2 added 181 characters in body
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Another option:

Characters are not made, but are introduced

Note: The following should probably be determined at Session Zero, where you determine a great many things collaboratively with the players and work out how you're going to play. This is not a suggestion that your average player will accept ad-hoc and must be known beforehand.

What I've done is make it so characters are introduced to the party and are basically "assigned backup characters." [I do this at a rate of about one new character per 3-5 sessions, tapering off so we don't end up with large amounts.] These characters may be played at any time (in lieu of your other character) to level them up as they'd like. The characters I bring in may be influenced by ideas from the players, but it solves several issues I personally have when GMing:

  • I no longer have to coincidentally supply a character to the party at the same time as someone died. I personally always found this awkward/immersion breaking
  • Players can no longer game the system via suicide
  • Death has weight because the character actually dies and its role may have to be filled in a different way (such as a Fighter being replaced by a Paladin)
  • The penalty for Death can be mitigated by playing different characters in different sessions
  • It encourages Role-play because you may be playing different characters in different sessions; each with their own history with the party and history of decisions/introductions/backstory/etc
  • Loot on the dead body is up for grabs! No longer does a player's items disappear and a brand new set of gear magically appear on some character. Similarly, this means that gear is more likely to be passed around between characters. Note: I also tend to be conservative on players buying loot.
  • Choosing a race and a class level or two makes optimizing and choosing these various characters different than your previous. You could make a suboptimal version of your last character, but why would you?
  • It introduces a concrete fail-state for the party: Run out of characters? Game over.

This all said, this is a much more ruthless game than many people play.

The "NPCs" I introduce tend to be of low level so that the player can customize them outside of those few first choices I've implicitly made for them (race, starting class, etc.)

Adjustments to this could be made, such as having the backups level with the characters and such; I just happened to have modeled my game akin to Darkest Dungeon.

Issues:

  • Doing this can result in players being unhappy with their choice of NPCs. Attempt to cultivate them with players in mind and what they like. I have one player who refuses to play a dwarf which limits the NPCs available to him if he dies.

  • Some people put a lot of weight on building a character (even that of first level); naturally the above approach makes character optimization less available and character choices much more limited

  • It's at least partly your fault if the character turns out to be garbage

  • If people die, you may not have a full party anymore.

Another option:

Characters are not made, but are introduced

Note: The following should probably be determined at Session Zero, where you determine a great many things collaboratively with the players and work out how you're going to play. This is not a suggestion that your average player will accept ad-hoc and must be known beforehand.

What I've done is make it so characters are introduced to the party and are basically "assigned backup characters." These characters may be played at any time (in lieu of your other character) to level them up as they'd like. The characters I bring in may be influenced by ideas from the players, but it solves several issues I personally have when GMing:

  • I no longer have to coincidentally supply a character to the party at the same time as someone died. I personally always found this awkward/immersion breaking
  • Players can no longer game the system via suicide
  • Death has weight because the character actually dies and its role may have to be filled in a different way (such as a Fighter being replaced by a Paladin)
  • The penalty for Death can be mitigated by playing different characters in different sessions
  • It encourages Role-play because you may be playing different characters in different sessions; each with their own history with the party and history of decisions/introductions/backstory/etc
  • Loot on the dead body is up for grabs! No longer does a player's items disappear and a brand new set of gear magically appear on some character. Similarly, this means that gear is more likely to be passed around between characters. Note: I also tend to be conservative on players buying loot.
  • Choosing a race and a class level or two makes optimizing and choosing these various characters different than your previous. You could make a suboptimal version of your last character, but why would you?
  • It introduces a concrete fail-state for the party: Run out of characters? Game over.

This all said, this is a much more ruthless game than many people play.

The "NPCs" I introduce tend to be of low level so that the player can customize them outside of those few first choices I've implicitly made for them (race, starting class, etc.)

Adjustments to this could be made, such as having the backups level with the characters and such; I just happened to have modeled my game akin to Darkest Dungeon.

Issues:

  • Doing this can result in players being unhappy with their choice of NPCs. Attempt to cultivate them with players in mind and what they like. I have one player who refuses to play a dwarf which limits the NPCs available to him if he dies.

