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Whose "property" are the PCs?

SG1Laura

First Post
While I've never really posted before, I've been lurking for awhile and have read that a lot of DMs like their own home-brewed worlds. And, in reading I've come up with a question (it hasn't happened in any of the games I run, but I suspect it might soon). If a DM creates a world and the players create PCs for adventures within it and then the campaign ends, if the DM wants to run another campaign in that world at a later time-period, can he/she decide what happens to the PCs? In other words, are the PCs the creation of the players and thus their personalities and decisions are under their control. Or, can the DM just "decide" that after the campaign ended that this PC becomes evil, this one dies, etc. What do you guys think?
 

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Crothian

First Post
I have seen this create problems. THe DM uses an old PC and then the player who controled the character goes "but my character would never do that." I'm of the opinion that the DM has the right to use the character in later games, just like I as a PC have the right to use NPCs the DM comes up with in my own games. Most people borrow character ideas from games they play, movies, books, etc so I don't see a problem with it.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
As much as I like saying "yes".... No, you can't do that. A GM who decides a character's fate with a snap decision is breaking the rules and the trust of their player.

That said, if the GM wants to pick up the old campaign again, but give the players each a few free levels or have them doing things in the intervening years, great! In this case, it is best to talk to the players about what they 'd like their PCs to do in the intervening time, and any ideas the GM has (such as a certain PC "turning to the dark side") are welcome too.

If you're playing with a different gaming group, however, then it's a different matter.
 

SG1Laura

First Post
Does it make any difference if the player (who created the PC in the first campaign) wouldn't be playing in the second one (but would still know what had happened)?
 

diaglo

Adventurer
yes.

if you aren't playing with that character under the same referee then it doesn't matter what happens to the NPCs.. they are NPCs now if the referee is controlling them.
 

Crothian

First Post
Quickleaf said:
As much as I like saying "yes".... No, you can't do that. A GM who decides a character's fate with a snap decision is breaking the rules and the trust of their player.

What rules are being broken? What trust is being abused? THe player is no longer playing the character, its an NPC now. DM is in control of all NPCs.
 

SG1Laura

First Post
What if so much time has passed that the PC in question has died, but as a "hero" his/her exploits are known and directly impact the second campaign's setup.

Edit- In other words: the DM isn't playing an NPC, he has just decided what happened after the campaign had to end.
 

smootrk

First Post
Obviously the character belongs to both of you jointly. DM has absolute, and I mean absolute control over his world (setting) including characters who have been played there.
Now, on the player's side, I see no reason why the player could not take his character to another setting, dm, campaign, etc. based upon what his/her new DM opinion is.

Once a campaign ends, and the character is retired, the character is an NPC for the DM to use in further developments at his whim. If for some reason, the DM wants to re-open a particular campaign, it is still his fiat as to whether the character goes back to a player or not, and whether any changes might be made to the character (Stats, levels, equipment, etc.).

All in all, it is up to the DM's who the player wants to play with.
 

Viashimo

First Post
Depending, perhaps enough time has passed that all the other pcs are dead - or elsewhere, they are perhaps legends or mythical heroes passed down from one generation to the next. Maybe they got stuck in another part of the world, and just decided it was better to remain there than come back to populated lands. This takes them out, but leaves them in in an indirect manner.

That skirts the issue of actually using them, so here's something else.

The PCs are definetely created by the player - and it depends if those creators are playing or not in a game - it's generally O.K. to bring up or even bring back their old PCs, as NPCs or whatever else. If you really want to be sure, check with those players.
 

reveal

Adventurer
I think it's the DMs perogative to use the PCs as NPCs however he/she sees fit. A nice DM would at least ask/tell the players he/she is going to do it, but it's not required.

What's funny is that the same player will react differently depending on what happens.

Situation A) The NPC does something really cool and the player likes it. "That was awesome! That's exactly what my character would do." This statement about doing exactly what the character would do may or may not be true. Usually, if the character does something "cool," the player doesn't care if it's "in character" but will try to justify it.

Situation B) The same NPC does something rat-bastardly to the PCs. "Hey! My character would never do that!" Again, this may or may not be true. Is the player upset because the character truly would not do that or because they just got screwed over.

If I was the DM and wanted to do this, I would talk to the players and tell them that I may not do with their characters exactly what the players think they should do. I would do this to, hopefully, not have situation B occur.
 

