say they're interested and - excitedly - ask if they can bring in a beloved PC they had been playing in a game that fizzled out.
I'd be incredibly leery of this. In my experience a lot of people are clamoring to play 5E and their characters but not really caring about the specific game or setting. The desire to play any game is greater than the desire to play any specific game, if that makes sense. Characters specifically made for the game you're actually playing are an infinitely better fit than something pulled in from elsewhere.
They pull out the character sheet and you can see that it is a balanced PC and - mechanically speaking - there are no issues with a PC like it joining the game.
The mechanics are maybe 10% of the question. The other 90% is the lore, the setting, the other characters, the group dynamic amongst the players, etc. I'm way more concerned about the rest than the mechanics.
How would you approach the situation?
If there's absolutely no way to keep the original player, then I'd consider a new player.

If there's absolutely no way to get the player to make a character suited to this game, then I'd consider a transferred character.

Characters are not precious. They shouldn't be treated as such. It's a simple matter to make a new character. In my experience, it's a similar situation to the player who's 1st-level character with 0 XP has a 40-page backstory. The player already has a fixed and unalterable idea of who their character is, what they'll do, and how they'll act/react in situations. This will lead to more problems than necessary.
 

No. Personally, I'd make them roll up another PC and start with a clean slate seeing as it's a new game/campaign, new DM and new set of players/PCs. My instinct tells me that they may fall back to roleplaying their character based on events of the previous game they played which has no bearing on the current campaign. I decided a long time ago that I don't let players bring PCs in from other games into my game. Though this was back in 1E/2E when people would show up with 4 million+ GP, 47 magical items, a keep and the deed to the planets moon. This is just the stance I've taken way back and have stuck by it since.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Where are you drawing the line between pulling out the character sheet that they used in the old game, and simply generating the same character according to the rules of your game?
I'm really not seeing much of a distinction.
A character is more than their abilities. They have a story. This can manifest in a lot of ways.

The character may have ongoing storylines that have been unfinished. For example, when I moved across the country, I was playing a Heblade Warlock that had several ongoing storylines that were not wrapped up. Some related to his relationship to his Patron. Some related to his relationship to his tribe. Some related to interactions with other PCs in the group.

If I had the right opportunity out here where I moved, I might have discussed continuing this PC with another DM. If that DM embraced the idea of continuing the story of that PC, they might collect the information about the Patron to provide a consistent continuation of my PC's relationship with the patron. They might have found ways to weave those tribal relationships into their current setting. They might have made NPCs in the setting that were those former PCs.

Think about it in the context of Comic Books. Sometimes, when an author leaves a comic book, the new author looks at what the last author was doing and respects the fiction. They work with the lingering storylines and weave them into their new plans - perhaps resolving them according to the original plans, or perhaps by moving them in a different direction. At other times, the new author has a bunch of ideas they want to move forward and no respect for what came before. There, they either wrap up lingering storylines with a handwave or ignore them all together.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Hypothetical for DMs: You're running a game (around 7th level PCs) and one of your players moves away. You continue on a player down, but meet someone new, speak with them and decide they'd be a good fit with your group. You tell the player about your game and they say they're interested and - excitedly - ask if they can bring in a beloved PC they had been playing in a game that fizzled out. They pull out the character sheet and you can see that it is a balanced PC and - mechanically speaking - there are no issues with a PC like it joining the game.

How would you approach the situation?
I'd find out from its player some basic info about its previous world/setting/etc. and presto, that world just became part of my universe. The PC somehow planeshifted from that world to mine, or came in through a Gate or planar nexus, or whatever; and is now trying to find its way around. I'd sit down with the player and work out what had happened between its arrival on my world and its meeting the party, how long it had been here, and so forth.

Doing it this way also leaves the door open for the PC to return "home" at some point, if desired.

Doesn't have to be a new player either; could be an established player has lost a PC and wants to cycle in a much-liked PC from another (compatible) game.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No. Personally, I'd make them roll up another PC and start with a clean slate seeing as it's a new game/campaign, new DM and new set of players/PCs. My instinct tells me that they may fall back to roleplaying their character based on events of the previous game they played which has no bearing on the current campaign.
Of course they would; and that's both a) the point and b) very realistic to the incoming character. The new character doesn't have the shared memories etc. of the existing party; it has its own completely different memories of one or more other parties elsewhere, and can bring that experience to bear here in whatever means makes sense at the time.
I decided a long time ago that I don't let players bring PCs in from other games into my game. Though this was back in 1E/2E when people would show up with 4 million+ GP, 47 magical items, a keep and the deed to the planets moon.
I'll let an outside PC in but were someone to try the 4-million g.p. etc. ploy it wouldn't go well; and might make me think twice about the player.
 

Of course they would; and that's both a) the point and b) very realistic to the incoming character. The new character doesn't have the shared memories etc. of the existing party; it has its own completely different memories of one or more other parties elsewhere, and can bring that experience to bear here in whatever means makes sense at the time.

