DMPCs, how to handle them...

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Okay, just wondering:

A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?

D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

I've run a few over the years, part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

I started my most recent one because I had a couple of players who wanted to try DMing. I built a character to play when they took over to run a stand alone mission, and let him stick around when I was running my campaign.

I think the worse thing you could ever do is make your character be the leader of the party. In fact It's best if he/she almost never make suggestions during the planning phase. If you always suggest what to do and it's the right direction, the players feel like you're leading them through the story by the nose.

If you suggest the wrong thing, they think you did it to hurt them.

I've played really stupid DMPCs a few times to avoid this, but they got boring and died. Then I found another option...

My current character (3.5E, but will be changing soon) is a fighter/rogue an orphan raised by a gambler/knife fighter in the main sea port city. So he understands the streets, and is awesome in combat, but he had never been away from a city before he joined the party.

Now the party are a Druid, Ranger, Barbarian, Fighter, and Rogue. So most of their activities take place in the wilderness. So I have a character who can help the party in fights, is fun to play, but has to let the actual players make the choices in the adventure.
A) I use a DMPC.

B) I like to keep the number of players around 4 (3.5)/5 (4e), and to fill roles. I usually make it a jack-of-all-trades type build. In 4e I use a helladin (infernal pact paladin).

C) I don't have it role-play much, and I know my powers better than my players know their PC's powers so my turns are really fast.

D) That's tricky, but basically I don't make any major decisions and I am really good at seperting IC/OOC knowledge.
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A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

DMPCs are an abomination. Even the very name tells you this.
There are two ways to play the game - either as the DM, or as one of the Player Characters
Player Characters are the stars of the story. The players essentially try & "win" vrs whatever challenges the DM dreams up.
The DM creates & reveals the details of the world, playing the parts of all the monsters, townfolk, etc etc etc....
So when a DM tries to play and advance a character right alongside the PCs.....
If you don't see anything wrong with this, consider; How would you feel if a player at your table began dictating what monsters do, awarding xps, rolling up treasures, etc? Odds are you'd be ******.
Well, that's how many players feel when the DM tries to run a character along side them. "Thanks Mr.DM, thanks for stealing my thunder. Thanks for syphoning off the loot/xp (if you didn't want to give out that much, then don't). What? It's not enough that you built the world, script the adventures, & already controll everything except the other humans sitting around the table? What, now you want a piece of my action as well???"
Accept the fact that DMs & Players have different roles within the game. Decide wich role is right for you within a campaign & stick to it.

And if you create a really cool world? See if you can't use it as the default setting for other games. You know, when someone else DMs & you're the actual player....

B) if so why did you start playing this character?
C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?
D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?


I don't have these problems because I know and accept the differences/limitations involved in being either DM or PC.
Other than that, I play NPCs the players come into contact with with whatever amounts of knowledge seems appropriate for them.

I've run a few over the years, part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

And loving to RP is fine.
There's nothing at all in the DMs job description that prevents that. In fact, pretty much the oppisite.
But like I said, you don't get to do it armed with a character sheet like the rest of the group. Instead you play the parts of all the monsters they meet. All the townfolk. All thier aquaintences. All their followers, hirelings, familiars, animal companions, mentors, etc etc etc.
A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

DMPCs are an abomination. Even the very name tells you this.
There are two ways to play the game - either as the DM, or as one of the Player Characters
Player Characters are the stars of the story. The players essentially try & "win" vrs whatever challenges the DM dreams up.
The DM creates & reveals the details of the world, playing the parts of all the monsters, townfolk, etc etc etc....


I've run a few over the years, part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

And loving to RP is fine.
There's nothing at all in the DMs job description that prevents that. In fact, pretty much the oppisite.

I understand where you are coming from, and agree with a lot of it. I tend to run a DMPC in two instances:

1) there is a gaping hole in the party that is leading them dangerously close to TPK during normal adventures, but everyone likes their character and doesn't want to change. (Best example of this was a party of Druid, Wizard, and Rogue) In this case I built a Fighter, who really acts more as a NPC that fights for the Party.

2) In a Rotating DM campaign. The DMG says to have your character not be there for your session, but the lack of continuity bothers me nd my players. We've found it works if the DM runs his character as well as the game. Only real problem with this idea (Aside from giving the DM more work) is some people tend to focus the mission around their own character. We get around this because our players understand that the game is supposed to be fun for all. Actually most of the time the DM focuses on the other players because if your character just follows the party, then you don't have nearly as much to keep track of.
We don't have many of us. It's a group of three people at the atble. Thus someone has to be DM, which tends to fall on me.

