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A player wants to join our campaign and I asked them if they had a character ready to go. They said yes, and I asked them what the character was.

"He's a human barbarian, level 1."

Me, "Ok, cool, that should work out well."

Player, "Oh, and he's 2 and a half years old."

At first I was all, "No." But then we talked about it and two things came to light:

  1. I'm already running a lighthearted and somewhat silly campaign and this PC would add hilarity on so many levels it would be hard to pass up.

  2. There's nothing in RAW in D&D 5e that says you can't be a 2 and a half year old Barbarian, or any class for that matter. Toddlers, children and even babies are not mentioned in the rulebooks.

The player had rolled fixed ability scores and got:

STR 16, DEX 7, CON 17, INT 9, WIS 6, CHA 15

So which race is kinda below average smart (in game play), has very little wisdom but a solid personality, and can leverage this personality to get what they want, and has such low dexterity they practically tumble over themselves? A human toddler of course! (at least according to this player.) From there, the class was an easy choice: a raging barbarian.

I'm not changing the stats to account for age or applying any disadvantages based on age alone. I think the rolled stats are already a good match for this character choice and reflect the deficiencies of the toddler (a really strong toddler).

My question is not "should I allow this?" I am. How can I resist? (Especially considering this player is a new parent.)

What I'm mostly looking for are role playing considerations. Mechanically I'm just going to treat them as any other character, albeit one that can't speak very well and has a hard time grasping concepts

My question is, have you ever allowed a PC at a ridiculously young age and what are some aspects I will have to consider as GM? (and is there a diaper changing mechanic?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Answer in the answers, please. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 13 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gnudiff: As SSD's comment says, answer in answers; don't answer in the comments. (That said, lightcat's asking what issues they have to consider given that they have allowed this, not whether to allow this.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 14 at 8:07
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This is about roleplay, not mechanics

As 5e doesn't have any special rules for age, then the age isn't important in a mechanical sense. Their stats are their stats and the class/race mechanics are the class race mechanics. There are no fundamental RAW changes there.

The one thing I'd be wary of as a DM is to make sure the player isn't engaging in My Guy Syndrome.

It's more than okay for them to roleplay a toddler as long as it doesn't get in anyone else's way of having fun. But if there's a negative table reaction to it, then that's what you need to watch out for. These reactions can range from frustration about how the toddler generally acts and gets in the way all the way to how they'll react when the child dies. While death is always serious, when it gets to children dying people behave and respond differently. Understanding that typical character death may now cause a much larger issue is something to consider - but this is really only one of many things that create friction at the table with someone attempting to roleplay a toddler.

Just be aware of your table

Ultimately, this is going to come down to you and your players and making sure everyone is enjoying the experience. Specific issues will be hard to pinpoint because it's going to very much be focused on how the player roleplays their toddler - but it's less about general issues that may come up and more about specific reactions your table may have to how that player is roleplaying.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In light of this I think I might have a table convo about death right at the get go to make sure everyone is ok with that. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Feb 13 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lots of good points. I know the player well and they are a good collaborative role player. I think they will be able to pull this off without negatively impacting the table. There are not many players I would have allowed to do this. And I would definitely not have allowed this in a more serious campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Feb 13 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThunderGuppy I'm absolutely not saying they will. But I am saying the very act of playing a toddler could create that situation (whether or not that's the intent of the player) and they should watch out for it to make sure the fun shenanigans don't' turn into annoying actions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 13 at 16:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ The My Guy Syndrome comment makes a lot of sense to me. The PC is going to be playing a Barbarian, which is already a class prone to solving every problem with violence. Add in the child element and most non-combat situations could easily devolve into "I start yelling 'I don't wanna!' and then hit the quest giver." \$\endgroup\$ – D.Spetz Feb 13 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be acceptable to find a compromise where your PC has the body of a toddler but isn't considered to be a toddler by their character/personality; which would alleviate some of the concerns with toddler death or toddler behavior. It depends on what they're trying to achieve: are they trying to roleplay a child with childlike behavior, or are they trying to keep things funny by having to deal with being a tiny barbarian? \$\endgroup\$ – Flater Feb 14 at 10:40
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Consider the PC's Size

As NautArch's answer points out, half of the concerns here are about roleplay and the social dynamics at the table. So long as everyone else is finding it fun, then sure, but it may need to be revisited if it stops being fun for some people.