I'll let an outside PC in but were someone to try the 4-million g.p. etc. ploy it wouldn't go well; and might make me think twice about the player.
Id just start the player with a new character at the same level as the party rather than them bringing in an existing character. Just my preference

From my experience, it was common in the 80s and early 90s DMs allowed players to bring existing characters from other games into their games, it wasn't necessarily a reflection on the player but it did lead to quite a few situations where the DM didnt give enough consideration to the characters they let in the game and it lead to some cases where the balance of power in the party was upset.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Id just start the player with a new character at the same level as the party rather than them bringing in an existing character. Just my preference

From my experience, it was common in the 80s and early 90s DMs allowed players to bring existing characters from other games into their games, it wasn't necessarily a reflection on the player but it did lead to quite a few situations where the DM didnt give enough consideration to the characters they let in the game and it lead to some cases where the balance of power in the party was upset.
Yeah, the DM does have to carefully vet these things paeticularly fi the character is coming from a campaign you-as-DM aren't familiar with.

That said, in the 1e DMG Gygax waxes a bit lyrical about cases where two or more DMs in effect link their worlds such that characters can pass between them on a somewhat-regular basis; this is the approach a few of us adopted right from the early days and still maintain.

Beyond that, I've always had it that every D&D setting that's ever existed - yes, including yours...and yours, too...and you, over there in the corner, yours too - is in the same prime-material universe; meaning that standing on any one of those worlds and looking up at the stars will put you in sight of countless other game-setting worlds, the "rules" and physics of which may or may not be just slightly different than the world on which you stand thus allowing for different systems/editions to coexist in the same universe. Non-magical worlds (e.g. Earth) also exist in that same universe; explained physics-wise as their lack of magic being caused by the presence of a particular element in that world's mineral makeup.

A character from my current setting, for example, wound up hiding on what at the time was some random world originally accessed via guesswork with an Amulet of the Planes, in order to raise her baby safe from the Mind Flayers that wanted both she and it. She was a Nature Cleric on my world, but within a few months of arrival on Golarion (the default Pathfinder world) she had become a Druid as that's what her new world supported; she's still there now.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I'm in the camp that says it's not just enough to determine the character sheet is balanced... I'd also want to know the backstory of both the PC as well as the backstory of the player and their experiences with this PC in the former campaign. What exactly makes this PC beloved for the player, what was the PC's motivations in the other campaign, and what exactly is the player looking to get out of playing in this new game with this old PC?

Now if it's just as simple as a mechanical thing-- they just really loved how the character's abilities played at the table-- then cool, that experience can possibly be replicated (assuming the DM doesn't run their game massively different than the previous DM, because that obviously could impact just how smoothly this PC's mechanics run). But if the PC had a very interesting and complex social dynamic in the previous group... that kind of thing most likely won't be able to be replicated in the new one (with a different DM and different players/PCs to interact with.) So I'd want to check to find out if the player loves this PC in and of itself, or if it was really more about how this PC interacted with the former group? Because if that was the case... I'd recommend the player NOT play the old PC because it could very well end in disappointment when the new DM and other players cannot give the new player what they really wanted.

It's no different really than a group trying to recapture an old feeling by returning to old PCs after some period of time-- it oftentimes doesn't work out because the players and DM have all moved on from that older campaign and they are different people when they played that campaign last, so all the dynamics are different. So it's important to go into anything like this being fully aware of what you are truly looking for, and how much you are willing and able to adapt to the new thing if it doesn't turn out like your hoped-for memories of the past thing were.
 
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akr71

Hero
If you've already seen the character and feel it is balanced, then there shouldn't be a problem. Obviously, checking with your other players is a good idea.

If you are worried about messing with the table dynamics, then I would recommend a one shot where everyone uses a new character just to see how everyone gets along at the table.
 

I literally just had someone do this. We glossed over the lack of continuity regarding lore (this was a completely different style of world she had played in before) for the first few sessions. Then slowly, we built her background to be from the world she was playing in. She was on board with the idea and did a great job of detailing her family (which I am not sure she had prior).
I guess the lesson is - don't underestimate the player's ability (and desire) to find creative solutions.
 

Hypothetical for DMs: You're running a game (around 7th level PCs) and one of your players moves away. You continue on a player down, but meet someone new, speak with them and decide they'd be a good fit with your group. You tell the player about your game and they say they're interested and - excitedly - ask if they can bring in a beloved PC they had been playing in a game that fizzled out. They pull out the character sheet and you can see that it is a balanced PC and - mechanically speaking - there are no issues with a PC like it joining the game.

How would you approach the situation?
over the years I have changed my mind twice on this... back in 2e I saw it a lot and disliked it... but between 3e and 4e the idea of having a character appear in another game made sense... but by the end of 4e I was back to not liking it...

Today if someone said that I would tell them they could use the concept but to draw up useing the table rules a new copy of the character (I mean if they are already standard array or some how one of our modified arrays that could work)
 

Grantypants

Explorer
It depends on the style of campaign I'm running. Some games can support a character coming out from behind a corner, shaking hands with the party and then joining up like they've been together all along. YMMV, but I think a megadungeon campaign or most published adventures work this way.
On the other hand, if I'm running an elaborate custom homebrew where the other players' backstories are tightly woven into the main plot, then I need to do more work to make the new player's character part of the action as well. I don't want to leave the new player out of the spotlight. That means working with the new player to make sure their character's goals line up with the party's. It also might mean retconning away the BBEG from the old campaign or otherwise ensuring that the new player's old campaign doesn't derail my current one.
 
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