So, let me give you the situation here. I have a DM that is a close friend of mine. A group of about six people (Including him and I) will be starting a campaign in the next few days. We have a group of five people in the Player's group, five being a very good number to have a guild of people going into dungeons. Now, this campaign is a homebrew campaign, and my friend insists it will be very hard, so he is planning on playing as a bard with our players during the game. I have told him that the bard is not needed, but he insists that the campaign is hard (as I said before) and that we will need more spells than we have.

I honestly have no idea what to think about this. Have you ever seen a DM play as a character that is not an NPC? If you have, can you tell me how it went? If you think that this shouldn't be, please tell me what I can do because I have brought up the subject several times with him. Also, I do not know what classes the other people are playing, so I can't say much about the spell thing.

-Thanks for replying!

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    \$\begingroup\$ What the DM "should" or "shouldn't" do is entirely opinion-based. There's no right or wrong answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 28 '18 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ How experienced are the players and DM in this scenario? Also, this is mostly opinion based and may be closed due to that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Runescape
    Jun 28 '18 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to re-phrase the question to sound less subjective. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '18 at 3:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ This has a name - GMPC or DMPC. Have you read anything about it? Maybe looking for these names in our search query could help you. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 28 '18 at 3:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Relevant tag: [gmpc]. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '18 at 15:27

Yes—but usually only to fill a missing party role

First, technically, any character who is played by the DM is an NPC, not a PC (DMG p.89):

A nonplayer character is any character controlled by the Dungeon Master. NPCs can be enemies or allies, regular folk or named monsters.

This idea of an NPC party member is covered on DMG p.92:

NPCs might join the adventuring party because they want a share of the loot and are willing to accept an equal share of the risk, or 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.

DMG p.93 describes these as Adventurer NPCs:

If you don't have enough players to form a full party, you can use NPCs to fill out the ranks.

However, it advises that in this case, the DM may wish to to give control of these NPCs to the players.

DM-controlled party members are not without their problems. When the DM just wants to be a player as well as DM, what he's playing is termed a DMPC, and this is typically due to inherent conflict of interest.

It usually occurs with new DMs, who are nervous about playing D&D without controlling a character. Such a DM should remember that they control many characters, and do not need to play an adventurer.

In practice

In my experience, players reject NPCs who join the party, even exceptionally helpful ones. There's a sense in D&D that the players and the DM are opponents, and it seems wrong somehow for the DM to play both sides in combat. They may not entirely trust the DM's character, and plot betrayal is always a possibility.

In 5th edition, NPCs take a share of XP. This is likely to discourage players. Additional PCs will also make combat take longer, which is usually not a plus. Players take longer waiting for their turn, which isn't good. Even if you're careful to have the NPC be a support character (which is probably why he's picking a bard) and avoid stealing the spotlight, not all players are happy with this situation. Personally, I suggest that DM should only use NPC party members temporarily, if at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! He is a new DM, so I'm pretty sure that is one of the cases. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '18 at 3:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ A bard that doesn't try to steal the spot light is no true bard :P. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Jun 28 '18 at 12:36

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