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We’re playing Tomb of Annihilation.
Three of us are goliath brothers.
Me and another are barbarians and the other is a druid.
Our newest player is an elf ranger.

My backstory is that I come from a barbarian tribe with my brothers but I have a dream to become a famous historian and to become accepted in academia as a goliath professor. That is why I’ve come to Chult.

In our downtime today, I spent time learning about the culture, talking with various townspeople and gathering as much information on the city and the country’s history as I could and I made lots of notes that I hope to use.
My barbarian brother randomly decided that he is skilled at brewing ale and made a bet with the local wine company that his ale was better. He won that competition and as a result was able to gain this company as a sponsor for the other two characters to enter the dinosaur races without spending our own gold.

The plan that the other two came up with involved the druid wild shaping into a dinosaur and the ranger sabotaging the other riders. After successfully bluffing their way to the starting line, they were able to win the race. This ended our 5 hour session with congrats to everyone at the table…but me lol.

Because I was unable to offer any value for this plan (and in fact was against the plan to begin with), I spent most of the time spectating and was left out of the celebration.

My character is passionate about history and exploring. He wants to explore ancient ruins and study cultures. He wouldn’t want to get involved with cheating in a race. I feel out of place in this group. Should I ask to change to a more chaotic character? Should I change my character’s personality in order to participate in more hijinks without being out of character? My character feels like an unskilled loser and I feel like acting in a way that lets me get involved in the cheating and stealing of the party breaks character. At that point I should just make a different one right? What should I do?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How many game sessions have you played so far? That is important context for this question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast this was just session 2. I don’t think my party has much fun watching me talk to people so if I need to change my character to make things more fun for them AND me, it would be best to do that sooner rather than later, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder to everyone to be nice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 7:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please add that fact - this was just session 2 - to your question to provide the context needed for a good answer. If this was being asked after session 7 or session 8 you might get a different kind of answer. Also: have you already talked to your DM about revising your character, or creating a new/different one? If you have not, it seems to me that you have a problem in communicating with your DM, and you need to resolve that. If your first instinct, when running into what you feel is a bad fit ,is to ask the internet for advice then you are contributing to your own problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 19:28

7 Answers 7

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Be patient and gracious

Your character concept is fine. You won't be in Port Nyanzaru long. There are many places to visit in Chult - it's not all wine-making and dinosaur races. If you are interested in history and exploring, those interests will be very valuable to your party later on. The notes you are making now will be of great use once you leave the city.

Remember that you are playing as a team. Try to feel good about your teammates' success now and know that you will be having successes later. It will be very difficult for your DM to plan sessions where each of you is equally successful and it is an unreasonable expectation that they do so. Rather, you can work with your DM to ensure that after several sessions, all of you have had important roles at some point. This is called 'spotlight sharing' and you might want to read more about it on this site.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s nothing to do with the having the spotlight. I feel like the character concept I have created doesn’t provide any value to the team. I want to be able to pursue this characters goals without detracting from the fun of the rest of the group. Which is why I say that perhaps I should change to a character that provides more direct value mechanically. I want everyone to have fun but I want don’t want to play this guy in a way that doesn’t make sense in order to participate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jex If it is purely about a mechanical contribution, then don't worry, you will. There are plenty of combats to come, even just outside the city, and being a barbarian will provide a great mechanical benefit to the party. Later, when you are actually exploring ruins, your character will shine. But it won't be every session. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jex I bring up the spotlight, and other people MyGuy, because of your statements like "This ended our...session with congrats to everyone at the table…but me...I...was left out of the celebration." This doesn't sound like you want to make sure the party is successful and you want to contribute mechanically to that when possible; it sounds like you want to be part of every success and you want to be recognized by the others for that contribution and you will be sore if you are not. Why can't you join your 'brothers' and celebrate their success? You know that answer better than we do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I may have worded that poorly. I was kind of left out because there wasn’t really anything I could think of to contribute to the team. Of course I’m celebrating their success but the point was that I feel like I can’t contribute much with the character concept. I’m most certainly happy that they succeeded and I was cheering them on the entire time. I didn’t even feel left out until the end when everyone congratulated each other and just kind of looked at me like “thanks for nothing” @Kirt \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:20
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Diversity is good, but you all need to play the same game

There are a lot of ancient cultures and stories in Tomb of Annihilation, and many of them are important to the plot. Having a character with such interests and skills should be useful in this campaign. Diversity of abilities in general is a boon as it enables the group to deal with a wider range of challenges and situations.