Westgate Polks

First Post
As a courtesy, I would choose to speak with the players (assuming they are still around) and indicate I would like for their characters to continue to be part of my game world even though they are "retired" as active PCs. I would then describe in general terms what I anticipate happening involving the characters. That allows the players to get a "pop" for creating a memorable character and gives them an outlet to discuss what they can see their characters doing; more important it shows you have respect for the players AND their creations.

In my experience, this has been more than sufficient in almost every instance. I try to do this where possible, even if the retired PCs have small supporting roles, simply to provide continuity and familiarity within the game world.

Best of luck to you!
 

Turanil

First Post
SG1Laura said:
What do you guys think?
Personally I leave the PCs as a player's property, so to speak. If they are to be involved as NPCs (which happened only once or twice as a DM), they would be involved in a slight way that doesn't change much to the character.
 

I would always expect the DM to be able to do what they want with the PCs after the game is "done."

The last fantasy game I played in was set in a universe played in (in game) 800-some years ago. All of the iconic figures (two of them the main saints for the world's religion) were the old PCs, but one of the villians also happened to be one of the old PCs.

To me, it would be an honor for the DM to take my character and do something significant with them (regardless of whether or not it's "something that character would do").
 

Quickleaf

Legend
All points well taken. It really depends on the circumstances.

Having the dead PCs become heroes in the next campaign seems like a no-brainer to me. In fact, players love that sense of continuity and legacy.

Crothian, I assumed she meant different circumstances. In her original post she mentioned the GM deciding a PC turned to evil. Without the player's consent, I feel that impinges into the player's jurisdiction (it's called a "player character").
 

delericho

Legend
The character belongs to both equally - the character was created by the player, who proceeded to portray him in the game, so his ownership is clear, but none of the PC's exploits make any sense without the context of the game world, and the events therein, which are clearly the DM's.

For the sake of versimilitude, the DM has to have the right to determine what happens to the character after the end of the campaign. Otherwise, the character has to simply disappear from the campaign world at the end of the campaign. Or, alternatively, the campaign has to end with a TPK. Basically, either the DM can add to the story of the characters to expand his world, or that story has to stop. (There is a third option, but I doubt anyone would actually like to use it: "and then you woke up...")

Legally, there could be issues if either the DM or the player seeks to publish. For instance, the player might write a novel about his character, or the DM might seek to publish his home campaign. Either way, there's a rights issue that would need cleared up. But, since I'm not a lawyer, I'm not going to get involved in that one.
 

S'mon

Legend
IMO - copyright in the PCs vests in the players, however in joining a game they grant the GM a free non-revocable license to use those PCs in their game-world (and related materials - though I wouldn't publish a novel centred around a PC without that player's permission)

After player leaves game, the GM can do what he wants with those PCs in his game-world. However the player can take the PC away and write stories about him/her, have the PC join another game, reminisce about the PC, level the PC up to 162nd and "play with himself", etc etc. ;)
 
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SG1Laura

First Post
S'mon said:
Copyright in the PCs vests in the players, however in joining a game they grant the GM a free non-revocable license to use those PCs in their game-world.

After player leaves game, the GM can do what he wants with those PCs in his game-world. However the player can take the PC away and write stories about him/her, have the PC join another game, reminisce about the PC, level the PC up to 162nd and "play with himself", etc etc. ;)

So, if that's true, there can be 2 "ends" for the character...one as he/she was left in the DM's world and one based on what the player decided?
 

TheGM

First Post
I follow some simple rules for my campaigns:
1. The character can not "pop out" of my worlds into another game. What's created there stays there. While I can't stop them from playing the character elsewhere, the character will still be in my world.
2. If the player might ever play the character again, I track time. After a suitable amount of time the character dies of old age.
2.5 If I know the character would not die of old age because of their nature, I give them a spectacular death in combat.
3. If the player will not be playing the character again and it's a nobody, it either fades or becomes an NPC.
4. If the player will not be playing the character again and the character is a great hero, they become an NPC and occasionally make cameos with future groups.
5. The most powerful PCs actually convert to 1/2 PC, 1/2 NPC. There is an organization of powerful people in my main world, and you have to earn your way in, but once you're in I assume the right to run the character should PCs seek him/her out and the player is unavailable. All above the board, I warn people this will happen if they join.
6. There is only one way into one of my worlds - to be one of those powerful people and then subsequently die. After that you start over at first level, in the land where you are waiting for "the end of the world" to return.
7. For the occasional character that comes to my world from elsewhere, I negotiate terms about ownership. Normally we end with "shared ownership", and a way for the character to return to where ever it came from should the player feel the world doesn't suit them.
 

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