  • Some people put a lot of weight on building a character (even that of first level); naturally the above approach makes character optimization less available and character choices much more limited

  • It's at least partly your fault if the character turns out to be garbage

Another option:

Characters are not made, but are introduced

Note: The following should probably be determined at Session Zero, where you determine a great many things collaboratively with the players and work out how you're going to play. This is not a suggestion that your average player will accept ad-hoc and must be known beforehand.

What I've done is make it so characters are introduced to the party and are basically "assigned backup characters." [I do this at a rate of about one new character per 3-5 sessions, tapering off so we don't end up with large amounts.] These characters may be played at any time (in lieu of your other character) to level them up as they'd like. The characters I bring in may be influenced by ideas from the players, but it solves several issues I personally have when GMing:

  • I no longer have to coincidentally supply a character to the party at the same time as someone died. I personally always found this awkward/immersion breaking
  • Players can no longer game the system via suicide
  • Death has weight because the character actually dies and its role may have to be filled in a different way (such as a Fighter being replaced by a Paladin)
  • The penalty for Death can be mitigated by playing different characters in different sessions
  • It encourages Role-play because you may be playing different characters in different sessions; each with their own history with the party and history of decisions/introductions/backstory/etc
  • Loot on the dead body is up for grabs! No longer does a player's items disappear and a brand new set of gear magically appear on some character. Similarly, this means that gear is more likely to be passed around between characters. Note: I also tend to be conservative on players buying loot.
  • Choosing a race and a class level or two makes optimizing and choosing these various characters different than your previous. You could make a suboptimal version of your last character, but why would you?
  • It introduces a concrete fail-state for the party: Run out of characters? Game over.

This all said, this is a much more ruthless game than many people play.

The "NPCs" I introduce tend to be of low level so that the player can customize them outside of those few first choices I've implicitly made for them (race, starting class, etc.)

Adjustments to this could be made, such as having the backups level with the characters and such; I just happened to have modeled my game akin to Darkest Dungeon.

Issues:

  • Doing this can result in players being unhappy with their choice of NPCs. Attempt to cultivate them with players in mind and what they like. I have one player who refuses to play a dwarf which limits the NPCs available to him if he dies.

  • Some people put a lot of weight on building a character (even that of first level); naturally the above approach makes character optimization less available and character choices much more limited

  • It's at least partly your fault if the character turns out to be garbage

  • If people die, you may not have a full party anymore.

1
source | link

Another option:

Characters are not made, but are introduced

Note: The following should probably be determined at Session Zero, where you determine a great many things collaboratively with the players and work out how you're going to play. This is not a suggestion that your average player will accept ad-hoc and must be known beforehand.

What I've done is make it so characters are introduced to the party and are basically "assigned backup characters." These characters may be played at any time (in lieu of your other character) to level them up as they'd like. The characters I bring in may be influenced by ideas from the players, but it solves several issues I personally have when GMing:

  • I no longer have to coincidentally supply a character to the party at the same time as someone died. I personally always found this awkward/immersion breaking
  • Players can no longer game the system via suicide
  • Death has weight because the character actually dies and its role may have to be filled in a different way (such as a Fighter being replaced by a Paladin)
  • The penalty for Death can be mitigated by playing different characters in different sessions
  • It encourages Role-play because you may be playing different characters in different sessions; each with their own history with the party and history of decisions/introductions/backstory/etc
  • Loot on the dead body is up for grabs! No longer does a player's items disappear and a brand new set of gear magically appear on some character. Similarly, this means that gear is more likely to be passed around between characters. Note: I also tend to be conservative on players buying loot.
  • Choosing a race and a class level or two makes optimizing and choosing these various characters different than your previous. You could make a suboptimal version of your last character, but why would you?
  • It introduces a concrete fail-state for the party: Run out of characters? Game over.

This all said, this is a much more ruthless game than many people play.

The "NPCs" I introduce tend to be of low level so that the player can customize them outside of those few first choices I've implicitly made for them (race, starting class, etc.)

Adjustments to this could be made, such as having the backups level with the characters and such; I just happened to have modeled my game akin to Darkest Dungeon.

Issues:

  • Doing this can result in players being unhappy with their choice of NPCs. Attempt to cultivate them with players in mind and what they like. I have one player who refuses to play a dwarf which limits the NPCs available to him if he dies.

  • Some people put a lot of weight on building a character (even that of first level); naturally the above approach makes character optimization less available and character choices much more limited

  • It's at least partly your fault if the character turns out to be garbage