The Hotness
Games|People|Company
Legacy of Dragonholt
Ironsworn
City of Brass (5E)
Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk
Hogwarts: A Role-Playing Game
Dread
The Armitage Files
B2: The Keep on the Borderlands
World of Gor: Gorean Roleplaying World Encyclopaedia
These Weird Breads Are Sad
The Solo Investigator's Handbook
Wollstonecraft The Role-Playing Game
Maze of the Blue Medusa
The Two-Headed Serpent
Slaves of the Machine God
The Forsaken Kingdom of Fungithrill
Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (Second Edition)
Labyrinth Lord
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
Apocalypse World
Microscope
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Monster Manual (D&D 5e)
Kids on Bikes: Deluxe Edition
Forbidden Lands Core Boxed Set
Passion Guides My Hand
Book 01: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
The Flood
Warhammer Adventure
B1: In Search of the Unknown
Masks of Nyarlathotep (3rd & 4th edition)
The Deryni Adventure Game
Eyes Only
B10: Night's Dark Terror
Deadlands
The Great Pendragon Campaign
T1: The Village of Hommlet
Forgotten Realms Campaign Set
Book 1: The War-Torn Kingdom
Faction Guide
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook
The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild
Gildenbrief (Issue 25 - Jul 1992)
Monster of the Week
The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook
Player's Handbook (D&D 5e)
The Strange
Microscope Explorer
Patrick Zoch
United States
Kansas
flag msg tools
designer
Because they have no body to go with.
badge
Why don't skeleton ever go trick or treating?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A question suggested by

Joseph Hellar
msg tools
designer
Avatar


If you have designed your campaign around a particular Player character, what do you do if that particular player character dies (or the player leaves or changes characters)?



Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3
14 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lev
United States
Fredericksburg
Virginia
flag msg tools
Duck and Cover!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My campaigns (usually one-shot sessions actually) are not dependent on the survival of any one character. And the few campaigns that I've run were not dependent on the survival of any one character either.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alain Curato
France
Albi
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
L5R once had a character advantage that basically meant "you will not die before you accomplish what you are destined to do". I also have a Druid feat somewhere, "seven lives of the cat", that gives the player seven survival tokens. Such bypasses are handy.

If I had to design a campaign around a single character, without these, I would add a twist that this character was actually not The Chosen One... but the one that prepared the way for the real one. Works only once, though.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Robben
Belgium
Antwerp
Antwerp
flag msg tools
And here...
badge
I should really add something smart and sparkly here.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Pro tip: Do not design a campaign around one character. The others will feel like filler. Do it the Star Trek way. Move the spotlight around and mix in everyone's background. Riff off those for ideas. Grow the game organically and don't overplan where you want to go. The best campaigns I've participated in derailed completely because of player input. Which is good. Keeps 'em coming back and back and back...
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad Bowser
United States
Kernersville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I can't answer this one. I've never designed a campaign around a single character.

I've designed campaigns around all the characters where each has different buy-ins to the hook and different side arcs within the campaign, but never a campaign that hinged on a single character.

Like Peter said above, it could lead to a situation where the other players all feel like their characters are second fiddle.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hein Ragas
Netherlands
Nijmegen
flag msg tools
designer
[Insert witty message here]
badge
[Insert another witty message here]
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"Don't do that, then."
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If the campaign is designed around a character (which is a lot of the time for me since most of my RPGing is just me plus one player), that character doesn't die!

I haven't designed a campaign around a particular character when we've got more than one player, though the campaign may be designed around the group or become very heavily influenced by their actions, to the point where a character/player leaving might make it hard to continue the game reasonably. Not really a situation that has come up though; generally these days I just do one-shots with groups.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clark Timmins
United States
West Jordan
Utah
flag msg tools
admin
designer
So stop your cheap comment, 'Cause we know what we feel...
badge
I'm #2
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I played in one long-running campaign that was built around two PCs. Neither died or left, and the campaign was really fun. But... I suppose it would have fallen apart if either had left.

