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Hzurr
2008-12-17, 01:00 PM
So a player in my group is bothering me about creating a new character. This will be his 3rd character thusfar in the campaign, and neither of his previous 2 have died, he simply got bored with them. Now, in his defense, his current character isn't really working like he had hoped, so he's a bit frustrated.

However, I'm starting to see a pattern: that this guy gets easily bored with his characters. This is only exacerbated by the fact that every time a new book comes out, he sees a new class or ability that he wants to try (his new character that he wants to make is a Beastmaster Ranger from Martial Power). I have a sinking feeling that when the PHB2 hits next year (note that this is all 4E), he's immediately going to want to change to a new class or race from that book.

Now, I recognize that sometimes people aren't happy with their characters, or things didn't work out the way they wanted, so they decide to change things up. However, I recently received an email from this player outlining his character, and it seems...very schtick heavy. All of his characters are, in fact. He'll focus on one thing, and after a while that thing gets boring. He sometimes has good RPing ideas, but all of his characters are basically him in an alternate form, and although he'll try to do something different, they all end up pretty much the same regardless of what the character actually is (his current character we had to remind several times that he was a cleric of a LG diety, and would not do things like slaughter enemies who have surrendered, or threaten and terrify beggers).

*Sigh* I'm rambling. but my end question is this: How do I get this player to create a character that he'll enjoy long term, so he won't simply get bored with it and go for a new shiny class as soon as he sees it?

esorscher
2008-12-17, 01:27 PM
I have the same problem. Here's how I get around it--luckily, I'm the DM, and I also am a player in another group:

Give him the opportunity to make a bunch of different characters, trying out different features and everything. Tell him that he gets to use three, throughout the course of the campaign, and can only bring them in when the others die. Use the others as NPCs.

This way, he gets the freedom to experiment with making other characters, and then once he's made them, he moves on. At least that's the way I am. My games have a lot of NPCs with levels in player classes, because I like to try fun things.

Like a fire gnome, with a few metamagic feats that allowed him to do 10d6 damage with a single fireball spell at 6th level. Or a Darfellan Barbarian, who at first level, had something like +26 to breaking objects when he raged. Or a Gruwaar rogue/ expert (generic class, not NPC class) who had a massive bonus to Sleight of Hand, and could lift things in combat with the Cutpurse feat. Or my default, a charger, who is really only useful in the first round of combat.

They're all one-trick ponies, and what it sounds like is that your player makes specialized characters.

Otherwise, encourage him to play a character that has many aspects, so that he's less likely to get bored.

VerdugoExplode
2008-12-17, 01:27 PM
You're best bet would be to talk to him first. Tell him that you'd like him to pick a class and stick with it. Be there when he makes the character and help him to flesh it out so that it is something you both agree on. It's almost always better to talk to the person about a problem than simply taking actions against them.

If you don't necessarily mind his switching you could always make his characters only interested in helping the party for a particular goal and leave shortly thereafter. This may present a problem in that other players may wonder why they can't do the same.

You could also tell him that each new character he starts will be a level below the previous one. While this isn't necessarily the nicest solution sometimes it's the only one that works.

Another_Poet
2008-12-17, 01:31 PM
Is it really a problem? If he can provide a good in-game reason for his characters to come and go, I'd just let him. If he's not a big roleplayer he can always go on a suicide charge to get rid of an unwanted character. It's dramatic, it usually helps the rest of the team and they don't mind looting his body afterward.

If it is a problem, I can give you an example of how I've seen it handled, because I've been that player.

My first character was a Ninja (3.5) and in about 3 sessions I realised that the Ninja class was.. well, boring, and kind of weak, and not very ninja-like. Plus we had another one in the party already. So my character just left one night and I rolled up a new one.

Next was a hobgoblin paladin. He tried so hard to be good at heart.... but all he could was be good in action, and secretly crave blood. He supressed his cravings but it made him very morbid, viewing life as one big cruel test. He was reckless in battle, secretly hoping to be killed but always lived. Eventually the whole idea of the character seemed kind of... sad to me, so I had him leave the party.

My DM felt the same way you feel - I was going through a new character every 4 sessions. So how'd he fix it? He just told me.

"You can retire the paladin if you want, but your next character is going to be your permanent character. You can't keep switching."

"Why?" I asked.

"because it's hard for me to plan and prepare things. Sorry dude." No argument allowed.

Wake up call. I agreed, and he even let me re-roll my stats a couple of times in char gen as I was rolling low and he didn't want me to be unhappy with the new character. I ended up with a bard that I really liked, who kicked butt with a bow. I used him for the rest of the campaign.

