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Shinimasu
2017-07-18, 03:15 PM
Alright so this isn't a huge or even super persistent problem but I was kind of curious if anyone else had it and how you got around it without having to resort to "Because I'm the GM and I say so."

So lets say GM Bob wants to run a homebrew setting in a game. Since the setting is non-standard it comes with a few race and class restrictions, and the races it does have have been reflavored a little though most mechanical bonuses stay the same. During session 0 Bob outlines these restrictions clearly, gives some information about the world, etc. Player Jim asks Bob if he can play a race/class from the restricted list.

Bob advises against this and warns Jim that it will be much harder for his character to engage with this setting if he's not willing to buy into the core conceits. Jim insists he is capable of making his character work and Bob eventually caves because he wants everyone to have a good time and Jim seems really set on this.

So they start playing and sure enough Jim's character is having a lot of trouble integrating into the world. He is automatically kind of assigned the "outsider" background for his character and Jim is not having a great time with innkeepers constantly eyeing him. Eventually Jim ends up retiring the character and making a new one that actually buys in to the setting and the game runs much smoother.

My question is: Is there anything you can do as a GM to save the three or four sessions of the dragonborn paladin awkwardly flailing in a setting that has neither dragons nor paladins in it? Would it be on the GM to rewrite the world to contain those things? Would it be on the player to buy in to the setting?

Lvl 2 Expert
2017-07-18, 04:01 PM
If you're going to allow it anyway, don't stop the player from actually playing the character.

What you're describing, with all due respect, sounds to me like the GM passive aggressively getting their way, wasting 3 or 4 sessions of everybody's time (or well, 5% of those sessions worth of time anyway) to make the point that Jim should not play a dragonborn paladin. If they don't want Jim to play one because it doesn't fit their world they should put their foot down. Explain why it doesn't fit, brainstorm for an alternative, the works. If they allow it anyway the character gets to be part of the world, with maybe some suspicion and fantastic racism and stuff, but not as much as to make the character unplayable.

This is a cooperative game, people should be on the same page, setting wise.

Anymage
2017-07-18, 04:15 PM
I'll often allow players to have the mechanical benefits of a race while being reskinned to look like a normal race. (E.G: I'm often fond of human only settings, but have no problem allowing someone to play an elf or dwarf with round ears and a normal lifespan.) My argument is usually "you get to keep whatever traits you can justify".

Banning paladins makes me wonder what the setting is like that holy knights are nonexistent, and how the paladin's abilities could be fluffed otherwise. But if dragon people really don't exist in the setting, allowing a normal looking human with elemental resistance and a special attack as pseudo class features should be a happy medium.

Vitruviansquid
2017-07-18, 04:21 PM
Bob should've stuck to his guns.

Grod_The_Giant
2017-07-18, 04:46 PM
Getting player input on the setting is a good start; re-skinning things to fit better (ie, Anymage's suggestion of "you can be a human-with-Dwarf-stats") also helps.

Another suggestion, though, is to lean less heavily on ban lists to make settings "interesting." Removing large chunks of material rarely makes for a more fun character creation process. Instead, try adding things.

Max_Killjoy
2017-07-18, 04:58 PM
Alright so this isn't a huge or even super persistent problem but I was kind of curious if anyone else had it and how you got around it without having to resort to "Because I'm the GM and I say so."

So lets say GM Bob wants to run a homebrew setting in a game. Since the setting is non-standard it comes with a few race and class restrictions, and the races it does have have been reflavored a little though most mechanical bonuses stay the same. During session 0 Bob outlines these restrictions clearly, gives some information about the world, etc. Player Jim asks Bob if he can play a race/class from the restricted list.

Bob advises against this and warns Jim that it will be much harder for his character to engage with this setting if he's not willing to buy into the core conceits. Jim insists he is capable of making his character work and Bob eventually caves because he wants everyone to have a good time and Jim seems really set on this.

So they start playing and sure enough Jim's character is having a lot of trouble integrating into the world. He is automatically kind of assigned the "outsider" background for his character and Jim is not having a great time with innkeepers constantly eyeing him. Eventually Jim ends up retiring the character and making a new one that actually buys in to the setting and the game runs much smoother.

My question is: Is there anything you can do as a GM to save the three or four sessions of the dragonborn paladin awkwardly flailing in a setting that has neither dragons nor paladins in it? Would it be on the GM to rewrite the world to contain those things? Would it be on the player to buy in to the setting?

