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You stole my gimmick!


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#1 Balgin

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 09:31 AM

Fortunately this hasn't happened much recently (not in the last seven or eight years at any rate) but I think the point still bars discussion. What do you do when someone introduces a character who's blatantly designed to do what your character already does "but better". This can spoil your fun (especialy if they do it badly).

Here's two examples:

Example 1: Me and my friends of many years sat down to play a new adventure of the GM's devising. I was playing an aging paladin (biological age 59, actual age around 28-30 there was a really unlucky encounter with an aging ghost during which I couldn't hit a thing). My old knight had his battered old platemail armour, his holy sword (the only one ever seen in our campaign) and the same knackered old kite shield he's had since he was first created (and it's even survived black dragon acid breath, the only part of the shield that failed it's save was the paint).

When one of the players turned up he brought out his elven paladin who was about 5 or 6 levels higher, also had aholy sword, magic full plate of huge plusness, wings of flying and all sorts of other dubious stuff he claimed he'd got in another campaign he'd played with a different gm at colledge. There was some discussion and he was allowed to play his character. I was okay with that.

However, once play began it was clear that he was just going to jump in and "do everything" before I even had the chance. This meant that most of the entire party were relegated to being the flying uber psycho's audience and we got pretty bored of it.

Now I complained a bit but then decided to approach it a different way. My old knight began to have a crisis of conscience and became depressed. He eventualy managed to get over it only to die in the most pathetic way possible in a realluy anti climactic climactic encounter (really bad dice rolls again - dead in a few rounds).

Now he was a really fun character I'd played for about seven years, a kind of merry Quixotic character who believed himself to be a god, despite all evidence to the contrary. He even managed to gain one worshipper in the form of the seriously insane party fighter.

Now this player is a serial outplayer (that is, he picks something someone else is doing and decides to make them redunant). In this case I don't think he was picking on me. It was just "the only character he had on him" having lost the others temporarily (yeah, I had my doubts too).

Example 2: In a gritty realistic campaign I played a much loved, and delicate, character who suffered from migraines, colds, sunburn and all manner of ailments. However, as an asthmatic myself I wanted to steer away from coughing (you know, didn't want it to be too close to life).

Eventualy another player created a very robust character, who also apparently suffered from TB and was very delicate (despite the huge constitution score of 16). So this character would occassionaly cough, cough up blood and sometimes even pass out (making my constitution 7/8 character look like a real hard nut).

I started to get the feeling that I wasn't really able to be a cripple any more because someone had (inadvertantly, this time) stolen one of my character traits. I commended the guy on his roleplaying but still felt a tad gimped. My character in that campaign started taking more care of themself, they were still often poorly but took less health risks, and made a point of demonstrating being careful so people would remember how delicate they were.



So .... what do you do when someone else's character is horribly close to your own and how do you handle it?

Incidentaly, despite the awkward moments, these two characters rank among my three favourite all time characters (the other one didn't suffer from trait theft :)) so I still have many fond memories of those campaigns.
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#2 Ieqo

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 10:03 AM

The events described are one of the reasons I insist on group character creation. Even replacement characters are rolled at the table with the entire group present, though "backstory" is most often done privately between the player and the GM. Yes, it is "metagaming" and any number of other words that certain people use as perjoratives, but it ensures that the party is balanced both mechanically among the characters and socially among the players.

Is it a perfect solution? No, but it does give me, as GM, a chance to note the potential for any such problems. It also allows the group to police itself, so to speak, which my players have always found very satisfying.

Also, replacement characters and new players joining always begin one level behind the average level of the existing party. Before you scream, "unfair!" at me, allow me to point out that this gives the players motivation to keep their existing characters alive, makes the various resurrection options more attractive, and rewards survival-thinking. Besides, they do catch up fairly quickly.
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#3 Phneri

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 03:26 PM

So here's a new one. After finishing the campaign with my quasi-broken evil rogue/cleric (very good casting/stealth, but the damage output of a sack of taffy, and no ability whatsoever to turn or converse without enraging others) I've started an at the table character gen for our new game. And noticed the following:

A definite shift to nongood alignments

Many stealthy spellcasters of some description

Lots of divine casters.

So people have stolen my gimmick for the game I'm running....

Should I be flattered?
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#4 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 06:48 PM

Flattered, maybe. Perhaps they think that's the type of game you'll run.

We often do group character creation too, when we start a game at least.

We also have a standing rule that character/class combinations can only be used once in a campaign. It hasn't been a problem yet, but in an ongoing random dungeon crawl campaign, our frontline fighter type went fighter/paladin-sorcerer/knight/barbarian/ranger. (there was much death in this random dungeon).

I regret allowing two fighters in one campaign, but they were supposed to be different flavors, one strength based and one dex based. Turns out the dex one is a bit naff at level 12 and makes me less likely to continue this one.
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#5 Balgin

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 07:14 PM

Don't be flattered. I've generaly found that, if a group you're GMing for suddenly start playing lots of characters similar to one that you've played successfuly, you'll find it a pain in the arse to GM for them (because you'll try to think of stuff and keep remembering the cool things you're character did, not want to jyst repeat those exploits, get stuck for ideas and feel downcast).