I DMed one campaign that was built around a PC. The PC didn't die or leave, but also declined the spotlight role. That campaign sucked and didn't last long. Not one of my better moments.

Since then, I've only designed major plots around NPCs that I can control. That's a much safer alternative. I doubt I'd again base an entire campaign around a single character - PC or NPC. Maybe if the "campaign" was more of a miniature thing, expected to last something like 3 or 4 sessions only.

However, if the campaign did revolve around a PC and the player left, I don't see that as a big issue. You just do the standard PC --> NPC conversion and on you go. And in most FRPGs, death hardly is more than a costly inconvenience.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Actually, thinking about it, I guess I would see character death as often being a campaign-ender in any case, except in games with super-expendable characters. And even then possibly so. But I realize that isn't remotely normal thinking.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
flag msg tools
"All history is made up. Good history is made up by good historians; bad history is made up by the others." -David Macaulay
badge
"We talked a little more of Milesians and Firbolgs; but I do not write what he told me here, as it is at variance with things I have written already, as is often the case with legend, whence comes a pleasing variety." -Lord Dunsany
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
N/A
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DMSamuel
United States
Wurtsboro
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
RPGMusings.com
badge
Currently Playing 2 games: Star Wars Edge of the Empire and Labyrinth Lord (Barrowmaze)
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
While I do try to work in the backstory of all PCs as much as possible - heck, most of the time that's what makes the campaign - I do not plan a campaign around only one PC.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
I'm not that cool.
United States
Allen Park
Michigan
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
I don't think I've ever planned a campaign around a single character, but I've certainly had them evolve to focus on one member of a group. Usually it's because the player is driving the action in the game (leading the group) and the other players have let it go that way. Sometimes the group has taken on a quest that involves that player more strongly than the rest (like they're hunting a relic of a particular god one character worships) or pursuing something meaningful to a particular character.

When that happens and the character somehow disappears, I tend to rush the conclusion of the campaign to move onto the next thing. I don't want to stop that part as there might be other things planned next and it wouldn't make a lot of sense in a story to go from eagerly pursuing the lochnar for the last ten adventures and then just quitting.

If their absence is more finite (like they're out for a few weeks), I'll try to run side adventures until they're back; it's not perfect, but it can help.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Unwin
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
End that campaign and start a new one.

Edit: While I don't condone design creating a campaign around a particular PC, I can understand the impulse to do so. For many people, their campaigns are like a TV series, and those frequently involve a central character.

So, if someone feels compelled to do this, I recommend that they follow the techniques of show runners.

One technique is to allow for supernatural methods. Some stories and settings won't allow for this, but plenty will. Resurrection, mind swapping, parallel universes, cloning, time travel, etc. can all patch up an otherwise irreparable storyline.

Another technique is just to leave oneself a loophole. A prophecy or plan might require one particular character... but another character could also fit the bill. If one dies, the other steps in. Or, the PC's body was never found and the character could potentially come back.

Another technique, one supposedly favored by J. Michael Straczynski is to have "trapdoor" characters in place. These are characters who are not the focus of the storyline, but who could be "promoted" to the focus if, say, the actor of the original focus character left the show.

Edit: The IMDb trivia page for Babylon 5 mentions the use of "trap door" characters: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105946/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
8 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Ink
United States
Mundelein
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would never plan it around just one character. That approach is great for books but generally terrible for rpgs. I do, however, plan story arcs for each player to discover around their backgrounds that tie into the central conflict.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
True Blue Jon
United States
Vancouver
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think a more interesting question is why would you design a campaign around a single PC and how would you go about doing it?
11 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rebus Carnival
United States
Da Burbz
DC METRO
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Oh, you can stand it alright.
Avatar
mbmbmb
quozl wrote:
I think a more interesting question is why would you design a campaign around a single PC and how would you go about doing it?