GM Bob needs to either say "there are no dragonpeople and no paladins in this setting" or run a setting that the players want to play in.

Can I ask what system this was? Based on "dragonborn paladin" it sounds like a later D&D-like system.

Darth Ultron
2017-07-18, 06:23 PM
My question is: Is there anything you can do as a GM to save the three or four sessions of the dragonborn paladin awkwardly flailing in a setting that has neither dragons nor paladins in it? Would it be on the GM to rewrite the world to contain those things? Would it be on the player to buy in to the setting?

It works best if a DM sticks to the setting. If the setting is X, it is X. If a player wants to do Y, they just can't in the X setting.

Though it can work also if the DM just ignores the character details and just acts like it's ''character three'' and not a dragonborn paladin or a drow ranger. Though this can quickly upset the player as it won't make their character feel special if they are ignored and treated like normal.

Most often a minimal rewrite works. Something like dragonborn paladin are a rare, but not unknown type of person found in the lands. Often they wander alone or with mixed groups of other races. Most folks are used to seeing them from time to time and don't think much of them as special. So they might get a raised eye brow, but not the ''get the pitchforks'' or ''wow look at that''.

The Lost Tribe or Survivors of a Great War just about always works, no matter the setting.

To say like 1% of the world population is dragonborn is not a big deal. Put a couple NPC's around in the world and they are part of the world, just like any race. Even if the world ''has no dragons'', you can re fluff them to ''reptile like people that took the name of mythical dragons''.

RazorChain
2017-07-18, 06:58 PM
There always is this one player that wants to choose something that isn't available. He's the one in a setting where magic is almost nonexistent that wants to play a mage or comes with a race that isn't in the game world and explains that he is the last of his race. He might come with such ideas as daywalking vampire, a shapeshifting blob that don't fit the theme or exist in the campaign. He is the one that has sold his soul for infernal powers in his backstory in a good guy campaign. He wants to play an avatar of a god that is pretending to be a mortal but won't use his cosmic powers to reveal who he really is.

This is snowflakism. It has nothing to do with player buy in and in most cases the player will be turned down. One of my friends is this type of player, it doesn't make him a bad player, he just has to indulge in his snowflakism in a different manner. It doesn't have to be a big issue, a human with wolf eyes that can see in the dark, a minor cantrip power that no-one else has, so long as he is different or has something that nobody else has then he's a happy camper.

Milo v3
2017-07-18, 07:33 PM
I either say "that race/class/etc. doesn't really make sense in my mind for the setting, can you come up with a justification for how that character would make sense?" or "Maybe try that concept next game."

But generally I run my campaign concepts by my players pretty deeply before character creation starts and work with them to make sure everything fits.

Beneath
2017-07-18, 08:16 PM
Run a game for players who want to play the game you want to run rather than players who are in your game 'cause it's the game that's around

Mechalich
2017-07-18, 08:35 PM
Allowing players to play the 'last survivor' or the 'race from across the sea' or similar effects is a perfectly viable approach most of the time, but as the OP scenario notes it's going to take extra work by the player. So the important thing for the GM faced with this sort of snowflake-type demand to judge is whether or not the player is actually willing to put in the necessary effort. There's really no way around this besides a bit of trial and error and learning to know one's players.

goto124
2017-07-18, 10:34 PM
Why does the player want to play that race? If it's for the stats or abilities, refluffed humans (or whatever is available in the setting) will work. A GM could even give custom magic items, and justify them in some way, if it doesn't come off as favoritism.

Paladins could be refluffed as magic warriors who happen to follow a code. That may give the abilties of the class while still fitting in the setting. Then again, I don't know why paladins (or dragonborns) don't exist in the setting. Maybe the nature of magic allows only paper-pushing wizards and not magic warriors. Maybe dragons don't exist, or the nature of the dragons there disallows dragonborn.

If the player still rejects? Well, I'm not certain why a player wants to play a race that doesn't even exist in the setting. Jim isn't getting much RP support for a race or class that has no grounding in the setting, by virtue of not existing in the first place.

Being treated like a outsider (or worse, an outright monster) is the only reason I can think of. And in the OP, Jim didn't seem to like his character being treated like an outsider. What is Jim trying to achieve?

Lo'Tek
2017-07-18, 10:51 PM
My question is: Is there anything you can do as a GM to save the three or four sessions of the dragonborn paladin awkwardly flailing in a setting that has neither dragons nor paladins in it?
# Let me perform an ancient ritual to summon nine characters, each representing a distinct moral, so they may answer and you may choose:

# neutral
NN: Please pay no attention to the person behind the curtain
CN: Roll a d1001 and skip to that thread for inspiration
RN: This move is against the rules, i veto it.

