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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    So, we're 4 sessions into my campaign, and my 4 players are enjoying the game. Our lineup is a Dwarf Barbarian, a Tiefling Rogue, an Elven Ranger, a Human Wizard, and an Elven Homebrewed Class like a Cloistered Cleric. The Ranger is quiet and not very involved in discussions, but the others (minus the cleric), are very vocal about everything.

    The Cleric came to me yesterday and asked if he could roll up a new character. I said he could, because his character isn't much involved in the storyline, and because I don't like not having immediate access to his class rules. Well the Wizard and Barbarian want new characters too, because they've become interested in being Paladins. Here was my response to the Barbarian, who is my best friend, who relayed it to the others. It's copied from MSN, so sorry about the formating.

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    Well, here's my issue with you guys doing that
    You're supposed to want your characters to live
    With that in mind, there's never TPKs, because you guys run
    But if someone dies, it's sad, but the group stays together

    If [Cleric] dies, you bring in a new character
    But you still have the memories and the contacts and the questlines
    You still get worked up when Dalish comes to help
    You still tell Atras your adventures for his stories

    You still know Pheavra and Divanis, and could perhaps call upon them
    You want to kill Josmeth (A backstory-based villain for the Barbarian), who is involved in the overarching campaign plot, as is Varok (A backstory based villain for the Wizard)

    If you and [Wizard] and [Cleric] all die, you get new characters
    [Ranger] is working on her backstory, but it involves her being a loner and being quiet
    So she's not likely to pursue any of the options you left behind, except maybe Dalish' help

    [Rogue[ is even less likely to keep with any of them
    Your deaths, if untimely, are unfortunate and sad, but the way the game goes
    Your deaths, if planned, aren't unfortunate or sad
    They're not something that you care about, and it makes the other players care less about your future characters
    It messes with my story in an unfair way, because I have to throw out NPCs and storylines that I've worked on, not because you took a risk, but because you were bored of a character you've barely played.

    You guys have the right to take your characters in new directions
    Multiclassing
    Pursuing ways to acquire templates
    Alignment shifts

    You guys have control of your characters' minds
    And if you can get me a roleplaying reason for anything, I'll let you
    But dying because you want to do something else isn't within your rights
    It's one thing to die fighting off a hundred orcs, or holding back a devil ro save the party
    It's another entirely to be suicidal because you want to play something else

    I told the Cleric he can roll up a new character, since he's the most likely to legitimately die in the next encounter anyway, and I gave him approval since I hadn't figured out a way to work him into the story. The Wizard and Barbarian are heavily involved in the story. I was rereading the conversation, and I think I might've been too dominating. What do you think, Playground? What advice have you for a new DM?
    Last edited by Raistlin1040; 2010-02-17 at 12:31 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    I think you did the right thing. This isn't a video game where you can just erase a file and start over. D&D is always a group effort and you have to take other people's efforts towards the game into account when considering actions like that.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    well, for one don't plan that far ahead. it doesn't end well.

    I'm not sure about much else. Since you're only 4 sessions in I'd say let them. especially if they're new. I know I get the urge to change my character to something else if they seem more interesting.
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    As anyone who's ever been a new DM will say... being a newbie DM is really really hard. Having a great story waiting in the wings, and then having it thrown away because a couple of people got tired... doesn't work.

    If your PCs, for some reason, won't accept this judgement, then run a 1-3 session distraction with other characters through some sort module. Let them play something totally different.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    The Cleric isn't a new player. He's actually a veteran who has been playing for as long as I have. The other two are picking the game up remarkably quickly. To clear up, I have no problem modding my story if someone dies. I just don't want them to throw out the past 3 levels of contacts, roleplaying, and work.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    I'm not sure. Ultimately it should be about what is fun for the group. If one person wants to role a new character, that can maybe be arranged. If half the group wants to do so, that could be very awkward. But if the entire group wants to? That may actually be more doable. Although if the DM has a set campaign in mind I could imagine that creating havoc even if it was only 4 sessions in. They may have learned stuff that could create metagame issues if the DM tries to run the same campaign again. Ultimately though it is the DM's call either way.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    What levels are they, at the moment? And what alignments are the Wizard and Barbarian?

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    From context, it looks like you're running 4E, right? No major bearing on the discussion, but I just want to make sure before I go on about some 3.5 stuff.

    Anyway, this is a tough spot, but on principle I (somewhat reluctantly) side with the players on this one. You're certainly not being unreasonable, and characters intentionally getting themselves killed for OOC reasons is asinine, but you're missing a key point in being a DM: your purpose is to provide a good time for everyone. If the players don't enjoy their characters, you need to work with them on fixing that.

    In 3.5, you'd be able to do that fairly easily: provide plot provisions for retraining. The same characters remain, but their sheets are switched out for something the other players enjoy playing.