So flattered, maybe. Worried, definately.
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#6 salvagebar

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 09:51 PM

I like the story games, so I will advise you to do what I would do, if someone were trying to take my old character's place.

Complete the hero's journey.

Take a death wish. Let your character, the survivor of constant adversity and bloodshed, undertake one last quest, and die nobly.

You, as a player, are a cantankerous, prickly old grognard who thinks he's seen everything. This is the kind of thing you will talk about for years to come.

Let's call your character Wothan. Destroying such a character because of "bad dice rolls" is not only not fun, but cruel.

Fuck the fucking dice.

Talk to your GM, find some worthy deed your party can do together, engage a great enemy, and strike a fearsome blow. The finger of your deity will touch the brow of the foe as your axe cleaves his skull. It will be a beau geste. The retributory curse of its death will kill Wothan. Wothan gets a final blessing to give to his mates, and this will bring the attention of his patron deity.

Wothan rises to Valhalla, as all good RPG characters should do. You, a real person, creates a new character, and have a cool point of discussion.

Everyone wins. The old story is dead, long live the new story.
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#7 deltree

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 07:51 AM

I once played in a game where all of the other players played a copy of what our GM played as the last time they ran a game. Weirdly enough they actually had a proper DnD class spread somehow. They did it for the specific purpose of revisiting the horrors of what he did to their games upon him. Among them we had a crazy broken Druid, Wizard, and a Paladin who continuously asked if things were evil, including inanimate objects...
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#8 eformo

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 08:22 AM

The events described are one of the reasons I insist on group character creation. Even replacement characters are rolled at the table with the entire group present, though "backstory" is most often done privately between the player and the GM. Yes, it is "metagaming" and any number of other words that certain people use as perjoratives, but it ensures that the party is balanced both mechanically among the characters and socially among the players.


I will often take this even a step further. Yes, it is a step into the contrived, but it is also a step into a much smoother gaming dynamic for groups that like to see plot advance.

When we sit down, before we generate the characters, we discuss as a group what sort of adventure we're looking for. If most of the characters are interested in something campy, I work in that direction. If most are looking for epic-ness, I'll accomodate that. It means some projects I've been thinking of for a while (the founding of a guild from a party of 1st-level wizards in AD&D) end up sitting unattended, but it helps the players get on the same page and makes sure that players expectations are running in the same general direction. Then we create characters together.

Just my 2 bits.
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#9 Telemergion

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 12:15 PM

I rarely seem to get to do group char gen myself because most of my players take too long doing it to suffer through in one sitting. It's not a perfect solution but it would likely help a lot with the problem of people duplicating others and making them feel second banana. Luckily my group is also fairly newly formed with half players who had never gamed before and the other half not very much; we simply haven't had a lot of opportunity to overlap.

Dealing with your problem in particular, Balgin, is tough because the guy seems like he should be very much aware of what he's doing but might not be. Some people don't catch on to stuff like that, or maybe he thinks imitation is a form of flattery.

The way I see it you have three options: full disclosure, deal with it as you have been, or the next time it happens have your character quietly snap and kill the interloper in his sleep while you merrily shout "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!'
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#10 Balgin

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 12:37 PM

Dealing with your problem in particular, Balgin, is tough because the guy seems like he should be very much aware of what he's doing but might not be. Some people don't catch on to stuff like that, or maybe he thinks imitation is a form of flattery.


Ah, slight missunderstanding here...

Those two examples were different players. Not the same player each time. And generaly it doesn't happen very often (but the player from the first example is a bit of a repeat offender in thathe's a powergamer who keeps making new characters to be someone else's character "but better". He's generaly not too bad about it 'though and it's pretty rare with him (but he's the only repeat offender I could think of).

The player from the second example was a one off (and the two characters actualy became good friends in the long run).
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#11 Telemergion

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 03:20 PM

well in that case... um...

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!
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#12 Sinister-Ornament

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:40 PM

I think Balgin you should first of all be incredibly flattered by what is blatant copying.

How to cope with it in game is very difficult. Continuing your character exactly as before is clearly always is going to be the hardest option.

Because the person doing it is a Power-gamer you could always make your character…

(A). A faithful ROBIN to his BATMAN ~ Become a Dynamic Duo! (this opens up the possibility of a nasty trick your character could be so overwhelmed by the new character that you continually tell everyone you meet how wonderful, strong etc he is [Don't overdo the ego stroking though - he'll think your PCs got a crush on his!]. Clearly this reputation your establishing is going to precede the new character and like the ‘famous gunslinger syndrome’ people are going to want to come have a go at him just to prove how hard they are.)

(B). JEEVES to his WOOSTER (if he’s a Power-gamer he may not be to much interested in character development and may make rash mistakes – this would work if your character was older than his – so playing the world weary mentor to a Uber-talented disciple might work).

©. have a personality crisis or breakdown of some kind and either change career path, alignment, or develop a split personality :lol: - can PCs have mid-life crisis?

(D). Have a quest that can ONLY be accomplished by your character – his is the chosen hand to lift the staff of thunder from the enchanted pool of death, or whatever – you’d need to ask your DM to help with this of course.

I Hope some of these suggestions help. I enjoyed your original question; I haven’t heard the likes of it before!
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