So, that's what I'd suggest. Just tell the guy it's bothering you and that you'll let him switch but only if he promises to stick with the character for a while. Not forever... maybe just until the quest is over/bad guy is defeated/whatever. And yes, it will help if you let him reroll stats if they're not very high, because he'll know anything else he rolls up later won't have such good numbers.

Artanis
2008-12-17, 01:39 PM
That sounds a lot like me, and like esorscher, I am the exact same way. His idea isn't bad, and having ADHD myself, I can provide insight that may help as well.

At any given time, there's at least one or two character concepts rattling around in my head, fleshing themselves out whether I like it or not. There's so many neat things up there that even though I love my current character long-term, there's always a couple characters that have already been made. They may not be down on paper or statted out, but the character is just as real as the one I'm playing at the time.

I've found that when that happens, making the character in the traditional sense of the word - writing it up - gets it out of my head and onto paper. I guess sorta like venting frustrations after a stressful day: it gets it to where it isn't eating you. Once the character is out of my head and onto paper, it's there and the concept isn't so loud anymore. It will always be there, and my brain will always be thinking up neat little things to add to the character, but it's no longer distracting me from how cool my current one is.

If he's like me, trying to get him to stop making new characters altogether won't do any good. It'll probably just hurt, in fact. Talk to him, make sure that it really is just boredom and not actually an active dislike of how the character is playing. Ask him if there's any neat stuff he's thought up to add to his current character, and ask him to see if he can stick with his current one for a while. It's very important to try to get his current character involved. This will probably require more effort than with other players but if he's busy thinking of what his current character is doing, where it's going, what sorts of neat things he can add, then the very same thing making him bored might be turned towards the one he's player.


Of course, your milage will vary. This is just my experience as a player who seems to be like the one you describe.



You're best bet would be to talk to him first. Tell him that you'd like him to pick a class and stick with it. Be there when he makes the character and help him to flesh it out so that it is something you both agree on. It's almost always better to talk to the person about a problem than simply taking actions against them.

If you don't necessarily mind his switching you could always make his characters only interested in helping the party for a particular goal and leave shortly thereafter. This may present a problem in that other players may wonder why they can't do the same.

You could also tell him that each new character he starts will be a level below the previous one. While this isn't necessarily the nicest solution sometimes it's the only one that works.
Talking with him is very important. But if the guy is like me, helping him to switch characters will do nothing more than make sure this continues, and punishing him for doing what he's going to do whether he likes it or not is liable to make things worse.

It's important to realize that, if this guy really is ADD like me, then he isn't being a jackass, he's being imaginative. He's dreaming up cool things, and he'll continue to dream up cool things no matter what you say or do. You can't stop that. The best thing to do is to work out a way to deal with it, to let his imagination continue to run wild, but help him get that imagination turned towards ends that are supposedly more "constructive".

ken-do-nim
2008-12-17, 01:45 PM
Playing one character for an entire campaign represents a serious commitment.

I really like the old-school campaigns I play in where everyone has a stable of characters and swaps them in and out each session. If you're playing 2 characters a session, rotating 3 characters into the mix isn't too hard to do.

This approach doesn't work if you allow players to make characters that start at high level, because then there is no reason to ever build up multiple characters at the same time. In a campaign where you know a replacement character comes in at level 1, it behooves you to make sure you have a fallback character that isn't too far behind the party average. It adds an interesting element to player strategy: play just 1 character who can get all the xp and hope he survives, or play multiple characters who of course will have to split the xp but then your eggs aren't all in one basket.

Tacoma
2008-12-17, 02:00 PM
Dark Sun has a mechanic where everyone made up three characters. You chose one to play in each adventure and could switch when the adventure was over. When an active character gained a level, a side character of your choice gained a level.

We made a couple hosue rules to prevent breakage:

1: Between times the other two were off doing something else and were completely unavailable. You can't have a side character with specialized skills come in for a few minutes then leave.

2: The level gain thing has potential for abuse in that you could level up a Thief and put the bonus level on a Barbarian (who requires more than four times the XP to level up). So we said your bonus level went to the lower-level of the two side characters.

3: If one character dies, you can bring in a side character for the rest of the adventure. If you permanently retire a character (it won't get raised, etc) you can make up a new one with the same level as the one who left.

I used this system to represent a larger adventuring group whose members shifted around and did other things while the "main group" went out adventuring. This included training, researching spells, making magic items, setting up businesses or strongholds, etc. So the players could handle multiple characters with different goals but we didn't have to handwave 3 months of off time.

