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Two of my players, asking if they can change their characters, mid game. Their reason being that they don't really like there characters anymore, and don't feel any energy towards being them anymore.

I would usually allow them to do it, though it's in the middle of the campaign, but I have been setting up a character plot twist for quite some time, and had just barely connected the characters together.

So I thought OK don't allow them... However if they were to be playing a character that they don't really want to play anymore, they probably wouldn't care whether they mess up the game.

This is where my predicament is, their new characters that they made have nothing to do with anything that is going on; no relation to the other characters, zip. I don't want to have to start from scratch, however I want the others to have fun too... and feel excited about their characters. The other players don't really appreciate them changing character... What should I do?

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    \$\begingroup\$ “I know I have asked a lot of questions, but I've kinda found myself in a predicament. I'm kinda new to this website and i'm not really sure on how it works yet.” This site likes questions! Questions are good, questions are why we are here. As long as they’re good questions, the more we can get, the better. Have no concern about the number of questions you ask, unless you get to the point that the quality of your questions is degraded by their quantity (e.g. you’re rushing or whatever). Ask away! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 15 '20 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ But it is important to keep questions concise and on-point, so in my editing of this question, I’ve removed your meta concerns. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 15 '20 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this related to this situation? I ask in part because of the - overlap - in your usernames. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 15 '20 at 19:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Neat, just checking and looks like KRyan got it right. Btw, you can use @ followed by a username to reply so they get a notification, otherwise they'd only see it if they drop by the question again. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 15 '20 at 19:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ As @kryan said, we are literally here to ask and answer questions. Don't worry on that account. The only thing I would add, though, is that this site (by design and charter) does very badly with "What should I do?" questions... both because no one can decide what to do but you, and also because they tend to be opinion based. This does not make this a bad question, per se, merely a question that can be phrased a little better. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Apr 15 '20 at 19:38
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Cooperate & allow them to change characters

You don't have to solve this all on your own. Lay out the issues and concerns and see if the entire table can come together and sort it out.

Two players are telling you what is not fun for them and the solution is reasonable. solution to change it. Not only let them, but talk to them about the complications surrounding it and come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.

You have invested time and effort into plots about those characters.

Tell your players about the work you've put in and how you don't want to lose it. They may be willing to offer a compromise or come up with something about their new characters that still allows you to use much of your material.

The other players don't appreciate character changes.

Ask them what about it they don't like. See if the players can come up with a compromise that addresses this point. E.g. a penalty for changing characters is loss of magical equipment.

Your suspicion about players not liking their characters being a liability is correct. Playing with players that don't like their characters is often a bad experience. So not allowing a character change could very well ruin everyone's fun not too far down the line. Be straight forward about this concern as well.

Put it on the players to put group cohesion in the forefront.

One of the things that I find necessary for a party is a common goal or cause. A requirement for a new character is the player has to come up with a very strong motivation and reason for the new character to join the party and play for the team. It should be central to the character and something the player wants to play.

The narrative

Finally, ask how important it is to fit this into the narrative. If it's something the players want to spend some time in a side adventure, do that. If it's not, ask if they're okay with an Adventure League style swap out without explanation. Likely, you'll all be able to come up with a middle ground that works reasonably well enough for your players to continue on.

Avoid a surprise swap out story line.

The only times I've seen this go terribly awry is when not all the players knew about the change to the story. Many good players go out of their way to avoid narratives that split the party, and trying to force one can be stressful when they don't know it's a planned thing. This can waste time and in the worst case, derail some player's desire to continue at the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank U, I definitely will get my group together and talk about it! \$\endgroup\$ – Taylor Spaulding Apr 15 '20 at 21:41
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Generally what I tell my players is: "if you don't like your character, you're welcome to do a character rebuild between sessions. You can change your race, your class, your stats and feats, et cetera."

It seems like, rather than building a new character with no background or connections but a better character class, your players should be able to just declare that their old character now has that better character class.

You could narrate: "Yeah, Ralph the barbarian repented his old violent ways and he's now a cleric", or you could just handwave it and declare that Ralph has always been a cleric and anyone's memory of anything else is just mistaken. I usually do the second thing.