# evil
RE (has skills in law-rules and leadership-dictator)
- Yes there is. Be a master or lady. Use successes and punishments. Take control and authority.

NE (publishes as Dungeon Master, et al.)
- The DM did the right thing. Told the player what would happen, had it happend.
Don't be a child and bring an action figure to wargames.

CE (plays Disregard & Disrespect)
- I think That dragonborn just had thin scales. Cant take it being the weird one, huh? A good player makes it work.

# good
CG: Its mostly social skills. Like you get someone to integrate into a party: listen to them, talk to them, introduce them briefly to other people.
RG: Let the players define their characters and let them integrate them into the story. Veto when necessary, delegate to dice, be fair
NG: Players are often flailing if others define their character, or if their actions are met with exclusively negative reactions.
RG: Anyone at the table can try to notice such behaviour (roll social awareness) and counteract it (roll persuasion, intimidation or crowd control)
NG: Try to change things that wont work. Talk about what you like and what not. Help each other become better people.
CG: You know the drill. Don't let anyone go into the dungeon without protection.

# ...

NN: Could we like, play the game i prepared? I mean i understand you want all that drama of being social and having alignments with each other but ..
CN: Behold as I present you a map to our next treasure, the legendary fast food napkin which will become plot essential.

# Choose wisely

Hackulator
2017-07-18, 10:55 PM
Just scream "YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTIFUL OR UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE" over and over until the person gets the point.

kraftcheese
2017-07-18, 10:59 PM
Just scream "YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTIFUL OR UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE" over and over until the person gets the point.
To be fair, wanting to be a "snowflake" isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as the player isn't taking away attention from other players.

I don't personally like to play super-special destined-to-be-the-chosen-one characters, but in games like D&D where you'll end up a superhuman demigod hero, I can see why people do.

TheYell
2017-07-18, 11:08 PM
Why disparage that kind of engagement as being a snowflake? I'm an "overseas traveler" myself. I just wanted to play a specific character of my design and advance his abilities. I just picked a Golarion-specific backstory for a game set on another planet (which I didn't know when I started to prepare).

I've had to burn a language slot to get Common, which I don't read, and my monk has no friends or resources outside the party. Yet.

If you're so sure a forbidden archtype is doomed, then don't allow it to begin with, but what forces the player to give up so fast?

Mastikator
2017-07-18, 11:25 PM
A GM has the right to veto any character concept a player can come up with. And "dragonborn do not exist in this campaign setting" is a perfectly valid reason.

A good GM will also offer to help the player to come up with a character that is integrated and has a relevant backstory, useful traits that make sense from a fluff point of view and are mechanically useful. A good player will accept that help.

Tipsy_Pooka
2017-07-19, 01:08 AM
Without having more information... I think the fault is more on Jim than Bob. Without knowing the GM's homebrewed world, there should have been ways for a dragonborn paladin to improve his standing in the local's eyes. Despite initial prejudice, the dragonborn paladin's good-deeds should have eventually sowed the seed to overcome his uniqueness. If Bob didn't provide the opportunities for Jim to succeed on this, that would be on Bob. I get the impression that Jim saw a low-level challenge and simply gave up.

goto124
2017-07-19, 01:13 AM
The GM caved in simply because the player insisted it would work. How exactly it was supposed to work, it's not clear.

Aotrs Commander
2017-07-19, 04:57 AM
Personally, I handle it by simply giving the players a list of available races and classes. And if it isn't on the list, they may assume that anything not on the list is pre-emptively denied.



And you'll still occasionally one of Those players. I ran my proper first game on my new campaign world, set in the middle of the last big war between the Dark Lord and the Northern Nations, and I still had one player insist on wanting to playing a Dark Elf (not Drow - or Night Elf, which is the campaign equivilent) on the good guy's side. (I mean, it wasn't like I had literally pain-stakingly provided NON-HUMANOID races or anything in the list of choices (one of the other players had a unicorn1, but no...!) I let that one pass, since it was not impossible, just utterly clichť.



1I.e. essentially a Shire-horse shaped Paladin with a +3 spear duct-taped to its forehead with a strength and a jump check boosted by item that ensured she could jump 60' and make her enemies simply splash on contact.

Darth Ultron
2017-07-19, 07:01 AM
Just scream "YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTIFUL OR UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE" over and over until the person gets the point.

