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D&D 5E Retireing characters

TallIan

Explorer
After a party death my group of players have been left with no front line characters. As a DM I would normally work around this, but another player has expressed an interest in retiring his character and bringing a zone control tank into the game.

All the players are happy with this and I only have a slight concern as a DM that this might open the flood gates. I don't really want to say no because that just leads to suicidal characters and I've been on both sides of the table when that happens and it's not fun.

I just wanted to run this past people here for any potential pit falls or recommended penalties to help prevent a whole new party every other session.

Tall
 

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ccs

41st lv DM
Well, you've already got to work the new replacement character into the action. So you might as well work this other new character in at the same time.
Make it plausible in-game why/where these two new members are joining & why/where the retiring one leaves..
 

jasper

Rotten DM
What is the problem? If I want to drop my wizard and bring a tank, what is stopping me? and if Morrus wants to drop his Warlock and bring in a life cleric what is stopping him? I assuming swapping pc for same level pc.
Is because of story reasons?
Is because we were trapped in quicksand at the end of last week session?
"...recommended penalties to help prevent a whole new party every other session.". Ok, the only penalty I see is Plot/prewritten dungeon problems. Ex. As dm if I did the Terrible Tickling Tieflings of Toronto write up and have the rooms all map out. And went to the extra work of throwing in encounters which matched the party. Then jasper and morrus swap out pcs which will make the next 2 rooms hard fights. I generally go with what I have already mapped out. The penalty is the harder difficultly.
 


We mix high and low in my group quite often. As long as the new characters watch their step they generally catch up pretty fast. Or you could just say that players get one, and exactly one, level-equivalent character to bring in if and when they loses a character to death or permanent retirement.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I can understand some hesitation, but ultimately I don't see how forcing a player to keep playing a character they no longer wish to will benefit anybody.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I let people swap out characters if they want to do so, I've never seen an issue. In fact, one of the "new" characters has become pivotal to the campaign in a relatively short period of time.

I also allow the new people to write up characters similar level, items and resources as everyone else. We've never had an issue with this over the years, just run it by your group first.

If someone does want to swap out characters "just because" I don't see an issue. The game is about having fun.

I do warn people that their old PCs become NPCs under my full control which can have all sorts of fun impacts on the story. :devil:
 

WarpedAcorn

First Post
I just wanted to run this past people here for any potential pit falls or recommended penalties to help prevent a whole new party every other session.

Tall

Talk with the player first to make sure the reason for the change is sincere. It might be that the problem is so minor that you can fix it without rerolling. Maybe the Fighter picked a bad Feat or aligned his stats wrong. Maybe he thought that a Greatsword Swinging Champion would have been fun, but now he feels he can be a better teammate by being a Sword & Board defensive Fighter. Those are easy fixes that might not need a reroll. I switched from a Paladin to a Fighter/Cleric to accomidate another player. Later, I was unhappy with the character and my DM offered me the option to swap back to Paladin. I did not take it, but I did get happier with the build and the character.