I "have to" run a DMPC to keep things roughly balanced. As two people in't all that much of a party. Realy it's more of a cohort than anything else.

However, since we like to play straight out-and-out combat I don't run into "knowing more" than the PCs. I play a "destroyer" type character so it really has null-effect on hidden objects and diplomatic relations.
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A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

I don't really like it personally. Still it's a useful tool in the DM's toolbox and I use it when necessary.

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

We didn't have enough players.

C) How do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?

Multi-tasking... I just do. The same way I can play NPCs and adjudicate rules while drinking coffee all at the same time (well, not exactly at the same time).

D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

The same way I always avoid metagaming, you just remember what character X knows, what their personality is like and therefore how they will act in Y situation.
A) I've run a DMPC in just about every game I've constructed
B) I started playing the character for a variety of reasons. Chief among them being the ability to advise or discuss with the group as part of the group, without making them feel like I was barging it.
C) It's handled just like any other monster or NPC, except they help fight WITH the party.
D) The best advice I have here is, stick to the character sheet and try to fully realize the personality of the DMPC. If you've got a streetwise fighter, he probably doesn't know all that much about Arcane Arts. If you've got a Druid, you probably shouldn't be asking him to find out information in the city. Play to the characters stats and stick to the rules.

As for the response from CSS, I don't know what games you're playing in, but a DMPC shouldn't even be an extension of the DM's influence. Furthermore, the fact that the DM does all the planning shouldn't be met with derision, but with thankfulness.
A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

I dislike these for quite a number of reasons (and would be unlikely to play with anyone that used one), but I can't really begrudge someone something they think is fun. My only advice is to be aware that some of your players might feel similarly.
Well I run a DMPC in my game.Basically they just hired a mercanary and he runs around with them. When their planning,he just sits back and smokes his pipe,or sleeps.

Only once,when they were attacking a goblin camp,run by human overlords,he suggested they take a secret route he knew about.The only reason he knew about it was because he took part in a battle their before.

All in all he's more of an NPC.He requests payment from the pc's but not nearly as much as he normally would.He cant just up and leave because his mercenary band has moved on,and he doesnt really consider himself part of the party.

Now i could see ways to get temp DMPC's in.A wizard that gets word of them going to a dungeon with rare monsters that he wants to study,a rouge that will get them past a particular trap or door,for a price,a ranger that offers to keep the animals of the woods from attacking them.All these could work.However dont treat them as if they are PCs.Treat them as temporary NPC's,only there to help for a while before moving on to somewhere else.
DMPC's are good for one thing, and one thing only.

Plot devices.

In our old 3.5 game, the DM's paladin DMPC got kidnapped by a demon, and then the next like, ten sessions were made up of trying to rescue him. He was dead when we found him, but we then learned that some cult was going to summon an army of demons. The DMPC was only there for two sessions, and in the second one he was kidnapped in the first half-hour.
DMPC's are good for one thing, and one thing only.

Plot devices.

Aren't those normally then called NPC's?
I simply like to use them as a supporting character to the "story". as a character and not a PC you don't have to put them in a position of power or decision-making or one in which you compromise your role as DM.
they can send verbal cues that wouldn't work as narrative or descriptions. i.e one of the best ways that I used one was establish that he was a fair bit stronger than the PC's and then had him accompany them into a dungeon. I didn't have him participate in most of the combats, just enough to reinforce his character and his role in the dungeon (and kick so major ass in front of the party). they find a massive treasure trove and while they are looting he comes running around a pile of gold (think Aladdin amounts of treasure) screaming "go-go-go-go-go!" so that I could have the party realize they were supposed to run from this fight without seeming like a gimmick or railroading.

bottom line try and think of him as a recurring character than a player character and use him as a story telling mechanic
I've run a few over the years, part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

And loving to RP is fine.
There's nothing at all in the DMs job description that prevents that. In fact, pretty much the oppisite.
But like I said, you don't get to do it armed with a character sheet like the rest of the group. Instead you play the parts of all the monsters they meet. All the townfolk. All thier aquaintences. All their followers, hirelings, familiars, animal companions, mentors, etc etc etc.

Seriously. As DM, without a DMPC, you already do more roleplaying than anyone else in the group. In some groups, DMs do more RP than everyone else combined. The reason you feel the need to create a PC isn't so much that it's the only way to RP, it's just that (with all due respect) you're lazy.
If you put as much thought and love into every NPC as you do your PCs, they will be as three-dimensional as you will ever need for roleplaying purposes. Don't make your NPCs just "another plot device" or "the guy who has the information" or "the chick who leads the bandits."

