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Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 06:42 AM
As the title says. I am slowly assembling an online 3.5e group but it seems that getting a 4th person may not be in my future. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don't like underpowering my campaigns but if we don't have 4 players I would have to do just that....or engage in the taboo of running a DMPC. While some of you may not agree with my choice, I despise neutering encounters so much that I have decided to go with the latter and just run a DMPC with them. So that's why I have come to you all. I need help running the DMPC in a way that won't, well, you know...do all the things that make DMPCs a taboo in the first place....

I was thinking that I would make the DMPC a cloistered cleric or similar non-martial divine caster who sits back and provides buffs/healing/support spells without actually doing much in combat beyond making everybody else better at what they do....but there may be a better way?

So, can anybody give me tips and ideas on how to run a DMPC in a way that will minimize the standard issues that comes with DMPCs?

prufock
2011-09-04, 07:41 AM
What classes are they playing. There's a difference between a 3-man party of fighter/ranger/rogue and druid/cleric/wizard, after all. Depending on the tier, you may not NEED to decrease the challenge.

Failing that, here is my master list of "DMPC Success":
1. Create a support character. The DMPC is not meant to take the spotlight and outshine the heroes. Bard is good for this, as is Marshall and Healer. Fighter can work, if you have need of a frontliner, but should be more of a bodyguard. Even Monk can do a good job of support if you have a rogue in the party - the monk can flit around the battlefield, keeping the rogue's enemies flanked.

2. Have the DMPC appearance in the party make sense, not just some random guy they met. Maybe he supplies the quest, and demands to go with them. Maybe you are all on a mission from the Duke or something.

3. Give him personality, but NOT obnoxious and NOT too badass. I like to have my DMPCs, when they're necessary, be either grizzled veterans who can give advice to the party or a quiet guy who only really speaks up when something is important.

4. That said, the advice shouldn't be too good. Don't bring in DM info that the character wouldn't reasonably have.

5. MAKE SURE YOUR PLAYERS WANT A DMPC TAGGING ALONG.

ThunderCat
2011-09-04, 07:41 AM
You're on the right track with a buffer/healer. It's usually a good idea to have the DMPC stay in the background and fill whatever role the players don't want, especially when it entails making the players better. On the other hand, having a passive buffer/healer that never interacts with anyone can end up feeling a bit fake in regards to roleplaying, so sometimes it's better to go against the conventional wisdom of keeping the DMPC in the background, and give them a place in the story. Perhaps they're a relative of one of the PCs, or someone the PCs need to escort somewhere.

It's all about finding the balance of still making a believable character that doesn't just tag along with the PCs for no reason, without hogging too much the spotlight from the PCs. It also depends on the group, some groups are fine with a henchman/woman without too much background healing them without saying much, and others will appreciate the character having more background and involvement in the story.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 09:07 AM
Yeah, as far as the party goes, it won't be all tier 1s, which is why I have decided on the DMPC addition. I only know two of the three classes that will make it up, though, and one of them is tier 1. So far I know that I'll have a rogue and a wizard. The rouge player is experienced in 3.5e but has not played in a while due to lack of a group. The wizard player, my girlfriend, has never played 3.5e(but she HAS played older editions of D&D a lot..) but is a fast learner and disgustingly smart(Her IQ is above Einstine's according to modern IQ tests) so while she may make a few mistakes at first she will get the hang of things rather quickly and has had some limited 3.5e experience through videogames like Neverwinter Nights and me. The third player also has some experience, but I have no idea what he's going to play, though with the current party lineup I am guessing he'll go as some kind of melee class, hopefully something from TOB or a homebrew "fixed" melee class.

As for the DMPC, healer is too underpowered for my style of DMing, as is martial. Cloistered Cleric or perhaps Shugenja would be better for the general power level at which I set my games. Shugenja has the ideal balance point(Tier 3) but not so ideal flavor and cloistered cleric fits better in the setting but also is a bit too powerful, though since I am well-versed in clerics(one of my two favorite and most-used classes in the game, the other being Dread Necro) I know how to "tone down" their power to play nice and not steal the other PC's thunder.

Bard would also work well, but I have little-no experience with bards and as a result I don't really want to run one since the DMPC is there to shore up the weaknesses left by the lack of a 4th player. If I make the DMPC an opportunity to learn a new class they when I make mistakes with it the DMPC could become a liability...and the last thing I want is the party spending their resources on saving the DMPC time after time...

