Guest of the Week? No more new PC's!

17 posts / 0 new
Last post
So, our group has people who come in as guests. They come in and sometimes come in for a second session, but basiclly leave after one or two sessions. We all know that it's not the game and it's about time and the fact that our group is full and many of them are new to the game. I take it as just doing something new to try it, in fact thats how all of our members started.  We play a 3.5 game.

However, it's getting to the point where there are way too many new PC's that i have to turn into NPC's later. And i was thinking of making one character that would Auto Follow the party and have multiple personality disorder. But it needs to be a class people can get around and im thinking Sorceror/fighter multiclass. 

Is this a bad idea? or is thereanother way, or another class that might work better?

 
A sorcerer/fighter sounds great.

But I don't understand why you have to make them into NPCs. Why can't the character leave, or be killed, or something? If it's a matter of story, then put in "trapdoors," in-story excuses for characters to leave and be replaced. TV shows do this all the time, in case an actor should have to leave or be brought in. You know that this happens, so it shouldn't be hard to plan for.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

My go-to plan whenever I think people might be coming in and out of a campaign is to have them all belong to a larger organization so that PCs can be "called back to HQ" when they have to leave and the organization can "send in reinforcements" when new people join up. You don't have to use the PCs for anything while their players are away, they can be hanging out at headquarters or on an unrelated mission elsewhere in the world.
My go-to plan whenever I think people might be coming in and out of a campaign is to have them all belong to a larger organization so that PCs can be "called back to HQ" when they have to leave and the organization can "send in reinforcements" when new people join up. You don't have to use the PCs for anything while their players are away, they can be hanging out at headquarters or on an unrelated mission elsewhere in the world.

Sounds like a cool idea. I've wondered if that kind of thing would work.

I used to run a game in a game store, and I'd try to accommodate everyone who wanted to play so we had a shifting group. Once, some people who had been there the previous session didn't show, so I started the session by saying that the party's caravan into town had exploded for some reason and there was no sign of those other characters.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Centauri has a point in that you don't need to have them turned into NPCs and can just have them exit via trapdoor.

I also think the problem of an inconsistent party is only as much of a problem as people make it.  As a player, I'd much rather get on with the game and have fun than have a crap attack about continuity because players A, B, C, and D were here last session, and this session we have A, B, D, and E.

But, if you really have to justify to yourself why someone's character isn't present for this session, just say that the camera happens to be pointing in a different direction.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
My go-to plan whenever I think people might be coming in and out of a campaign is to have them all belong to a larger organization so that PCs can be "called back to HQ" when they have to leave and the organization can "send in reinforcements" when new people join up. You don't have to use the PCs for anything while their players are away, they can be hanging out at headquarters or on an unrelated mission elsewhere in the world.



I'm doing this for a campaign starting this week in which the PCs are "superheroes." My group is full and I have a waiting list of around 15 players, so if anyone can't make it one week, I can tap in a new player for a cameo. This built-in trapdoor will be helpful for explaining such things in-game.

For my part, I'd be concerned about this frequent turnover in the group. Could this be a symptom of something else going awry? You say that you don't think it's the game though, so maybe it's not a worry. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith


 It's not hard to come up with reasons for why a paticular part-timer can only stay with the party for one session... Any character could belong to an organization that has attached them to the party for a specific amount of time or for a single purpose, or the character may have other commitments such as family or financial obligations that prevent them from being a full-time adventurer. Or they may well be out adventuring with some other party when they're not with this one.

- Rogues or Assassins are members of the local guild - and may or may not share the party's ultimate goals. They may just be travelling with the party for safety in numbers or because whatever their true goal is is in the same location as the party. It's not hard to have them just disappear at any point in the adventure as they pursue their own goals, and if the player returns at some point their character can just show up again, either through a chance meeting or because their current goals somehow align with the party's.

 - Bards are basically self-expanatory. They have their union cards taken away if they stay in one place too long. Unless, of course, somebody rich or Noble offers them a permanent job as in-house entertainment. Also, bards are another class that could have their own goals, working as spies or researching some legend, either out of curiousity or for some employer.

