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Snowman81

Player plots and facing their own characters

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Hi guys,

As per the title, looking for some plot ideas for an opportunity that has just arisen.

TL:DR Player has retired their character citing "not enjoying playing this character as they feel useless", and started another (we've only recently finished our 4-5th session and it's slightly de-railed the campaign). As GM, I'd like to secretly level up his retired character alongside the party and reintroduce them as an NPC working for the antagonists further down the track, but how? The retired character was a Chiss Archaeologist. The player's new character is a Devaronian Saboteur. 

There are two issues I'm now facing because of this.

1) His character was the reason the characters got together. Now's he's out. 

2) His new character does not fit the current campaign too well, so I feel as a player he's going to run into the same problem of 'not doing enough, getting ***-kicked because he's not playing to his strengths, or feels left-out compared to rest of the party'. There has been a handful of out of game discussions regarding this, and rest of the group know he's like this as a player. He is certainly trying though, and has had some awesome RP moments, so all is not lost as far as engagement goes (and out of game he's a great friend).

Characters

There is currently himself as a Devaronian Saboteur, a Duros Pilot, Weequay Bodyguard, Gand Slicer and Togruta Ataru Striker. Of particular note is the Gand player who started a little later in the campaign, and has been introduced as being put into carbon freezing for the last 30 years and awoken by the players. 

Plotline/s

We are playing in the "Rogue One" era, at the height of the Empire's power, so everyone is under no illusions that it's a tough place to be. They are using a VERY beat up YT-2000 freighter as their home base, and were using the archaologists character background as a reason to search for lost artefacts, either for themselves or as part of helping the rebellion. The ship itself is an old legend, and while it constantly breaks down I've been using that to sort of provide story hooks as they find hidden compartments or trinkets left behind from the deceased crew (also makes some excellent obligation as they don't know the ships' full history). 

- The main antagonists are the Empire. Specifically an Imperial General who is almost a counter to the players in that he's been tasked to find Sith artefacts in secret for the Empire. So it plays into this 'race against time' to find things before the other party does. The General will also answer to some very powerful individuals higher up, but that's yet to be determined. Some of the characters also have secret ties to the Rebels but have yet to reveal themselves to the other players, and even the force character has only JUST revealed his lightsaber, much to the surprise of the other characters. 

- There is also a pissed-off Hutt (aware of the ship but not the characters), and minor character backstory plots I'll throw in as we go.

Question...

Anyway, with the main plot somewhat derailed due to this character switch (everyone else's characters were sub-tied to the player really nicely with fantastic backstories), and him now playing a saboteur in the group, i'm wondering how to use his character while keeping the same (or near enough) plot of using the main antagonists? (ie, race against the clock to find various artefacts etc). 

More importantly, and perhaps I'm feeling mischievous, but I'd like to take his original character and throw him back at the party as an NPC that IS capable of doing a range of things both in and out of combat, and who now works alongside the imperial general. 

Hope it's clear enough, but I'm open to any and all feedback. Cheers guys!


 

Edited by Snowman81

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I would suggest resisting the urge to refresh the former PC into an active NPC. Leave the character open to that player to switch back to if the Saboteur doesn't pan out. As far as the group goes, if the heart of the group is gone, they will probably switch gears somewhat. I wouldn't force them to keep doing the same things the same ways. Your plots and NPCs will likely need to shift to accommodate this.

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Quote

 

Good points. 

Might be a bit hard to resurrect his character to play with if his saboteur doesn't pan out, as everyone else would have levelled up some more? 

And with the group as is now, I need new ideas to redirect them. They currently don't know the motivations of the Imp General, so I could easily plot him along another path more suited to the group.

Any ideas based on the current group structures? I'm leaning towards involving the Rebels (one character is tied to them), and using them to begin feeding them ideas?

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Seems a bit unfair to the other players to let him just swap and change as he likes just because he finds certain gameplay aspects too hard. They are all aware they are good in certain areas and suck at others and yet they don't swap characters out at the first hint of being overwhelmed. 

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2 hours ago, Snowman81 said:

Seems a bit unfair to the other players to let him just swap and change as he likes just because he finds certain gameplay aspects too hard. They are all aware they are good in certain areas and suck at others and yet they don't swap characters out at the first hint of being overwhelmed. 