Serpentine
2011-09-04, 11:03 AM
Oh boy, here we go again...
The first few pages of the most recent DMPC debacle has some good advice (including from yours truly :smallwink:). If this hasn't gone down in a ball of flames, I'll post some more tomorrow.

For now, one question: what is it, exactly, that you're hoping to accomplish with your DMPC? Why are you including it, what problems are you trying to solve, etc?

EvilDM
2011-09-04, 12:07 PM
A few quick thoughts...

1. DMPC should always be at least 1 level lower then the lowest level PC.

2. DMPC should not have any stats over 15, and only 1-2 outside of the average range either way.

3. DMPC doesn't provide any plot info outside of the first encounter.

4. The DMPC doesn't have any plots formed around him or her.

5. The DMPC has no special equipment or spells.

6. DMPCs never do the talking or decision making. If forced to be a part of the decision making have each player roll a D20 + bonuses and the DMPC will agree with that person.

Just a few things that help prevent any sign of favoritism towards a DMPC, which even the best DMs can do at times.

Rannath
2011-09-04, 01:07 PM
You should probably try to set up your DMPC as a good solid seconadry character, that is: not terribly important, but the story still wouldn't be the same without him/her. A healer would fit in well here.(Example: the nurse from romeo and juliet)

OR you can set up the DMPC as fifth business. Completely un-important to the story except that he give JUST the perfect advice/help at one/a few spot(s). A bard would be good here. (example: Friar John is the messenger sent to deliver a letter to Romeo in Mantua explaining that Juliet is not actually dead.)

Beyond that, use the elite array (or standard if your players are using the elite array). And make the DMPCs backstory attached to one or more PC, just a minor role (Merlin had a mother, she was fairly important in his "origin story" but did she do anything else?).

Everything else I could mention is already here.

Nyarai
2011-09-04, 01:08 PM
The DM for my LGS game was faced with the same situation as you. So he made (or let me make, because he was busy) an NPC priest (PF sort of Cloistered Cleric). I thought up an interesting backstory for him, but it'll never be used. His job is just to cover some knowledge bases and leave the oracle free to take crunchier, smash spells without fear of TPK. Otherwise, you can hardly tell he's there. The DM doesn't particularly like the character (even forgot his name once), so there's no worry about favoritism.

Maybe ask your players what they want in a 4th man and go from there? Bard is basically just a can of buffs, and so long as he stays out of face skills, can be a perfectly subtle character. Incidentally, don't make this guy the face or the party leader. You'll feel dumb talking to yourself, and any players who wanted said roles will be sad because there's no way they could do the job better.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 01:36 PM
The reason I am turning to a DMPC was stated in the OP for all who asked why I am using one. If your lazy then I'll tell you the reason is due to me most likely having a less then ideal number of players. I HATE underpowered campaigns. I like plots wear the players get to punch out cthulu, not street thugs. My villains tend to have grand massive schemes with worldwide ramifications, I don't shy away from dangerous and powerful monsters ect...and with only 3 players who are not all playing tier 1 classes, I simply can't create the scale of epicness I go for without a DMPC, as a 3 person party would require a neutered/weakened campaign, and I just won't run a game that is underpowered...It's never been my style and never will be. Hence, since my chances of getting a 4th player look bleak my only other option beyond nerfing/weakening the campaign would be a DMPC, and despite the taboos of the latter it's still more attractive then the former for me.

As for class, Ideally I would want something like the shugenja, but without the oriental fluff. A non-martial divine caster with access to buffs and healing that's not as OP as the cleric...ideally a tier 3. Cloistered Cleric can fit the bill, but only if I only prepare spells that will help the party/not outshine anybody. As for bards, they are not an option, at all, as I have too little experience(As in never used one...ever, not even for an NPC.) with the class to at all play it effectively for the first time. Also, Healer is TOO underpowered for this, since, again, I don't weaken my campaigns and if the healer dose not die fast in one of my campaigns it will appear that they have plot armor, which is a sign of favoritism which is something I want to avoid.

Favored Soul sadly dose not work here as with medium armor plus weapon focus it's too martial for this. Marital is bad here because being aggressive and fighting in melee spotlights your character and I want the DMPC to have as little spotlighting as possible. I did hear that there was some kind of "Mystic" class that was like a sorc but for the cleric list instead of the wis/sorc list, but I have no idea what book it's from. If such a thing exists that would fill my needs quite nicely.

