putting PCs on ice

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I have a player whose personal schedule has become so chaotic that he can't make commitments at all for the foreseeable future. He has asked me to put his character in deep freeze until he can return. My problem is that his character has had some adventures that have affected the campaign world by giving rise to a brand new rumor-like legend (which gets the facts totally wrong but still relates to the effects of the character's actions). At some point it might be necessary for me to flesh out the legend and use it as an adventuring hook, which will mean having to thaw out the character and have her have done things the player didn't have her do. When the player comes back, he might be resuming with a higher-level character who has had summarized adventures he didn't play her through. I feel bad about that. Is there an alternative someone can suggest?
I have a player whose personal schedule has become so chaotic that he can't make commitments at all for the foreseeable future. He has asked me to put his character in deep freeze until he can return. My problem is that his character has had some adventures that have affected the campaign world by giving rise to a brand new rumor-like legend (which gets the facts totally wrong but still relates to the effects of the character's actions). At some point it might be necessary for me to flesh out the legend and use it as an adventuring hook, which will mean having to thaw out the character and have her have done things the player didn't have her do. When the player comes back, he might be resuming with a higher-level character who has had summarized adventures he didn't play her through. I feel bad about that. Is there an alternative someone can suggest?

To prevent their shows falling apart if an actor leaves for some reason, show runners put in things called "trap doors." J. Michael Straczynski had lots of them for Babylon 5 and had to use them on several occassions. An example is an aid to a main character who can step in and replace that main character if necessary, taking their place in and thereby preserving the story arc.

If you didn't leave yourself anything like that, and can't figure out a way to put one in, then you don't have many options. This should be a good lesson about the risks of tying PCs into the story like that, though.

Perhaps you can still collaborate with the player, just without the actual adventure. Work with the player on the idea, so he knows what's going on with the character and can pick it back up more or less seamlessly later.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It is indeed a good lesson. Where can I read more about "trap doors" (aside from the obvious reply that I can google the term)?
 While the character is "on ice" a imposter of him could be running around perpetuating the rumor. Whether just someone who looks similar or a doppleganger poseing as him this could kill two birds with one stone, maybe the imposter is even responsible for the cryo-sleep.
Gosh, that's the worst, especially if the player had a good time coming up with it with you. This happened to me once and it really sucked. I would advise just ignoring it for sometime and continuing the adventure resuming that plot point only once the character rejoins. This is a best case scenario and most likely isn't possible, but nonetheless if you can make it happen, do it.
 While the character is "on ice" a imposter of him could be running around perpetuating the rumor. Whether just someone who looks similar or a doppleganger poseing as him this could kill two birds with one stone, maybe the imposter is even responsible for the cryo-sleep.



Hmm. I know exactly a way I can work that out. Thank you so much for the brilliant inspiration! Now I do hope that the player comes back six months from now and has a whole ton of brand new fun I have planned for him.
It is indeed a good lesson. Where can I read more about "trap doors" (aside from the obvious reply that I can google the term)?

I don't know. You'll have to google it anyway, but I think I read about it on io9.com.

But there's not much to read about. The point is just that if your story is more important to you than your characters, then you have to make it somewhat independent of your characters. Some DMs make the story entirely independent of the characters, so any characters can be dropped out or slotted in to make room for changes around the table. Your story wasn't independent, but maybe it's recoverable.

You say that the character's actions created a rumor. Well, rumors are mutable. In this case, you say the facts are "totally wrong." Well, it's a staple of fantasy, and even some science fiction, that rumors and legends cause the "wrong" person to have greatness thrust upon them, or give a conman a weakness to exploit. Simply create a popular variant of the rumor, and an NPC that fits the bill. Maybe it's a legitimate misunderstanding. Maybe it's a conman (or the pawn of a conman) trying to gain some advantage. Maybe the NPC really will actually turn out to be the legend, and the player was just a cog in the grand scheme who primed the world for this NPC's appearance.

Other than that, maybe another PC in the party can fit the bill, but of course that puts you out on the same limb. Make sure you're prepared for that player to leave too.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

People have given you some good things to think about, but I’ll list off a few things I have done or heard of being done when players either stopped playing or wanted to “Switch” characters.


-          Time vortex curse , character falls in and reappears at random times


-          Quick out plot- ex, there is something only that character can do, but has to do it alone so must leave party till it is done.


-          The character has been grievously injured and is at a Shine getting serious medical attention


-          The character simply gets “lost” in a dungeon or Forrest and isn’t seen from again.


-          Been captured by evil guy and imprisoned in unknown location.


-          Simply turned into an NPC that follow along with the party  


-          Simply turned into NPC that does things elsewhere


-          Character gets married and settles down not allowing them to continue with their party


-          Character is mind-fu#ked and turns into a bad guy.


-          Is turned to stone/ frozen or any other reason to be put into suspended animation


-          Is summoned by the local nobility, but the invitation is for that character alone


-          Pre-game character history causes the character to leave – ex- finds out his mother is ill, his kid has been kidnapped, his lifelong teacher is in need of their help.


This is just a small list of ways you can remove a character; I’d also like to champion the nature of character history based games; to me I find they are more involving and the players get sucked in quicker, since they in fact have set the tone of what they want in the game.


As long as you have a good party It shouldn’t matter if one dies or leaves, if the party has a Quest then they can march along to finish it; If that quest was focused around one character (Which I DO think is bad, the quests in these type of games should contain elements of every characters back-story) and they leave/die the party can Finish the quest for revenge of their fallen/lost party member.


If they don’t want to, then it’s safe to assume the nature of the game is based around only one member’s back-story at a time (which I again think is bad) then you can just move to the next characters “Story quest”


Hope this helps!

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 While the character is "on ice" a imposter of him could be running around perpetuating the rumor. Whether just someone who looks similar or a doppleganger poseing as him this could kill two birds with one stone, maybe the imposter is even responsible for the cryo-sleep.



Hmm. I know exactly a way I can work that out. Thank you so much for the brilliant inspiration! Now I do hope that the player comes back six months from now and has a whole ton of brand new fun I have planned for him.



Cool, just glad I could help.
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