Remember, every NPC, from the barkeep to the commoner to the archvillain to the ogre grunt to the Wizard in the tower had a family, a childhood, a belief system about the universe, and a unique outlook that he/she shares with absolutely no one else. They all want things, be they material possessions, respect, change in their world, acknowledgement. Nobody ever sprung into existance as the bandit leader, the sorcerous trickster, or a subservient minion. They all had to learn their craft from someone or something, whether their craft is fighting or magic or social manipulation or literal crafting.

Think of all the things that have happened to you over the past year. If you really take time to think about it, it's a lot. You may have earned or lost friends, money, or a job. You might have learned a skill, or found out you had a talent for something. You may like an author or actor you didn't like or know about before. Maybe you lived in different places, liked different foods, or enjoyed a different hobby. Your romantic situation could have changed subtley or significantly many, many times. A year is a long time, and a lot of things happened that shaped you. An NPC that you create doesn't just have a year of history, but 20, 40, 100 or more years behind them, each just as full of change and growth as your one year.

I cannot reiterate this enough, a GM does not need a DMPC in order to "RP" more! You already should be doing it plenty.
part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

Starting to wish I hadn't put this phrase in here. Anyway the bold bit is the main focus here.

I don't add my own character because I love to roleplay.

But because I love to roleplay, I have in the past used a DMPC to solve a problem in the party. My example, a 3 person party with no defender.

I have also used one to solve a problem with the players. My current group ranges from 15-21, I'm 26. We've been playing for about 6 years now, so they were very young we they started.

Back then they thought tactical fighting was running up to the closest monster and hitting it until it fell down.

I had explained to them repeatedly about the shifting and flanking rules, but they never used them. I'd even used them myself with the monsters they faced, hoping they would get the idea. (Closest I've come to a TPK as a DM)

Finally I made a DMPC fighter, and had him join the group for a few adventures. I set him up as an old retired soldier, and through him I was able to give the Players tips without stopping the game to explain rules.(something the players didn't like)

He became the party's commander (something I never intended) and would act about like a football quarterback during encounters. Within about 3 sessions they had absorbed the tactics, but also come to rely on my character to get them through the battles. (Just gave it that much more of an impact when I killed him)
I don't add my own character because I love to roleplay.

But because I love to roleplay, I have in the past used a DMPC to solve a problem in the party.

That's my point. Loving to roleplay shouldn't come into the equation at all. In fact, it should be a deterrant from running a DMPC, since it takes some of your focus away from the people you're supposed to be making the stars: the PCs. But, I'll concede the point since you've said it doesn't really matter, and in order to answer your questions.

A: I don't know how many. But I've personally run two DMPCs total.

B: The first was to be allowed a chance to roleplay more, actually. Over the four years since then, I've learned better. The second was to give the party a role it was missing and to act as foil to one group member who wasn't getting much attention.

C: The first time, I handled it thus: poorly. My DMPC wasn't the stereotypical one who had the plot center around him and could use his Mary Sue God Mode powers to fix problems at whim, but he was certainly as powerful as any of the group and fulfilled a unique role. This caused me to become doubly the center of attention in the game, which wasn't fun for anyone involved.
The second time, I did it the way all of the "enlightened DMPC-users" do: he sat back and didn't give input during planning, often did what the group told him to do, was given a share of the treasure and XP, and was slightly less powerful. He filled a role the group needed (and most people would say this is the most persuasive reason to add a DMPC), but this was his problem. My players as good as told me straight that they'd prefer to fail or succeed on their own power and wit than have a DM-issued "helper" to help, even if he only did what any reasonable, less-powerful adventurer would do. Plus, they wanted to split experience and lewtz fewer ways.

D: This was the easiest part, both times. Every time character information became important during the design process, I just decided whether the DMPC knew it or not beforehand. That way, I was never in a situation where I didn't know whether or not to suggest something or step back. In most situations, I also had a prepared reply if any other PC asked for help, as often helpful as not.

DMPC use, like all issues in D&D, is group-specific and you'll never know what to do unless you talk to your players and keep open lines of communication. Maybe a feedback sheet that you hand them at the end of the session and say that they can option to turn it in at the start of the next session. This gives them time to think about what to say, how not to offend you, and to come up with suggestions. It's important not to tell them what to write about, though.

Hope your D&D game is fun until you switch systems!
A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

Running a DMPC is a terrible, awful idea IMO. My strong recommendation is to just not do it.
Running a DMPC is a terrible, awful idea IMO. My strong recommendation is to just not do it.