That said, what you describe does not sound as if your issue is with your character's powers or abilities. It sounds as if you as a player and the other players have a different idea of what kind of D&D you want to play: you'd prefer play exploring your characters interests and personality, the others seem more up for clever plans and gonzo action. You say

I feel out of place in this group

Projecting this then on your character is a "my guy" syndrome hallmark. Ask yourself: are you, yourself interested or not in that style of play? If not, the group may indeed be a bad fit for you, and you may be better off finding another group of more like minded players. Changing your character to be more open to hijinks, when you are not, is not going to fix things. Before taking that step, it might be good to talk to the others out of game about how you want to play — if you have not done so, a tool like a belated session zero may help you talk out what you expect from the game, and if you can find common ground.

However, if you as a player have no issue with hijinks, don't feel shackled by your character concept. Ease up a little and have him work with the others more in a group. That does not mean you cannot have a different focus or interests. Otherwise, it will be a constant source of disconnect between you and the rest of the group. And that won't work well. As the rules say under "Come Together" (p. 15 PHB)

Most D&D characters don’t work alone. Each character plays a role within a party, a group of adventurers working together for a common purpose. Teamwork and cooperation greatly improve your party’s chances to survive the many perils in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons. Talk to your fellow players and your DM to decide whether your characters know one another, how they met, and what sorts of quests the group might undertake.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like how you worked that last paragraph. I, as a player, have no problem with what happened in game. Perhaps I am “shackled” by my character concept and “what my character would do.” I just feel as if the character I’ve pigeonholed myself into is not really able to provide value to the party. If giving me the spotlight detracts from the other players fun (which it almost seemed like it did when I was rping talking to townspeople) then I don’t want it. That is why I ask if I should change the character concept or class in order to be more useful and less boring? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ You character concept is the baseline, not the whole personality - your character doesn't need to be one-dimensional. Think about human beings you actually know - one can be a history professor, who also likes to drink and party, who is up for a good joke and goes wrestling as a hobby. Your character can have a varied mix of interests, without changing the concept or values printed on the paper. Just like your friend who brewed some ale, without being an "ale brewing character build" \$\endgroup\$
    – Falco
    Commented Jan 2 at 12:18
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Being the "Straight Man" is pretty fun

The crazy plans they make are more fun when at least one person is saying "that will never work" and "don't expect me to bail you out when you get caught". I've been that character and sometimes lean in with suggestions in the form of criticism ("you do know they ask for the dinosaur's papers? I suppose you're going to forge them, too?") or warnings ("thank Crom you're done with making beer. I don't think this new place even has breweries." or "hey, these guys are obviously poachers, and not even you need gold badly enough to get involved.") And the craziest ones being your brothers is time-tested. You're been teasing each other about how different you are your whole lives and they know you've got their backs (eventually).

Another part of that is you're the respectable one, who can talk to recluse mages and stickler bureaucrats; and who can also be forced into doing the "boring" stuff they don't want to do (and be sure to warn them "stay out of trouble" as you go).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I love this answer and way of thinking. I think I did try to do this at first but bailed early on because I didn’t want to frustrate everyone else by being against the plan (even though out of character I was totally down with it). I’m going to think on this some and try to lean into this idea a bit more next time. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jex: If you go for this angle next time a similar situation comes up, maybe make it clear out-of-character that this is what you're doing, if the other players start thinking you as a player really want the party not to do something. Or perhaps discuss that possible RP move ahead of time as something you might do if this happens again, as a way for your character to participate. If other people at the table noticed you feeling left out and unable to contribute, they might be worried about that already, and it can be a good lead-in to mentioning other types of encounter you hope will happen. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1 at 2:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ First example that popped into my mind for this is Hermione from Harry Potter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Grooke
    Commented Jan 2 at 8:17
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I have needed to change what a character of mine was, as an imaginary person, in one game. It was late game, so to achieve it in a way that was satisfactory for me as a player was to change subclass. My non-nonsense honorable (at least wannabe-honorable...) character just didn't fit into what the group was doing, so they turned into someone more... unhinged would be a good word, someone who just wanted to see... things happen (not necessarily burn, if it could be avoided). Alignment changed from maybe about Neutral Good to Chaotic Neutral (though we didn't really use alignment in any practical way).


