JohnWhitebeard
 member, 1 post
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:29
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I must admit I've never seen the appeal but I'm interested to know what people's reasons are. I see a large number of games on the site and elsewhere where a GM has an initial recruitment and has a bunch of characters and then some player drops, inevitably.

So they recruit new players but for whatever reason want to keep the leaving player's character and have the new player play another person's character. I find this baffling as the new player isn't the old player and doesn't have the investment in the character or much creative control usually in changing it. And in many other cases the GM simply takes the character out of focus and lets a new player play what they want, and often with greater success to the game, as a player without investment isn't likely to keep playing.

So what's the point of this, are these GMs simply already working character arcs for a player who's left and don't want to abandon them? I could understand in the case of a closed environment but even Star Trek Voyager (as an example, ship lost in space traveling home) despite it's copious flaws changed characters, added new ones, got rid of old ones.

Or is there a group of players out there who relish the roleplaying challenge of being handed a character and learning to inhabit them?
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 238 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:39
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I can't speak for how popular it is, overall, but in the course of my time here I have both taken over characters and had to advertise for replacement players for existing characters.

I know that when it happens in the games I play in, it's a situation where the character is integral enough to the plot that it's simply not feasible to just "lose" them somewhere. Or the state of the plot doesn't allow for that to happen at that point in time, but it could happen later. Sometimes we recruit for replacement players for an existing character that can be replaced with a new character later, as a means for people to 'try out' the game and get their feet wet with a role already set for them. Sometimes it's a character that has interaction with other characters that make it undesirable for them to just "disappear" (because it's not fair to the players that remain to lose that interaction), but one where the GM already has their hands full and can't give the character the playtime they deserve, but another player could.

It doesn't tend to end well, but then, most characters don't end well. I've seen more 'Replacement Player' characters crash and burn than I have seen succeed, but at the same time that's true of characters in general (it seems), so I'm not sure the failure rate is really any higher for replacements than normal.
Skald
 moderator, 893 posts
 Whatever it is,
 I'm against it
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:50
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
Ditto ... haven't often had the opportunity, but taking over an existing character is an interesting exercise - definitely can say I've rarely found myself with a character I'd have chosen, but it's always been fun to try to make something of them, working with what's gone before and the numbers on the character sheet.  :>

Hearkens back to the old pre-generated characters from various game modules (I'm particularly reminded of old school D&D and Paranoia adventures in the 80's gaming press).
Winter51
 member, 146 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:51
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
SunRuanEr has it dead right, though I will chime in that I've had a substitute player in one of my games for so many years that, until we were chatting about things the other day, I had completely forgotten the character had been orphaned. Sometimes it works out though it's tricky integrating a new player into an existing persona. I took the cheesy way out, the character had been under magical influence already and we fudged that it changed him a bit and continued on without a hitch.

Have to agree with Skald as well. Skald, you should swing by one of my old school games sometime!

Takes some work, but it can happen. Winter
donsr
 member, 1899 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:53
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
never liked this. it might be good  for a 'one off' game  at a Con, to Torney.

for my part, i wanted to grow and build  my character  within the setting i joined?.. I would never join a game where i was force to pick  a pregen, or  take over a PC

For My games, I have some frame work players must follow, but in the end, they may play what they wish. There is  two reasons  for this. the 1st is enjoyment..heck? there are people out there  that get nored to death  and want to make a new character  every  month..while i won't allow that, i do allow  active players  to have an additional character

 the 2nd point  is selfish. As  a GM, i feel players  will play  more, post more and put more into thier RP, if they are using a  character thier created...thus? i should have  a More active player, rather then one, that is handcuffed by a pregen

This message was last edited by the user at 14:02, Tue 21 Apr.

Lauriebear
 member, 51 posts
 There is no truth. There
 is only perception
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 13:56
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I have played both myself.  It isn't easy at all that much I will say but I can tell you as a GM I've asked and currently have someone running a character they replaced the player for and by all accounts is doing well.  This character was essential to the story and I could not afford to lose the character.

While the invited will happen and this character will be played out of the game without that other player stepping up and helping me out I could never have done it myself.  For at the same time as that happened I lost another player who had two characters, while one I can afford to let "disappear" the other I couldn't he too was a very important character to the plot and with the interaction and story arch he had in place with another player I just couldn't see losing him too.

It isn't easy as I said above and for myself as a GM I let the player try to shape the character a little and I have tried to take on the other one with little change but I am sure others can see the difference.  When I took over the other character I was told I couldn't change him that I had to keep within the arch and I was okay with it, though it was hard I think I pulled it off.  Sadly the game ended but I learned a lot and for that I am thankful.