Is it about being "fair" or about having fun? See if anyone else at the table really cares. Some players just don't like playing the same character continuously, and others do.

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Well, the other players are not having fun when he often challenges rules/events that don't go his way. Likewise I'm not particularly enjoying having to rework a chunk of the story that a lot of work went into for the sake of him changing his mind on a whim.

Session 0 covered all of this and the expectations of what sort of game was being played, and the player in particular developed a very good backstory and was pumped to play his character. 

This is starting to get off track however, so would really like some help with narrative direction for the group and/or new angles regarding using his old character as an NPC (because I highly doubt he's going to get back into it anytime soon).

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Generally I allow one free swap within the first three sessions if a player doesn’t like how a character is playing, after that my players know that they will not be getting any XP they earned previously for the new character. Also my favorite piece of advice for GMs who are new to the system is that the group doesn’t have to be on the same level unlike in other games(DnD being the worst example) since the encounter difficulty isn’t based on level.

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28 minutes ago, Lotr_Nerd said:

Also my favorite piece of advice for GMs who are new to the system is that the group doesn’t have to be on the same level unlike in other games(DnD being the worst example) since the encounter difficulty isn’t based on level.

Good point. 

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3 hours ago, Snowman81 said:

Well, the other players are not having fun when he often challenges rules/events that don't go his way. Likewise I'm not particularly enjoying having to rework a chunk of the story that a lot of work went into for the sake of him changing his mind on a whim.

Session 0 covered all of this and the expectations of what sort of game was being played, and the player in particular developed a very good backstory and was pumped to play his character. 

This is starting to get off track however, so would really like some help with narrative direction for the group and/or new angles regarding using his old character as an NPC (because I highly doubt he's going to get back into it anytime soon).

If this player is being detrimental to the fun of the game, then a new character is the answer--as long as that character has a new player. Kick the current one to the curb and be done.

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I'm partial to the Adventuring Archaeologist trope, and it seems like your player has a key niche to fill in the campaign.. so I am somewhat puzzled by the whole "feeling left out" bit. The spec can be sort of jack-of-all-trades-ish, but those Lore checks can be important, too!

On 8/19/2018 at 3:05 AM, Snowman81 said:

More importantly, and perhaps I'm feeling mischievous, but I'd like to take his original character and throw him back at the party as an NPC that IS capable of doing a range of things both in and out of combat, and who now works alongside the imperial general.

If your PC is well and truly finished with the character, I think running him as an NPC is a viable option, but discussing it with your player might be a good idea. Reintroducing him later in the game, with more XP, as an Awesome GMPC.. just to show your PC how lame he was for not realizing the character's true potential.. not so much. This is probably not quite what you had in mind, and I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but if he's a friend.. that seems like it would be kind of a **** move.

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2 hours ago, Edgehawk said:

I'm partial to the Adventuring Archaeologist trope, and it seems like your player has a key niche to fill in the campaign.. so I am somewhat puzzled by the whole "feeling left out" bit. The spec can be sort of jack-of-all-trades-ish, but those Lore checks can be important, too!

I've seen two players have a go at that archetype, and both of them came to the realization that it's not really all that. If you're going to go the Force route, then get on with it. If you're not, then Lore becomes a bore.

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Sounds to me like the Archy is going to be their new NPC employer/quest giver, and the overall story hasn't changed a while lot...

I mean, you may have to work a little bit to explain how that happened (sounds like a good adventure involving a recently deceased wealthy distant relative with an oddly specific will to me), but once you have a reason in place for the Archy to step back and bankroll the whole thing, you're done. And it keeps the Archy alive and available if the Player changes his mind again.

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3 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

I've seen two players have a go at that archetype, and both of them came to the realization that it's not really all that. If you're going to go the Force route, then get on with it. If you're not, then Lore becomes a bore.

I disagree with that statement, I believe that the Archeologist more so than the other careers requires a GM to be conscious about what could be a Lore check. For example in my games anything that is significantly older than the Clone Wars or deals with the Jedi is a Lore check, also if someone is on a continuously inhabited world such as Nar Shadaa than a Despair or a Triumph on an appropriate check might uncover something truely ancient.