My character is passionate about history and exploring. He wants to explore ancient ruins and study cultures. He wouldn’t want to get involved with cheating in a race.

So, it sounds like you need to do similar change for your character. You just need to find a way to do it in a way that satisfies you as a player. It's early game, so you don't need any subclass change or similar gimmicks either. Your character just arrived at an exotic location. They went about as a scholar, looking around with scholarly interest. Meanwhile, their companions got into a dinosaur race, won by cheating, had fun. Now that gotta get your character thinking... "Am I doing something wrong? Should I have participated in this crazy fun?" You, the player, can decide that your character's answer is "Yes, yes!". Or at least "Maybe, maybe..."

The rest should happen without too much effort. I foresee your character reminding themselves about the race in their head (you can say this as a player in the table aloud even, "my character is thinking about... and then says... so let's do it!". I also foresee your character sometimes overdoing it, and suggesting something non-sensical, so that you as a player may want to telegraph they are getting carried away and this shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Or, you could take a more calculating and self-centered view on this. "I need these idiots to achieve what I want... And I gotta admit they got results, that was lucky. I don't want the shit to hit the fan next time, so I gotta join 'em to make sure things go well."

Should I change my character’s personality in order to participate in more hijinks without being out of character?

So my answer to this is, you don't have to change the core personality, you just need to change the attitude, one way or another.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this answer. Although I would have liked to be more involved, I’ve kind of built this character in a way that doesn’t really have much to offer. I don’t have any skills that others don’t, and my int isn’t that high. This falls on me as a player and being unable to get creative but I was not able to see a way I could be useful for this plan in particular. I’ll try to be more open minded, change the attitude and try to get more creative in future sessions when this happens again. Thank you \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jex You could always have assisted by providing distraction, even unintentional from your character point of view. Like, go look at the dinosaurs! Ask about them! Pester the riders to tell you how it feels, and if the dinosaurs could be used for work too, not just fun. What do they eat? Can you feed them? Etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jex: Ideas like what WakiNadiVellir just suggested are things you could (and perhaps should) brainstorm with the other players and DM, maybe over email or text to at least start the ball rolling without sucking too much time away from the next game session. Maybe send them a link to this question where you've already laid out your perspective and gotten some 3rd-party ideas back. Only 2 sessions in is a good time to be identifying problems (like that you felt like you couldn't or shouldn't be participating in the fun) and adjusting things. Others might have things they want to rethink, too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1 at 6:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you decide to change your PC's willingness to participate in shenanigans, you should probably tell at least the DM so they don't avoid another similar thing because they noticed you weren't into it the first time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1 at 6:27
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Your question "should I change my character concept" is a "my guy syndrome" question. Our answer to that question, at What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it?, is highly voted and is worth reading.

The short answer: yes -- if you find that your character concept is preventing you from having fun, then you should change it. Or, more simply, if you feel that your character concept is preventing you from having fun in some specific session, then you should consider just ignoring your character concept for that session so that you can participate.

Adherence to your character concept is a good thing, but it's not worth spending your time sitting there bored in a game session.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s what I needed to hear. Thank you for this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:33
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Racing is a core element of many cultures. See the Romans say.

In ancient Rome, chariot racing was the most popular of many subsidised public entertainments, and was an essential component in several religious festivals. Roman chariot drivers had very low social status, but were paid a fee simply for taking part. Winners were celebrated and well paid for their victories, regardless of status, and the best could earn more than the wealthiest lawyers and senators. Racing team managers may have competed for the services of particularly skilled drivers and their horses. The drivers could race as individuals, or under Team colours: Blue, Green, Red or White. Spectators generally chose to support a single team, and identify themselves with its fortunes. Private betting on the races raised large sums for the teams, drivers and wealthy backers. Generous imperial subsidies of "bread and circuses" kept the Roman masses fed, entertained and distracted. Organised violence between rival racing factions was not uncommon, but it was generally contained. Roman and later Byzantine emperors, mistrustful of private organisations as potentially subversive, took control of the teams, especially the Blues and Greens, and appointed officials to manage them.