For the bad problem player I'll take the bit longer way.

Like Billy wants to be a Chaotic Evil Drow Ranger Assassin on the surface in a general ''normal good people area''. So, the game focus is on his poor doomed character as he tries to be both the ''evil drow monster killer who will destroy the town unless you give him free drinks at the tavern'' and wants to be the ''normal cool drinking guy at the tavern who gets drunk as being drunk is so coolz, even for pretend."

And somewhere around five minutes of game time he will kill of his character.....

Max_Killjoy
2017-07-19, 07:05 AM
GM Bob needs to either say "there are no dragonpeople and no paladins in this setting" or run a setting that the players want to play in.

Can I ask what system this was? Based on "dragonborn paladin" it sounds like a later D&D-like system.

The reason I asked this was because of the unspoken default setting of D&D, which includes certain races and classes "because they're in the rulebook".

Quertus
2017-07-19, 11:27 AM
I, for various reasons, always want to play a character who is "not from around here" anyway, so, after three to four sessions as an outsider, I'm generally ready for three to four hundred more. :smallwink:

For me, exploring the setting as an outsider pushes the Exploration "aesthetic", which is my favorite anyway. As an outsider, I get to experience and comment on all the little nuisances the GM put into the the setting, which, IME, is really cool for the GM.

Contrast that with me building a character who is supposedly from the setting, but just doesn't get it. Someone who doesn't immediately think of the Lady of Tears every time it rains, someone who doesn't hum a happy melody every time they pass a graveyard, someone who begins eating before everyone has had the opportunity to offer a bit of their meal to their ancestors, and, well, it just clashes and feels wrong. The only way I can competently play someone from the setting is if I have adequate experience with the setting - something that certainly won't be the case the first time through.

So, if you have a cool setting, the greatest compliment I can pay is to choose to explore it rather than ruin it, and play a character who is "not from around here".

Jay R
2017-07-19, 01:28 PM
I give my players three to four pages of world description, including special rules. Here are the four pages for the last game I ran.

I am planning to run a D&D campaign fairly soon.

The current plan is to use the 2E rules, but I could be talked out of that. I originally wrote some of it with a Fantasy Hero rules in mind. Iím prepared to switch to original D&D, AD&D 1E, AD&D 2E, or Fantasy Hero if thatís what the players want. (I donít know any later version well enough to run a game.)

Note: I have a basic idea for PCs, but I urge people to ask for exceptions. Some exceptions I wonít grant because they donít fit the world, others because they would make a character too powerful. But I am quite comfortable with the idea that every character is an exception to the basic idea.

You will begin as first level characters with very little knowledge of the outside world. Your character is just barely adult Ė 14 years old. You all know each other well, having grown up in the same tiny village. Everyone in this village grows their own food, and itís rare to see anybody from outside the village, or anything not made in the village. There is a smith, a village priest, but very few other specialists.

You are friends, even if you choose to have very different outlooks, because almost everybody else in the village, and absolutely everyone else anywhere near your age, are dull villagers, with little imagination.

By contrast, you and your friends sometimes stare down the road, or into the forest, wondering what the world is like.

The world is basically early medieval. You all speak a single language for which you (reasonably) have no name. If you learn another language, youíll know more about what that means.

Itís a really small village. There are fewer than 100 people living there, which is smaller than it used to be. There are chickens, goats, sheep, a couple of oxen, but no horses or cows.

The village has a single road going out of town to the north and south, and youíve never been on it. The only travel on it occurs when a few wagons go off to take food to market Ė and even that hasnít happened in the last few seasons. Very rarely, a traveler may come through, and spend the night with the priest. You have all greedily listened to any stories these travelers tell. Your parents say this isnít good for you Ė whatís here in the village is good enough for you, and all travelers are always liars, anyway.

A stream runs through the village. (This is primarily so you can learn fishing if you desire.) There are also a few wells.

The village is surrounded by a haunted forest nearby. You have occasionally gone a few hundred feet into it on a dare, but no further, and never at night. I will modify this (slightly) for any character who wishes to start as a Druid or Ranger. Nobody gets to know the modification unless they choose one of those classes.

Three times in your lifetime the village has been raided at night from the forest. You were children, and were kept safe in a cellar. Some villagers have died, but by the time you were let out, whatever the attackers were had fled or been buried.