Time traveling story with each player taking the role of the same person at different ages. Game master plays youngest self as each player tries to affect the course of life to best suit their period-specific goals.

A little hallmark channel but has a fun rom-com feel.
12 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hans Messersmith
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
flag msg tools
admin
designer
With your head held high and your scarlet lies You came down to me from the open skies It's either real or it's a dream There's nothing that is in between
badge
Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
quozl wrote:
I think a more interesting question is why would you design a campaign around a single PC and how would you go about doing it?
I thought about this, and really could only come up with two whys...

1) you want to roleplay with a licensed property where a single character is crucial to the experience. The obvious (and maybe only?) example I could come up with here is the Doctor from "Doctor Who". Personally, if I were going to play in the Whovian universe I would rather play a U.N.I.T. game or similar, where the Doctor isn't actually a character, but I can see how a lot of people would want to actually play the Doctor.

2) you want to roleplay out a story where the "mcguffin" is in some way a person. An example of this might be the first Star Wars; Princess Leia is sort of the goal and central aspect of the story. If she were to die in that first fight scene with stormtroopers on the Death Star, where would the story go next? Another example might be the film "Streets of Fire", which has a very similar plot structure to Star Wars in a lot of ways, but with Ellen Aim taking the place of Princess Leia. A third example might be "The Fifth Element", where the whole point of the story is to get Leeloo alive to the end of it.

In both cases, I think the only way for it to work in a way that satisfactorily represents the underlying genre/stories is for the main character to never "die", although they may get played by a new person over time (e.g. the Doctor's regenerations), and can have all kinds of other bad things happen to them.

13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hans Messersmith
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
flag msg tools
admin
designer
With your head held high and your scarlet lies You came down to me from the open skies It's either real or it's a dream There's nothing that is in between
badge
Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another thought just came to me. There are a number of genres of fiction that center very heavily around a single protagonist, for example:

* a lot of Sword & Planet and other pulpy fantasy/science-fiction, e.g. John Carter of Mars, Conan the Barbarian, Elric of Melnibone.

* detective fiction, e.g. Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe.

One way to handle that kind of thing would be to structure the game in a very non-traditional fashion, where there is really only one "Player character" (the detective, the adventurer transported to another land, the barbarian hero), and the GM duties are spread out among all the other players. Many GM's, one player (or maybe two in the case of something like Sherlock Holmes+Watson). Dirty Secrets is an example of this in the noir-detective genre. This will not be to everyone's, or even most people's, tastes, as demonstrated by the paucity of such games. But I think it is a valid and fun way to consider the problem. Another example of this genre could be the elaborately named Being a role-playing game on the topic of the High-Flying adventures of Beatrice Henrietta Bristol-Smythe, DBE, daring Aviatrix and accomplished Exploratrix, and her Gentleman Companion, who for a Modest Fee, accompanies Beatrice ... [truncated]

But I don't think that is what the original question is about, I think the original question is looking at this within the context of the traditional RPG framework (one GM, many PCs).
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Thur
Germany
Weitersburg
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lots of "I'd never do that" in the replies. I just remembered the beginning of the "Enemy within" campaign for Warhammer - the plot hook to get the players going is one of them looks like a double of Kastor Lieberung. And said Kastor has an inheritance letter promising 20000 gp in his cold, dead hands...
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Caroline Berg
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I run campaigns designed around a single player characters a lot. My last face-to-face Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) adventure focused on one of the players and took place at her ancestral home - and revolved around discovering what happened to her mother (which was the reason she start adventuring in the first place). Part of her character backstory was the question of what happened to her mother, so that became the adventure.

The adventure I'm running now focuses on a different character. He picked up an Amulet of Ithaqua in a previous adventure, and while he gave the amulet away, the connection remained. It was dormant during the last few adventures, but now it's started to interfere with the party, so they have to figure out just what Ithaqua wants with them.

