Today I want to talk a little about rerolling. OK, not every TTRPG requires players to roll anything when creating a character, but whatever. I’m talking about those moments in a longer campaign when one of your players decides they want to try a different character.
There can be a lot of reasons for this.
Perhaps the player decided that after a certain plot development, it didn’t make sense for their character to decide to stick around. This could be because they felt betrayed, because they’d finally found a place that felt like home, or something else entirely.
Perhaps the player felt inspired to create a new character, and didn’t want to have to wait for the next campaign to try it out.
Perhaps they’ve decided that character they made looked neat on paper but they’re just not getting the emotional attachment they wanted or expected.
Perhaps they’re just bored.
And … perhaps the character died in a spectacular fashion.
I’ve had players come to me with all of these reasons and more, and they’re all valid.
Look, TTRPGs are supposed to be fun. If something gets in the way of that fun, that’s a bad implementation, and you should change things. I won’t say I’m the perfect GM, but at this point when designing a campaign I try to also think about how new characters can be added without breaking the established plot.
Yes, even in the all-kobold game where they crash landed on a planet without kobolds. The ship was full of more than just the party, and the escape pods worked for everyone but the NPC captain (R.I.P. Sniv Stonetail). Any new character could just be assumed to be a survivor whose pod landed somewhere else.
There’s mixed schools of thought on what the power level of the new character should be. I’m of the opinion that it should be comparable to the rest of the party (yes, even if the new character didn’t “earn” those levels – the player earned them on another character), so if the rest of the party’s level 3, Joe McNewcharacter should also be level 3. If they’ve acquired a few magic items along the way, I’m likely to allow McNewcharacter to pick something off a list.
In Cypher System it can be a bit trickier, because even if you award XP evenly throughout, players can spend it on long or short term benefits. I have a situation like this that I’ll be resolving on Monday, and in this case some of the players have spent enough XP to get halfway to Tier 2 so I’ll be letting the player of the new character check off two boxes on their character sheet (their choice which) but have them otherwise start with no XP.
In my games, that’s a state that won’t last long.
One last thing: Just because a character’s leaving the active party does not mean they’ve left the campaign setting. One of my favorite things is when the plot provides a reason for that character to make a return, either as an NPC or, better yet, with the original player reprising the role with an appropriately leveled older and wiser PC.
Bonus points if they end up playing the old and new characters at the same time, but try to not force them into a situation where they have to have a too long conversation with themself.
Music is Deadly Windmills by JAM from modarchive.org, used with permission, as it’s public domain.
This podcast is distributed under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.
Follow this series on…
- ▶ Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/cogwheelgaming
- ▶ RSS: https://is.aaronbsmith.com/@CrashsCourse.rss
- ▶ Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hYXJvbmJzbWl0aC5jb20vY29nd2hlZWwvZmVlZC8
- ▶ Apple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cogwheel-gaming/id1291681389
- ▶ Mastodon (Just this podcast): https://is.aaronbsmith.com/@CrashsCourse
- ▶ Mastodon (All podcasts): https://is.aaronbsmith.com/@cogwheel
MP3 Download: Crash’s Course Ep 12: Rerolling