One of the players recently left the game and agreed to have me control her former character. I would really like to use that character and have permission to do so from the original creator.

What I would like to achieve is best described by my personal story. I used to play a very particular, characteristic vampire in old Masquerade game years ago. He was a techno-thaumaturgist and used an anti-materiel sniper rifle. Because of how the game went and decisions we made, he was captured by their arch nemesis and requested to yield or keep resisting. I chose a third option - flat out running away and the GM told me that my actions cost me this character. He didn't specify what happened, it was a bit anticlimactic, but justified in the circumstances - I assumed one-hit kill from behind. He had this ritual where he kept the character sheets of deceased PCs, so I handed it over. Anyway, about ten games later our group was ambushed by a sniper using techmaturgically infused weaponry - and we plunged into pants-pooping chaos, as we knew that character and what he could do, especially if he became a bad guy.

Now, my conundrums are as follows:

  1. The ex-PC might not have such a relationship with the group as the one in the story. I would need to keep her around to strengthen the bon
  2. I'm not sure if I could roleplay that character true to the original.
  3. I don't know whether ex-PC should stick with the group or transition to an element of the environment - I want it to be special, but an ex-PC, and not a GMPC.

Note: I am purposefully ommitting details and ideas about what will happen to the ex-PC, because my players look at RPG.SE too.


In my opinion, once the character has been turned over to you the thing that makes her different is her history, not her present or future. She is an NPC now. She's an ex-PC because of what she used to be. Treat her as you normally would.

2) There's no possible way to roleplay the character as the character's creator would. And that's OK! You don't have to. If you're worried about staying true to the character, have the plot change the character so that you can make better use of her. This gives you demonstrative exposition of critical events that the remaining players need to know about, because they get to actually see the effects of recent events in a familiar face, rather than just hear rumors.

3) You could really do anything you want. Why would you want her to stay with the party? What purpose would it serve? Would it increase the players' fun? My opinion is to make her removal from the party part of the plot, and to bring her back as desired for increased dramatic effect, but always briefly. Bringing her back as a recurring enemy is a great idea, but you could also use her as a rare but valuable ally, especially in non-combat situations, or in ways that obliquely affect combat.

1) Like any other NPC, you'll have to build this relationship over time. Luckily, you already have a foundation to build upon, rather than just building from scratch. Don't feel bound by the existing history, use it as an opportunity to build a better and richer story.

The last thing I'd like to say is, in the end, this ex-PC is just another story-telling tool for you to use, but that story should still remain about the Players. The best use of any NPC is to help your players do cool things and have fun. It sounds like you won't have any trouble with this, though.


The past is the past

Whatever happened previously helped shape the character to what they are now. That character is not the same one that started way back when, nor is it the same one that would be around a while from now if the player kept playing them. Retirement is a life changing event, so any personality changes can be attributed to that. There is no need to play the character "as the player would", since the player is no longer controlling the character.

The wise old guru

Everybody knows "that guy", the one that either is always saying "Well, I wouldn't have handled that THAT way", or "If that were ME, I'd...". This can be turned to your advantage. Maybe the new NPC buys the bar where everyone hangs out in the downtime, or opens up a shop selling common party items, or similar. All you really need to do is answer the question "Why would they come to the NPC in the first place?" Just like if you were creating a contact NPC independently, except in this case it's already created with a ready made back story and history with at least some of the characters. You can't ask for better than that.

If you don't want the character to be a GMPC, then don't play it that way. Only introduce the NPC when it is appropriate, i.e., they come into the bar for a drink, the current PC's come to him, that kind of thing. You could also turn it into a plot hook device, in that one dark night the former PC turns up on characters doorstep, being hunted by Old Foe #22, or they heard whispers of a plot against his former comrades.

Use it, have fun with it, and just regard the former life as a PC as a good backstory, nothing more.


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