It's a perfect idea, and should be done when possible. Assuming, of course, that both the group and DM are absolutely perfectly suited to the thing, and they handle it just right. Just like Communism.
The problem arises when you realize that such a perfect system can't last in except in a theoretical "perfect" situation. In which you wouldn't even need the system.
It's a perfect idea, and should be done when possible. Assuming, of course, that both the group and DM are absolutely perfectly suited to the thing, and they handle it just right. Just like Communism.
The problem arises when you realize that such a perfect system can't last in except in a theoretical "perfect" situation. In which you wouldn't even need the system.

What he said.
Okay, just wondering:

A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?

D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

A) I do and have for years.

B) It started back in AD&D 1E when my friend and I alternated playing and DMing. My gaming groups have almost always been small and having an NPC that was part of the group helps fill gaps.

C) He sits back and speaks when spoken to. He isn't in any way the focus of the group. He takes whatever share of the treasure is given to him. My players are my focus in plot development and having an in game voice in the party helps me.

D) Simple. Knowledge checks. If my players ask him a question he rolls. He fails, he doesn't know. He succeeds he does. Simple and fair.

As to all the talk of abomination and such. My games are about group storytelling. We all have fun and no one objects to the way I DM our games.
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I DM and run a PC from time to time. I don't think its an abomination so long as the DM in question is filling a role needed by the group (in combat). In combat, I generally won't play a controller type b/c of the temptation to cluster my own mosters and blast away at them.

Currently, I'm playing a dwarf paladin in my group. In role-play he's very much a wallflower, and in combat he hits the front line and tries to keep enemies off the controller, leader and striker of the group. Thus far, it's working and all my players are very happy.
Okay, just wondering:

A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?

D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

A) I have DMPCs of varying classes and levels
B) I created them to help round out parties where only one or two people could show up and I didn't have a module ready to go for such a small group.
C) I keep the DMPCs in the background, following the PC's orders but being something more developed than an NPC. They will only offer suggestions in their field of expertise, or take actions that would be logical for their situations.
D) As per above. Also, I've had a bit of acting experience and know how to separate myself from foreknowledge of the script. The dice also do a bit of decision making. If my DMPC is faced with 3 doors to open, for example, he'll either ask the PCs which one he should open or else I'll roll a d3 to see which one he opens. They make no conscious decisions on their own except for during immediate threats, acting always with self-preservations in mind first.

Not every DM can run a DMPC effectively. It's a great temptation to protect a DMPC as you would your PC, but playing a DMPC can be done in a way that doesn't tip balance and doesn't steal the spotlight from the PCs, the proper heroes of the game.

I do see a difference between a DMPC and an NPC, but my lunch break is over and I don't have time to go into it right now. (Boss is glaring at me!)
A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

I find running a DMPC useful for a number of reasons. Since I have few players I can better balance a party, particularly taking a role that PC's can't/won't cover. If the party needs a meat shield I throw in a DMPC fighter. If the party needs a rogue to pick locks, that's what I use.

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

Playing a DMPC should NEVER, EVER, be about the DM. It's about the PLAYERS. The purpose of playing a DMPC is to provide the players with a more enjoyable game - NOT to provide the DM with the opportunity to "be a player" in his own game.

C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?
D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

A DMPC has key differences from a mere NPC as well as a full-fledged PC. The DMPC is a hole-filler. It is BAD for the DMPC to do much more than dutifully, steadfastly fill his hole. He's just there. Part of the background of the game. This doesn't mean he has to be ENTIRELY blase, uninteractive, uninteresting, etc. It means he WORKS at staying out of the limelight because he is NOT a PC - and the game is ALL ABOUT the PC's.

Yes, this does dictate certain things about a DMPC's personality - in fact he's more restricted than an NPC would be. But then unlike an NPC that is part of his job - to take a backseat as often as possible, but to be there filling his hole nonetheless. It otherwise is no different than running an NPC travelling with the party as far as compartmentalizing in- and out-of-character information. But then a DMPC also provides the DM with a means of participating in PC-party discussions that an NPC would be excluded from. The DM can use the DMPC to guide guesswork and conversations, or just outright drop clues if needed because that DMPC is always THERE, filling his hole.

I think the worse thing you could ever do is make your character be the leader of the party. In fact It's best if he/she almost never make suggestions during the planning phase.

Unless as DM you feel that suggestions are NEEDED. If their ideas are going to lead to disaster you can try to use the DMPC's input to steer them away from a course of action, or reduce its negative impact a bit. But otherwise, yes, the DMPC just keeps his trap shut - even if the partys chosen course is going to get them into trouble. Heck that's half the FUN. What DM in his right mind wants to prevent the players from getting their PC's into trouble?