The nature of racing is a key element of culture and the foundation for a lot of what and why they did things. It's as foundational and popular as gladiator matches were for the Germans. Their culture may well have literally collapsed if they didn't have that violent and popular entertainment as a diversion.

You need to ram your character concept into the activities of others.

You say your character just chatted to random people. That's not goal driven or interesting to most. Players generally like doing interesting things like brewing wine or doing dinosaur races. Rather than simply saying and doing nothing, your character should be leveraging their history and culture knowledge to make the game cooler. Like, there are several key questions to answer. Why is the wine of the region so substandard that a random barbarian can come and make better wine? Why are the organizers of this racing event allowing a random person to come in and cheat wildly?

Those are key cultural questions, and you should be ready to study them. It sounds like your DM gives you a lot of freedom with skill rolls and roleplay and lets you go far beyond what you'd expect to get from a by the book reading. Chat to them, and seek to push your history skill to absurd limits. Predict the future with the past, and sway the game to benefit your party's insane hijinks. History is full of violence and cheating and cruelty and if your character is unwilling to get involved in that, they're not really into history or culture.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, the racing was super interesting. I was invested and taking notes about it and I hope to look into it as a whole. My party is not going to be interested in watching me ask questions and trying to learn all I can about the racing culture. My character spent time trying to learn about the city, who rules it, and what the political atmosphere is like. I could do the same thing for racing but it’s not going to be fun for everyone else. I realize that I need to be more creative to add value. I just feel like I’ve created a concept that lacks any meaningful ability to do so. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jex Spoiler, but the ruins in Chult will often contain traps or puzzles that can much more easily be disarmed, avoided, or solved with an understanding of Chultan history and mythology such as your character is able to provide. It is at least worth a private conversation with your DM about whether they see you being able to provide a mechanical benefit in these situations before you change your character concept - but if they are not supportive, then you definitely should. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 This answer is great advice about finding a way to contribute to the party. Rather than saying 'my character wouldn't cheat in the dino race', if @Jex had been able to say 'here is how my character will help them cheat in the dino race, by understanding the local culture and powerful people, I can tell the ranger the best places in the court to sabotage other riders' their experience might have been very different. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt yeah I even had this idea after the fact. After reading these answers, I feel like my ability to contribute will not be tied to anything on my character sheet, but rather my own creativity and how I can gather and use information to create an advantage. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jex
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah. When roleplaying, remember the general principle "Yes, and..." you should be trying to work out ways to amplify the roleplay of other players and expand on them with whatever unique traits your character has, not to shut them down because you don't like them. When they do something, say "Yes, and my character makes that even cooler by knowing history and culture." \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 7:24
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There will certainly be sessions where your particular character will be somewhat left on the sidelines, especially in non-combat scenarios. It happens all the time -- the meathead fighter is unable to meaningfully contribute to a murder investigation, the wizard isn't much use in a vehicle race, monk doesn't have any decent ranged weapons. And sometimes it'll just be "your big plan doesn't mesh with my character". We see this all the time when a paladin and a rogue clash over whether to do something underhanded and the paladin ends up standing back because they can't mesh their personal code with what the party has decided to do.

But that's not fun. That's prioritizing your idea of the character over actually participating. When you see a situation evolving in the game and start thinking "My character wouldn't get involved in this", reframe your thinking. You're the writer and director for your character. As the writer, what excuse can you have your character make that will allow him to go along with the plan, even against his better judgement? Hollywood does it all the time! "Ugh, my brother is doing it so I guess I have to help..." or "You guys are going to get killed doing this, I guess I have to come along to save you from yourselves" or "This is a terrible idea, but I don't have any better ones..." (Whether you, the player, have a better idea is immaterial, if your character doesn't think of a better plan, you can still use this excuse.)

Remember, there's no points for playing your character "right" and doing something that isn't fun. It's always better to be grumpily involved than grumpily sidelined!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 and well-stated. Pedantic aside: there actually are points for playing your character right and doing something that isn't fun. Leaning into a character flaw, especially one assigned to you by a curse or malady when you would rather not, is awarded with Inspiration points. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jan 3 at 20:49

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