    I'm not nearly as familiar with 4E rules, but I imagine because of the way 'multiclassing' works, retraining is going to be incredibly difficult to work out at best, impossible at worst. Furthermore, 4E multiclassing doesn't make you a Barbarian/Paladin. It makes you a Barbarian with a smattering of small tricks a Paladin would have. I don't think that's going to satisfy the players. Finagling some way to replace them may be the best way to approach it.

    Another note. The game isn't really your story. It's the players'. Yes, you've set up a general plotline and set up the world the players are tearing up, but the players' characters are the protagonists. The story should revolve around them. The setting shouldn't, but the plot should.
    Last edited by Proven_Paradox; 2010-02-17 at 12:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    They just hit 4th level (3rd for the Tiefling) and are about to fight the Wizard's father, which will open the main campaign arc. The Wizard is NG and the Barbarian is CN. The Ranger is TN, the Cleric is TN, and the Tiefling is CN bordering on CE. We're running 3.5, actually.

    Edit: The Ranger and Rogue are very happy with their characters, and their personal stories, and have no desire to start over, or have multiple new characters join the party, especially because the Wizard and Barbarian do most of the talking to NPCs (I'm impressed by the roleplaying, so we rarely use Diplomacy), and the Wizard is somewhat the party leader.
    Last edited by Raistlin1040; 2010-02-17 at 12:53 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Well if you're running 3.5, you've got good solutions out there already. Crack open the PHBII and check out the rules for retraining. Perhaps the Barbarian finds religion and becomes a Paladin of Freedom. Something like that.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    What exactly do they want to get out of playing Paladins? If you're using Tome of Battle, could the wizard get what he wants by multiclassing into Crusader and going for Jade Phoenix Mage? Could the Barbarian go CG and multiclass into
    Paladin of Freedom, or go into Ranger and then Ranger Knight of Furyondy?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    I've already told them that I think Paladins get TOTALLY shafted in the PHB, so I'm allowing Paladins of any alignment except TN, with minor edits for NG, NE, LN, and CN. I don't know exactly why they want to be paladins. The Rogue is a DM for a separate campaign that meets during weeks I can't DM, that has all the players. Apparently, the Wizard started with a 6th level Paladin and enjoyed having a Flaming sword and smiting things and such. No tome of battle, as I don't have the book, and the Ranger, Barbarian, and Wizard are leeching off my books anyway, owning none of their own.
    Last edited by Raistlin1040; 2010-02-17 at 01:02 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    I would generally take what Proven_Paradox said but go further.
    If they really just want to play different classes, just let them completely rebuild their characters. Come up with some "radiation accident" or what not to explain it, and move on. While that may be a bit of a continuity thing with the different abilities, if their backgrounds are so important, just handwave it and make the best of it.

    Otherwise, what are you left with?
    They have characters they do not want to play, and the only way they can get out of it is to die "accidentally"?
    That is not going to make for happy players, and even less for good group support in combat.

    You are right in that they should show a bit more respect for how their character background affects the campaign progress, and recognize that they do need either make some effort to continue to support campaign concepts they have inspired, or expect less campaign support of their background in the future if they treat plotlines as casually disposable.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    I have a rule:

    You can bring in new characters in the middle of the adventure at -1 level of your previous character. You can do this at any time, I'll find some way to stick you in there.

    At the end of the adventure, you may swap characters as you like. Bands (and thus, bands of adventurers) change all the time and I find that most people don't usually want to switch between adventures anyways, but it's a good option for the guy who really wanted to try out, say, the Warblade class but later decided he didn't like to play a non-caster so wanted to switch over to Bard. Or the newbie who thought monk was just *it* in terms of power and was quickly left behind and wants to "re buy" as it were.

    I also have a house rule that if it's your first time playing a Sorceror, you can change ALL of your spells when you level up, not just one of them. I typically don't do this for my vets though, because punishing people for their mistakes is something I feel a GM should be doing.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Barbarian just got back to me. He said, after my rant of sorts, "Cool, next campaign then." So that's good.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    My two cents, without reading other responses, so I may be beating a dead horse here:

    No, I don't think you did the right thing. They said "I don't wanna play this character anymore", and you said "Tough".

    Look, if three of the four players are not wanting to play their characters, that's a pretty big indication that something is going on. Try talking to them. Why don't they want to play their characters anymore? Did they feel that their class/race/stat choices were not what they wanted to do? Do they feel that their character is not properly handling situations they envisioned their characters doing? Is some part of the campaign making their characters less useful?

    Try and figure out why they are wanting new characters. And hey, if they really want to? Hit the 'reset button' on the campaign. You're only four sessions in, right? "Fine. Everyone roll up new characters. We'll start over. Wipe everything that just happened clean".
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    I would generally take what Proven_Paradox said but go further.
    If they really just want to play different classes, just let them completely rebuild their characters. Come up with some "radiation accident" or what not to explain it, and move on. While that may be a bit of a continuity thing with the different abilities, if their backgrounds are so important, just handwave it and make the best of it.