Just because those characters are the impetus for the call to adventure, doesn't mean they get the spotlight continuously every session of their adventure, and if they were to die, well, the rest of the party still have to extract themselves from a situation they now find themselves in.

I do this for long running campaigns (four years now) for players who either specifically request an adventure tied to their character, or as a reward for playing the same character for so long, or for players who want their backstories to matter. But it is rather convenient for me to design such campaigns, because the character can provide lots of good material to build off of.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Douglas Bailey
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
admin
“I would have made this instrumental, but the words got in the way...” —XTC, “No Language in Our Lungs”
badge
“Self-discipline isn’t everything; look at Pol Pot.” —Helen Fielding, _Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason_
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Learn.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Douglas Bailey
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
admin
“I would have made this instrumental, but the words got in the way...” —XTC, “No Language in Our Lungs”
badge
“Self-discipline isn’t everything; look at Pol Pot.” —Helen Fielding, _Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason_
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tomcat1304 wrote:
Lots of "I'd never do that" in the replies. I just remembered the beginning of the "Enemy within" campaign for Warhammer - the plot hook to get the players going is one of them looks like a double of Kastor Lieberung. And said Kastor has an inheritance letter promising 20000 gp in his cold, dead hands...

True (though spoiler-y). But this is pretty much just the hook, not the whole campaign. And I'm less put off by the idea of building a hook for one specific PC than I am by the idea of making the entire campaign revolve around them.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Ink
United States
Mundelein
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
skalchemist wrote:
quozl wrote:
I think a more interesting question is why would you design a campaign around a single PC and how would you go about doing it?
I thought about this, and really could only come up with two whys...

1) you want to roleplay with a licensed property where a single character is crucial to the experience. The obvious (and maybe only?) example I could come up with here is the Doctor from "Doctor Who". Personally, if I were going to play in the Whovian universe I would rather play a U.N.I.T. game or similar, where the Doctor isn't actually a character, but I can see how a lot of people would want to actually play the Doctor.

2) you want to roleplay out a story where the "mcguffin" is in some way a person. An example of this might be the first Star Wars; Princess Leia is sort of the goal and central aspect of the story. If she were to die in that first fight scene with stormtroopers on the Death Star, where would the story go next? Another example might be the film "Streets of Fire", which has a very similar plot structure to Star Wars in a lot of ways, but with Ellen Aim taking the place of Princess Leia. A third example might be "The Fifth Element", where the whole point of the story is to get Leeloo alive to the end of it.

In both cases, I think the only way for it to work in a way that satisfactorily represents the underlying genre/stories is for the main character to never "die", although they may get played by a new person over time (e.g. the Doctor's regenerations), and can have all kinds of other bad things happen to them.



Ooh! I like the idea now for Dr. Who. All but one player plays a companion until a regeneration happens. At that point, one of supporting players takes over as the Dr. and their companion character finds a dramatic way to wander off.

Could also be done with the Avatar series or anything with reincarnations.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete
United States
Northbrook
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
New Campaign!

Pete (likes to switch every 10 weeks or so anyway)
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Patrick Zoch
United States
Kansas
flag msg tools
designer
Because they have no body to go with.
badge
Why don't skeleton ever go trick or treating?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've developed a couple of campaigns based on a central character in the party, but I have also woven in additional character background threads to keep everyone involved. So, while the main storyline is catered to a particular character, I do move the spotlight around so that the other characters can see how they are important to the storyline. This approach also allows me to shift focus to a new central character should the original one die. I really try to make sure every character has its moment in the spotlight. I often touch upon other potential storylines that the party can choose to explore or focus on, giving the entire party agency over the direction and focus of the campaign. In both cases (I've done two campaigns with a central PC in mind) the group stayed with the original storyline that was focused on the one PC. And yes, the central PC can die, and it will impact the story, and that seems to heighten the sense of danger in the party.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.