However, there is one gameplay mechanic that may be affected as a result of this. The PC's size.

They're a human. So how big and heavy does the PHB say humans are? A lot bigger and heavier than your average toddler. So unless you were planning on them being a magically enlarged toddler, or in some other way accounting for their size, then narratively it won't make sense for them to still be considered a Medium creature.

So, it should be simple for you as DM to say "Ok, it's a RAW human in all but size category; this human is actually Small/Tiny". If you opt with Small (the lower end of Small, sure, but still Small), then they're no different from a Halfling or Gnome, and so this should be balanced enough within what is possible with the existing rules. However, be wary of Tiny, since currently no playable races are of that size category and you may encounter unforeseen balance issues allowing a Tiny PC.

I'd recommend considering them a Small PC (unless, as I mentioned above, you've found a way to narratively explain why they're a Medium sized creature in a way that the player is happy with - however, I'm assuming that the player is imagining something along the lines of Bam Bam from the Flintstones, so I assume they won't want a giant toddler).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a concern with homebrewing a toddler Human. If you make them Small, then there are mechanics that will come into play there - mechanics that are generally offset by other features. But now you're homebrewing the Small Human race and OP said they were not changing stats. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 13 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch This was largely to address that the player (and other players, and maybe the DM too) may imagine the toddler as smaller, which if they are still considered Medium RAW could cause some narrative dissonance, so I recommended that either the DM needs to have a justification ready as for why the toddler is still Medium, or consider making them Small. Or they could just say "they count as Medium for gameplay purposes, but they're small for narrative; just don't expect them to do anything that a Small creature would reasonably be able to do", but that's too jarring to me... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 13 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not disagreeing with the intent, but a mechanical change is a mechanical change and OP had said they weren't interested in doing that. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 13 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and "I'm not changing the stats to account for age or applying any disadvantages based on age alone.". Small creatures have disadvantage with certain weapons. Technically, it's based on size - but we're basing that on age. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 13 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the OP refuses to make mechanical changes, they should at least have (or ask the player for) a reason why the PC is a Medium sized, strong, durable baby who can run at the pace of an adult and wield weapons with no difficulty. In this case, some magic hand-waving may be in order. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Feb 14 at 16:42
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I had a dirty forest child as a druid in one of my campaigns. It was hilarious because this player (who was 14 or 15 I think) was not really going along with the role playing properly. The other players were like "well what can you expect from a dirty forest child). I was also able to weave all sorts of embarrassing or slightly upsetting back history into the character, who would do things like eat raw the small creatures the party killed as "well he was living on his own in the forest". You need to consider size, but also actual intelligence and knowledge. Proper role-playing makes the character do things the actual players would never do.

We did consider his small size and reduced his strength and gave him a bonus on druid related abilities where appropriate as befitted someone living in nature. We also gave penalties for encountering things that were strange or mysterious to him as he had a low educational background.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. This is the start of an answer, but it doesn't really elaborate on any major issues the DM needs to keep in mind when allowing a child player character; it's mostly just an anecdote about what you/your players found funny about it. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 13 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ He asked had I done it (YES), and what did I consider (emotional maturity, world intelligence and knowledge, importance or relating such a young character to role playing and developing a proper backstory), and how to adapt a campaign to consider the role of such a character. Sounded like an answer to me. \$\endgroup\$ – ggb667 Feb 13 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, but you don't elaborate on those points at all. Those should be the main point of your answer, and you should explain how/why they are problems or at least issues to consider, and ideally how you addressed those problems. As it stands, the anecdote makes up the bulk of your answer but doesn't focus on the issues OP's asking about, or how to solve them. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 13 at 22:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ We’re not looking for storytime sharing, we’re looking for practical advice in the form of usable guides. You can edit your post to improve it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 13 at 22:44

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