    Otherwise, what are you left with?
    They have characters they do not want to play, and the only way they can get out of it is to die "accidentally"?
    That is not going to make for happy players, and even less for good group support in combat.

    You are right in that they should show a bit more respect for how their character background affects the campaign progress, and recognize that they do need either make some effort to continue to support campaign concepts they have inspired, or expect less campaign support of their background in the future if they treat plotlines as casually disposable.
    This. In my last campaign my player started as a monk//wu jen, then asked to change to a monk//sorcerer, then finally to a swordsage//sorcerer. Two complete character rebulds. But you just explain it however you can - your friends having fun matters more than verisimilitude. And there's always a way to explain things like that. Even if it's just a random artifact they find.
    Last edited by Myou; 2010-02-17 at 05:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Personaly i would just handwave it away with a "you have allways been of the class you wantet to be" and let them rebuild their char.
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    You can make it "By the power of plot.. I am He-man-" Uhh..

    You can say that some new villian kills them off, then reincarnates them as something else to use them against the party but they manage to break out due to sheer will. Then their characters will want to try and reverse the changes, even if the players don't really want that, but then learn to live with that and when the time comes and they learn of a way to change back, they can choose what ever they want, or maybe even a new rebuild but they need "moar powah".

    Or maybe a body switch! A half orc that switches body with a female elven paladin or something..

    You can work it out without ditching the entire campaign concept.
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myou View Post
    This. In my last campaign my player started as a monk//wu jen, then asked to change to a monk//sorcerer, then finally to a swordsage//sorcerer. Two complete character rebulds. But you just explain it however you can - your friends having fun matters more than verisimilitude. And there's always a way to explain things like that. Even if it's just a random artifact they find.
    Works wonderfully. Or, you can have a fateful death, and recruiting replacements for the team. Either is fine.

    In general, Im not a fan of forcing people to play any class or build...even if it's one they previously wanted to play. This goes double for newbies, who may not even know what they're picking.
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Unfortunately, *actually* TPKing the party so they can start over is DEFINITELY NOT an option, since the Ranger and Rogue are happy, and now the Barbarian is fine waiting for the Paladin until next campaign, since he likes Barbarian too. The makes is a little easier, since the Ranger and Rogue have no in-game reason to stay with the party without him. I don't think any of them would like restarting the campaign. I talked to the Ranger and Rogue about this possible change in party dynamics and the Ranger rolled her eyes and the Rogue basically said "That's not fair, because that's going to set us back in the plot, and we don't want to waste time, IC or OOC, by running huge rebuilding quests."
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin1040 View Post
    Unfortunately, *actually* TPKing the party so they can start over is DEFINITELY NOT an option, since the Ranger and Rogue are happy,
    You don't need a TPK to let a player or two restart characters.

    and now the Barbarian is fine waiting for the Paladin until next campaign, since he likes Barbarian too. The makes is a little easier, since the Ranger and Rogue have no in-game reason to stay with the party without him. I don't think any of them would like restarting the campaign. I talked to the Ranger and Rogue about this possible change in party dynamics and the Ranger rolled her eyes and the Rogue basically said "That's not fair, because that's going to set us back in the plot, and we don't want to waste time, IC or OOC, by running huge rebuilding quests."
    Making any one character the only thing holding the party together is problematic. I recommend against doing so if this is happening by the power of plot. If it's happening because of the characters...well, it's up to the players to fix that. If the players want to merrily continue onward with the campaign, then it's up to them to give their characters motivation to do so.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    It's not just the one character holding the group together. The Wizard, Cleric, and Barbarian are the forces keeping the Rogue from running away, and the Ranger has followed him when he runs in the past. The TPK comment was in response to "Reset Button" posts.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin1040 View Post
    It's not just the one character holding the group together. The Wizard, Cleric, and Barbarian are the forces keeping the Rogue from running away, and the Ranger has followed him when he runs in the past. The TPK comment was in response to "Reset Button" posts.
    So, the rogue's player is dead set on playing the campaign, but is having his character run away constantly. If he wants to play, he needs to find a motivation for his character to do so.
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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    He was exposed as a tiefling, the Barbarian drew his sword on him and the Wizard cast a touch spell and moved into range, so he ran. After a brief talk, they caught up with him and the ranger, and his new friendship with the other three, because they decided to accept him, keeps the two of them from leaving the party.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    My recommendation would be to have the entire group roll up new characters. Put this new group together and stick them into the story in some other way. have them pursuing the same large story arc but coming at it from a different direction. That keeps the general story the same but lets everyone try new characters. You have to come up with some way to work them into it but don't have to worry about stepping on the things that happened before.