If you always suggest what to do and it's the right direction, the players feel like you're leading them through the story by the nose.

But you don't need to TELL them what to do, just suggest it. Even with the DM's omniscience not everything you suggest they do will WORK.

If you suggest the wrong thing, they think you did it to hurt them.

Never had that happen actually. If a player EVER expresses this sort of opinion then you've got much deeper issues than a DMPC could actually breed and you need to fix that immediately.

I've played really stupid DMPCs a few times to avoid this, but they got boring and died.

But you don't have to suggest stupid things - you simply say NOTHING unless asked, and then you remain non-committal.

So I have a character who can help the party in fights, is fun to play, but has to let the actual players make the choices in the adventure.

The players ALWAYS make the choices in the adventure. Don't EVER put a DMPC in the position of dictating what will be done. If the DMPC finds himself in that position anyway - DEFER to a PC or outright refuse to lead. That is never, EVER the DMPC's purpose in being present in the game and in fact is CONTRARY to his purpose.

It isn't as if the true nature of a DMPC is a secret from players. If it comes down to your DMPC taking the lead then just step out of character and tell the PLAYERS, "Look, this is a problem. You now at least need to tell ME what you think the DMPC should do. But as you know this is not the reason this character is here. So let's all deal with it accordingly."

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I find running a DMPC useful for a number of reasons. Since I have few players I can better balance a party, particularly taking a role that PC's can't/won't cover. If the party needs a meat shield I throw in a DMPC fighter. If the party needs a rogue to pick locks, that's what I use.


Playing a DMPC should NEVER, EVER, be about the DM. It's about the PLAYERS. The purpose of playing a DMPC is to provide the players with a more enjoyable game - NOT to provide the DM with the opportunity to "be a player" in his own game.


A DMPC has key differences from a mere NPC as well as a full-fledged PC. The DMPC is a hole-filler. It is BAD for the DMPC to do much more than dutifully, steadfastly fill his hole. He's just there. Part of the background of the game. This doesn't mean he has to be ENTIRELY blase, uninteractive, uninteresting, etc. It means he WORKS at staying out of the limelight because he is NOT a PC - and the game is ALL ABOUT the PC's.

Yes, this does dictate certain things about a DMPC's personality - in fact he's more restricted than an NPC would be. But then unlike an NPC that is part of his job - to take a backseat as often as possible, but to be there filling his hole nonetheless. It otherwise is no different than running an NPC travelling with the party as far as compartmentalizing in- and out-of-character information. But then a DMPC also provides the DM with a means of participating in PC-party discussions that an NPC would be excluded from. The DM can use the DMPC to guide guesswork and conversations, or just outright drop clues if needed because that DMPC is always THERE, filling his hole.

Unless as DM you feel that suggestions are NEEDED. If their ideas are going to lead to disaster you can try to use the DMPC's input to steer them away from a course of action, or reduce its negative impact a bit. But otherwise, yes, the DMPC just keeps his trap shut - even if the partys chosen course is going to get them into trouble. Heck that's half the FUN. What DM in his right mind wants to prevent the players from getting their PC's into trouble?

But you don't need to TELL them what to do, just suggest it. Even with the DM's omniscience not everything you suggest they do will WORK.

Never had that happen actually. If a player EVER expresses this sort of opinion then you've got much deeper issues than a DMPC could actually breed and you need to fix that immediately.

But you don't have to suggest stupid things - you simply say NOTHING unless asked, and then you remain non-committal.

The players ALWAYS make the choices in the adventure. Don't EVER put a DMPC in the position of dictating what will be done. If the DMPC finds himself in that position anyway - DEFER to a PC or outright refuse to lead. That is never, EVER the DMPC's purpose in being present in the game and in fact is CONTRARY to his purpose.

It isn't as if the true nature of a DMPC is a secret from players. If it comes down to your DMPC taking the lead then just step out of character and tell the PLAYERS, "Look, this is a problem. You now at least need to tell ME what you think the DMPC should do. But as you know this is not the reason this character is here. So let's all deal with it accordingly."

What he said.
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RBurch, thanks for posting these questions. It has been interesting to everyone's replies. Since you mentioned that you are currently playing 3.5 but switching to 4.0, let me add one thing that I have found. I have always enjoyed playing a DMPC but I have found that this has been more of a challenge in 4.0. Maybe it is just because I am still learning the rules (along with everyone else in my group) but it seems more than that.

