Many people who have played at my table know that I usually allow players to alter their characters for three game sessions, without restriction. However, many don’t really understand why, so…let me ‘splain! I’ll start with the 3 game limit and how it works, then we will talk about the why. In most games, I will let a player modify their character. They can change anything or everything about them. The other player’s characters will never notice any change. This could cause some problem, such as a character that starts as an orc Assassin, who then changes to a human healer, but I would normally allow it. I generally only allow this when we start a campaign, but there are times I might allow it for replacement character, but I will discuss that later. Like character creation, any changes need to be approved, but, once again as most of my players know, I will allow just about anything, as I mostly feel that fitting people together is my job…but, of course, I probably try too hard to make a group from some characters that will never fit…but that is another post. 🙂
Simple, eh? OK! Now, Why? This is the most useful tool I have found to make sure that a player has a character that they want to play and that fits the world. In any game system, when a player creates their character, they usually have some idea of the character they want to play. Some player motives may be less inclined to create a specific character idea, but others will definitely have more than a vague idea. And this is where we can find a breakdown. Sometimes the players’ idea and your idea of the setting are different. Even after they’ve created a character in a setting maybe they didn’t understand how a rule worked that is important to their new character concept. This is where this concept comes from. This tool allows the leeway needed to make the right character. Although I will repeat and clarify this in a post about making characters, I feel it is important to help the players create the character they want to play. Sometimes this means I will recommend changes to a character. But whatever the reason, even if there is no real reason, it’s just something they want, such as “Oh! I didn’t realize how important the NOTICE skill would be, so I want some points in it!” Let them do it!
This does bring about a bit of a conundrum: What if the character dies in the first 3 games? You can handle this 2 ways, right? Either make them create a new character, and start the 3 play clock again, or allow them to be not killed. Normally, as I pointed out in this post, character death is a touchy, but needed issue. However, particularly in an epic game, I would recommend NOT killing a character in this window. The loss of such an immature character is a pointless exercise in character creation. Only rarely will the player, or other characters for that matter, bond with that character in such a short time. Let people get attached before you put them under dire threat! As far as replacement characters, I will usually only offer 1 or 2 game sessions before they are locked into their character, because the player should be more comfortable with the setting as well as the rules used. However, there are exceptions, such as a fairly complex system, more to the FGU end of the scale, or if the player is playing way outside their comfort zone. But either way, I have yet to see a need to have more than 3 sessions! (I have allowed 4 on a couple of occasions, but then one game usually lasted less than an hour, and in most cases only about 30 minutes, so i just didn’t count it!)
For my games I have found that any time before the start of the 4th game is a reasonable time to create the character they want. In your play, you may find that is to many, or not enough. Obviously this is suited for long-term games only! If you have a story line that is expected to play out in less than 6 sessions, you can’t waste 3 for character perfection! I would still recommend at least one game where they can “Try on” the skin of the character before they are stuck with it…but like all of my other suggestions, if you do its up to you!
Finally! A short one! That has taken me almost as long as it took to post ALL of the others! Well…I think I can get back on the once a week schedule now… (Yeah, right!)