I have a Player whose character has kids. That's fine with me, the kids that this character has are 23, 24, and 25.

The player wants to control the kids of this character whenever they show up. I'm not keen on this, as this player has been known to be a nudgy GMs assistant, occasionally going to try and do the world for me. He takes well to my reminders not to control the environment, but it's a habit-breaking process.

As of late he's wrote the complete backstory, which is great, and I appreciate it, but this player want to have his kids appear eventually. Of course this will be at my discretion. The player in question will then control said child and do whatever. Now, I would like to keep control of the children to my discretion, because this player has a tendency to recruit NPCs to the party, and I see this as a method to ring himself another character to control. The player has already told me that he's created character sheets for the children, which makes me uncomfortable. In the midst of 5 other players, this seems like a lot of commotion for a single player.

Should I let my Player control his character's children, or should I take that responsibility? Will either of these courses of action cause major problems with the D&D system?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This would be the first character ever to be able to control their kids. \$\endgroup\$
    – nwp
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ As you worded the question, it is subjective / opinion-based and might be closed. I recommend rewording it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the player planning to use the kids for the purposes of worldbuilding or trapfinding? This might be important. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a parent, I can say without hesitation that the answer is a definite NOPE. Good luck with even giving them orders, much less controlling them. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – CaM
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are their kids only half-PC? Just say that PC genes are recessive and they inherited their NPC parent's trait of being controlled by the GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mystagogue
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 19:24

5 Answers 5


When to say yes

If all of the players at your table each control more than one character/PC, then yes. (We used to play that way with small groups back in the day: each of the three of us had two PC's). It can work very well, though now and again a DM might need to ask the player about separation between characters. Rarely necessary, but appropriate now and again.

When to say no

First off, if nobody else is playing two characters, then the simple answer is no. And that's enough reason.
Another reason to say no you have already given in the second paragraph of your question: the Player is already giving you reason for concern. When the kids show up, they are NPC's and you play them.

What to do since that back story he wrote is so darned good ...

Ask the player to invite another player to join in and play his child. Given how different my son is from me (IRL) personality wise, I can project some great interpersonal dynamics (here's the background, take it from there ... oh, he's your dad but you are an adult now ... ) can crop up between those two characters during play.

That option may or may not be open, in terms of recruiting a new player, and a new player wanting to accept that character, but it is an option.

Since you mentioned in a comment that you have 6 players already, only do this if you think you can handle a table with 7 players without loss of play quality. In some groups that works out, and in some not so much. Only you can assess where your limit is as a DM. (If 7 is too many, this is a nice idea that won't work for your situation).

For a long running campaign ...

You can propose that he retire his character (at a particular point) and then play on as one of his own children. The other children could be NPCs, dropping in occasionally to support narrative or to deepen the world. (Credit to @perfectionist).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Addition to "invite another player to join in and play his child", is that if you do that then the new player should be entitled (albeit not required) to write their own backstory, even if doing so contradicts what the existing player has written. That's what erasers are for, and a shared backstory should be collaborative. So don't lock the backstory into game canon until it's agreeable to both. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is also possible to use the background that he came up with for the characters, but tell him that there is no need for a full character sheet for them. Then just control them as you would any other NPC. A character sheet is only necessary if you plan on having those NPCs take part in conflicts (combat or otherwise) \$\endgroup\$
    – D.Spetz
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SteveJessop Perhaps even better is to have certain details agreed to, but then each can write their own perspective of the backstory. I'm sure with most people, if you ask them and their parents about aspects of their childhood and lives, you'll get vastly different answers. Maybe the parent says they provided well for their child, but the child sees it as the parent being overbearing and not letting the child experience anything for their own. Factual differences should be reconciled, but experiences don't necessarily need to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – ptfreak
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:41

The DMG has this to say on the matter (p.92, emphasis mine):

NPCs might join the adventuring party [...] they might follow the adventurers because of a bond of loyalty, gratitude, or love. Such NPCs are controlled by you, or you can transfer control to the players. Even if a player controls an NPC, it's up to you to make sure the NPC i portrayed as a character in his or her own right, not jus· as a servant that the players can manipulate for their own benefit.

Thus both options are supported by the rules. They also warn you to keep the NPC-s real characters and not tools of the PC-s. This implicitly says that you should step in and take control back if a player abuses the right to control an NPC.

Sadly the more important parts of the question are subjective. How much history can a player write into your world? How powerful allies / family members can they create? These are dependent on the game and your GM-ing style. Be sure to discuss not only your decision, but your reasons that led to it with the player in question so that he can understand the situation from your point of view.


We don't control our children, but sometimes we do with NPCs

Many of the NPC creatures are supposed to be controlled by the DM(controlling a mount., etc), but many tables allow the PCs to control them in order to speed up play. Below is from page 198 of the PHB under the Controlling a Mount section. While an NPC is not a mount, the idea is that independent thinking creatures act on their own (which leads to DM direction) rather than directed by the Player or PC.

Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently.

The DMG, page 92 also confirms that generally the DM controls NPCs.

Such NPCs are controlled by you[the DM], or you can transfer control to the players. Even if a player controls an NPC, it's up to you to make sure the NPC is portrayed as a character in his or her own right, not just as a servant that the players can manipulate for their own benefit.

Your choice should be decided upon discussing with the player and the rest of the table the pros/cons and what they're actually after. But given that these are both creatures with their own thoughts/desires AND related to the PC, I'd recommend a mix of Player control but DM override when you think the NPCs would react differently or create an interesting/fun/dramatic situation.

Beware the slippery slope

I recommend discussing with the whole table because you don't want to give one person an 'action advantage' based on their back story. Others will want to do the same and it could easily get unwieldy for you and awkward at the table.


No, because of the reasons you listed

The answer for other persons or tables might vary, however, because of your already present concerns related to the player's style and prior encounters, you are already aware of the results from this decision and you should not concede on this matter. This definitely sounds to me like a player trying to push in another character he can control and thereby unbalance the action economy in their favor.

As others have stated, if he could control his children he'd be the first parent in history to do so. He's provided a detailed back story, which you can use to guide how the NPC interacts with things, but you shouldn't necessarily consider yourself absolutely beholden to that story. Sometimes different people recall the same event differently, or certain things are not as important to one person as another. So should you dictate that these children are full NPCs, you shouldn't feel obligated to have these backstories memorized perfectly. The broad strokes will be fine.

Regarding the character sheets, I recommend discarding them. While they are nice to have, not every encountered character should be statted in a manner suitable for PC play. This character's children may, for the purposes of your story, just be regular folks of no extraordinary talent. Alternately, maybe they are extraordinary based on the needs of the story. Either way, you may not want to be hamstrung into complying with a character sheet known by a player if it's unsuitable for the story.


No. Generally in games players aren't even suppose to be directing their animal companions or anyone from the leadership feat, but as it often happens, most of us usually give them almost total control over their animals and sometimes cohorts because its easier and faster. We usually only have to step in when there is a choice made that does not fit already existing decisions, much like we would for their own character (I don't care how much justification you have, you are LG and worship a LG deity, you are not allowed to sacrifice NPC's to sneak into the cult). Since this player already seems to have problems, I suggest that you allow the "kids" then you are in control of the NPC's and the player must negotiate with you for what the characters do.


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