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I had an idea for a character with multiple incarnations with various personalities. Not necessarily a realistic treatment of multiple personality disorder per modern psych, but something more cinematic, like this:

  • Normal: His own, neutral good personality
  • The Bard: a chaotic good character with a talent for music and wordplay, but chooses not to fight
  • The Samurai (or knight or similar name): either lawful good or Lawful neutral with an extreme respect for authority and a tendency to have a "death before dishonor" thing in battle.
  • The Wizard: a studious type that is basically the stereotypical wizard thirsting for knowledge. of either chaotic good or chaotic neutral (in that this personality would do anything to gain knowledge, but tries towards kind and good things first.)
  • The Demon: A Lawful evil version that only comes when he is extremely angry. It will cause him to basically rip someone limb from limb and then beat them to death with their own leg.

How could I implement these personalities without being annoying, a detriment, or just plain terrifying?

I will be playing this character under Pathfinder, but I am looking less for system/rule ideas and more about how to roleplay a character like this without being overly disruptive. Have you played a character with very unusual psychology like this, and if so, how were you sensitive to the needs of the group while being this fragmented?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Too often, in games, we see insanity portrait as an edgy fun trope instead of the real thing. You would do well to do some research and try to understand what the real disease is instead of using tropes. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Jun 1 '15 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sardathrion It's not a mental disease he has, he simply channels his other incarnations or dark self (AKA the Demon) \$\endgroup\$ – Cataru Moore Jun 9 '15 at 22:22
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I played a Gnome Titan in Hackmaster 4e that had a berserker and an elf as alternate personalities due to the random flaws system in that game. They were also pathologically terrified of elves. The important things in making the character work were:

1) having the dominant personality nearly always be in control

2) making each 'character' of this kind be someone the party would be willing to put up with/adventure with.

3) keeping the alternate personalities enough in line with the main character that they make sense as splintered personalities. This is difficult, but helps your character seem more like a character and less like a random collection of things, which is important.

4) HAVE THE GM TELL YOU WHEN TO CHANGE PERSONALITIES.

Do not make that decision yourself. Maybe have a Will save or something. This isn't an issue in Hackmaster, but it certainly will be in Pathfinder where there's less system for this. It's probably the most important piece of advice, though, as it's what will keep your character's 'disability' from looking like an excuse to not make any sense and just do whatever you feel like or think is funny, the game and other players be damned (i.e. a sort of super exaggerated 'My Guy' syndrome).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The most important advice will be especially hard for this character, as it's a GMPC. :/ \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '15 at 4:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Wait, what? Where do you get that idea? My advice there would be totally different (i.e. DON'T DO THIS! Much bad! So no!) \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer May 31 '15 at 4:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer From information outside the question. Cataru Moore's had lots of character-creation questions so far about execution of unusual character concepts, and they've consistently been GMPCs. He's got a group of three including himself, and he's keen on playing with a PC as well. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 31 '15 at 4:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Not a criticism of the answer at all! It's great advice. It may underline why a GMPC is a bad idea, even. Sorry to alarm you! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '15 at 5:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I didn't mean to suggest GMless. One GM and two players as usual, three characters between them (as Cataru Moore is doing), one of the players being in charge of the GMPC's mood changes the way the GM normally would be for a player. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 31 '15 at 14:37
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Coincidentally I just finished a heavily home-brewed campaign of D&D 3.5e where me and my friend decided with the DM's approval to play a split-personality character. One thing I think we wanted to work out first during character creation was the means by which one of the two personalities becomes dominant (we decided that we switched dominance whenever we sneezed in-game).

We also wanted to ensure with each other that we would cooperate effectively and decided to go with a little theme of being good aligned but opposites on the Law vs Chaos axis. This led to some interesting and radical character decisions in the middle of important NPC dialogue and encounters, as we maintained different strategies for dealing with things.

But I think the most important thing is that we went into this character with the intention of having fun with the ability to switch personalities out of the blue. We also made sure to make it fun for the other players, too, because they had to deal with the both of us and our shenanigans one at a time.

I think the biggest obstacle for the character you described is the presence of seemingly uncooperative personalities, namely The Demon. Part of the reason my character worked is because while he was not disruptive to the efforts of the party, his alternate personality was not a surprise enemy. Party members who might prove hostile, usually evil characters in a non-evil campaign, are already a little bad.

What you really want to make sure is that if you do have an evil alternate personality that they have a reason to still participate in the Party in a productive manner like you usually would, so that they aren't travelling along when suddenly your evil alternate personality gains control and starts attacking. Unless of course, that's a plot mechanism at work or the other Players are cool with it and maybe even roll with it, it can make for a sad day.

I hope this wall of text was of some use to you all!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course the evil side wouldn't attack his friends; but it basically is his murderous dark side that basically says "Enemy, you have pissed me off and you shall now die very swiftly and painfully" \$\endgroup\$ – Cataru Moore Jun 9 '15 at 22:28
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I have seen a character like this - but with fewer personalities - played very successfully. It was in a modern setting, where a young Frenchwoman was occasionally possessed by the spirit of an ancestor of hers - Aramis, one of the Three Musketeers. The GM told her when to switch personalities, and sometimes she'd have the wrong one for the scenario. Eventually, after considerable mystic adventuring, the two personalities merged and created a new person.

This was being played under Hero System, specifically Champions 4th Edition. That was actually a good system for doing this. I'm not sure Pathfinder is, because the set of personalities you describe seem to have several different character classes, which means they have different optimal arrangements of stats, need different feats, and so on. How is that going to work? Do all the personalities share the same body? How about the experience points?

If this is a GMPC, there's a risk that this character will often be able to have the perfect character class for the scenario, which may make the other PCs feel overshadowed.

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