Hot answers tagged

146

Can you? Yes. Should you? No. You personally, as a novice DM, very much no. This is called a “DMPC”,* and they're very hard to do right. A new DM such as yourself should not have a DMPC. The DM already has the biggest job at the table, and it takes an experienced DM to handle the DM job well while also dividing their attention with a PC of their own. ...


59

Explain to him that "NPC" is not a derrogatory term It seems to me you're already trying to do exactly this. You are, of course, entirely correct in that "NPC" means "Non-player-character". However, it seems your DM simply thinks that an "NPC" is any 'side-character'. Tell him that this is not the case. NPC's can be ...


58

To Join the Chorus of Don't Do DMPCs So, let me start by joining the others and saying that generally DMPCs are not a good idea. I have seen it work (and will get to how shortly), but generally I recommend avoiding them. As others have said, it is far too easy for the PCs to rely on the DMPC even if you have successfully bordered yourself. It is also ...


52

You are describing a DMPC, or Dungeonmaster Player Character. Many groups frown on this practice, and some folks flat out admonish other from even trying. But it can be done, and done well. Our group has run campaigns with rotating GMs (in multiple systems). There are a couple of things to keep in mind. You will never be on an even footing with the regular ...


46

This is a very good question that ties in to both the mechanics of different types of characters and their narrative role, and in addition to those, their role in the group. There is no clear boundary where an NPC becomes a GMPC, and hence I will be explaining the traits of a GMPC rather than try to define a boundary that doesn't exist. However, it will ...


39

I'm going to quote the Dungeon Master's Guide here on the Dungeon Master: You [the DM are] a member of a select group. Truly, not everyone has the creativity and the dedication to be a DM. Dungeon Mastering (DMing) can be challenging, but it's not a chore. You’re the lucky one out of your entire circle of friends who play the game. The real fun is in your ...


39

Let's say I, a first-level fighter, want to lift a mountain with my bare hands. Do I roll a strength check? No, because it's impossible. If Zeus is walking the earth, and some lowly mortal decides to attack him, they have absolutely no chance of harming this immortal Olympian. As the DM, you don't have to give them a chance. You strike Zeus' bare ...


36

You can have NPCs join the party, but having your own full player character is traditionally discouraged The rules imply that the DM does not control an adventurer, and this is generally understood by D&D players to be the standard method of play. For example, on DMG p.4: The DM creates a world for the other players to explore, and also creates and ...


34

You can have a NPC that is the BBEG. There are a number of ways to have the ultimate enemy of your players accompany them at times during their adventures. Multiple interactions is doable The Curse of Strahd adventure opens with guidance about the players interacting with the boss multiple times (p. 10, under "When Strahd Attacks"): Strahd isn’t a ...


33

DMG p. 260 When adventurers defeat one or more monsters-typically by killing, routing, or capturing them-they divide the total XP value of the monsters evenly among themselves. If the party received substantial assistance from one or more NPCs, count those NPCs as party members when dividing up the XP. (Because the NPCs made the fight easier, ...


30

I got a lot of experience doing this in troupe-style roleplaying in Ars Magica. My policy as a gamemaster is that if someone approached my player character running in NPC mode, they would get advice that was in character and almost certainly the wrong thing to do. I considered my knowledge of the scenario that I had concocted and then asked myself, “How ...


30

First talk to the other players, determine how you would like to see this resolved, then talk to the GM one on one. What this NPC is doing is taking control of the story and making it all about them, rather than the party. This is anathema to roleplaying, because players want to star in their own story rather than watch one unfold between them. And when ...


28

Not inherently - it depends on how you handle it There's nothing fundamentally wrong with a recurring NPC character - even one you really like and get attached to! - as long as you play them fairly, and you don't use them to steal the spotlight from the actual player characters. The problems with GMPCs always arise when the GM shows favouritism to their ...


28

This depends mostly on what it is you mean by "DMPC" Properly speaking, any character played by the DM is an NPC, a non-player character. Even major or regularly recurring NPCs like the PC adversaries and their lieutenants. A DMPC is a derogatory (to my ears anyway) term for an NPC that is not only prominent and regularly recurring, but also in whom the ...


26

What you are describing is not a GM PC, it's a normal NPC villain. In the system you're using, building villains using the same character-creation rules as the PCs is also normal. Neither of them makes the villain "your PC". It's hard to tell why you call this villain "my PC", though: If you just wanted to be clever and make them use normal character-...


