member, 137 posts
Wed 29 May 2019
at 09:23
Taking over existing characters?
I sometimes see ads for games looking for new players to take over characters whose players left.

This just gives me questions:

Players: Do you look at these? If you've taken them, how's it worked out for you?

(I never have, but only because the ads were looking for something *super* specific- not 'we have a spot for a female rogue', but "the character you'll be playing is a female rogue who lost her left hand in an accident involving gnomish clockwork and has these exact character relationships..." kind of things.)

GMs: If you've done this, how's it worked out? Any tips?
 member, 596 posts
Wed 29 May 2019
at 09:57
Taking over existing characters?
As a player, it really depends on how long the character has been in the game.  If there's 1000+ posts to go through to catch up on what the character has done, how they've interacted with the other characters, and to get a feel for how the character has been portrayed in terms of personality, motivations, etc that can be a real challenge that isn't always worth doing.

However a character with a bit less baggage can be a great way to get into a game without having to crunch out the initial generation of a character, go through establishing relationships to other characters and the plot, etc, etc.

It can also be an interesting challenge because you are trying to execute a very specific idea.  You're not just a "female rogue" but you're a very specific female rogue, who happened to loose a hand to a gnomish device (and now has that as a motivation which colors her dealings with gnomes and their devices) and who likes this person, loves this other one, and secretly hates that one.

It's not everybody's cup of tea, of course, however it can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

That said, having done it a couple times, sometimes the character you're taking over is a mess.  Maybe the way they were portrayed was unrealistic or highly irrational, or maybe mechanically they're not actually correct and bizzare choices have been made.  In those cases it's often worth talking it over with the GM to try and get some additional insight, or to just get some consent to re-work the character as needed.  It can make for a rockier transition between players but ultimately the goal is for everybody to have fun and if you can't do that in someone else's shoes (and you don't have the ability to rebuild the shoes to be more comfy for you) it's good to get that fact out there sooner rather than later.

Luckily, in all the cases where I've gotten into a game via that route it has more or less worked out and been a good experience.  It is a very specific type of play you're typically engaging in when you do it.  Still, that shouldn't always discourage people from giving such advertisements a look.  Not every replacement character has a novella of history attached to them.  Some only have a handful of In Character posts (if that) and are mostly a blank slate ready for you to start making your own marks on.
 member, 1614 posts
Wed 29 May 2019
at 10:57
Taking over existing characters?
  when I first started out  gaming, I would take spots. It was  sort of   a challenge  to bring those  characters   to life  while staying  in their form.

 Now?  I don't  bother..  I have  played  many decades..  these waning years  are going tp  be spent  playing  my characters as  I try to bend them to  fit a game.

 it comes  down to how fast you want to get into the game, and how much you want to  'be your own' character
 member, 85 posts
Wed 29 May 2019
at 12:25
Taking over existing characters?
I took over a character one time, and it turned out to be one of my favorite characters to play. Admittedly, it was a game that I already had a friend playing in, and not just a random ad that I spotted, so there's that. Still, it was an awesome character, of a class that I would never have made for myself, so it gave me a new experience I wouldn't have otherwise had. I've also played a few characters that were previously background NPCs for other PCs that let me dip my toe into a pond I wouldn't have otherwise touched yet turned out to be great fun, but I suppose that's not really 'taking over'.

A few of my games are often shopping for replacement characters - they're long-running games, and RPoL attrition being what it is, sometimes there are just characters that need another warm body running them to make it easier on the GM. Sometimes it's a case of 'We can only take a new player if they take over this existing character because of where we are in the story', too, so random RTJs that come in get pointed in the 'replacement player' direction.

I've seen it done really well. I've seen it done really badly. I've seen one poor character that went through THREE players before finding one that would stay in him and handle him okay. I think the challenge is always finding out 'why did the previous owner leave?'. If it's because they borked up their character's relationships with the other PCs, well... that's going to be problematic and/or no fun to take over and play. (Unless you get other players that are willing to handwave a 'this never happened' with regards to previous character interactions, which I personally disagree with but that's another story...) If it's because the player just stopped having time to play, it's much easier.

The one caveat I would put out there, for players, is to be careful about just how -much- of "your own stamp" you try to force into an existing character, particularly if it's one that has history in the game. I've seen more than one character ruined because the player that took them over just went too far off the deep end trying to be "different" from the previous player (which in my mind is really the antithesis of what you should be doing when you take over an existing role - much like a recasting in Hollywood, it would be most ideal if the audience never noticed the shift) and made the character just so freaking strange that the other PCs could no longer relate to it.