PersonMan
2011-09-04, 02:25 PM
Cloistered Cleric can fit the bill, but only if I only prepare spells that will help the party/not outshine anybody. As for bards, they are not an option, at all, as I have too little experience(As in never used one...ever, not even for an NPC.) with the class to at all play it effectively for the first time.

Perhaps a Bard 2/Cleric 3/MT? If you don't want to use early entry tricks, that'd be a Bard 4(or 5)/Cleric 3/MT, although it'd probably be more bard-y than you want.

Bard spells have a lot of buff/support, and you have spells known, so it's a small list to choose from, so lack of experience shouldn't be much of a problem there.

Bardic Music you can ignore(+1 IC won't be very useful after low levels, especially when competing with spells for standard actions) or use as a fight opener(a swift-action spell and standard action IC means +2 to some stuff for the whole fight) and little else.

If you don't want to do that, but aren't averse to a little homebrewing, you might want to switch out Bardic Music for a d8 hit die, to make them tougher(and less likely to provoke thoughts of plot armor, perhaps?).


Favored Soul sadly dose not work here as with medium armor plus weapon focus it's too martial for this. Marital is bad here because being aggressive and fighting in melee spotlights your character and I want the DMPC to have as little spotlighting as possible.

[Standard quip about 'marital' vs 'martial']

Well...Why not just ignore that? I mean, just have the character not wear heavier armor and prefer to not fight with weapons.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 02:44 PM
Having a favored soul ignore that would essentially make them the healer class without the bonuses to healing, and I already discussed why that dose not work. Mystic Theurge is doable, however, and something I never thought of. MT actually may work well here, since an MT would have lower level spells then the rest of the party casters and generally be a poor offensive caster but a supurb support character. I would not, however, use bard as my entry...as again, their just not my thing. I'd probably use cloistered cleric 2/sorc 2/MT X as my entry, picking mostly buffs and little-no offensive or battlefield control(That will be the wizard's job)spells on the sorc side. If I for some reason did decide to use bard, I'd DEFINITELY use your homebrew suggestion, as the main reason I've never played a bard, ever, is bardic music.(I HATE the fluff of using music to buff people and grant other useful effects....I just find the imagery of a bard singing or preforming mid-battle too silly and absurd for my tastes.).

Grendus
2011-09-04, 03:13 PM
I would tentatively suggest a sorcerer/druid/MT/Arcane Heirophant instead of sorc/cleric. Pick an animal companion with very high defenses and use him as a flanking buddy for the rogue, while picking out lots of buffs and the occasional debuff for your party. The party shouldn't mind you having such a powerful character if you're doing the god wizard schtick of turning them into hasted, large PC's with twice as many temporary hit points and blunt weapons that hit like they're the size of trees.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 03:22 PM
I want to stay away from druid because druid suffers from the same issue as favored soul....it will hog too much of the spotlight. Summons and animal companions can very easily steal the spotlight from melee and having minions is the last thing you want for a DMPC. Minions grab attention and put your character in the spotlight....and if a DMPC is in the spotlight your doing something wrong. So yeah, Sorc/Cloistered Cleric/MT is just better for this.

DeadManSleeping
2011-09-04, 03:42 PM
A DMPC can be as powerful or as awesome as you want, so long as they are less awesome than the PCs.

If you want to run a powerful campaign, make the PCs powerful. You don't need a DMPC for the PCs to be powerful.

Analytica
2011-09-04, 07:54 PM
My suggestion: Give your PCs Leadership as a bonus feat. Let them make sidekicks, henchmen, minions, servants, battle butlers, combat maids, or irritating rivals that follow them around. Let them make personalities for these characters. Then play them as NPCs according to what the players described.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 08:19 PM
Yeah, but leadership can only be taken at level 6, and also, the whole idea of the DMPC came to be because I thought it was the only way to make it so I did NOT have to neuter my campaign to make up for a lack of a 4th player. While DMPCs are taboo, they are the only way I can think of buffing a 3 person party up to the level needed for my campaigns without forcing everybody to be a tier 1 class. My balance point is usually around Tier 3 +, so a three person party of not all tier 1 classes will have some issues due to a lack of a 4th player. The DMPC was my way of essentially giving the party a "4th player" without actually having one, and is the only way I can think of for making up for the gap/lack of a 4th player other then lame, uber-cheesy crap like giving them overpowered custom magic items or making them all triple gestalts(as normal gestalt would make then an underpowered gestalt party...and, as I said, I don't nerf my games.) or something...