 - Any Primal character would most likely prefer to remain with their own tribe, druid circle or in their home territory, unless they're fulfilling some sort of obligation to the party or the Spirits have told them they need to accompany the party. It's also entirely possible to go the complete opposite direction and have them prefer to be out wandering around on their own, only joining the party for a session or two before wandering off again.

 - Divine characters are pretty much by nature irrevocably tied to to their Church, and possibly to a specific community. Any travelling they're doing is probably at the behest of their church leaders, and if they're not doing something for their Church it's entirely possible for them to get recalled on urgent Church business or for their religious beliefs to lead them to decide to remain behind somewhere (to heal the sick, fight undead, reclaim an old ruined church or build a new one) rather than continue on with the party.

 - Some of the more scholarly Arcane characters are going to be in search of knowledge and/or magic items or doing research, while other may just be in pursuit of greater power. Also, like Divine characters, Arcane characters may well be serving a higher power, either a mage order, an individual master or some otherworldly being who's goals only occasionally intersect with the party's or whose demands on their time prevent them from regularly adventuring.

 - Psionic characters other than Monks are either pursuing personal goals, taking time off to master their increasing power or perhaps investigating some matter relating to the Far Realms. Monks may be called back by their masters or monasteries, or may be retreating from the adventuring life to meditate.

 - Any Martial character could easily be a serving member of the local military or a member of local law enforcement, i..e, a town guard, a constable, a house guard for a Noble family, or a local guard-for-hire. They may be adventuring inbetween more stable jobs. Particularly with melee types, they may decide to retire from active adventuring life due to their injuries over the years - they're not called meatshields for nothing. Warlords in particular may end up being recruited by some Nobleman to lead their men, or find some cause that needs a leader.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

My go-to plan whenever I think people might be coming in and out of a campaign is to have them all belong to a larger organization so that PCs can be "called back to HQ" when they have to leave and the organization can "send in reinforcements" when new people join up. You don't have to use the PCs for anything while their players are away, they can be hanging out at headquarters or on an unrelated mission elsewhere in the world.



I have seen online groups run like this, that have 1-2 players that show every week that are kinda the groups leader, but every week there would also be several new players, or some returning after being gone a few weeks.  From what I could tell, the 2-3 I saw like this, were pretty long-running campaigns, but it made it quick and easy to write people in and out.  4 new people show up one week and 2 that were there last week aren't.  The new people show up and thay have a message for the 2 that did not to return to HQ for a different mission.  Three to four weeks later, if those 2 showed back up, wellm they finished thier other mission and were sent back to this group, replacing whoever did not show up again.  The "side-missions" can be simple things so you don't really have to write up NPCs and stories for them all.  Perhaps they just went as caravan guards fora  while, or escorting important people around.  Perhaps a town was having an event and needed some extra security.  Maybe an Inn was having some important guests and wanted some extra bodyguards.  Whatever the player that left and is returning wants to have been doing in the off-time is fine as long as it does not go against already established lore.
Some of my favorite ways of handling things like this:

For specific characters whose players left: Give PCs-turned-NPCs heroic deaths offscreen for the party to hear stories about through their mutual allies so that you don't need to keep using them. If the player shows up again, either give them a new character or say that the older one was resurrected (or not even killed in the first place as people thought she was. Maybe she faked her death as part of a side-scheme against the BBEGs?)

For entire parties of short-term players: have them roll up Celestial characters who have been called from the Upper Realms by priests that have no combat training of their own and need to be protected in fights. That way 1) during combat scenes, they need to protect the non-combatant(s) who called them in addition to killing the enemies outright and 2) if different players show up for different games, then there's already an excuse that the priests called different Celestials then they did last time. Basically the "Adventurers HQ" that has been already mentioned, but some people might prefer the different logistical explanations.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

My go-to plan whenever I think people might be coming in and out of a campaign is to have them all belong to a larger organization so that PCs can be "called back to HQ" when they have to leave and the organization can "send in reinforcements" when new people join up. You don't have to use the PCs for anything while their players are away, they can be hanging out at headquarters or on an unrelated mission elsewhere in the world.