Also, try not to drastically change appearances, because it's weird. It's one thing if the blonde you adopted suddenly decides to try out being a redhead (at least in a setting where hair dye is a thing), but if a diminutive and slightly geeky character suddenly becomes a smokin' hot supermodel through portrait and description photo changes, well, it's weird... and is one of those things that makes all the other players go 'I would have interacted with this character differently all along if they'd been like this, but they weren't', and then it just kind of borks up the interaction history.

Think of what's there as a pond - throw a few rocks in to make some little ripples, and it's okay, but don't dump an entire truckload of gravel in all at once.

As a GM, I understand letting players know that 'Hey, Joe Bob is under new management', particularly if you have a game where there's a lot of OOC communication going on. As a player, though, I think that the most ideal situation is when the replacement player is indistinguishable from the original. Obviously, that works better when it's a character that's had minimal impact on the story to that point, and probably should be limited to those sorts of characters. It's going to be almost impossible to take a Major Story Character that's been being played for years and have someone new take it over - that's best left to the GM - but it's pretty simple to slip a new player into a Supporting Character role that's only had a bit of a cameo to date.

This message was last edited by the user at 12:29, Wed 29 May.

 member, 1410 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 29 May 2019
at 12:42
Taking over existing characters?
Players: Do you look at these? If you've taken them, how's it worked out for you?

It depends on how long the game has been running and how badly I want to get into it. I of course would prefer playing my own characters but for games that have some decent history behind it, it can take a looooong time for a new player to get integrated into the group. Oh they'll be nice and let your new guy tag along but there is just so much more history with the established characters. Going into a game where everyone else has had years of experience playing with one another can be intimidating and trying to be "the new guy" isn't always the experience I'm looking for.

I've taken over existing characters and assuming I'm allowed to tweak anything really bone headed about them mechanically it hasn't been unpleasant at all.

GMs: If you've done this, how's it worked out? Any tips?

Surprisingly well! In all my time I've never had a player "ruin" a character by being dumb with them. Every time I've gotten a replacement they've treated the character with respect and honestly most of them have integrated pretty seamlessly so after a couple of weeks it feels like the original player never left. With that success I've been doing it more and more and while it isn't always easy finding someone willing to step up I've had nothing but positive experiences with it as a GM.
 member, 1559 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Wed 29 May 2019
at 14:22
Taking over existing characters?
I came to RPGs from a theater background, acting and directing, so adapting to a character who already has established relationships is very comfortable for me. I also enjoy pre-gens. Most of my ftf role-playing for the past two decades has been con events, where pregens are usual. I generally won't do it in a long-running game because it's too tedious reading through hundreds of posts, though the first few and last few months is usually sufficient to catch on.

Most of the games I run here are investigative, so I rarely try to get a replacement when a player leaves unless it's one of those "finished chargen and then disappeared" situations. I'd rather just npc the abandoned character until I can write them out. I generally allow some tweaking when I do recruit for a replacement.
 member, 21 posts
 A small space
 to hide the Hysteria
Wed 29 May 2019
at 16:39
Taking over existing characters?
In the freeform world, I think there's a level of respect for players and characters alike that occasionally gets missed. I don't know if any other freeform roleplayers can feel me on this, but I've seen games where players spend a lot of time building a really in-depth character, inserting them into the game and (to use a common example) is not able to find the time to play them and writes them out of the current scene. Some places see those characters picked up by other players, or even the GM and suddenly that character immediately becomes someone completely different. It's hard to justify keeping the aspects of a character especially when he/she was freeform-made, because I find that a lot of little pieces here and there were personally included, and the original player put those points in there for a very specific reason now unknown to all. Unlike what I assume generated characters are like, freeform characters go a bit deeper, on a level that I don't think is the same as other games.

I once played in a game where I picked up a freeform character and did actually have to read through 1000+ posts to see where she'd been, come from etc. I was diligent in it and (hope that) I did a relatively good job of keeping her up to code with what the original player saw when they created her. Of course, there were small tidbits I included to make her a bit more my own, but whenever I would write for her I would actively try to make sure I was doing activities she would genuinely enjoy, eat foods she would genuinely enjoy eating, and so on and so forth. I don't think the players even noticed I was someone new, and that's where the respect comes into play, for me anyways.

From a GM's perspective: I usually prefer writing out players who have departed. For someone who is building the world and the active elements surrounding it, departed players are EXCELLENT fodder for in-game deaths, heartfelt departures and so many other useful things! I generally don't allow others to pick up old characters unless the original player consents to it, simply because I want that character to maintain it's authenticity the way the player did, if that makes sense. Once the other players have had a taste of this character and they're forced to fall out, why wouldn't you use it to your GM advantage?!
 member, 402 posts
Wed 29 May 2019
at 16:50
Taking over existing characters?
I tried it once, then quit the game after being told time and again that "X character wouldn't be doing that".  Honestly, if a GM wants to replace a player they should NPC the character and phase it out naturally (or keep it as an NPC), allowing the new player to make their own creation.
 member, 2 posts
Wed 12 Jun 2019
at 20:29
Taking over existing characters?
I have taken over other people's characters, both as a GM and as a player. It's OK, I guess, as long as there is some room for small tweaks. It can be a little nervous, though, because there's a possibility that you still get the concept wrong, or some of the character's personality traits simple have never been written down (it's often the case for my own OCs since some ideas only come to mind after some playing).

