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D&D 3E
i'm hoping to start a new campaign soon. hopefully it will work out… 
15th-Sep-2004 11:52 am
i'm hoping to start a new campaign soon. hopefully it will work out better than any of my other attempts because i have a group of players who are actually willing to meet and play once a week. i have a question about player character requirements. i like to let my players be flexible. in the past i've gone so far as to help them make custom races or play monsters. i've had some bad experiences with the stuff from the savage species book which i just think is insanely unbalanced. this time i'm limiting them to specific races. i'm comfortable and i feel justified in making them stick to the basic races in the PHB. i am considering limiting it further. i was going to disalow elves and half-elves. the nature of the campaign is that it revolves around an ancient cataclysm. elves, long lived as they are, would remember what happened, and i can't have that. but i know that a lot of players identify with specific races and i really don't want to be too limiting. i suppose i could have elven or half elven characters in the game be members of a tribe of sylvan elves who were unaware of the events of the past when they happened. still, these elves might not know the CAUSE of what happened but they would still know WHAT happened. so anyway my question is, how do you feel about laying down such limitations, and how do you deal with player complaints?
15th-Sep-2004 09:11 am (UTC)
I think it's backwards for players to come to the GM and say; we want to play this, make it happen. The default set-up, I think, is for the GM to have an idea, a world, a campaign and invite players to take part. The players pick characters as approporiate.

If I was willing to run a Ravenloft game, for example, and Person X insisted on being an half-orc or nothing then I'd explain why the half-orc wasn't really in the gothic theme I wanted for the game. If they didn't budge - didn't understand - then Person X wouldn't be in the game. It's a loss, sure, but it wouldn't be as much of a loss as wasting the game idea on a group which falls apart because it doesn't work.

That said, I don't think there's anything wrong in asking the players what sort of game they want to play and as a group discussing options.

I think it's healthy to get the players to try something different. A different race, a different class and challenge them to roleplay something new. If Player Y always plays a Dwarf Fighter then that's very limiting.

In short, I don't have any problems with laying down limitations. I think they're needed and welcome. I wouldn't expect players to complain about it at all. If someone did, a newbie in the group, then I'd explain the creating an appropriate character for the setting as akin to not using Out of Character information In Character, inventing an entirely new spell and demanding the GM accepts it or demanding the GM uses Prestige Class W from Rulebook T.
15th-Sep-2004 09:32 am (UTC) - Sharing the burden
I don't think it's backwards for the players to say 'we want to play this.' I think that's the way it should be exactly. Really, the DM and players should work together to determine what will make everyone the happiest.

Yeah, a lot of games work the other way. The DM does a lot of work and then asks who wants to play. But then a bunch of players who are only luke-warm on the concept realize they have no other game to play and join anyway. Those disenfranchised players become more and more dissatisfied over time and either withdraw or try to drift the game towards their vision. The DM then finds himself working ten times as hard to please everyone. Something has to give and someone ends up being unhappy.

Really, I'm personally fed up with the "DM does all the work and the players just show up to enjoy it" philosophy. The best game is collaborative and shared. Why is it fair that the DM is expected to do so much more than the players?

That said, limitations are fine, but only if the group as a whole doesn't mind them. If they understand and buy into the campaign vision, they'll get why certain things are changed from the standard ruleset.
15th-Sep-2004 09:13 am (UTC)
you shouldn't feel bad about saying "no", especially when there is a good reson, just tell your players the very basics of why "this has mystery in it, and Elves would have been alive when the mystery happened" and they should be fine with it...

A good game is really determined a lot more by what a Dm says "No" to than what they say "yes" to.
15th-Sep-2004 09:14 am (UTC)
If your players like the feel of elves, take a look at genasi. They have similar physical characteristics, but aren't as long lived.
15th-Sep-2004 09:17 am (UTC)
Elven or half-elven PCs wouldn't necessarily remember what happened; if the cataclysm occurred more than 200 years ago. Or you could say the elves knew something bad was going to happen, "vanished" for a time, and now the young ones are returning and have no idea what's going on. Just a couple of ideas. ;)

"how do you feel about laying down such limitations, and how do you deal with player complaints?"

I have no problems setting limits (as a player or DM), as long as the limits are specified up-front, and fairly enforced. For instance, you could say the half-elves are from a community that bred true, so their lifespans (and histories) aren't much better than the humans. But unless you eliminate all the long-lived races (dwarves especially!) the players may have room for complaints.