Unfortunately, maybe, most players just chose one character after a few sessions and stuck with it. In your case that's the goal with your indecisive player.

Also I second the poster who said to just bring up how it's a pain to have this player change characters all the time (in private of course), and to please try sticking with one.

Another option might be to let him hire on a level 1 henchman (just one at a time) who he has to give XP to if he wants him to level up. But if he wants to try out a new class or race, he can switch out henchmen. This may not satisfy him since he really wants the fully-realized character at the party's level, not a chump with level 1 abilities.

Epinephrine
2008-12-17, 02:10 PM
Hmm, I also have the "many ideas" problem, but I make the characters as NPCs for a campaign I'll run. If it's just about playing with character creation, developing ideas, and so on, have him do it for his own project? You have to make sure that you don't focus on these characters - the story is about the PCs after all! But sometimes the players seem to like the fact that many of the NPCs have a past, and the degree of development they have. So it's win-win, I get to scribble out all my ideas, they get badguys/allies/random shopkeepers with some depth.

If it's that he doesn't like his current character, look at the retraining options? Sometimes all it takes is retraining a few feats/skills, maybe a different dip, and the character feels like a new one.

lisiecki
2008-12-17, 06:29 PM
I have gamer ADD bad.
This was kept in check by the fact that for MANY years, i was going through 2-3 characters per session, as they tended to die very, very quickly.

On the other hand this has resulted in me having no connection my characters what so ever, other than as a series of numbers with accents.

I have a psycoligast friend who thinks thats why i do horrible horrible things in RPG's. I play them with all ID, because i have no empithy for what there doing.

I on the other hand point out
"Letting the children of the guy i just killed can not possibly work out well for me, and there unique deaths will serve as a warning for others"

Tacoma
2008-12-17, 06:39 PM
That's just a translation after-game of your instinct "there is more to kill".

lisiecki
2008-12-17, 07:00 PM
That's just a translation after-game of your instinct "there is more to kill".

Ya thats what i always thought.
The irony was, that the GM really seemed to have it out for good themed PCs
Paladins, good preists, friendly bards.

It was when I was playing Vlad level monsters that i survived the longest.

Twas not lack of empathy
just Pavlovian Conditioning.

I eventually broke the GM of the habbit when i started making new characters everytime combat brokeout

Tacoma
2008-12-17, 07:18 PM
Someone kind of pointed this one out. I used to be guilty of this. I would make a "backup character" and get it all ready in case my current one died. This way I wouldn't waste time out of game either missing parts or slowing everything up.

Then I started to fancy my backup character more than my current one.

Poor tactical choices followed by a refusal for Raise Dead ensued.

And then? I make up a backup character of course!

Hal
2008-12-17, 07:57 PM
A few options:

You can take the Final Fantasy 6 approach: Lots and lots of characters, and the players have the option of swapping out characters are certain junctions. This can be dependent on your campaign, though. Perhaps they work for an army or mercenary company.

Another possibility is that you put together situations where the players take control of a completely different party. Perhaps it's a competing party trying to get that MacGuffin first, or a team of antagonists working for the BBEG. Or maybe it's just a prelude that the players will have the option of seeing from their unique perspective. For example, a team of characters invading a dungeon to get some treasure, but dying periodically throughout. A thousand years later, guess where the main characters find treasure?

I like option two the best. It gives your players a "main" character that they'll develop and be attached to (hopefully), but give them something different to break up the monotony every so often.

Mark Hall
2008-12-17, 08:40 PM
I was scared this was about me. I have had 3 characters in Hzurr's game... but the previous 2 have died (and my 3rd seems determined to do the same).

About the Eldest Brother... don't know what to say. I don't see a big problem with letting him switch, but then I'm not the one who has to come up with increasingly tenuous ways to bring in new characters.

Golden-Esque
2008-12-17, 10:27 PM
So a player in my group is bothering me about creating a new character. This will be his 3rd character thusfar in the campaign, and neither of his previous 2 have died, he simply got bored with them. Now, in his defense, his current character isn't really working like he had hoped, so he's a bit frustrated.

However, I'm starting to see a pattern: that this guy gets easily bored with his characters. This is only exacerbated by the fact that every time a new book comes out, he sees a new class or ability that he wants to try (his new character that he wants to make is a Beastmaster Ranger from Martial Power). I have a sinking feeling that when the PHB2 hits next year (note that this is all 4E), he's immediately going to want to change to a new class or race from that book.