We had another player who was playing a Land-Druid. He was not happy with the class and was not doing the things he imagined doing. Truth be told, he was playing the Druid like a Wizard and not taking advantage of all the Druid skills, but what he really wanted to do was play a Wizard. So now he is playing a Wizard. The only penalty imposed was that the new character started off 1 Level lower than the highest level of the group, and he had starting equipment as per the PHB. I think those are fair "penalties" for bringing a new character to the table. It has a bit of a sting so you don't want to do it every few games, but it doesn't really debilitate or hinder the character.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Lowkey13.
1. ….So, here's the counterpoint - which, as you note, has to do with both story and "difficulty" (reliance) reasons….
2…This is the difference between campaigns, and successive "one shot" adventures. Both are fun ways to spend time; but if you just wish to play a succession of different characters, then you probably shouldn't play a campaign…
Number 2 first. Different view here. A campaign is series of adventures under the dm Talltan. One session we are exploring the temple of slightly moldy evil and the next we are in Virginia City and assassinating Marshall Dillon.
Number 1 second. Story! Story! If you want a story, the dm and players need to write a novel. The story is not Jasper’s barbarian, Morris’ wild wizard, ccs’ tank, and Warmasters life cleric vs. the evil lich lowkey of the 13 hearts. The story is where Jasper rolled 4 fumbles in a roll and his barbarian had to saved by Morris’ used of a cantrips.
I have seen too many “STORY” games ruined because Morris shipped out, Warmasters discovered girls, and Jasper had finals (insert other reasons here). It is great when Talltan creates “the evil lich lowkey of the 13 hearts” as a main villain. But it blows if Talltan expects and demands I play my opening PC from zero to hero. Especially if I want to drop the pc when it hit 6th level. Now I will for story line play a pc for an extra session or two, if I am having some fun and I know the dm is going to let us hit a town to give a logical story reason for the pcs to be swapped out.
As a DM I love when I can get a good story line going with the same pcs and players, but I do not count on it. Now I been in the military, been in college, and live in a military town. So I have not be able to keep a stable group which lasted more than 2 years. And in envy of those lucky enough to have the same players for 4+ years.
 

manduck

Explorer
If a player wants to retire a character an play something else, it really isn't much of a problem. Typically, it means they aren't happy with what they are playing and want to try something else. It's all about fun, so why not let them switch? I may put in a minor story requirement, like they have to wait until they get out of a dungeon or to the next city to make the switch. Then on with the game. I always keep all my players at the same level when switching characters too, either from player choice or death. It makes balancing encounters easier. Plus what's the value in punishing a player with a lower level just because they were't having fun or the dice were brutal one evening? Most players go with a character they want to try the most. If it isn't what they expected, they may want to switch. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about having a revolving door of characters for your adventures. People play what they want to play.

This situation may lead to some interesting character ideas too. Especially if both the player who's character died and the player switching want to work on characters together. I also let people know that if they retire a character, that character is still in the world and they become an NPC. They may cross paths again. Or the player may want to give that retired character a second chance.
 

TallIan

Explorer
Thanks for the replies everyone.

In terms of timing his retirement in the story, it can easily makes sense, so I'm not concerned with that. It is also a very easy point to introduce new characters.

The PC that died had apparently been trying to get himself killed for a few sessions now, (much to the relief of the party as he'd ended up surrounded by monsters and rescuing him before death would have proven dangerous), though he'd not said anything and no one had noticed (he's not the most expressive person I know - great at poker).

. Ex. As dm if I did the Terrible Tickling Tieflings of Toronto write up and have the rooms all map out. And went to the extra work of throwing in encounters which matched the party. Then jasper and morrus swap out pcs which will make the next 2 rooms hard fights. I generally go with what I have already mapped out. The penalty is the harder difficultly.

That is a good point.

MY main concern about allowing this as a norm stems from a previous game, where all the players ended up trying to kill their characters. The DM wouldn't allow retirements so death was the only way out. It got quite farcical and certainly detracted from the enjoyment of the game. I'm hoping that allowing retirement will allow the PC's to play what they want, I was just a bit worries about another - unforeseen - pitfall.

Most of what people have said allays that fear, but I might have a progressive penalty, of 0, 1, 2... levels lower that the party average, to make sure players REALLY want to change characters.

Thanks again,

Tall
 

Mad_Jack

Adventurer
All you need to do is ask, just the one time, if anybody else wants to make any changes to their characters, and give them the opportunity to do so, making sure that your players are now satisfied with what they have and aren't going to go trying to switch up every other session - if it's not a problem than there's no need to "fix" it.
 

MrHotter

First Post
I would put a penalty for changing characters so it does not happen too often, but I would also want to make it easier for a character to swap out if they wanted to. Starting at level 1 may be too harsh, but I would not want the new character to have the same level as the other characters.

When I've done this in the past I've given the new character half the previous character's xps or one less level than the other characters.