I guess I agree with Sun, sometimes a story or plot is just to important to the success of the game and if a GM is pretty full asking for help is always the best option.  I am glad I did and grateful for the help.  I should mention the player that is helping me does have his own character in game but first joined to take n the other one and enjoyed the theme that the player created their own so for me I will call mine a success with extra perks as I got another awesome character out of it.
Winter51
 member, 147 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:00
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
Both DonSr and Lauriebear have good points and I know Don's been around at least as long as I have here. Guess it depends on how much work you want to put into it. I hopped into a game once with one of the mods here and took over a character. It was a blast but real life forced me to take a sabbatical here. Turned out that giving up that character was my second biggest regret of that enforced absence.
Westwind
 member, 81 posts
 "[Sad] is happy for deep
 people" - Sally Sparrow
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:04
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
Doctor Who anyone?

I'm currently in a game where I've taken over an existing character, and am quite enjoying it. The trick is to roll with the changes, as DM and player. No two players will play the character the same, just as no two actors play a well scripted character the same. Allow the character and player to grow together naturally. Before long, everyone currently in the game will largely forget the previous version of that character. I must say, that I've been in this game for a couple years now, and the character is solidly mine. Has been since the day I took over, because my DM knows what she's doing, and the other players went along for the ride.
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 239 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:11
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I'll chime in again and add that sometimes we have players take over abandoned characters that we wouldn't normally have recruited a replacement for, because players sometimes send in a 'Hey, are you still accepting players?' when we're not actually "open" for that (because we're not in a position where we can add new characters). That tends to result in a 'well, we have this existing character/NPC that you can resurrect, if you want to play right now...' offer.

No one is ever forced to take over an existing character, or somehow duped into joining a game and then being told 'No new cars for you, all we have are these used models'. But sometimes, taking over an existing character is the only option other than waiting for the game story to get to a point where it can add another character, and a lot of people want to play right away. (I play a lot of military-style games, for instance, and when you have a small group that's off on deployment on a different planet, well, you can't just kill someone off and request a replacement willy-nilly, especially when it takes months of travel time to get there...)
Westwind
 member, 82 posts
 "[Sad] is happy for deep
 people" - Sally Sparrow
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:22
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
SunRuanEr:
...(I play a lot of military-style games, for instance, and when you have a small group that's off on deployment on a different planet, well, you can't just kill someone off and request a replacement willy-nilly, especially when it takes months of travel time to get there...)

Actually you can. That's how the military works. ;)
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 240 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:32
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
Westwind:
Actually you can. That's how the military works. ;)


See that previous statement about 'months of travel time'.

If I have a company of mercs on a planet, and someone wants to join the game, they're going to have to either A) take over an existing merc on the planet that isn't currently controlled by someone else, or B) wait until the game has moved forward long enough to get their replacement merc brought to the unit after another character is killed off to make an opening. Which could take literal in-game months to relay the message that a replacement is needed back home, and get a replacement sent out, assuming that the contract is even long enough to justify bothering sending a replacement instead of just finishing up a man down.

It's often unreasonable to fast-forward and force a massive timeskip on the existing characters (unless they literally have no plot points that they're working with in that time, which would be seriously poor GMing, eh?), just to shoe-horn in a new character. This is prime reason #1 for offering used characters to replacement players - the character can't logically be replaced at that point in the story and either needs to be played, or a new player wants something to control.
donsr
 member, 1900 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 14:39
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
i have a tweak in my game that, makes  alot of playable  sense, as far as getting replacements. It is one of the main things  that keeps new players   on line  with the  Vets.. you get trasferred..you show up, you have  alot of the backround down because of the Vids  that the media  plays, and te rest they learn  through RP

 Like Band of  brothers..or  star trek, or even Starship troopers, with new folks comign in to blend in with the Vets.

 when we lose a person to RL..thier characters   are used to  help  drive the  story..either  'off screen'..or in death
nauthiz
 subscriber, 643 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 18:13
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I've done it as a player a number of times.

It's an interesting exercise.  While I know I'm never going to seamlessly portray the character as previously done trying to do it as best I can is a part of the enjoyment.

Of course it's not without its challenges.  In one instance, as an example, after playing a character for quite a long time and a lot of discussion with the GM, the character eventually was mechanically overhauled in a not insignificant way due to the fact that the character had been obviously intended to fulfill a particular aspect of the group dynamic but for reasons at the time, the original player had agreed to make some changes to fulfill another aspect but hadn't really done it mechanically from the ground up.  So the more I played the more it felt very much like trying to for a round peg into a square hole.

So it's not for everyone, and I get why people would or would not prefer it in games they run or play in, but it is possible to do in a decent enough fashion.
Brianna
 member, 2215 posts
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 18:54
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I have taken over characters a few times, and if the game was going well, and continued to do so, the character did too.  In one case the original player hadn't developed the character much, so aside from class I had pretty much a free hand.  Another I tweaked a little to make her more suited to my style of play, and yet another was on condition that I changed her personality!  For one thing, she was in the habit of dressing in mostly transparent draperies, and then getting upset when males noticed.  What's the point of showing off like that, if not wanting to be noticed??  It was pretty much required where she came from, but not the custom where she was now - and I'm pretty sure where she came from guys looked too, they just knew not to touch without more overt invitation.  Besides that her attitude was not one of the cooperation needed in a PC party.