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10 hours ago, Snowman81 said:

Le sigh.... Yeeeeah, no. Does the choice have to be so binary? "Suck it up" or "Kick him out" are the extremes of the problem.

You should probably talk to him about the problem.   The GM has just as much right to have fun as the players, and if he is making everyone else at the table have less/no fun, then you are within your rights to talk about it.   Roleplaying is a group hobby, and group activities require some compromise from everyone involved to work smoothly.  If he's not doing his part, that's on him, not you.   

Now, whether or not trying to have a mature, reasonable discussion with him about his behavior will actually change how he plays, that's another matter entirely.   In my experience, most gamers who act like that, always act like that, and rarely compromise.  But it's your only avenue to try and resolve the issue.   

As to the "my character feels useless" statement, well, first off I suspect his character is useless because he doesn't actually know how to play it to it's strengths, instead of what he thinks it's strong at.   And I suspect he will probably have that same feeling with any character he makes that isn't just a combat monkey.  But a way to help make sure nobody has this feeling, is to take time to actually look over your players' characters, and see what they ARE good at, and be sure to toss in some situations that play to those strengths now and then.

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Archaeologist is a super weird spec... A hard fail at making an Indiana Jones archetype?

Too bad he's already rebuilt, would have suggested using Investigator to keep a similar character concept/the same character, but to actually be useful.

So long as someone's paying the party (well) though, why would they switch paths?

Bring the PC back (and keep them involved in the same story line) by having the main Antagonist capture the former-PC. They're all tied to him you said right? Meanwhile BBEG is coercing the former-PC into helping the Empire?

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56 minutes ago, emsquared said:

Archaeologist is a super weird spec... A hard fail at making an Indiana Jones archetype?

I agree. Archaeologist is a great concept, but I think the spec is total crap--like most of the Explorer specs TBH.

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42 minutes ago, Decorus said:

There are quite a few specs that if you look at them you see they aren't what was advertised. Infiltrator I'm looking at you...

Yeah I expected that spec to be about avoiding detection, lots of stealth related things.  Instead you got a powerful melee/brawn brawler who can knock people out without killing them, with a tiiiiny bit of stealth stuff at the bottom.

But, seeing as there really aren't any stealth based talents on the scale of just about every other skill, it's hardly a unique problem to Infiltrator, and is more a larger problem of the current specs.  

Still, just buy several ranks in Stealth, and couple it with Infiltrator, and you have a pretty scary single target combatant for sneaking into places.

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Cryptozoology much better field of study...

Here is the thing I'm not big on booting players, but from what it sounds like he isn't having any fun, he's making the GM not have any fun and is making the other players not have any fun.

I'm not sure another character is going to fix this...

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5 minutes ago, Decorus said:

Cryptozoology much better field of study...

Here is the thing I'm not big on booting players, but from what it sounds like he isn't having any fun, he's making the GM not have any fun and is making the other players not have any fun.

I'm not sure another character is going to fix this...

Probably not, but I think it's worth a try to talk to him about the issues with the game.   I mean, saying "my character feels useless" is a pretty vague statement.  Asking things like "how do you feel like your character isn't contributing?"  "what would you like to get an opportunity to do to feel useful?"  are good questions I think.   

As a general rule, by session 4, if every character hasn't had at least 1-2 situations that heavily lean to their area of proficiency, then a GM isn't doing a good starting job I think.  If I've got a player who is a saboteur, by session 4, it's pretty much a guarantee that something explodey will be involved.  Either to disarm, or set up.   If there is a Medic/Doctor in the party, they will encounter a group of NPC's that are in dire need of some medical treatment, and helping them will reward the party in some way, either immediately or down the line.   Etc etc.

But before any of that, there needs to be A Talk, with this player.   

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The Archaeologist spec isn't really awesome by itself, but few specs are; it has the left side of the tree for punching nazis, and the right for tedious academia. Well Rounded is at the start of the tree, so one can add Skullduggery, or better social/combat capability. It is what you make of it, as any spec. Force Adherent now offers some great synergy as a second spec, with Lore-based talents.

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