I also do this in my 4e game. We also generally assume that if a player isn't there for a week, that they are off in some different part of the dungeon/town/wherever doing their own thing.
In the 3.5e campaign I am playing in right now, we have seven players, but it is a rare occurrence that all seven show up for a given session.  With this in mind, the DM "house ruled" that when a given player is not available to play, the character simply disappears and when the player returns the character simply reappears and rejoins the party, no muss no fuss (use whatever reasoning you want).  The only caveat is that a "missing" character gets no XP or treasure.  This does lead to level disparity but the DM monitors the level differences and keeps the party within two levels of each other.

You could apply this to your guest players.  When there is a guest player, his/her character is there.  When they stop showing up (after one or two sessions or whatever) their character is not there.  It does not matter how you or your players rationalize it...it just is.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
For my group it varies - if the players are roleplaying ie not in a dungeon killing stuff - then the character is in 'downtime' - they could be looking for a specific item, information, ritual, catching up with friends/family etc. If they are in a 'combat situation' then when fights occur they can be 'off camera' Another option is to have a designated 2nd player for the character. I know if our cleric's player is away (as she sometimes works nights) that her husband can run her.  

 www.4eDM.org - A 4th Edition D&D Resource Site 

All of our characters belong to the "Companions of the Vale," a loose knit group of adventurers. Right now I have five regular players and 2-3 sometimes players. They are all part of the group and drift in and out of the story.

I also have had players use Companion characters (using the DMG 2 rules) and that has worked well. We just finished an adventure where the party had rescued the son of a trapper, and the young man wanted revenge on the orcs who had slain his father. The player really enjoyed this Companion character because he had a couple of unique abilities and had a very singular driving goal: Kill the dude who killed my dad.
The other thing I'd mention, we handwave a lot of the story in favor of fun. If you want a new character to join the group for an adventure or two, the players decide how everyone knows everyone. No "I don't think I'm going to trust this guy because my character would be suspicious of a traveler on the road." It's more like "Cousin Sven! How did you end up in this dank dungeon? C'mon, let's kill some goblins! Hey everyone, it's Sven!"

That's not to say there isn't a story. We have a very deep, descriptive and engaging storyline. But we control the story.

Also, there is no "Here's your guy, he's currently sitting in a dark room on lvl 27 of the Lich's dungeon 'cause that is where the last player ended the game with that character." Everyone is there to play, no sense in setting up roadblocks to them actually getting to play just because it's "realistic."
I don't worry about missing players, whether its a temporary absence or a transient player.  If someone is absent we just focus on the players that are there.  I've only given it a moment of time.  Something along the lines of the character got lost, seperated, or sick.  We will usually give some light hearted silly description when the player shows up the following week.

I would imagine if characters have a number of people that come in and out of there adventuring life they probably won't be dwelling on them so little explanation is required why they aren't around. 
I'm reminded of a rather embarrassing story...

The group I am currently running D&D for also plays a d6 Star Wars campaign (run by another player).  When we started the group that Star Wars campaign was on hiatus.  After running a short lived Deadlands adventure, we decided to pick up the d6 Star Wars game again.  Most of the players in the group had characters, but there was one player from the previous group that was not present.  The GM contacted her and asked if she would be interested in rejoining the group.  She did not respond and so the GM made her character, a Jedi Padawan, an NPC.

During the first session, one of the new characters was a Jedi Padawan as well and the GM made the missing player's character part of his "class."  The new character was...imagine a Conan the Barbarian archetype as a Jedi (the player always played those types of characters).  Anyway, thumbing his nose at the Jedi "rules," he made a pot still and basically made moonshine.  He got the missing player's character, now an NPC, drunk and had intimate relations.

In between sessions the group was informed that the missing player would be playing after all.  This was the embarrassing moment.  When the returning player showed up and the GM explained who her character was, the "Conan the Jedi" player's face turned beet red and apologized profusely.

The "Conan" player has since left the group (moved out of state), but we still all laugh about it now and then .

The point...don't use PCs as NPCs unless you are 100% sure the player will not return.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Usually I just say they are fighting another monster "off camera" during a fight. Sometimes I come up with excuses for why they can't be there. I had a lot of fun with one character always going off and having her return next adventure.

I've always wanted to run a .hack like game. In that case the characters are actually in an MMO. So anyone who couldn't make it would simply of disconnected and logged out.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries