I have an interesting predicament. One player just entered my campaign after claiming that a year ago, he had leveled this character up to level 2. It's not that bad, but wait. He also claimed that he had found a bunch of potions that had permanently increased his fighter's max HP to 55 that same year, and somehow had an initiative bonus of +7 with a DEX of only 14. What should I do?

My first instinct is just to make his character level one again and get rid of the buffs, because we just started, but I'm not sure what he will think.

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    Is it safe to assume you're not playing in Adventurers League (AL)? (I'm guessing you're not, since that doesn't sound like an official item.) – V2Blast Oct 19 at 1:32
  • I'm not. I'm just doing it for a small club. I'm not some big leagues gamer, I'm just looking for fun. – TheCentaur Oct 19 at 2:03
  • Is this a campaign that is already running and this guy is just joining? Or are you starting a new one with him in it? (What levels are the other characters?) – colmde Oct 19 at 8:17
  • New one, my problem is his buffs, not his level. – TheCentaur Oct 19 at 14:47
  • @TheCentaur well the initiative MIGHT be possible, if he built his character for it. Basically what I would do is allow him the character, but ask him to show me precisely what he picked on lvl 1, what he took as options on his second lvl, and validate that all of these as "kosher". (I normally wouldn't allow a 2nd level PC to start with 1st lvl ones, but if you do, that's how I would do it) – Patrice Oct 19 at 16:18
up vote 30 down vote accepted

Only if they are equivalent to the new party.

In general you should only allow a player to bring in an existing character if they are on par with the other members of the party.

Character Level

As a DM that uses the milestone leveling system I dislike my players being at different levels. I wouldn't suggest allowing him to join a level one party at level two as it will permanently imbalance your party. Either level up the others to match or make him return to level one.

Max HP

This is the bit that sounds fishy. I wouldn't allow a player to join with any bonuses from a different campaign. Recalculate his max hit points based on class and constitution and tell him that in this world his potions didn't exist.

Initiative Bonus

The +7 to Initiative sounds like they have taken the Alert Feat from the Player's Handbook. The feat states:

  • You gain a +5 bonus to initiative
  • You can't be surprised while you are conscious
  • Other creatures don't gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being hidden from you.

The only way they could have this feat at level 2 would be by being a variant human however so check that.

Continuing Story

Players who like to play the same character often encounter this situation. It's possible he became attached to this character and didn't get to continue his story, either make his previous story canon or not. Up to you and what will suit your world. You can rule that this is an alternate reality and while he is the same character he doesn't have any of the experiences he had previously.

Make it equal

In general, you can allow players to play anything you like so long as the party is even and fair. Make sure he is playing a character created within the rules and is even with the other players.

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    s/cannon/canon :) – Cubic Oct 19 at 13:04
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    @Cubic mind you, not everyone speaks sed here. What Cubic meant was "replace cannon with canon". – d33tah Oct 19 at 13:16
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    @d33tah For those who only speak sed, what d33tah meant was s/s\/cannon\/cannon/replace cannon with canon/. – Ray Oct 19 at 15:45
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    also, "Player's" should be "Players", but so far there's not enough changes for anyone by @linksassin to make an edit. – Michael Oct 19 at 15:56
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    @TheCentaur What you should do is have him use the same exact rules that everyone else at the table is using. If it happens to produce a somewhat similar character that's fine. But make sure you verify the sheet. This seems like the kind of player that will use homebrew power boosting items without telling you. If they have +7 initiative, check that it comes from a valid source. It's normal for DM's to look over a character sheet anyway, because sometimes certain combos just may not make sense in their world. – Ethan Oct 19 at 18:16

It sounds like you have a classic 'power gamer'.

You may want to address the problem early by talking with your player about just what he wants to get out of the game. If maximizing abilities and bonuses is his thing then you have to decide how disruptive this character will be to your game.

Alternately you could take a consensus from your gaming group. Would anyone mind? How would it effect play? the group may make the decision for you.

Ultimately as GM you have the final word in what you'll allow in your game but this is more of a personality problem then a rules question.

  • 2
    From your linked article: "They have intimate knowledge of all the mechanics of the roleplaying system, and use them to build characters with broken power-combos and min-maxed abilities." It sounds like this player doesn't understand the rules work or that there's no expectation the same character will be able to be transferred between totally different campaigns... so it's not really a matter of "power-gaming". OP does need to make it clear what is and isn't acceptable in his game, though. – V2Blast Oct 19 at 1:35
  • I have asked exactly how he got these stats, he said he had "enchanted some potions". I don't think he's a power gamer, but I'm unsure if he really understands the concepts of these buffs. – TheCentaur Oct 19 at 2:05
  • 1
    Wanting to continue forward with a prior character does not, by itself, a power gamer make. Also, being a power gamer is not always an inherently bad thing so long as the entire table is aware and on board. – TimothyAWiseman Oct 19 at 23:47

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