4.0 adventures tend to use a lot more bad guys per encounter. If you have to handle, as in one encounter from a recent low level 4.0 module, "10 minions, 3 skirmishers, 2 soldiers, 1 artillery (wizard), and an elite brute" all in the same encounter, you are busy enough. To have to take actions for each of those, and then later in the round turn around and figure out what power your DMPC will use not only adds more for you to concern yourself with, but also detracts from your players' experience, "jeez, the DM has another turn, how long do I have to sit here and wait until he is done? All I wanted to do was roll a single to-hit."

On the other hand, 4.0 is big about party roles, as a DM it is tempting to want to fill a vacant role, especially if the party has no defender. I have 4 players in my group and really don't want to add another, so that means at least one role will remain vacant (unless someone multiclasses to try to semi-fill it). I decided to put the burden of party roles on the players. They are the party and the party they create may live or die based on its make-up. If they choose to go somewhere like the Keep on the Shadowfell without the right mix of roles, I let the game decide for them. Once a character or two die and the group gets reshuffled, sooner or later balance is obtained. Kinda like what would most likely happen if the Fed left the interest rate alone, after a possibly painful period, the market would respond and balance itself back out. I let this all be known up front. It seemed to help the group think more on how to build a party than just each person think of their own isolated character.

Of course I could change up the mix of monsters to account for the missing role, but I have enough on my hands already.

And yeah, although not every player dislikes the DM having a character, very few (if any) of them seem to prefer it. Regardless, if you decide to keep playing one, just make sure that he or she is not a DM cheat character, with maybe an extra level or a few more points for his ability scores, and extra power or two...although possibly fun for you, that just pisses everyone off and is an abuse of your position. Players are smarter than that.
I just thought of something else...

One of the best things about DMPC's is that they're more like recurring NPC's. They stick around for a little bit, wander away once the story stops interesting them and maybe show up later when the action is more to their taste. I don't think I'm a fan of the DMPC as a completely involved character replacement. They should be fun additions to the party that help drive the players and the story forward.

Additionally, one of the huge uses I've discovered for DMPC's is killing them. Hear me out for a second here. Killing PC's is a big deal, any DM can tell you that. What a DMPC helps you do is to craft relationships with the PC's that emulate the bonds that form between individual PCs.

For instance my gaming group had an ex-military Scout with wayward morals named Silas who traveled with the group; he was a sort of a badass, not powerful but just a case of attitude. Anyway, they're doing a dungeon crawl and Silas gets Death Attack'd by some Assassins. I looked around the table, thinking the party would be concerned about their turns, but they all looked stricken.

I realized that you can emulate character death and the emotions associated with that unfortunate event, without the unpalatable side effects.
Generally, I'm open about my views on things, but imho, a PC run by the DM is an NPC.

As the person running the game you can't be a full member of the party. You have too much in character knowledge to operated as a fully functional member of the group.

I don't have anything against the DM playing an NPC to assist parties that need his help, but it's still an NPC. You may have used the rules to create the NPC and it may be more fully detailed and realized than regular NPCs, but that's really all it can be.

One good reason to run a DMPC is having joint DMs in a campaign. If you run one adventure and than another DM takes over for the next, it makes sense for both to have an NPC character within the party that doubles as their PC when they play. This leads to a more believable story since characters don't move in an out of it like the side kicks in the Hercules TV series.

So, I think there is definitely a place for DM controlled NPC party members. I just don't see them being full fledged members of the party while the DM is running the game. Knowing all of the information and secrets of the adventure and the temptation to lead the other Party members around by the nose is too great.
Recommendation for NPC's... Animal Companion, befriends a member of the party. Controlled by the DM, can understand basic commands, but pretty much will do nothing towards talking with the party. :D

It's a good way to fill the role, without being anything more than a secondary character, and doesn't seem to be 1-Dimensional.

I also recommend building them as they suggest for NPC's. With fewer powers, but all the traits. I'm using a Fighter NPC Wolf currently in a solo campaign.

Always a GM, never a player (not really but sometimes feels like it).

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Raynard- While I see a difference, albeit subtle, between an NPC and a DMPC*, what I don't see is how a game can run effectively with more than one DM without at least one player knowing far more about the game world than the others, i.e., the player who is sometimes the DM. They both have to know how the story is going to go, who the bad guys are, what their motivations are, etc. How does that work? (Assuming by "adventure" you mean part of an ongoing storyline.)

*It's mostly in development and whether or not they're tied to a locale or circumstance, and just how far into the adventure they can be expected to go.
I see a difference, albeit subtle, between an NPC and a DMPC

People tend to define the word differently, but I believe the main difference is:
Does the character receive their own share of the loot and XP?
If yes = DMPC.
If no = NPC
Thanks for all the imput guys. I'm thinking I'll use my DMPC I'm running in 3.5 be the focus for changing to 4E.