You will also want to make sure that you know how you are going to handle the previous character's magic items. I had a group try to divide up a leaving character's items when a player wanted to create a new character.
 

JRedmond

Explorer
I do save points essentially for characters. These are at level 3, 5, 7 etc. If a 4th level character dies he can build a new character at level 3. You could use this same method for retiring. If they constantly retire then they will always be behind.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I do save points essentially for characters. These are at level 3, 5, 7 etc. If a 4th level character dies he can build a new character at level 3. You could use this same method for retiring. If they constantly retire then they will always be behind.
I do not like this any more. I used to do (avg pc level) - 1 = new pc level. But it cause hurt feelings and other problems. Now, if I were home brewing, I do avg level and no magic.
 

76512390ag12

First Post
I have grown out of penalising players for wanting some different fun. Let them retire and switch, don't obsess about the story reasons, just jump right back in. Seriously, I have done all the realism, penalty, balance and all that stuff.. it just kills the fun. So, "I want to go do something else.." "bye bye" "hi I am a new PC of the same level or whatever, here's a really basic explanation of why I am here, where is the story/adventure/beer?"

Posted by C4-D4RS on the MetroLiberal HoloNet
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
MY main concern about allowing this as a norm stems from a previous game, where all the players ended up trying to kill their characters. The DM wouldn't allow retirements...
And that right there is a great big red flag; it means the DM wants to control how you play your character(s).

If your character has a good in-game reason for retiring then retired it is. Period.

so death was the only way out. It got quite farcical and certainly detracted from the enjoyment of the game. I'm hoping that allowing retirement will allow the PC's to play what they want, I was just a bit worries about another - unforeseen - pitfall.
In my game characters cycle in and out all the time. Something brand new comes in at a "floor" level that's usually around or a bit below the lowest in the current party. Returning characters come in at whatever makes sense for what they've been doing while retired.

Just last night, for example, I had a player pull out a character she'd got bored with, and cycle in another that she'd retired some time ago (she had ended up with too many characters due to some unexpected revivals from what at the time looked like very permanent deaths) with more RP potential. As DM it makes no difference to me most of the time, as I (almost always) specifically try not to hang a story on any one character.

My advice is just run what you're gonna run and let them freely cycle through characters; whether by their own choice or due to death or incapacitation. I've actually found that having "extra" characters floating aorund in the game world really helps enrich it.

Most of what people have said allays that fear, but I might have a progressive penalty, of 0, 1, 2... levels lower that the party average, to make sure players REALLY want to change characters.
Progressive might be overkill. A level lower than the average is fine.

Lan-"retired characters can always go off on solo side quests, which only further add to the depth of the campaign"-efan
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
I do not like this any more. I used to do (avg pc level) - 1 = new pc level. But it cause hurt feelings and other problems.

I have grown out of penalising players for wanting some different fun. Let them retire and switch, don't obsess about the story reasons, just jump right back in. Seriously, I have done all the realism, penalty, balance and all that stuff.. it just kills the fun.
I too used to do stuff like making new characters start at lower level and harshly enforcing level loss for returning from death, and have since changed to a completely different take (specifically, players get to play the level of character everyone else has whether their character died or they just want a change).

The real clincher for me in making this change was when I noticed that players were weighing their options between continuing to participate in the campaign after taking a level hit, or just bowing out of the campaign entirely to await the start of a new one, and I realized I don't like "maybe I'll stop playing" even crossing the mind of someone playing at my table if the reason for it is anything within my control.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The real clincher for me in making this change was when I noticed that players were weighing their options between continuing to participate in the campaign after taking a level hit, or just bowing out of the campaign entirely to await the start of a new one
Please don't take this the wrong way, but....man, do you have thin-skinned players if a simple level loss is enough to make them drop from a game!

The only possible migitation is that if your campaigns are always very short and waiting for the next one isn't that big a deal. But otherwise....yeah....

Lanefan
 

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