So I'll stick with my DMPC......though, I must ask...if I want to give them a "4th player" without overshadowing them would RP be a way to do that? Perhaps make the DMPC a servant/little sibling of one of the PCs who despite being roughly around their same power level dose not steal their thunder due to being basically totally obedient and/or subservient to said PC?

DiBastet
2011-09-04, 08:22 PM
I always make a cast of fellow adventurers that ma accompany the group in x or y adventures, always in context, of course. I do this both for leadership cohorts and npcs who are going to tag along for some adventures. In case the party needs one more person with them, there's always a cast of adventurers and mercenaries for them to find / invite / bribe / have to deal with.

Uncertainty
2011-09-04, 08:29 PM
I did hear that there was some kind of "Mystic" class that was like a sorc but for the cleric list instead of the wis/sorc list, but I have no idea what book it's from. If such a thing exists that would fill my needs quite nicely.

If It's not too late, the class you are referring to is the Mystic from the Dragonlance Campaign Setting book. It is pretty low-powered if I remember correctly, but it does learn divine spells in a similar manner to a Sorc.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-04, 08:54 PM
Thanks, I'll give it a look. Also, underpowered is a benefit here, not a drawback..as long as it can survive in a Teir 3+ balance point game it's fine by me as I don't want the DMPC stealing the PC's thunder.

Analytica
2011-09-04, 10:08 PM
So I'll stick with my DMPC......though, I must ask...if I want to give them a "4th player" without overshadowing them would RP be a way to do that? Perhaps make the DMPC a servant/little sibling of one of the PCs who despite being roughly around their same power level dose not steal their thunder due to being basically totally obedient and/or subservient to said PC?

Yes, that could work. Even more important than DMPC power level, I think, is having the PCs accept the NPC as someone who is part of the story they want to tell. The more it becomes "their" character, rather than the DM's, the less of a problem.

Warlawk
2011-09-04, 10:15 PM
So I'll stick with my DMPC......though, I must ask...if I want to give them a "4th player" without overshadowing them would RP be a way to do that? Perhaps make the DMPC a servant/little sibling of one of the PCs who despite being roughly around their same power level dose not steal their thunder due to being basically totally obedient and/or subservient to said PC?

Personally I would like to distance it a bit more than a sibling. Perhaps a younger cousin. You could go with a younger female cousin from that bad branch of the family that no one likes to talk about. Father was an abusive misogynist who beat her for any mistake and treated any women he encountered like dirt. This has left her with crippling self confidence issues, and she's basically a coward with little to no combat skills, but her childhood sadly left her able to take a bit of a beating. She had an epiphany and was touched by her god/goddess and ran away from home to follow the vision her god gave her. That vision was relatively non-specific, but detailed that if she was not with her cousin, something terrible would happen.

EDIT: Oh, and don't even worry about the 'dmpc stigmata', it's a mostly online phenomenon. There's no such issue with the groups I have played with, and by and large most groups I've known who did have a problem with DMPCs just flat out had a bad dm. I wouldn't worry yourself overly about it.

Serpentine
2011-09-05, 02:00 AM
Hokay, my advice, mostly copy-pasted straight from the last thread:

Make sure you know all of its abilities and mechanics well in advance, so you don't have to keep wasting time looking through the rules on your turn in combat.

I think, most of the time, a "follower" personality type would be preferable. The sort who will offer their thoughts if requested, but otherwise go with the group. Being the "face" of the party is probably a particularly bad idea. The "subordinate" idea suggested here is a good one. The possibilities there are near-endless, though... Could be a relative, or a criminal with a PC "parole officer" or similar, or a squire or page, or a ward, or a stray...

Give your character a minimum of spotlight - not none, but less than others, and never when someone else wants it.

Make sure you can completely divide the DMPC's IC knowledge from your own DM's OOC knowledge - and also, make sure your players know you're doing that. Stress that any information or ideas coming from the DMPC, is coming from the DMPC, not from you. Use it as a mouthpiece or cattleprod only sparingly, when the group's really stuck or wandering.

Don't grant your DMPC anything you wouldn't allow a player. If anything, be harsher on what it's allowed. Aim to be at least a bit less optimised than the rest of the party, and a step or two behind experience-wise - not necessarily always a full level behind, but it should be the last one to level up most of the time.

