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D&D General The Tyranny of Rarity

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The PhB has rules for characters of all levels and offers that characters can start higher if the DM agrees, and the DMG has rules for starting at higher levels. Many posters on this board might have joined an ongoing game at 1st level where there were others at higher levels. (I remember one with a bunch of 1st levels and a pair in the double digits. And the higher level ones were good at not stealing the spotlight, but rather stopping TPKs). The DMG even has a suggestion of having lower level followers in case someone dies so a player can just grab one of them as the new character, so clearly parties of mixed levels can be a thing.

So, @hawkeyefan, @Vaalingrade, or anyone else who doesn't particularly like DMs to restrict things when they don't need to, if my character idea for your new game is an experienced 3rd level war-wizard, a 5th level former mercenary captain, or an exiled 9th level monk... are those all good to go in whatever game you're running? If not, why not?
I also want my experienced mercenary captain to have a laser rifle, as the DMG has rules for it.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Question for people who don't want a "cantina effect": do you also limit the number of intelligent monster species?

I have a world that has a PHB-only races (plus orcs, minus dragonborn) limitation, because when I made the world, we were teaching a newbie how to play and I didn't want to overwhelm him with choices. But I also made the choice of saying that there were only two other intelligent humanoids in the area (kobolds and bullywugs), and except for dragons, other intelligent beings are very much supernatural in origin (fey, elementals, undead, etc.). When we move into a different area of the world, the players will learn that there are different races there.

So I was just wondering what other DMs are doing. Do you have tons of intelligent beings but only a few are playable?
Yes, I limit monsters, of all sorts particularly those that are native to the prime material.

While goblins tend to be a lot of places, there is generally only one monstrous humanoid in a region. I occasionally reskin monsters to fit the pattern, just like I would consider for a PC.
 
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So I was just wondering what other DMs are doing. Do you have tons of intelligent beings but only a few are playable?

I generally don’t restrict most races, per se, in that I don’t sit down ahead of play and actively go through the list of creatures and red stamp those that are approved.

I introduce elements as they’re needed or as they come up. So I don’t say “No ettercaps in this world, no way!” before we even sot down to play. Instead, I see if spiders come up in some way, or if I need some kind of monstrous humanoid that’s a bit different from the standard orc/goblin etc.

If they never come up, hey there were no ettercaps in this world! If an opportunity does come up where they would make sense, then I introduce them.

It seems to work well, it gives me flexibility to adapt to player input and desire, and contrary to what many say, it in no way leads to an incoherent world.
 

Mmmmmm..... while I do limit intelligent races, it is not so with monsters. The evil gods often placate the world with evil creatures from the nether because... they're evil? Just to say that anything, monstrous side, can be done. If a god of evil is angry with a kingdom, it might send a mighty ogre, dragon, beholder, bodak or whatever to exact its revenge and heroes are needed. Or it might be a mad experiment from a wizard that went astray...
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Ok...
Then you would cave in no matter what and you really expect others to do the same?

Do you really DM? As DMing takes a lot of work, preparation and a lot of personal time. No one that I know of that DM more than just a bit, would be ready to throw that kind of investment to the garbage.
I GM quite a bit and have a world with internal logic and history....and at the same time make it a feature (not a bug) of my game to accommodate exactly what the players want to play. It's not *caving in" if it's a design goal of your game.

If you wanted to introduce and use a new monster in your game, I have no doubt you can do so and make it feel organic. I'm assuming that all the GMs on this thread have added new and changed existing content in their finely honed and crafted worlds over the past few decades.

I find "I dont like it so I'm not going to add it" as a selfish and lazy cop-out to actuslly just spending the 10 minutes it would take to add that thing exactly like you would and do everytime you add something that you do like.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
control freak.
Mod Note:

Disagreeing without being disagreeable is a thing. Responses without confrontational language are a thing. Your post would be perfectly fine without the first paragraph, or at least, without the quoted phrase (or a similar variant) in it.

Do better going forward.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Ok...
Then you would cave in no matter what and you really expect others to do the same?
Therein lies the problem. You see it was caving and a sign of weakness.
Do you really DM?
Are you being for real with this crap?
As DMing takes a lot of work, preparation and a lot of personal time. No one that I know of that DM more than just a bit, would be ready to throw that kind of investment to the garbage.
What garbage? It's not like I'm only going to DM one other game in my lifetime. I've been working on my setting for decades now. I'm just not going to get upset when the group wants to do something else.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
So, @hawkeyefan, @Vaalingrade, or anyone else who doesn't particularly like DMs to restrict things when they don't need to, if my character idea for your new game is an experienced 3rd level war-wizard, a 5th level former mercenary captain, or an exiled 9th level monk... are those all good to go in whatever game you're running? If not, why not?
wizard is going to be way underleveled, but its your funeral. Monk will get to 9th level soon enough.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
wizard is going to be way underleveled, but its your funeral. Monk will get to 9th level soon enough.
The 3rd level wizard still feels like it would be more useful to its 1st level colleagues than a 1st level one would. (I was actually meaning to make it 5th level, but had 3rd from the level of spells in my head). And waiting to level completely destroys my monk's back story (and wouldn't let me be Splinter to a group of turtles).

Can we spin the thing where people keep suggesting increasingly esoteric things and asking if they're allowed in hopes of me saying no so they can shout 'hypocrite' into another thread?
An argument was made earlier that people want to do things they see in the books; being/starting at higher level is such a thing. Working well at other people's tables has been offered as a reason to be more flexible with the players ideas; I've played in games with vast level disparity and enjoyed it. It has been repeated that restricting character choice when un-needed is tyranny; not letting players start at a higher level to fit their character background is restricting choice. :::shrugs::: But sure, if you don't feel like answering it here, I'll follow you to another thread. ;-)
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I don't know that things need to get acrimonious!