Now, I recognize that sometimes people aren't happy with their characters, or things didn't work out the way they wanted, so they decide to change things up. However, I recently received an email from this player outlining his character, and it seems...very schtick heavy. All of his characters are, in fact. He'll focus on one thing, and after a while that thing gets boring. He sometimes has good RPing ideas, but all of his characters are basically him in an alternate form, and although he'll try to do something different, they all end up pretty much the same regardless of what the character actually is (his current character we had to remind several times that he was a cleric of a LG diety, and would not do things like slaughter enemies who have surrendered, or threaten and terrify beggers).

*Sigh* I'm rambling. but my end question is this: How do I get this player to create a character that he'll enjoy long term, so he won't simply get bored with it and go for a new shiny class as soon as he sees it?

I think your player may have a long-lost brother in a friend of mine. In one of our earliest campaigns, he made a Paladin when I made a Wizard. I was knocked unconscious as the side effect of a bad roll on a half-orc barbarian's part (typical 'Weapon flied out of your hand and hits poor guy square on the forehead' moment). So Mr. Paladin picks Mr. Wizard up and, with the rest of the party, heads for a retreat (we were escaping from a slave stockades where we met up). However, the warden gets in the way, and the Paladin has two options. Put the Wizard down and fight, or try to run through. My friend chose 'Hurl your frail wizard ally into oncoming mobs, causing more internal bleeding and little to no effect'. Needless to say, Murkey and Lurkey (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0415.html) stole his Paladin colors that day (day one of our adventure I might add). Instead of seeking redemption, he took the easy way out. He transferred his credits from Paladin University to Fighter College. Went from Lawful Good Alignment to Chaotic Neutral, and continued to harass the party for the rest of the campaign, until his non-dramatic death by drowning.

The point of the story? Lawful Good is really hard for some people to play, which is one of your points. Some people don't want to follow rules and regulations in a game; they figure they do that every day, so why make a character that follows rules? They don't see the fun in being the Hero. Perhaps your friend was like that with his Cleric, but from what I'm reading, this is my opinion.

Your friend has attachment issues. No, not to his mother! Get lost Freudians >_>. He seems to have issues attaching to his characters. Now, different Dungeon Masters will tell you different things, but I personally believe that you tend to play more realistically if you can establish that key link with your character. Not only does it improve your role playing, but it makes your character more believable and it helps you to enjoy the game a little bit more. Take my Wizard in the above scenario for example. I got so into him, that I fleshed out a monstrous back story for him and even started a recap blog in a 'last week, on ...' style format. And guess what? My Wizard died within one round of the Fighter. We were the only two to die on that mission, so it wasn't like our meat shield was overrun so we bit the dust. This is what happened.

'Mr. Chaotic Neutral charges in with no concern for others "I'mma gonna rip up spiders!" The spiders demolish a wall and the bricks bury the Fighter in a shallow pool of water, about knee deep. Mr. Fighter is drowning. Mr. Wizard, seeing whats going on gets ready to summon a celestial hound to hep dig up Mr. Fighter, but he's not close enough to actually summon the creature to the point where it could move and still preform a standard action. So Mr. Wizard runs up, and a spider gets an attack of opportunity. Hit. Mr. Wizard rolled a Natural 1 on his Fortitude Save against the Venom and died (gogo 4 Constitution ...). Next round, Mr. Fighter drowned and died.

Now, Mr. Wizard and Mr. Fight fought. A lot. Our party was pretty much a High School clique stereotype feist. We had a jock (Fighter), a nerd (Wizard), an activist / extremist / feminist (druid), a preppy cheerleader (cleric), a social outcast (psion), 'that guy everyone likes'(ranger), and a drug abuser (barbarian). However, at their deaths, Mr. Fighter died sticking to his same old, boring, stereotypical "Chaotic Neutral means I'm crazy" mentality while Mr. Wizard had a revelation and put his own dislikes aside and tried to save his teammate.

In the end, people talk about my Wizard more then my friend's Fighter because he was a memorable character. He knew (or pretended to know) everything, while managing to be constantly knocked unconscious (not my doing, admittedly ...). Regardless, I had a strong idea of what my Wizard would be like, things he would do. Things he wouldn't do.

The best thing you can do as a Dungeon Master is remind your players of this (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0490.html). The fact that, while celestial and other pure embodiments of alignment are easy to categorize people aren't in real life and shouldn't be in Dungeons and Dragons. Your Evil character isn't beyond doing a good act solely because all his other actions are evil, and your good characters aren't beyond doing some horrible because they may see it that the end justifies the means.