I had this crazy idea in my head, and decided that having another Cosmic War would be a good way for the world to go from pretty settled to POL setting.

My idea is the Raven Queen has been imprisoned by some of the other gods. A war between the races breaks out, and it somehow awakens the remaining Primordials.

Anyway, a NPC they know comes to the PC's and claims he needs help to release the Raven Queen and that this will end the war.

What he doesn't say is the only way to release her is put others in her place, so with help of my DMPC the party is locked in an enchanted tomb.

They awaken years later and everything is different. Of course the DMPC will still be around, and that could lead to fun places.

I may even make the DMPC be a Shadar-Kai in disguise. (He already fights with 2 Katar)

In any case he is not the focus of the story, but he does drive he story.

We'll see if I can get the plot to make sense.
DM's do not get PCs. Now stop this foolish crap or stop trying to play D&D, because you are incapable of doing so otherwise.

Either you are the DM OR a PC. Not both.
In any case he is not the focus of the story, but he does drive he story.

This isn't the problem. The problem is that the players will always associate the DMPC with you, regardless of what you do. Anything he does, they will see it as you doing it with full DM power. If he, therefore, tricks them and "god-modes" them into a very specific situation with a pre-determined outcome...
What he doesn't say is the only way to release her is put others in her place, so with help of my DMPC the party is locked in an enchanted tomb. They awaken years later and everything is different. Of course the DMPC will still be around, and that could lead to fun places.

... they will see it as you declaring "A Loser is You!" It looks like there's no room in your plan for the PCs to get a victory. If they do their job right, your switch to 4e will be impossible, so you effectively can't let them win. And letting the players win is sort of the basis for the game.
This isn't the problem. The problem is that the players will always associate the DMPC with you, regardless of what you do. Anything he does, they will see it as you doing it with full DM power. If he, therefore, tricks them and "god-modes" them into a very specific situation with a pre-determined outcome...

... they will see it as you declaring "A Loser is You!" It looks like there's no room in your plan for the PCs to get a victory. If they do their job right, your switch to 4e will be impossible, so you effectively can't let them win. And letting the players win is sort of the basis for the game.

Oh, I understand where you're coming from. The only reasons I can get by with this in this case is:

a) my players want to switch to 4E, but want to bring their PCs with them.

b) I won't end the session with them being put asleep, it'll be, "As the Black Wizard waves his staff, blackness overwhelms you." Here are your new character sheets, "You are blinded by light bright as a sun as you wake. Dust covers the chamber, your once polished armor now shows patches of rust."

c) My DMPC won't do the actual God Mode stuff. That will be the NPC they know, who is one of the most powerful Archmages in the world. He'll just get the PCs into the right spot for the Wizard to do his thing.

Plus I've found players don't mind getting their butts kicked if they get a 2nd or 3rd shot at the kicker, and I intend to give them plenty of shots.

People tend to define the word differently, but I believe the main difference is:
Does the character receive their own share of the loot and XP?
If yes = DMPC.
If no = NPC

According to this I have a half DMPC, half NPC. Mine doesn't take XP, but does level up with the last PC in the group to do so. He does however take some of the loot, not much, just what they give him. He's kinda like the groups' lackey right now. Very young and inexperienced, and he kinda hero worships the group.
DMPCs sadly lead to overshadowing the real PCs and often times come off as little more than intellectual masturbation.
Dark Sun DM starting October 18th 2010 Level 4 Tiefling Orbizard Level 3 Tiefling Telepath Psion

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I have about 100+ DMPCs. Some fight the PCs, some work with them, some need the PCs help, and many are simply trying to get along in the world the PCs inhabit. They change things even when the PCs have never seen or heard of them.

I urge every DM to built up a massive number of these DMPCs and flesh them out as best as you can. Role-play them for all their worth and make them part of the brilliant and lush landscape the PCs play against.

Yey! for DMPCs.
I have about 100+ DMPCs. Some fight the PCs, some work with them, some need the PCs help, and many are simply trying to get along in the world the PCs inhabit. They change things even when the PCs have never seen or heard of them.

I urge every DM to built up a massive number of these DMPCs and flesh them out as best as you can. Role-play them for all their worth and make them part of the brilliant and lush landscape the PCs play against.

Yey! for DMPCs.

I think you are mistaken DMPCs for NPCs. NPCs are any character not controlled by a player. DMPCs are members of the adventuring party controlled by the DM.