Personally, my standing rules are: no drow PCs, no monks, no martial arts, and no psionics. Some people don't like it, but there are no exceptions to the rule, ever.
15th-Sep-2004 05:39 pm (UTC)
No monks? Really? Is it just a rejection of eastern themes in the game?
16th-Sep-2004 01:01 am (UTC)
I've had very bad experiences with martial arts in D&D.

Even reasonable players lose their minds, and think that martial arts gives characters super powers. I've had (non-munchkin) players argue that their low-strength PCs can arm-lock anything (humanoid or not), they can break down doors, stone walls, etc. Oh, and they have mysterious "ki" abilities that can duplicate various spell effects. I'm being serious -- martial artists have all kinds of wacky movie-inspired powers, according to every player.

Unfortunately, the 3E game designers suffer the same affliction. The way monks have been established, without armor or magical weapons, a small (but high level) group of them are powerful enough to take on a mature dragon. I can't buy into the idea of non-spellcasting, unarmed, unarmored guys using kung-fu fighting to drop an adult red dragon.

Also, I don't like mixing eastern traditions in occidental games. Same reason I don't have psionics, gunpowder, or industry in my games.
15th-Sep-2004 09:34 am (UTC) - Elf ages
Rather than eliminating elves entirely, why not just reduce their lifespan. Say that, in your harsh world, the average human lifespan is 40 years (80 maximum) and the average elven lifespan is 70 years (140 maximum). Thus elves still have a reputation for being long-lived, but it doesn't create centuries-old historians who were there in prehistoric times.
15th-Sep-2004 02:36 pm (UTC)
As someone else said, if your cataclysm is any time back in the past, then the elves wouldn't remember it (elves don't necessarily live that long). I had the idea that maybe your elves disappeared at/during/just before the cataclysm, and have just suddenly, individually reappeared in various places. So the elf PC wakes up in the inn, knows some basic stuff about himself, but the rest is lost. If your players buy into this, it could make for a fun, interesting character because he doesn't know stuff and gets to find it out later on.

I would almost recommend outlawing elves just because they're such a standard. I know lots of players who really couldn't play anything but an elf; even their humans seem elvish. I'd check with your players; if no one wanted to play an elf anyway, get rid of 'em. If someone did want to play an elf, see if you can come to a compromise, or depending on how much you like the player, just tell them they can't.

It's okay to enforce rules, but if it's going to make people not want to play or not enjoy playing, then why do it? It seems like it would create more problems then just allowing the race in the first place. But this is totally based on what your group will allow.
15th-Sep-2004 02:37 pm (UTC)
Err... I would almost recommend AGAINST outlawing elves.
15th-Sep-2004 09:27 pm (UTC)
If elves aren't even a driving force in the plot, you could just wipe them out all together. Maybe the cataclysm destroyed the elven race. Or, you could just say it did, and reintroduce the elves as a surprise. Perhaps they went into hiding for some reason after the cataclysm.
16th-Sep-2004 07:06 am (UTC)
Tell them to bite you. But seriously, players that aren't willing to compromise to fit in with a campaign idea don't have any place in the game. You could also remind them that in real life, no one chooses their race, sex, age, or attributes.
20th-Sep-2004 03:59 pm (UTC)
While it's your prerogative to limit the campaign to non-elves (I certainly did), if you have players who are really intent on elven characters, here are some options for why they can't spoil the surprise:

1) They weren't on this plane when it happened. They were off fighting in the Underdark, and honestly don't know what happened. [This is the "grew up in a cave" defense.]
2) They weren't born yet, or they were born, but were so wrapped in their little elven world, they weren't paying much attention. [The "grew up in a barn" defense.]
3) They were around but even they only know what happened, not why or how. Solving that mystery is, in fact, very important to them as well.
4) They remember, but incorrectly.
5) They remember, but they and all elves are cursed and cannot actually SPEAK of it. [The "I'm going to challenge you to role-play" defense.]

I had an NPC elf character who was in the Underdark, fighting drow, when the elven race was almost completely wiped out on the surface world (won the battle, but lost the war). This led to one of the rare surviving elves interacting with the group, and inflicting his own survivor guilt on them whenever necessary. If you can explain why the elves won't fit, logically, and let the players explain why their character doesn't know this big mystery, then you not only have buy-in to the storyline, but you have players who feel more connected to the plot.
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