Once your friend's characters are more believable, he'll like them better as a whole.

Also, it helps to have an idea of what you want, and for your character to match the story. For example, we decided on doing an ocean-based campaign, so I made my character, Aaron Shepard, and I hated him at first. I picked Fighter / Sorcerer for a seafaring adventure, and not only was heavy armor a bad idea on two accounts (Arcane Spell Failure / Swimming Penalty), but I could not for the life of me find a prestige class I liked or could I find any water-aligned spells to make him the Hydromance I envisioned. My character wasn't at all what I wanted to be, so I found myself not caring so much about Aaron's welfare. However, when my DM was reading through some source books, he found the perfect feat for the job. Spell Thematics. Allowed me to make every spell I cast look like something else. Force Wave became Tidal Wave. Mage Hand became watery and translucent. Mage Armor conjured a water shell. I went from being a cheap knock-off of a water domain cleric to being a water-manipulating sorcerer.

So yeah, figure out where he wants to go with this character. What does he want him to be able to do. Try to keep him away from cheep knock-offs of specific characters. A bad character will be a carbon-copy of Luke Skywalker or Roy Greenhilt. A great character will take aspects of multiple characters, as well as aspects of yourself and an aspect unique to him or her. Aaron, for example, is a really nice guy who's great at sailoring. He's live his life on the open seas. However, he originally was from a fishing family, and he had to be snuck out of his own home when his magicaphobic father found out that his sorcerer blood was blooming. In a rage, Aaron's father murdered his mother in front of his eyes and his older brother. Aaron's spent his life away from his father, his guilt over leaving churning and the question of what happened to his brother gnawing at his consciousness. Of course, when an Assassin was hired to bring Aaron to his father alive during the campaign via the guise of a duel, the party intervened and got to see some of Aaron's more ... nasty side. The interrogation ended after 15 minutes with the assassin's head cracked open on the floor. While not motivated by vengeance, Aaron is quickly and easily influenced by his hatred of his father to the point where his entire persona changes.

Pick it apart; you can find pieces of other characters in there. For one, I took the lax sailor bit from Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece. His drive for Vengeance? Indigo Monty of course (except 'Father, you killed my mother. Prepare to die.'). There are tons of Hydromancers in fiction too. He dual wields cutlasses as another factor. Keep stuff like this in mind when you're helping your friend make his character. Steal from a bunch of people, not just one person :P.

Hm, any other long, rambling tips I can give you to make him not quit his character? Well, if he's really bad at being a dynamic person, help him. I'm doing research for my own campaign, and I stumbled arcoss this (http://www.roleplaynexus.com/flaws.html) website, which has a lovely variant on Flaws from Unearthed Arcana (3.5). The idea is that no one is perfect, so give your character penalties for being him or her. The trade off is, for every two Flaws you take the character gets a bonus Feat. If you also look, some Flaws have "DM activation" effects. It turns the story into a game for the Dungeon Master too, and adds an additional challenge for the players. I took the system, changed up somethings I didn't like, added a bunch of DM Activations to most flaws, and created a system I liked. The general idea is that no one can predict everything, and a player isn't going to mess up willingly in a Dungeon most of the time. Flaws add a shred of realism to that by placing some things out of the player's control. Some people are naturally clumsy, they don't choose to fall down the stairs in full-plate, alerting every guard in the tower :P.

But yeah. I'm rambling. Sorry. I'm only trying to help! >.< If there's one thing I want to stress, it's this. Make a character your friend's character, not George Lucas' character or whatever translated into DnD.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-12-18, 09:00 AM
I've found that when that happens, making the character in the traditional sense of the word - writing it up - gets it out of my head and onto paper. I guess sorta like venting frustrations after a stressful day: it gets it to where it isn't eating you. Once the character is out of my head and onto paper, it's there and the concept isn't so loud anymore. It will always be there, and my brain will always be thinking up neat little things to add to the character, but it's no longer distracting me from how cool my current one is.

QFT

I am very much like this too, but I also DM most of the time so I can constantly "try out" my character concepts when DMing. Don't try to stifle his creativity, but encourage him to draft up a bunch of different characters and keep them in a file. Next time you start up a new game (or his current character dies) ask him to pull one out that he'd like to try.

This keeps his compulsive side distracted, and gives him a clear path for actually using one of his new characters. If he's like me, he'll get bored with most of the characters he drafts and will only have a couple that he'll ever use.