NPCs=good
DMPCs=bad
Dark Sun DM starting October 18th 2010 Level 4 Tiefling Orbizard Level 3 Tiefling Telepath Psion

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I'd have to say that DMPCs that are always with the party, make major decisions, or are a major focus of the story in the sense that their actions are the only thing moving the plot are bad things. DMPCs (NPCs?) that work with the party for a while, or move the story along by dying tend to be very useful.

NOTE: In regards to the last part of the "bad dmpc" description. If said character has a situation as follows, I would deem it perfectly acceptable:

DMPC is a prince who must retrieve an amulet from the heart of a volcano in order to restore peace to his broken kingdom (yeah, there's a connection there somewhere). Problem: Only members of his bloodline can touch the amulet without being consumed by its powerful magics. He, however, is by no means powerful enough to fight his way past the red dragon guarding the amulet. Thus, he enlists the help of the now-well-known PCs to aid him in his quest. He goes with them, and this is the PC's chance to play a major role in saving the kingdom. Maybe halfway through the dragon fight, the prince gets knocked out, and the players must finish the dragon and then wake the prince to finish the rite.

Something along these lines seems well within reason. The players have a major hand in the plot, but the prince is the driving factor. The players are well rewarded for their valor, and they (hopefully) feel very accomplished for being the deciding factor in the kingdom's safety. I suppose I've just described an NPC who fights with the party for a little while though :P
I think you are mistaken DMPCs for NPCs. NPCs are any character not controlled by a player. DMPCs are members of the adventuring party controlled by the DM.

NPCs=good
DMPCs=bad

:P I think you might have missed the tone of my post.
:P I think you might have missed the tone of my post.

touche
Dark Sun DM starting October 18th 2010 Level 4 Tiefling Orbizard Level 3 Tiefling Telepath Psion

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I suppose I've just described an NPC who fights with the party for a little while though :P

Agreed.

Again: if the character gets their own share of the XP/loot, that's a DMPC (and that's bad). You could have an NPC that expects suitable payment, maintains a level similar to the party, and whose contributions in combat effectively reduce the overall XP of encounters... but:

"Once you start tracking their XP - you've gone to the dark side."
In response to your questions:

A) how many of you other DM's like to run a DM controlled PC?

I like to run one just fine. I don't always, it jut depends on the campaign in question.

B) if so why did you start playing this character?

Well, a number of reasons: shortness of players or completeness of classes, by request and rotating DM's are the primary reasons.

C) how do you handle playing a character, and running the game itself?

It runs pretty close to how an NPC runs, but it also depends on whats going on. For fighting, I usually (but not always) have a player assist with the rolling of initiative, attacks, etc. It can be complicated to be DM and have a DMPC and do both justice. Like anything, it takes practice to get better.

D) how do you keep the knowledge you have as a DM from affecting your character's actions?

The same way you do when you introduce hirelings or longer term NPC's. You rely on common sense, skill checks, the character's past and profession and what he might reasonably know about something. Just double-check yourself and ask, if the character would really know this and why would he know this. If you can follow a reasonable chain of logic, it is likely acceptable.

I've run a few over the years, part of my reason is I love to Role Play.

You actually get to role-play a lot. Every NPC in the world, if thats the only reason -- you might save yourself the trouble and just run long term NPC's.

I started my most recent one because I had a couple of players who wanted to try DMing. I built a character to play when they took over to run a stand alone mission, and let him stick around when I was running my campaign.

That's a pretty common reason to have a DMPC.

I think the worse thing you could ever do is make your character be the leader of the party. In fact It's best if he/she almost never make suggestions during the planning phase.

I agree...when that kind of thing comes up, I pick the two "plans" which make most sense to the character and openly roll a die to show the one he is supporting.

Sounds like you do just fine with your DMPC. There is a lot of hate for DMPC's on the forums (and of course, people saying its impossible have a DMPC lol), but I've had many, many DM's with characters in games...and done it myself and not a complaint from anyone in any scenerio...except the tongue-in-cheek kind.

It seems like DMPC experiences are either extremely good or extremely bad (and the ones who have had bad experiences are extremely vocal). Play the game the way you and your group have the most fun, don't let anyone tell you how you can play, what you are doing is impossible/wrong, in violatin of the rules, etc. If it works for you and yours, great...if it doesn't find something else that does.

As long as everything is above board, fair and you double check yourself so you aren't giving away plot points or steering the group (and the other DM's rotating as well should do the same), you can have a perfectly viable DMPC and PC (when its your turn to just play)

It's funny, to even use the term DMPC, starts a huge debate here...there are many threads about how bad and how viable they are and everyone's experiences.