It seems like this should make everyone happy, unless your players are trying to swap characters to get away from the character plot twist and all the connections that you're making. You might want to check with them if they're actually interested in per-character plot development.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, Thank You! I called them back and had a talk it was mainly because the character was hard to play background, lawful good, chaotic evil, all that jazz. Thank U \$\endgroup\$ – Taylor Spaulding Apr 15 '20 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like this the best. It consolidates the allowing a player to play a character they want and keeps any plot development static. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 16 '20 at 13:35
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Personally, as a GM, I'd allow it, no question about that. And I get the impression that you want to allow it, but you're concerned because

their new characters that they made have nothing to do with anything that is going on; no relation to the other characters, zip.

This is something which definitely can present problems, but it's also something that you can easily change.

Whatever it is that's "going on", are the PCs the only ones involved in it or affected by it? Unless the events are being deliberately kept covert, that's very unlikely.

Are the PCs the only people in the world with any "relation to the other characters"? Definitely not, unless the PCs are all orphans who grew up in isolation.

It shouldn't be that difficult, then, to give the new PCs backgrounds such that they are connected to the ongoing events and have some pre-existing connection to at least one of the other PCs:

  • Is the campaign about stopping an orc horde which is rampaging across the countryside? The new PCs are another character's cousins, whose family farm has been torched by the orcs.

  • An evil wizard plotting a political coup to take control of the Kingdom of Goodness? The original PCs grew up in the same village as one of the wizard's former apprentices and his sister; the apprentice was killed during his training, and the sister has now sought out her old friends because she heard they're going after the wizard and she wants revenge for her brother. The other new PC is the son of a noble targeted in the coup who studied with the party's cleric.

And so on. All it takes is a little thought about how to both plug the new PCs into the ongoing plot and make them known to the original PCs. New PCs doesn't have to mean saying "Hey, there, stranger! Can I risk death with you in an attempt to achieve something I know nothing about?"

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First Rule: Games should be fun.

For everybody. For all the players and also for the GM. The GM is in a weird situation. He or she has more power over the adventure than the players, he or she gets to do a lot of preparatory work (and much of that work never gets used), and he or she doesn't get a player character to identify with. But ultimately it is the players who make the adventure happen through their interplay.

Second Rule: Disaster-proof your plots.

If you are the GM, you will understand that players never get the obvious clues you dangle in front of them. They always chase the red herrings. Well, not always, but I hope you get what I mean.

That also means your campaign should be designed to cope with the death or maiming of a player character. As a GM I would never produce a player or party kill out of a blue sky, because of the First Rule, but the other side of the coin is that adventures must involve risks. If a player decides to let his or her character fight the Balrog on the bridge to save the others, that is a valid dramatic choice, with no guarantee that you will resurrect the character. In a modern-day or science-fiction setting, that might be completely impossible.

But there is good news: You can cheat.

By that I mean that until it has happened in gameplay, you can alter the world. The evil wizard your players were hunting could become a misunderstood, socially inept hermit, and rumors of necromancy could be wildly inaccurate. If you do that, take care not to frustrate your players. Maybe there is an evil wizard who framed the hermit, and who needs to be fought, and the hermit can give the players vital information and magic items. Or something like that.

My suggestion: PCs become NPCs, NPCs become PCs.

Unlike a dramatic situation like a character death, you have time to prepare. Talk to all the players. Introduce a couple of NPCs who can, over several sessions, become helpful to the party. The trusty wilderness guide. The friend at court. The rogue who is a honorable rival.

Design these NPCs with input from the players who want to switch. Give them a power level slightly below the party average and below the old characters -- there is no free lunch.

And when the new characters are suitably introduced, find a way to take the old characters out of play. Perhaps one of them breaks a leg. A tearful goodbye as he or she stays behind in the village, plot-relevant magic items etc. are divided among the old player characters because those were the fellow adventurers who will need them now, and the weakened party has to rely more and more on the new player characters.

Or you could even allow the old characters to die in a suitable heroic, plot-enhancing manner. Say he or she gets assassinated by so-far-undetected villains, pointing at the real culprits with the last, dying breath.

That means:

  • A slight loss in "power" for the players who caused all this commotion. TANSTAAFL.
  • A slight gain in "power" (through items) for the players who suffer through all this commotion.
  • A chance for a memorable goodbye and perhaps a plot enhancement.
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