I have had problems in the past with players who are serial character creators. What I'm referring to are the players who cannot seem to stick with a character more than two sessions at a time without finding endless reason to complain about, dislike, or grow bored with their current character.

I'm guessing the common causes are boredom, dissatisfaction, or simply a short attention span. The effects, thus far, have been players never connecting with the other players or their characters because they know the player will stop caring after a few session or will switch; and it leaves me not wanting to bother creating plotlines for them.

So what are some solutions or compromises that could be proposed to such a player?


7 Answers 7


I can understand switching to a different character once, like, you didn't understand the system or the campaign, and you didn't realize what kind of character would be a good fit for you. But repeatedly doing it, after just a few sessions?

It's time to sit down with the player and have a hard talk.

"What do you want from this game? Here is what we're doing with the game. The other players are on board, and getting what they want from the game, so it can't change too much to meet what you need, but it's clear you keep changing characters because you want something that you're not getting. What is it? We might just have to accept the fact this game isn't what you want."

If the player isn't getting what they want, and it's impacting the rest of the group, it's really better to not play with this person. It may be they don't know what they want, or it may be that they'd be better off playing with another group that will give them what they're looking for. But it's very clear your group isn't providing it and it's wasting their time, and for your group, wasting your time as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Some players have the most fun creating new characters on a regular basis. It may not be a case of a player not finding what they want, so much as it's a case of a player wanting to change up characters on a regular basis. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 23:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is totally wrong. There are many questions were the correct answer is "don't let him play", but this is not even remotely so. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ The aforementioned players complain about the characters they made in short order, over multiple characters. They aren't connecting to other players, other players aren't connecting to them. The GM isn't invested in trying anymore either. NO ONE is getting what they want from where it is now. A last attempt to find out if there's a misscommunication is about it, but given they've been through the "new character" cycle a few times, my guess is that the player goals to game aim isn't a good fit. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9935
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 21:51

When I've engaged in this, it's usually because I've made a series of NPCs.

When not thinking, I tend to form character requirements for maximum conflict-safety. (Not to say invulnerability within the mechanics of combat, but boring characters who don't want anything and thus have no reason for drama or narrative engagement.) Thus, because they are boring, they are boring. Serial recreation can be a desire to be not-bored without attacking the source of the problem.

It took me quite a while to admit to this tendency, even when confronted by it. My recommendation therefore is before the next character is made, sit down and work out the requirements for the character, by focusing on the narrative-dramatic1 2. Once the narrative-dramatic requirements are there, then work out the mechanical requirements to support the narrative requirements, then build the character jointly. By weaving in reasons to care and reasons to want through the mechanics of the character, they grow richer, more interesting, and are given means to interact with the story.

1 See the chat here for a particularly frustrating example that may resonate.

2 Brian Ballsun-stanton, Samuel Russell (2012) Constrained Optimization in Dungeons and Dragons : A Theory of Requirements Generation for Effective Character Creation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way... even that character, played by me, ended up being a boring character that just wants things to be boring and safe. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 18:51

I am this kind of player. I know it all too well, and more than once my GMs have talked to me about it.

In my case, I "grew up" with DnD power-gamers, the types of players who dedicate themselves to creating the most powerful character possible within the rules, often bending said rules all the way to the breaking point. As a result, that's how I know how to build characters: power-gamer style, sometimes game-breakingly so.

The problem for me is that I'm not a power-gamer -- I'm a role-player. I play for the narrative, not merely1 the dice-rolling with maximum possible bonuses. When I create a character for power-gaming, most often I have no concept of "who this is", and thus fail completely to connect to it from an RP point-of-view -- which leads to me getting bored and scrapping the character.

When my GMs spoke to me and discovered this, they sat down with me and together we figured out a character concept I wanted to play -- one that I could connect with RP-wise -- and then helped me power-game it within that concept (this part was so that I could actually contribute, as any character that wasn't power-gamed in these games was basically just scenery). In most cases this ended my constant character-switching.