There is very little overlap between the D&D adventurer class ďClericĒ and the average priest. Most priests will have about as much magical ability as seen in medieval stories, i.e. no more than anyone else. (If you want to play a cleric, let me know. Thereís a way we will handle it, but no player except one with a cleric PC will know about it.)

Similarly, not all thieves are in the Thief class, not all bards are in the Bard class, etc. Most fighters are ď0th levelĒ. There might be a fair number of 1st level Fighters; anybody else with levels will be uncommon. If you meet a bard on your travels, he will probably be a singer/harpist with no adventurer skills or class.

There is an old witch at the edge of the village. Your parents disapprove of her, call her a fraud, and are afraid of her. Everybody knows that the crop blight three years ago was because she was mad at the village.

The old folks in the village sometimes talk about how much better it was long ago. There was real travel, and real trade. Nobody knows what happened since.

You have heard many mutually conflicting tales of all kinds of marvelous heroes. You may assume that you have heard of any story of any hero you like Ė Gilgamesh, Oddysseus, Sigurd, Taliesin, Charlemagne, Lancelot, Robin Hood, Aragorn, Prester John, Baba Yaga, Prince Ōkuninushi, Bríer Rabbit, anyone. The old stories seem to imply that occasionally there have been several Ages of Heroes. Your parents donít think these tales are good for you. Takes your mind off farming.

DO NOT assume that you know anything about any fantasy creatures. I will re-write many monsters and races, introduce some not in D&D, and eliminate some. The purpose is to make the world strange and mysterious. It will allow (require) PCs to learn, by trial and error, what works. Most of these changes I will not tell you in advance. Here are a couple, just to give you some idea what I mean.
1. Dragons are not color-coded for the benefits of the PCs.
2. Of elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, kobolds, goblins, and orcs, at least one does not exist, at least one is slightly different from the books, and at least one is wildly different.
3. Several monsters have different alignments from the books.
4. The name of an Undead will not tell you what will or wonít hurt it.
5. The first time you see a member of a humanoid race, I will describe it as a ďvaguely man-shaped creature.Ē This could be a kobold, an elf, or an Umber Hulk until you learn what they are.

I will answer any reasonable questions about the village and its denizens. You do not know anything that cannot be learned in a backward, isolated village. (And yes, thatís why youíve grown up semi-isolated.)

You will create your characters by allocating 80 points, with the following conditions.
1. Each stat must be between 3 and 18.
2. Any points over 16 will cost double. (So a 17 costs 18 points, and an 18 costs 20 points.)
3. You may only have one 18, and only two 17+.
4. I strongly urge you not to have a ďdump statĒ. An extremely low stat will affect what you can do.

I do not object to henchmen. Since they must be a lower level than the characters, it wonít come up immediately, but if the party eventually has henchmen, there will be reasonable opportunities for them to help. Finding a henchman who isnít a bland fighter will be pretty rare. Finding a spellcaster will be extremely unlikely.

Your character is way behind the average starting D&D character in knowledge of the world. I am making up for that by giving each PC one 3E Feat (see below), and one unusual starting item you would normally not have at the start of a game. This item must be justified by the character, and must be acceptable to me. For instance, a Wizard could start the game with a familiar. A Bard could have a well-made harp. Somebody with Animal Training could have a trained dog already (but not a horse or bird of prey.) A fighter might have a boomerang as one weapon. Come up with something fun, useful, and unusual, but not outrageous. It wonít be a magic item, but it could be something rare. [It is not armor. Your village can produce leather, studded leather, brigandine, or scale armor, but not chain or plate.]

Your first hit die will have its maximum value, but after that, you will roll. You will never have less than the average value for hit points overall. A first level fighter will start with 10 points. At 2nd level, he will roll a d10, and add that to the total. If the total is ever less than the average for that character, it will be moved up to the average. So a fourth level fighter, for instance, will not have fewer than 22 hit points.

Specific rules. Reasonable exceptions to these rules are allowed, within certain bounds. I wonít necessarily explain the bounds to you. (If I plan to have you carried off by Vikings, I wonít tell you why your character canít speak Old Norse, for instance.) Ask for exceptions. Your character should be an exception to the general rules in some way, and Iím prepared to modify PC rules to let you play something unique. I want you to have a character you will enjoy, but who wonít mess up my plans or overshadow the other characters.