I personally prefer to curate allowed races - generally PHB with certain exceptions (depending on world, campaign etc.), and my players seem to prefer it that way because it works for them too.

My son's group (all 14ish) includes an aarakocra, a centaur and a sentient hat - they all seem to be having a blast with it.
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
Please tell me there is a thread somewhere where you've detailed the sentient hat!
Nope, sorry - afraid if I let my son anywhere near ENWorld he'd never get anything else done!

But he did explain it to me (the player is kind of a guest player, pops in every 3-4 sessions) - basically it's a human but the hat actually controls all of it's actions (and has some other weird stuff going on) - they haven't actually thought about what happens if the hat gets transferred!
 


I GM quite a bit and have a world with internal logic and history....and at the same time make it a feature (not a bug) of my game to accommodate exactly what the players want to play. It's not *caving in" if it's a design goal of your game.

If you wanted to introduce and use a new monster in your game, I have no doubt you can do so and make it feel organic. I'm assuming that all the GMs on this thread have added new and changed existing content in their finely honed and crafted worlds over the past few decades.

I find "I dont like it so I'm not going to add it" as a selfish and lazy cop-out to actuslly just spending the 10 minutes it would take to add that thing exactly like you would and do everytime you add something that you do like.
For the monsters, I have everything covered thank you.

For the playable races? We have the PHB and that is all that is required. Foe the sentient races, the MM is there. If it is in the 3 core books, it is fair game and some in the MM will never appear as they have no place in our campaign. Quite simple. And if a race has stat block I wish to use, it will be reskinned as an already available and known race.

For the monsters, the gods (evil ones) provides what is needed for a reason (if one is ever needed) and mad wizard experiments provide the rest.

Cohesiveness is what is sought after and a minimum of believability is required along some consistencies. Is that too much to ask?
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I generally don’t restrict most races, per se, in that I don’t sit down ahead of play and actively go through the list of creatures and red stamp those that are approved.

I introduce elements as they’re needed or as they come up. So I don’t say “No ettercaps in this world, no way!” before we even sot down to play. Instead, I see if spiders come up in some way, or if I need some kind of monstrous humanoid that’s a bit different from the standard orc/goblin etc.
I actually do say "this thing doesn't exist," although it's not something the players really know about. In the world I mentioned, there are no goblinoids--at least not in this part of the world. It'll only come up if one of the players decides to make a new character who's a goblinoid.
 

The PhB has rules for characters of all levels and offers that a character can start above 1st if the DM agrees, and the DMG has rules for starting at higher levels. Many posters on this board might have joined an ongoing game at 1st level where there were others at higher levels. (I remember one with a bunch of 1st levels and a pair in the double digits. And the higher level ones were good at not stealing the spotlight, but rather stopping TPKs). The DMG even has a suggestion of having lower level followers in case someone dies so a player can just grab one of them as the new character, so clearly parties of mixed levels can be a thing.

So, @hawkeyefan, @Vaalingrade, or anyone else who doesn't particularly like DMs to restrict things when they don't need to, if my character idea for your new game is an experienced 3rd level war-wizard, a 5th level former mercenary captain, or an exiled 9th level monk... are those all good to go in whatever game you're running? If not, why not?

It depends on the situation. I'd talk to the group about it and see how they wanted to proceed. Then we'd likely do that. If for some reason I didn't think it could work, I'd likely point that out. But if everyone else was convinced, then I'd probably give it a shot. If I felt very strongly that it wouldn't work, then I might say "I don't think I'd like to run this" but I doubt it would get to that point.

But beyond that general approach, I generally begin a game with PCs at level 1. We use milestone leveling, and we don't punish new PCs or anything like that, so the groups in my game very rarely have any disparity in level. I don't think such disparity is generally a good idea, although I think 5e is pretty forgivable in this regard. But the larger the gap, then the more this will impact play, and I expect be dissatisfying for at least some players. So most of the time, all our PCs are the same level.

One exception to this is a longstanding campaign that dates back to our earliest days as a group; there are two groups of PCs, one from 5e and one that has been converted from our earliest days playing AD&D. The converted characters are level 17 and the 5e PCs are level 14. But each player has one of each, and they tend to split into groups along level lines (though this is less true as that gap has lessened).

Another example that I shared earlier in the thread, for one campaign, our group collectively designed multiple PCs to populate the starting area. A couple of the PCs began at Level 2, representing a bit more experience that they had, but in each case, they had much more responsibility to deal with. The one level increase in ability seemed like a reasonable tradeoff for the fact that those characters had more specific roles to follow. But even then, we all picked out of a hat, and the remaining PCs became NPCs that could serve as replacement PCs if needed. So no one made their decision based on level.

Aside from those kind of rare exceptions, though, I don't know if I hold Starting Level as the same kind of option as character race or class. Generally, level is something you obtain, not something you select, right? Also, it's a game element, generally separate of the fiction except in the broadest way, right? If someone had the idea of an experienced character.... like an old veteran who's been a soldier forever...then we'd likely come up with a way to represent that, but I think character level would be one of the last options I'd consider.

So it all depends. There are multiple ways to handle it, and multiple reasons for any given approach. And again, I'd like to repeat, I'm not against limits or restrictions. I'm against....for me, and as general advice to anyone else....the default approach being "the GM decides all this stuff."
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I wish everyone in this topic would upload their campaign worlds...
I'll see if I have the last two really detailed ones I did in a box downstairs that I can scan in and upload. (I'm not sure where I have them backed up already electronically). If I can find them, I'll put some briefer ones up too.
 

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