The DMPC should be there to assist the PCs and help them look extra-cool. A healer/buffer should be a good addition. Always be fair, and don't forget the game is about the players and their PCs.

I'd say "don't step on any toes", but my own DMPC was kept in the game at my players' request partly because they like the interactions between her and a similar PC... I guess, just talk to your players about what role they'd like the DMPC to take in the group.

That's probably the most important thing. Communicate with your players. Be aware of their preferences and any complaints, and be willing to be flexible.

Grendus
2011-09-05, 10:54 AM
If you decide to go with the theurge and don't mind using wizard, a Cloistered Cleric 3/Wizard 3 could be the full wizard's apprentice (say he got kicked out of temple school for some blasphemy... claiming divine and arcane magics were the same is a good one and explains the theurge route). That gets you an underling role, a good reason to be with the party, and a reason why the character would shy away from combat. Load him up with buffs and curatives and the party won't mind him tagging along at all, provided he isn't irritating.

Sucrose
2011-09-05, 12:55 PM
It's been mentioned a couple of other times, but if you are really set on a DMPC:

-Talk to your players. If they don't want a DMPC, drop the issue. Nothing you do with your DMPC will make them accept the DMPC if they aren't okay with one in the first place. You can let them know that you intend to give them a campaign balanced around four players, regardless of number of PCs, since that is what you apparently intend to do. If they don't want the DMPC, maybe consider advising them to use the excessive treasure (if they only have 3 PCs, then they'll presumably be one-third over the personal wealth that they'd otherwise have in your campaign) to acquire NPC hirelings, potions, and other support services.

If they do accept a DMPC:

-Make it clear that this character is more along the lines of a free hireling or a secondary character than 'your character.' As Serpentine has said, it is crucial for them not to consider the DMPC your mouthpiece.
-Avoid having the DMPC determine the party's actions. The DMPC shouldn't be the party leader, and ideally shouldn't be the face (if they are the face, then try to get some method of telepathy, so that they can defer to the party's ideas on how to approach someone, and essentially just serve as some sort of skill-points-onna-stick).
-The DMPC shouldn't directly impact the course of battle, preferably shouldn't even have the capacity. Buffing and healing, as you've considered, are good here.
-Give the DMPC a likeable personality. Since it's supposed to be secondary, that usually means being supportive, and fairly positive-minded, but presumably you know what pleases your players more than I, so that's the extent of the advice I can give on that matter.

Tyndmyr
2011-09-06, 07:23 AM
Balancing encounters for the number of players you have is not "neutering" them. You need to do this pretty much regardless of the number of players, as not all four player groups are alike.

You can totally have an epic campaign with three PCs.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-06, 07:56 AM
If your having an intrigue campaign with little-no fighting or a horror campaign wear the best answer to most encounters is "run or hide" then yes. However, if you plan on having a strong combat element a campaign balanced for three players will be WAY less epic then one balanced for four, because encounters will have to be weaker/easier to defeat then encounters for a four player campaign, and therefore smaller in scale and thus, less epic. That's why I'm resorting to the DMPC.

Anyway, your not going to sway me otherwise since I have already decided I'm going to have to stick a DMPC in there because I don't think my players want a low-no combat game focused on intrigue rather then fighting, though I suppose I could always ask them if they would be ok with a more political, less combat-focused game? Horror may be another option, but it's hard to do well.

Also, my players are ok with the DMPC and one of them has used them herself when she was a DM(though it was for AD&D 1e) so they are all fine with me using one.

Tyndmyr
2011-09-06, 09:12 AM
If your having an intrigue campaign with little-no fighting or a horror campaign wear the best answer to most encounters is "run or hide" then yes. However, if you plan on having a strong combat element a campaign balanced for three players will be WAY less epic then one balanced for four, because encounters will have to be weaker/easier to defeat then encounters for a four player campaign, and therefore smaller in scale and thus, less epic. That's why I'm resorting to the DMPC.

No, the PCs just need to be approximately two levels higher. You can still use the same epic encounters and enemies. Sure, there'll be a little tweaking to fit the party, but thats ALWAYS the case.


Anyway, your not going to sway me otherwise since I have already decided I'm going to have to stick a DMPC in there because I don't think my players want a low-no combat game focused on intrigue rather then fighting, though I suppose I could always ask them if they would be ok with a more political, less combat-focused game? Horror may be another option, but it's hard to do well.