1. All characters are human. If you want an exception, talk to me. We have to find a way for the non-human to fit into my plans for the start of the campaign, which I will not tell you. (For instance, you donít know what races exist.) To reduce the negative impact of this rule, if your real goal is to multi-class, your human character may do so.
2. It will be possible for your character to get started within the village, so if you wish to be, for instance, a druid, there will be an older druid of some sort nearby. Tell me your plans, and I will arrange any necessary mentor or other resource.
3. You may choose any 2E class. If you want a class from another version, let me know, and weíll try to work it out. (You canít be a barbarian, because you grew up in a village. But if you wish to be a sorcerer, I will create a 2E-compliant sorcerer class.) If you want something thatís consistent with medieval fantasy but isnít a standard D&D class, letís talk. I want you to play the unusual (human) character that youíve never been able to play before.
4. Whatever the character class you choose, your teachers or mentors werenít high level, and can only get you started.
5. Spellcasters will start with only four spells, of which you will choose two and I will choose two. The two I choose for wizards will be Read Magic and Detect Magic. The two for Clerics will be Cure Light Wounds and Detect Evil. Initial spells must come from the Players Handbook. Unusual spells from other sources may be available later, but you didnít learn them in your village. Necromantic spells are also not allowed at the start of the game.
6. Wizards will learn three new spells at each level, and will have other ways to develop them. Clerics will learn a new spell each adventure, and will have other ways to learn them. (Yes, they come from your god. But you have to know what to ask for, and how to use it. Itís a much easier process than for wizards, who must learn them from scratch.)
7. A cleric must choose a deity. This will be the deity who grants you spells. It will have a minor effect on the spells you get, but not much. The deity can be chosen from any pantheon. (Except Lovecraft!) Any other player may opt to choose a deity as well. A druid must choose a nature god. Iíll be loose in the definition of a nature god.
8. A Priest or Druid can choose to be a standard Priest or Druid, or you can ask for specific differences based on your god. I will be quite lenient here, as long as it makes sense. If you do this, however, I reserve the right to make some other specific strictures which you might or might not know about at the start.
9. None of you know anything about what happens to high-level characters. For instance, Druids may ignore everything in the PHB about the Druid Organization. There just arenít that many high-level people in the world. We will use most of what the rulebooks say about followers and strongholds, but some of it will be modified. For one thing, not all creatures on the Ranger follower chart even exist. The thief follower table is also inconsistent with the world. Player desires will be encouraged. When we get to that point, be prepared to negotiate for something you would prefer.
10. All starting equipment will be things that can be produced in a small isolated village. You may have a spear, axe, sword or bow, but not an atl-atl, fancy crossbow, etc., unless itís your unusual item. There may be exceptions. Ask for something you want.
11. Your character has (at least) one specific food-producing Non-Weapon Proficiency Ė farmer, swineherd, shepherd, etc.
12. Men and women are different in this period. All women will have at least one Non-Weapon Proficiency of sewing, cooking or embroidery, or some such, and all men will have leatherwork, woodwork, smith, or some equivalent. You donít have to care about it, but thatís life in a small village. I urge the party as a whole to have sewing, leatherwork, and blacksmithing, just to repair clothes and armor. Otherwise, Iíll have to track any damage done. Similarly, if you donít have a fletcher, I will count arrows.
13. All non-weapon proficiencies must be learnable in an isolated village, or from travelersí tales. If you want an exception, come up with a justification. I respect good rationalizations. (Obvious examples include learning Latin from the village priest, astrology from a traveler, or herbalism from the witch.)
14. If you want a non-weapon proficiency that cannot be learned in the village, you may allocate the slot for it, and you will have a very rudimentary version of it, that will grow to the standard level with experience. That slot indicates that itís a skill your character cares about, and pursues whenever possible. For instance, if you take Etiquette, then you will know how to behave in a village. If you get to an army garrison, you will quickly observe and learn military etiquette. Spend much time in a market, and you will learn how to behave in trade. If a noblewoman goes by, you will learn a little about how she acts, and about how people treat her. Skills for which this would be necessary include Spellcraft, Riding, Survival, Etiquette, etc. Feel free to take the skills you want. Iíll see that you learn them soon. This is to allow your characters to learn and grow quickly, and to have the full range of NWPs available. I urge each player to have one or two of these.
15. You grew up in a small village surrounded by an unexplored forest. There are wild animals and worse in the forest, and you have trained with at least one simple weapon. For this reason, your character can use your choice of a spear, short bow or short sword, regardless of character class. (You must choose one. Your character cannot use more than one of them unless both are allowed to his or her class.)
16. I intend to give each character a single 3E Feat. It will be chosen to be one that will make a first level character more usable and unique. If you arenít interested in learning the 3E Feats Ė donít worry. Iíll assign one that will be useful, and explain how it works. If you are interested in the rules, feel free to make a request. If itís reasonable and doesnít interfere with plans that you donít know about, Iíll allow it. Toughness is not available. The goal of the Feat is not to make your character more generally competent, but to make him or her more competent in one specific area, to improve specific skills, or to have a unique option most people donít have.