The first game didn't last long, IIRC, I think some of the other players were also not sufficiently invested to develop detailed characters, or play consistently.  The second lasted quite a while, and I also played in at least one more of the GM's set of four related games, until his circumstances changed, and he gradually played less and less until he disappeared.
The third petered out eventually but did run for a while through the next part of the plot.

I can't imagine taking over a character that I was not allowed to change at least a little, unless by some miracle it already suited me, but it certainly can work.
Lord Caladin
 member, 389 posts
 It all about the journey
Tue 21 Apr 2020
at 21:41
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
What a great question and topic, ....

So I have done all of the above.

I have a game now that requires two main character and so regardless of those characters personalities and or names their background and setting is the game. Basically if these PCs are not controlled there is no game.

They you have game like GOT were you design this detail house and family, ... you can just drop and add family that never existed.

And lastly if you are in a dungeon of some kind, you can not always just add a person, but who would just walk away if they have been helping all this time, ...

Have to go, I will continue this tomorrow, ....... Please don't replace me yet :)
Gaffer
 member, 1615 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Wed 22 Apr 2020
at 17:28
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
When I first started RPGing (OD&D, 1975ish) I had long been an actor (and director). For the past 20 years or so I've been writing and running con events.

As a player, I don't mind a pregen. It's like getting cast in a role as an actor. There's still a lot of choices to make about that character to make him/her your own, even if the background is already sketched in. I've taken up existing characters often enough here that I can say, while I enjoy creating a character from the ground up, it doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the game to come in as a replacement. That's providing, of course, that the GM isn't expecting me to be a duplicate of someone else.

As a GM, I have learned how reluctant people are to play a pregen here. I get that. Chargen is usually enormous fun. Consequently, I've pretty much given up trying to recruit people for already-created characters. I will say, however, that working through everyone getting their character completed is often the first big slowdown in most games here.

Most of my games are investigative horror (Call of Cthulhu) and I find it difficult to bring a rplacement character up to speed and often to explain where this new person has come from and make it plausible for these others to trust them. So, I usually just NPC/puppet a departed player's character until I can shuffle them off-stage (often into a grave).

That said, I will often set out parameters for cast members. My most recent Wanted-Players advert included this.
There will be six player characters, who should fill one of the following roles:
*Professor (male) of Archaeology or Anthropology at Miskatonic University
*Professor (male or female) of any other discipline at Miskatonic University and a friend of the Roadeses
*Friend (female) of Abigail Roades and (perhaps) wife of one of the professors
*Non-faculty friend (male) of Professor Roades (an outdoorsman)
*Graduate assistant (male or female) of one of the professors, former student of Professor Roades
*Private investigator (male) of Stein Investigations, a firm employed by Miskatonic University

Each player chose a character to develop and I worked with them to get it all fit together.

This message was last edited by the user at 17:30, Wed 22 Apr.

bigbadron
 moderator, 15868 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Wed 22 Apr 2020
at 17:51
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
I have run a couple of Traveller games were I have had set requirements for characters - for example, in one I needed six characters to be the crew of a tramp freighter.  So Captain/Pilot, Navigator, Engineer, Medic/Steward, and two Gunners (who also doubled as Security when the ship was on the ground).

I created three characters to fit each role - just stats, prior career, skills and mustering out benefits.  Gender, name, home world, description... all up to the players, as was their reason for leaving their old career.

So if anybody applied, I told them which roles were still available, and offered them their choice from the three pregens for that role.  If a player dropped out, the new player was offered the three blanks, plus the previous player's character (with the option to change the customisable details, if they wanted to.

Seemed to work out pretty well, and I was never short of players.
facemaker329
 member, 7197 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 23 Apr 2020
at 02:49
Re: Popularity of players playing already created characters?
My opinion on the subject varies, sometimes quite a bit from day to day.  I understand why some people don't like pre-generated characters...some of my favorite characters were built on 'hooks' that I came up with while I was going through the chargen process, and I tend to come up with characters that have some uncommon traits.  But I also come from a theater background, and being offered a pre-generated character is little different to me than being offered a role in a show...sometimes they're a lot of fun, often they're a challenge...and, yes, sometimes they are just of such a degree of difference to what we value that we can't summon up the interest to try and tackle it.

So, it depends very much on just how well the character 'resonates' with me.  But some days, I'm a lot more resonant than others...*grin*
Harley Quinn
 member, 12 posts
Fri 15 May 2020
at 01:34
Popularity of players playing already created characters?
In reply to JohnWhitebeard (msg # 1):

The only already created characters I play are the ones from tv, movies, books, etc, a lot of the time I put my own spin on them. If a previous player played him/her I am fine with taking over depending on what they did with him/her.

If it is an original character created by a player that quit I will not play.