    Also, a secondary benefit of this is that you can always come back to the original group. You could alternate sessions playing the first group and the second group or you could play one until the players decide to switch back. Everyone gets to play a different character pretty often and the PCs have double the chances of stopping the BBEG in the end.

    The main problems with this will be keeping meta-gaming to a minimum and extra story building on your part.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    As a DM, you need to find a balance between what the players want and what you have planned.

    I think you needed to introduce the party as group so that they already have a shared interest or background. Why was there a problem with the tiefling from the get-go? Avoid those things in the future. This is why most games start in that cliche of a tavern -- the group are all old drinking buddies and you don't have to give them motivation for being there.

    Heck, I once played a game in which the whole party was distantly related to one another -- comes from living in a small village.

    If the cleric isn't happy then you as a DM need to focus on the cleric a bit more. Every character should have a chance to shine. So make some time for this. Sticky notes in books are helpful and make sure you know the characters -- all of the characters--features can be found quickly. It's okay to pause the game to look stuff up (if done correctly, you use this a trick to rev up the anticipation).

    In fact, ask them how they know each other and let them make up a history. Who has family and who doesn't and use this information in your plots. If the cleric's sister is kidnapped, the party should rally around him. In any plot you can always fit in or substitute NPCs for people they once knew (you just have to make it up on the fly). Friends, family, acquaintances, people they met on their way... and keep track of who's who. And make someone write this stuff down in case you forget.

    If you are going to allow the redo, then have the players write short (a paragraph) history of their character and how they know one another.

    This sort of stuff should be handled before you actually start the game. Then everyone gets to participate and the players who aren't as verbally adroit can get help from the other players in forming their PCs' background. It is a win-win scenario. Plus with ready made friends, neighbors, family you can just sub those in for more generic NPCs.


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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    As a last note before I leave, I gave them the option of knowing each other and having them start in a tavern. The response I recieved was a universal no. They wanted to not know each other well when we began. I have backstories from all of them, the Ten Minute Backstory from the WotC forums, and I've been incorporating them into the story gratiutously. I think the Cleric is realizing that his character has low armor and health (Homebrew of his) and wants to go full cleric, but doesn't want his character's baggage, which is fine with me. I know he's capable of being a party leader and speaker, but he doesn't want to keep playing what he has. My issue came from two of the most vocal characters and currently, the two most involved with the main plot, suddenly deciding that they, also, wanted to throw out their characters and make new ones, especially when I've put effort into writing things for them, and they've put effort into playing them out well.
    Quote Originally Posted by YPU View Post
    Real life doesn’t happen, it surprises you like a trap of a CR way above your level.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin1040 View Post
    ... My issue came from two of the most vocal characters and currently, the two most involved with the main plot, suddenly deciding that they, also, wanted to throw out their characters and make new ones, especially when I've put effort into writing things for them, and they've put effort into playing them out well.
    Here's what I think.

    I DMed for a group of players that consisted of 2 newbies, and 2 veterans, in 4e. I told all four of them that for the first few levels of play, they could switch out powers whenever they wanted to, that they didn't need to wait until retraining because they were just learning the system and the classes, and they were bound to make decisions they later found less than appealing.

    I would have allowed any of them to change their race and class entirely. We were going through a learning experience. None of them were intimately familiar with 4e, and only some of them were familiar with my DMing style. Considering these things, I decided that giving them leeway would make them happier in the long run.

    Some might suggest that this radical change destroys verisimilitude and takes away from the roleplay experience. I understand those concerns. Those elements of the game are important, but not so important that mechanical revamping was disallowed. Having a good game experience as players seemed more important than having a realistic game experience as characters.

    After a while of playing a certain character, and going through a dozen gaming sessions (let's say), I would become more hesitant about letting players completely change their characters. I would be more hesitant, but not entirely unwilling.

    If your players were essentially happy with their characters, but just thought something else might be even more fun, then I'd likely try to convince them to stick with what they have, if I was in your place.

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    Default Re: Party's Self-Inflicted TPK: Did I Do The Right Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Debihuman View Post
    Heck, I once played a game in which the whole party was distantly related to one another -- comes from living in a small village.
    I've seen this too. It was a theives guild sort of adventure, and three of the characters were strongly tied together..brother, sister, and adopted brother. So, while you have a party ranging from neutral to evil, who sometimes acts in a less than trustworthy fashion...but is quite cohesive internally.

    Players have to come up with reasons for why they would party with others. At least, if they want to play a game as a party, they do.

    Edit: On a side note, when you ask a question, most folks answer a certain way, and then you argue with them and leave...it tends to suggest that you weren't 100% honest in asking the question, but were merely looking for support/justification.
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2010-02-17 at 11:04 AM.
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