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So we are starting a new campaign and one of my players has a unique backstory.

His character had a twin sister who died at the age of 10. Before her death, a wizard found them both and bound the sister's soul into a pendant. Now his character and sister switch souls at midnight. Also, he wants to be able to Astral Project(at will) whichever soul is in the pendant.

A little background on our campaign: the characters are level 7, the sister is a druid, and the brother is a warlock.

I see the following issues with this setup:

  1. The sister was 10 at her death and not really a druid yet
  2. If they would switch souls, the warlock would lose all of his abilities since his sister isn't the one who made the pact
  3. I am not a fan of them being able to astral project.

Are these the only issues with this setup? What other issues are likely to arise from this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. It's really useful to know what system a question's about; could you edit tags on this question and pick a system? Further, what's your history with the player? Has the player made a habit of creating overpowered characters, for instance? Anyway, thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 14 '18 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Faerun mixed with a little Eberron here and there. No, they want to stay a Warlock. \$\endgroup\$ – Isterd Dec 14 '18 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ MikeQ, He wants to try and build the strongest and "coolest" character he can think of. This player is a minmaxer and always tries to build OP characters. No, he doesn't want to use magic to use Astral Projection, he wants to be able to use it at will. According to him, the sister would take over, but that is a far as I got with him as I didn't want to get his hopes up. I told him I needed to think about it. However, since I just started DMing/Playing D&D I knew I needed help with this. \$\endgroup\$ – Isterd Dec 14 '18 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited your question to hopefully clarify what you're asking and make it answerable per our site guidelines. If I got something wrong, please feel free to edit or revert. \$\endgroup\$ – thatgirldm Dec 14 '18 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I inserted the "at will" Astral Projection into your question from your comment, since that is a significant issue. You may want to edit again to make it flow ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 15 '18 at 18:32
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He's effectively playing two different characters and swapping between them

What's happening is very similar to, in practice, simply having two characters who happen to always be of equivalent level. There's no rule that says you can't swap between characters mid-campaign, even on a daily basis, if the DM allows. However, there are some potential issues:

  • The character will increase in versatility, which makes them more powerful because they are more likely to have an effective solution at any given point. This extra versatility is limited by the frequency with which you allow your players to long rest. If you let them sleep whenever they like without consequence (no time constraints, no wandering monsters, etc), the player will have increased power.
  • The characters will share one set of magic items, which will potentially weaken them; the warlock may be stuck with some items that are only good for druids, and so on.
  • If you care about the party having balanced roles, they may be without their damage-dealer or healer when necessary.
  • Standard rules say that only characters present for encounters get XP for them, which would divide the XP between two characters, leaving them underpowered; you'd need to rule that they can somehow share a single XP pool and both be the same level.
  • When the druid levels up, presumably, the warlock will too. If you would ordinarily allow a player to replace a slain or retired character with another of the same level as the rest of the party (and I would), this isn't a balance problem.
  • You mustn't let the character benefit from using both characters at once. Otherwise, the character is effectively playing two characters at the same time.
  • If the players can track time precisely and the character switches predictably at exactly midnight, the player could conceivably use two characters worth of once-per-day abilities in one combat.

Astral projection is overpowered

Astral projection is a 9th level spell. To use it at level 7 is overpowered. It's not something the players should have ready access to at that level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, if XP progression is being used, the 2 characters would progress at half the rate of the rest of the party \$\endgroup\$ – Destruktor Dec 14 '18 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nit: The asker says the characters swap at midnight, not during/after a long rest. The DM in me thinks this would make for an interesting roleplay opportunity with potentially deadly downsides. Fight happening in the middle of the night? Your druid just became a warlock and now you have no healing. Need a particular warlock ability to get past a puzzle? Gotta wait until midnight - but the longer you stay in the dungeon the more likely its denizens are to attack you. Etc. \$\endgroup\$ – thatgirldm Dec 14 '18 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thatgirldm Well noted, though I recall some D&D 3.5 players circumventing a similar restriction in by simply resting and waiting 24 hours. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Dec 15 '18 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not only is Astral Projection a 9th level spell, it also appears to cost 1100 GP per casting, which seems like quite a lot of money to let the player have for free. It also brings up some interesting questions about what happens if the projecting soul finds a portal off of the Astral plane or gets into a fight... \$\endgroup\$ – minnmass Dec 15 '18 at 21:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Potential nerf for a GM inclined towards allowing, but wanting the player(s) to not game the dual PCs so that they get effectively 2-in-1 at will: after each midnight, the GM rolls a d2, on a 1 the brother manifests, on a 2, the sister manifests. \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Dec 17 '18 at 3:42
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My understanding from your followup comments is that the player is not proposing to actually gain Druid abilities through this arrangement, but to have (a) opportunity to portray the warlock as two different personalities, and (b) ability to use Astral Projection.

I think there are possibly three different questions here.

  1. What is wrong with this, from a fictional/narrative perspective?

This is what your points (1) and (2) seem to focus on. My opinion is this is all subjective, and it is up to you, the player, and the group to decide what fits your campaign. Personally, I think your two points make sense, but this is all about fictional positioning, so there is no definitive right or wrong.

  1. What is wrong with this, from a rules/balance perspective?

This is what your point 3 seems to focus on. The player is apparently proposing that they control a second character, who can astral-project at will. This is certainly well above the normal power level for level 7 PCs. From a strict rules perspective, this is totally inappropriate. From a balance perspective, it is highly suspect.

  1. What is wrong with this entire situation?

You have stated you have just started both playing and DMing. You say the player is a min/maxer which implies to me they are more experienced with the game.

A cynical interpretation is that the player is trying to take advantage of your new-DM status to gain abilities that they know quite well are overpowered. Or perhaps they just are trying to express an idea they thought was cool within the existing game mechanics.

Either way, my suggestion is that you should respond along these lines:

This is my first time running a game, and I am not prepared to gauge all the ramifications of allowing something not covered by the standard rules. I ask that you limit your character's abilities to those covered by the standard rules. You are welcome to role-play your character however you like -- if they change personalities daily, you can portray that however you like -- but in terms of mechanics, they must function as a single character of the given level as defined in the rules.

For a more experienced GM, another reasonable response might be:

OK, I think I understand what you are going for, and I am prepared to allow it -- except that the sibling within the pendant will be an NPC controlled by me.

A player trying to gain extra powers will likely balk at this proposal. One who is simply interested in the narrative possibilities will at least consider it.

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Issues:

  1. The sister has gotten to level 7 (I guess they are the same level) by gaining her own experience in his body since she died.

  2. You need two XP pools. They are playing 2 different characters.

  3. NO to astral projection, because it actually is a power and they don't get it at this level. Sorry. His/Her character is trapped in the pendent for the duration.

  4. Because of the XP sharing, this would mean that they will level at a MUCH slower rate than the party. That's a problem.

  5. Gear. Not everything will work for both characters, and if you are looking at gear weight that will be an issue.

How to deal with it:
Let the player know the limitations of playing this way. They will likely be less interested once they know the issues.

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