I always support asking players what kind of campaign they want, as a general rule. Feedback is a wonderful thing. With any luck, they'll toss you plenty of material and ideas to fold in to whatever you have going.

If you believe (and they believe) they need another player, I suggest using the hireling route...unless they're fond of leadership. Cohorts are also viable options, if that's what they need. Regardless, have the PCs mostly control this character(s). Hell, they don't even need to have this extra character the entire campaign. They can collect extra people along the way...that's a pretty common trope in high fantasy.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-07, 08:00 AM
Cohorts and hirelings don't work because two reasons.. A) They are generally several levels below the party, which means they won't replace a 4th player but rather just act as meat shields/disposable mooks...basically just glorified summons and B) They do not start off with the party, they must be obtained via a feat or gold, which is bad because it means for a short period they will be a three person party, which is totally unacceptable because three people= WEAKER ENCOUNTERS and that's one thing I want to avoid at all costs. A three person campaign can NEVER, EVER be epic in scale because the encounters will be weaker and weaker means smaller-scale and thus less epic. You can't go on believable save the world adventures(As there is no way that the underpowered, poorly built not so big bad evil guy with pathetically weak minions could believably take over anything, let alone a world with tier 1 casters.) with a three person party, and save the world is the minimum scale requirements for my campaigns....save the kingdom is just not good enough for me.

The only other options I can think of is to have the PCs control and make the DMPC or to have them all play two characters. These are both problematic, though, as with the former there needs to be an organized way to decide who gets to control them at which times and the latter would be difficult on the players. I suppose I could ask all my players if one of them dose not mind playing a second character and if everybody else is fine with one of them running two characters....but I am not sure if even that is ideal, though I suppose it would be better then a DMPC.

Tiki Snakes
2011-09-07, 08:26 AM
The best advice I can give is to stop thinking in terms of DMPC.
Do not make a DMPC.

If you must, simply include an NPC in the Party who happens to be a similarly leveled adventurer, or even an old friend of the party. Whatever. The N is important, as you shouldn't be lured into considering it to be Your PC at any point or for any reason.

If you can keep this distinction in mind, then you should be alright.
One suggestion I do remember was to go with the Guest Star Slot method. The party is 3 members in size, plus the relevant guest-star NPC of the adventure. Amongst other things, the guest-star method keeps the risk of fixating upon the NPC at a minimum, as well as providing a good source of potential exposition and reinforcing of plot hooks. It also means you can gleefully murder the Guest-star if and when appropriate as well as tailor the fourth-wheel propping up the party to the kind of challenges they are likely to be facing or adjust to problems they seem to have been having in previous arcs.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-09-07, 08:31 AM
That idea has an issue, though. I can NEVER, EVER at any time have the party be three people or less, so unless they get a new NPC guest star every adventure(which, IMO, would be rather ridiculous) then that method won't work.

Tyndmyr
2011-09-07, 08:40 AM
A three person campaign can NEVER, EVER be epic in scale

I am sorry to inform you that this is dramatically wrong, but it is. I have played in three person parties at epic level, fighting gods and doing all sorts of crazy things.

I've also played in a nine PC/twelve character party that felt like we were marginally more competent dirt farmers. Well, for a while, I played in that.


That idea has an issue, though. I can NEVER, EVER at any time have the party be three people or less, so unless they get a new NPC guest star every adventure(which, IMO, would be rather ridiculous) then that method won't work.

Look, let's not focus on the DMPC. Your problem is that you only have three players, and are worried that this will make your campaign insufficiently epic. THAT is the problem.

Work on solving that, ideally not by introducing additional problems. Don't jump to the conclusion of a "solution" that also requires you to ask for advice...go directly to the root of the issue.

El Dorado
2011-09-07, 03:47 PM
Our group's had good look with a variety of archetypes. . . clerics, wizards, fighters. Support/buff tends to work the best so as to not overshadow the PCs in combat. There can also be great roleplaying opportunities between PCs and DMPC. The best example I have is when our party rescued a DMPC cleric in a 2e campaign. She was quiet and unassuming but provided valuable support to the group. She leveled along with the PCs, and as she gained power, she became more outspoken, doing her best to help the party make compassionate and honorable decisions (in Ravenloft no less). The character eventually wed the PC paladin.

Serpentine
2011-09-08, 12:40 AM
In any case, you've gotten not insubstantial advice on running a DMPC/assistant character.