The canon characters on fandom-based RP are a different story, though. When there is no clear concept owner except the canon authors themselves, I feel more relaxed, and reading the previous post history is not that bad (especially when the story played is good). Canon story serves a common ground in this case, and there's mostly a consensus what is OOC for the character and what is not.

This message was last edited by the user at 20:29, Wed 12 June.

 member, 17 posts
Wed 12 Jun 2019
at 21:27
Taking over existing characters?
I've taken over 3 characters, one I had to tweak significantly to play in a style I like. A 3.5 game and I despise Sorcerers so switched to a Wizard.

Another while I don't agree with some of the choices taken early on for the PC I have played with it as taken. How I play the character may be significantly different than how they were played before but I tried to go with my view of what they stated about their personality and such in the description.

The last PC was low enough level it really didn't matter.
 supporter, 1073 posts
Wed 12 Jun 2019
at 22:14
Taking over existing characters?
Taking over a character with honest intent is doing a favor for the GM and the other PCs.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 275 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Thu 13 Jun 2019
at 16:59
Taking over existing characters?
I've been running a game on here since 2014, and aside from the first few months, have maintained the same characters.  I initially intended for the game to easily slot different characters in and out, as the plot is the characters are roving members of an adventurers' guild who go around doing various jobs.  But when the characters are exploring a dungeon for 6 months of real time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to explain why the old gnome rogue left and the new elf rogue arrived.  So I decided that from that point on the character roster would stay the same (barring death or a good story reason to retire that character), and I would replace players.

Some characters have had over 4 different players, though one or two still have their original players.  I generally don't mind if people's personalities change when someone new takes over, or if they tweak the character sheet a bit (not going to let them turn the human barbarian into a gnome bard, but they can tweak some stats, change skills and feats, etc).  I give them a good summary of the latest plot situation, a thumbnail of their fellow characters, and a quick run-down of any major events that happened to their character so they're up on any references someone might make.

The game is still going strong, so that's working for me very well.

I've sometimes wanted to join games as a replacement player if I don't have time to do character creation, or I just want to play the system and will cheerfully take it any way I can get it.  It's not any different than using a pre-generated character at a con, really.
 member, 2185 posts
Thu 13 Jun 2019
at 22:51
Taking over existing characters?
I have taken over characters a few times, mostly with decent results.  In one case the character was relatively undeveloped, leaving me a fair amount of leeway, except for class; she was the only cleric of the party.  The main change I remember making was weapon, swapping out the one she wouldn't have been able to lift, given it weighed about the same as she did, and she wasn't very strong!  For another, I don't think I made much character sheet change, just personality, given that her attitude had been a major factor in the previous player leaving.  LOL  She tended to walk around wearing outfits that were largely transparent, which are the norm where she came from, but with the original player, she got upset when people, not just males, stared at her!  She also had trouble with those who thought it was an invitation to touch, of course, and that had to dealt with - which she was quite capable of doing, but the original player also overreacted there - no need to try and kill the offender, unless he really was too stupid to understand 'no' backed up by several weapons.

So you need to have an agreement with the GM about what, if anything, you are allowed to change, if there are guidelines about the way the character was played that you should, or in the one case should not, follow.

This message was last edited by the user at 22:54, Thu 13 June.

 member, 29 posts
Mon 17 Jun 2019
at 05:29
Taking over existing characters?

I took over two separate characters in the same game once. One was an ex-PC and the other was an NPC the GM wanted to turn into a PC. They became two of the most epic characters that I've ever played on this site. Truly memorable and fun.

With the ex-PC character, I read back through some of the previous player's posts to get a feel for the character as she had been played. I kept as true to that in the beginning as I could, then gradually filtered in my own portrayal of the character. The GM allowed me to tweak the character sheet some at that point too, which was cool.

With the NPC turned PC it was a little tough at first, because it was a type of character I'd never played before. So glad that I did, though.

I'd agree with Brianna in regards to having an agreement with the GM as to what is expected and what options you have in tweaking the character.
 member, 13 posts
Tue 9 Jul 2019
at 02:44
Taking over existing characters?
In reply to Smoot (msg # 1):

I would say the high demands version IS an unpaid job in disguise. Roleplayers usually want to make their own characters, and even on predefined I usually allowed minor modifications, so player personality embedded its own place there...

This message was last edited by a moderator, as it was inflammatory, at 09:52, Sat 13 July.