The takeaway here for you isn't that your games are for power-gamers and your character-switching player is an RPer. I can't know either of those things. The takeaway is rather that you should sit down and talk to this player and find out why he does this. Maybe he's a power-gamer that feels ill-fitted to your RP-centric game; maybe he's a (non-power-)gamer here for the dice-rolling who gets bored in your RP-centric game; maybe he's an RP gamer who finds himself unable to connect with his power-gamer builds.

The point is that sitting down and talking with him is how you figure out what the problem is. From there, work with him to solve it, up to and including potentially helping him build a character he'll be happy sticking with -- or, if he's just that type of player who constantly likes trying out new things2, maybe it's time to politely suggest he find a group more amenable to that -- or else adapt to it yourself, for instance by crafting a plotline for the group as a whole that explains their high turnover rate, and/or accepting that this player will only have generic plotlines fitting for whatever character he brings with him today, or no plotlines at all (this should be part of your discussion, of course).

1 I don't say this to disparage this play style, just to differentiate my own from it.

2 In other contexts I'm this player, too -- in Skyrim, for instance, I have a dozen characters, only one higher than level 20, because I constantly stop one to try out a different type of character.


I would recommend figuring out what he wants from the game, instead of trying to make him play the game your way. Maybe he isn't interested in having plots revolving around him, or in building up a narrative around his character. Perhaps he enjoys being the guest hero of the week.

In that case, plan around him changing characters. Let him know where the game is going next, so that he can be the 'local hero' for the small village there, or some bounty hunter taking care of business in the region, or a wizard in the area hunting down a rare ingredient for a magic item. Make a one-shot story around why he's there. Let people look forward to who will be showing up next and what local story will be showing up, instead of just feeling like he's never part of the story.


Inevitably the best solution in these situations is

Talk It Out

If you've been experience a common problem at your tables but haven't been actually asked the players what's up (as alluded to when you say "I'm guessing"), you're failing in one of the primary duties of the GM; which is to make sure everyone is having fun. Now, it might be that this player is just a poor fit for your game style but you can't know unless you talk about it.

If, by chance, you find that the player simply has lots of character ideas that they're itching to try out or something similar, give this a try...

Play a game that supports it!

There are a number of games that support the idea of playing multiple characters, or even have a system-explicit lack of ownership. This will give you the opportunity to experience how this play style can still be used to develop a story and also give you an opportunity to encourage the players to go back and give an old character another try. Here are a couple of examples.

Specifically, Capes is a great game for this kind of gameplay. The default setting is a super-heroes game but the core mechanics are exceedingly light and easily hacked to fit other games. Players are still free to play a single character as much as they want (at least in theory) but your other players may find they enjoy the opportunity to "step outside themselves" once in a while.

Ars Magica has a setting geared around European mysticism and encourages "troupe-style" gameplay, where each player may control one of several personal or "pool" characters depending on the requirements of the scene. Letting the "problem player" handle creation of new "pool" characters as they come up (with supervision, of course) could go pretty far toward satisfying the players creative itch.


Player Satisfaction

Generally character remodeling is a symptom of either dissatisfaction or boredom, both of which indicate the player is not receiving what they wish to receive from the game.

Talk to them about their expectations, and also look at your own GMing skills, especially in things like spotlight time and player agency. If necessary, do a quick theme/genre list to see if they are interested in the same things as the group or different things than you thought they were.

Sometimes players want vastly different stuff to the rest of the group. Other times, they lack the required social skills to play a cooperative roleplaying game.

In that case, no matter the character, they will not work in your game and their is no real solution to the problems they are having.


Give special missions to the individual who isn't happy with his lot in the game. Maybe he is assigned by the kingdom/government/secret society to steal and item/kill a monster/get information on a cult..etc...or, he could be secretly working for the antagonist to thwart the party, but needs to not reveal himself as the betrayer of the party.

That last one is hard for an inexperienced player, though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That last one is hard for an experienced player, too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 22:16

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