I repeat Ė ask for exceptions to these rules. I want you to play what you want, and to have an unusual character. For instance, if you have a character idea that canít work if you grew up in a small village, talk to me, and weíll try to make it fit in Ė but it might mean that you miss the first half of the first adventure. If you have some cool idea for something your character wants to start off with, letís discuss it. I might say no, or have it replace the Feat or the unusual item, or just grant the exception.

This introduction is written for 2E. If enough people would prefer to play 1E, original D&D, or Fantasy Hero, Iím willing to switch.

I didn't tell them that neither dwarf nor elf characters were allowed because neither were known on that world at that time, and there were adventures based on that fact.

"Everybody knows" that the dwarves were wiped out in their war with the giants 200 years ago. Eventually, the PCs were to learn that the last remaining dwarves were slaves of the giants. They wouldn't find this out until they were high enough level to face giants, and discover new dwarf-made weapons.

Elves did not exist on that plane, but would return soon. But they would be the elves from Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies.

ďElves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.Ē

Telok
2017-07-19, 04:30 PM
Of course there are the times you get buy-in and it still dosen't work.

"Superhero game?" -> "Yeah!"
"Vigilantes or real heros?" -> "Real heros!"

They held people in fires, killed more people than the villans, and half of them weren't going to even try to disarm the bombs in the stadium because they wanted to kill an escaping bad guy.

Nifft
2017-07-19, 06:38 PM
Of course there are the times you get buy-in and it still dosen't work.

"Superhero game?" -> "Yeah!"
"Vigilantes or real heros?" -> "Real heros!"

They held people in fires, killed more people than the villans, and half of them weren't going to even try to disarm the bombs in the stadium because they wanted to kill an escaping bad guy.

People are bad at introspection.

You can get valid data on what your players want, but you're unlikely to get it by straight-up asking them.

Jay R
2017-07-19, 06:41 PM
Of course there are the times you get buy-in and it still dosen't work.

"Superhero game?" -> "Yeah!"
"Vigilantes or real heros?" -> "Real heros!"

They held people in fires, killed more people than the villans, and half of them weren't going to even try to disarm the bombs in the stadium because they wanted to kill an escaping bad guy.

I remember being a player in one such game. Occasionally, I would plaintively cry, "Can we be the good guys?"

goto124
2017-07-19, 07:18 PM
You can get valid data on what your players want, but you're unlikely to get it by straight-up asking them.

What do you suggest to get that valid data, especially for new players in real-life games?

Mechalich
2017-07-19, 07:39 PM
What do you suggest to get that valid data, especially for new players in real-life games?

You just have to play it out. No campaign survives contact with the players, and this is doubly true for players you haven't GM'd with before. Roll with it, there's really nothing else to be done. I do suggest keeping your initially planned campaign to be short, perhaps only a single story arc, to get a feel for what the players want, then you can adapt to their tendencies when trying to do something bigger.

Nifft
2017-07-19, 07:50 PM
What do you suggest to get that valid data, especially for new players in real-life games?

A survey where you ask a few questions from several different perspectives each.

Basic and standard survey techniques, so you can (hopefully) distinguish the responder's own opinion from any bias introduced by the framing of the question.

I've had good outcome by framing specific scenarios, and asking what the player's character would do (which means asking functionally rather than abstractly), but I'm sure there are other good ways to frame a survey.

== == ==

In this case, it sounds like there were other overall issues -- for example, it sounded like it's expected that these "heroes" will kill villains. To me that says these aren't "heroes" at all: they're soldiers, and they're at war.

Jay R
2017-07-19, 08:18 PM
What do you suggest to get that valid data, especially for new players in real-life games?

Watch them play.

What they say they want to do might or might not be what they do.

But what they do will be what they do.

Nifft
2017-07-19, 08:22 PM
Watch them play.

What they say they want to do might or might not be what they do.

But what they do will be what they do.

What you say is true if the player is always playing the same character (i.e. if PC personality == player personality).

It's also quite a luxury to have time to play a game as part of the process of deciding which game to play...

goto124
2017-07-19, 08:25 PM
I've had good outcome by framing specific scenarios, and asking what the player's character would do (which means asking functionally rather than abstractly)

Examples please?