24

One good way to handle this is to make your GMPC a "follower" of the other PC -- that is, they're less experienced, less familiar with the world, generally less capable (you can do some of this with feats and skills, by having your GMPC less skilled in things like local knowledge, politics, tactics, etc., but competent in things like actual combat, survival, ...


24

It is generally a bad idea. In your case, it is a particularly bad idea. I echo what nearly every other answer has stated. Running a DMPC is generally a bad idea. I'll go beyond that, though. In your particular case, it's an especially bad idea. First, you're a newbie DM. Being DM already requires a great deal in terms of mental resources, to keep track ...


23

It's a very good idea As you mentioned, literally all the main issues with GMPCs can be avoided by making said GMPC into an animal. The GMPC is almost non-knowing due to animal intelligence. It does not steal spotlight in non-combat situations because it doesn't normally interact with people that much. Especially not on its own initiative. They may use ...


23

The best way to do this is not to do it at all. Take it from someone who's gamed for 30 years. Making your godlike, "Mary Sue" GMPC is always alienating to players. Even if they're "allied or neutral" they will hate them. Their reactions will range from silently thinking you're a goon to actively sabotaging your campaign to try to kill your beloved NPC. ...


22

Problem 1: You and your DM aren't playing the same game. There are gaming groups out there that do make tweaks to the way rules behave, such as removing the Diplomacy skill, banning certain classes or races, adding or removing mechanics, or similar. There's also variation in the tone, style, setting, and such. These kinds of changes are common and ...


22

There are two major ways to create a god NPC. The method depends on the purpose the character serves in the campaign. In either case, the god should help facilitate an adventure for the PCs. It is seldom a good idea to create a powerful NPC with a strong presence that fails to further the story. The Golarion Pathifinder setting provides excellent examples ...


22

Can you? Yes. Should you? Probably not. There is nothing stopping a DM from having a PC but doing so entails some risks/compromises that you should weigh carefully: Focusing on your responsibilities as a DM As a DM, you have a LOT of information to keep track of, both within a given session and from session to session across a campaign. Time spent thinking ...


20

As a fan of the Suikoden franchise, I also like creating basic NPCs that follows the players (the Smith is a common one). You seem to already avoid the pitfalls of most GMPCs: disliked by PCs, and abnormally strong and awesome. That's great. Since your problem is mostly related to combat, I would suggest an option I use when NPCs become good enough to be ...


20

As described, I don't think your character actually meets the definition of a GMPC. [The GMPC] starts out an important NPC to travel with the party and fill any missing roles no one else wants to play. It's almost like the GM has a Player Character of his own, thus this concept has come to be known as the GMPC. (emphasis mine) The character you have ...


19

The term for your wolf is "DMPC" -- a player character that is controlled by the dungeon master. The risk of using a DMPC is that you might take a lot of the spotlight away from the player characters. The game is meant to be about the characters battling against the monsters and solving the puzzles, and the risk is that it might turn into your DMPC doing ...


17

I would be very careful with the introduction of a DMPC. If you do decide to do so, make a character in a supporting role. If you have a pair of fighter PCs, roll up, say, a persist buff cleric or a bard to heal and support them—but don't kill things for them. Don't build a character to beat the monsters for them, build a character that makes the players ...


16

You can try a giving the GMPC a "combat mode setting" similar to how it's done in some video game RPGs. For example, your players set the GMPC to play a defensive combat role—meaning the GMPC will defend a given player—or an aggressive combat role—meaning the GMPC will always attack the nearest monster. Allowing the players to set these ...


16

Yes, the DM can have a player character As someone who frequently plays in very small groups (sometimes with only one other player), I often play a character whilst DMing. There are a few pitfalls to be aware of when you make what's known as a GMPC (or more specific to D&D, a DMPC). Your character should be more in the background Since you are the DM, ...


15

I've done this a lot in the past editions; in our current game our DM has one of us running an NPC. I've seen it work very well. Two (possibly three) benefits: Your players get to try out another class by running the NPC, so make sure the NPC is a different class than the character Your workload goes down, and your players have to stay busy/engaged to ...


15

If the GM is playing an NPC that is a protagonist of the story, that is a GMPC It isn't really a sharply defined category, but a subjective one. But I think it depends on having two other well-defined categories which precede it, examining their customary roles, and hanging a label on way the system can go off the tracks. In most RPG systems, we have: ...


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