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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\$ This sounds like essentially roleplaying as Bamm-Bamm from the Flintstones. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Apr 8, 2020 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Raya and the Last Dragon also has a baby character. If you're going for light hearted, that could give some narrative idea about such a character (if you're willing to fork out ~30-40 USD) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Apr 8, 2021 at 21:01

3 Answers 3

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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, 2019 at 15:38
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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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 10:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I could also see one of the other players going "there's no way my character would go into combat with a toddler" \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Apr 6, 2021 at 20:04
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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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 16:42
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There are some real concerns here. One is the fact that this will result in a game and story that includes violence against and the possible death of a literal baby. While some might find that to be in good fun especially if you aren't generally too descriptive in regards to injuries, some players might find it disturbing. I would not proceed without having the ok from all other players. This also applies to your players not being into it from a different perspective such as internal consistency, realism or tone

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY This will result in the tone of your campaign devolving whether you want it or not.

Expect your next player to make a new character to also demand to make something ludicrous, such as three raccoons in a trench coat. Now there is nothing wrong with that in a vacuum but this might as well not be the direction you see the campaign going. And any move by you to restrict such character concepts is very likely to be regarded as unfair or favoritism, which will result in further problems. Allowing it might then alienate people who might be ok with one baby but no more. Be prepared to either cause hurt feelings or for your campaign to steadily become a theater to the absurd. Which again, is a fine way to play, just not what you might have in mind.

This is also not solely about characters. Prepare for players describe incredible and silly feats of strength or agility and when you say they are impossible them to respond with "but John here is playing a baby that is flawlessly using a greatsword why cant i jump this 100 feet pond"

The reasoning i offer here is also backed by my personal experince, both as a player and as a gm. Giving players more leeway in some respect naturally creates the feeling that this is now something that is acceptable, and people will want to do something equivalent too.

For example, in a campaign i used to play my dm allowed a player to adopt a monstrosity after a quest and allowed them to make animal handling and nature checks to tame it. After that another player started asking to roll animal handling in regards to monstrosities and apply his ranger benefits to them as beasts because the other player was allowed to. The dungeon master wouldn't let him to so which resulted in accusations of favouritism and dm fiat

In a different game i run, a player wanted to play a nazgul. Since there was a similar monster in the world i was running, i let him play a version of that. This resulted in every other player wanting to play some other traditionally evil monster. Since it was already an evil campaign i had no problem with that.

In another where i was a player, the gm decided to give a player a bonus on a check related to swimming because her character had a backstory that she had a mermaid as a grandfather. This resulted in players arguying they should get bonuses based on their backstories with the gm arbitrarily giving them bonuses or not. This all resulted in characters coming into the game with longer and more exploitable backstories. This wasn't even something that people were doing consciously, just positive reinforcement in action. It ended up being a very regular part of the game happening multiple times each session.

Adding a new element to the game often creates an expectation that this is now something that is allowed, and if its something applied in a way the players perceive as uneven or unfair, will results in accusations of unfairness and hurt feelings

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    \$\begingroup\$ Literal pretend baby. There will definitely not be death of a literal baby. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2021 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Literal baby in the reality of the secondary world we are discussing of course \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2021 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Literal baby in the pretend reality, yes. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2021 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about what may happen. Have you actually seen this in a game and can talk about where it went wrong and what could be done to prevent it, if anything? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 8, 2021 at 22:51

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