Nifft
2017-07-19, 08:44 PM
Examples please?

Sure.

Here's an example which would have helped disambiguate "vigilante" from "real hero". These several questions go over the same topic from different angles, and would need to be mixed randomly with a bunch of other questions.


Q: It's never acceptable to kill an opponent.
True | False

Q: If it's them or me, I choose me.
True | False

Q: Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and some villains need killing.
True | False

Q: It's worth sacrificing my own life to save others.
True | False

Q: It's worth staining my honor as a hero to save others.
True | False

Q: Stopping a villain forever is more important than saving a few lives right now.
True | False

Q: Behaving like a hero and setting a good example is more important than capturing any specific villain.
True | False

Q: There are some lines that a hero never crosses. My line is:
a) I will be the shining example, a paragon of idealism upon which others may hang their hopes & aspirations.
b) I won't break any laws, including theft, murder, etc.
c) Thou Shalt Not Kill.
d) Different situations will require different ethics, so I have no fixed line.
e) The only lines I see are the ones painted on the six-lane highway to Hell.

Q: How do you handle failure?
a) I will succeed in my mission, no matter what it costs other people.
b) I will succeed in my mission, even if I have to break laws to do it.
c) I will succeed in my mission, even if it costs me personally.
d) Failure is preferable to acting with dishonor.
e) A real hero is someone who keeps trying, even if a mission ends in failure.

... etc.

That's basically ONE question, but asked from enough different angles that any bias in presentation ought to be cancelled out.

(Good surveys require a lot of work.)

FreddyNoNose
2017-07-19, 08:52 PM
If you're going to allow it anyway, don't stop the player from actually playing the character.

What you're describing, with all due respect, sounds to me like the GM passive aggressively getting their way, wasting 3 or 4 sessions of everybody's time (or well, 5% of those sessions worth of time anyway) to make the point that Jim should not play a dragonborn paladin. If they don't want Jim to play one because it doesn't fit their world they should put their foot down. Explain why it doesn't fit, brainstorm for an alternative, the works. If they allow it anyway the character gets to be part of the world, with maybe some suspicion and fantastic racism and stuff, but not as much as to make the character unplayable.

This is a cooperative game, people should be on the same page, setting wise.

I agree with the passive aggressive point. If you are running a specific game, own it.

goto124
2017-07-19, 09:13 PM
Nifft: How do you get players to sit still for long enough to complete long surveys?

Nifft
2017-07-19, 11:54 PM
Nifft: How do you get players to sit still for long enough to complete long surveys?

Hey, why did you edit out the thank-you?

Now I feel un-thanked.

:mitd:

Darth Ultron
2017-07-20, 12:36 AM
What do you suggest to get that valid data, especially for new players in real-life games?


A survey where you ask a few questions from several different perspectives each.



I like surveys myself too. I have a bunch of loaded questions to ask any new gamer. And there is the more complex art of reading people, but not everyone can do that.

I have found the best way is to get to know the players, even become friends. Then you get all the data you need.

Cook-outs work great. Have all the players, plus families over. My wife is one of them dedicated hostess party people and she loves to do ''themes'' . And Geekdom provides tons of themes. Like two weeks ago we did the ''Superhero Cook out'' where people came dressed as superheros(I was Hawkeye, wife was Mockingbird, so we'd be still ''married in costume''). And, the obvious Batman debate that is sure to come up automatically, lets you know how everyone and the players feel about heroes, vigilantes, violence, The Law and so forth.

Nifft
2017-07-20, 12:41 AM
I like surveys myself too. I have a bunch of loaded questions to ask any new gamer. And there is the more complex art of reading people, but not everyone can do that.

I have found the best way is to get to know the players, even become friends. Then you get all the data you need.

Cook-outs work great. Have all the players, plus families over. My wife is one of them dedicated hostess party people and she loves to do ''themes'' . And Geekdom provides tons of themes. Like two weeks ago we did the ''Superhero Cook out'' where people came dressed as superheros(I was Hawkeye, wife was Mockingbird, so we'd be still ''married in costume''). And, the obvious Batman debate that is sure to come up automatically, lets you know how everyone and the players feel about heroes, vigilantes, violence, The Law and so forth.

That's also a good way to build trust, which tends to contribute to a better gaming experience for everyone, and increased trust is going to increase buy-in over and above the data you uncover.

So I'd say that's excellent advice.