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D&D 3E
Returning the Absent PC to the Game... 
12th-Nov-2004 10:02 am
When players were missing from a previous game, what do you personally do to reintroduce them? Do you treat the missing PCs as floating bodies, and when they come back next game, they can just play their characters again? Do you treat them as NPCs under your control while the players are absent? Do you leave the players where their characters last were the previous game and make them catch up to wherever the rest of the group went when they come back?

Just curious because I'm running a game tonight where two players who weren't there last time are playing, and I haven't yet decided how I'm going to get them into the center of the temple the other players crawled themselves into. :-)
12th-Nov-2004 06:20 pm (UTC)
It very much depends on the player or the situation.

If I have a character who casts invisibility a lot or hides all the time and doesn't talk much, I run that player as an NPC.

IF the character is a party leader, i don't play without them

If the character is important and was doing something else at the time, I solo quest them before the next game.

If the chracter was described as "going away" but had nothing important to do, I summarize them sitting around the tavern or whatever briefly, then get back into it.

It also depends on where the party is. If someone left inthe middle of combat/alarge dungeon/another plane, it becomes almost impossible to play without them and I usually don't

So in summary, it depends how vocal/important the player is, how near a town they are, and what the party is doing while they are gone.
12th-Nov-2004 06:21 pm (UTC)
Well, in the game I'm currently playing, there is a powerful NPC ally that can do teleport spells as necessary,

Which brings up the question: if they're that powerful, why do we have to deal witht his shit?

Ignoring that option, it depends on the game. If its a mostly hack&slash, letting another player take the character or NPCing the character is perfectly reasonable. If its a high-RP/social game that doesn't work. You can NPC them, you can give them an illness (assuming they're succeptable and you don't have a moderate level paladin/cleric around), you can run them on their own mission, have them fall victimn to a trap (trap door, teleport trap, etc.) or a fe other options.

Usually,. though, these need to be set in motion when they leave, not when they get back.
12th-Nov-2004 06:27 pm (UTC)
What level are they? Sometimes it's fun to give them a cakewalk quickie to get to rejoin the group. It isn't actually challenging but it's kind of fun in a Bruce Lee vs Horde of Ninjas way.

We had a situation like that a couple of months ago when a 12th level monk had to rejoin the group in a dungeon. The party had left a trail, but had bypassed some rooms that I populated later with normal zombies. It was over in like 2 rounds.

Sometimes its a matter of just making an excuse and having the guy wander onto scene, retroactively saying "he followed you in a little later, and has just now caught up with you".

I try not to sweat stuff like this, even if it unrealistic.
12th-Nov-2004 06:39 pm (UTC) - Camp Guards
Lately, I make it a point of making my d20 players end on a place where it's reasonable if one of them misses the next game. Or rather, I'm trying to.

For a dungeon crawl, having them say "I stayed with the food and followed behind" is a good way to rotate. You could even add in a few NPCs to make it especially worthwhile.
12th-Nov-2004 09:45 pm (UTC)
We've sometimes just basically had the characters sort of tagging along - but they don't get XP for the sessions the players missed. Of course, they also don't have to participate in combat or whatever. It's a little awkward, but manageable.
12th-Nov-2004 10:04 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm just really into the story making sense. In our game we just keep the story going and play the character the way we think the player would. Usually within a few sessions after a character enters the story it's pretty easy to have a general idea of how s/he acts. When people have dropped out of the game entirely their characters stay in the world, but usually they eventually find something they need to do that takes them away from the party. Often though we run back into them. For example, a couple of characters whose players moved out of town are now back at our home village, living their regular lives but available to protect the village and send us a message if it gets attacked or whatever. Sometimes we even bring them back treasure they would really like. Also, most of us have played more than one character and those other characters are out there somewhere. Like I played an elf who was reincarnated as a human and was so ruthlessly mocked by his peers that he set out to the city (which none of the other chars have yet been to) to seek his ddestiny. I imagine when we make it to the city we will probably run into him again.

Oh and also when new characters enter the game the DM makes it make sense. It happened once that we didn't do what he expected, so the new player's character didn't enter play for the entire session. We found her next session though. To me it's just not worth the effort to play if I'm not invested in the story and it doesn't have a sense of coherence.
12th-Nov-2004 10:35 pm (UTC)
I like to get new PCs in as quick as possible. I have found if someone has to wait a whole session or more before they get into the game then they tend to get discouraged and feel left out. Sometimes ending their desire to play with the group. If the PCs do not do what I expect I improvise a sceen to get the new PC in. For example the PC was susposed to meet up with them in the tavern but the party decided to check out the orc cave outside of town. The new PC then ends up running from a small band of orcs or is being ambushed by them or somesuch.

Lord Skull
12th-Nov-2004 10:29 pm (UTC)
In the past I have used multiple ways to deal with this situation. If it IS a main player then I may change the session and run a quicky for everyone else there so that they can still have fun if someone did not show. Also I have been known to use the teleporting alter/trap trick where the PC touches something and is propelled foward in space and time to meet the PCs again wherever they are. I usually save this one for long absences. Alternativle I have the other players group run the character if we all have a feel for them. Having them play catch up is also amusing especially if the PCs are two levels deep in a dungeon when the absentee is just leaving town.

Lord Skull
12th-Nov-2004 11:00 pm (UTC)
I once brought a missing PC back into the party via catapult, it was humorous at least.
12th-Nov-2004 11:35 pm (UTC)
Let's see... for the Thursday game...

Doesn't really make sense, but we usually try to end every session at the entrance/exit to a dungeon, or a town, and if the missing character isn't able to be there when the session starts, we try to get them in as soon as possible.

On Saturdays...

Well, the "main character" is currently 'involved' with a pair of assassins who follow Shar, and since he's started a new job with a night shift schedule, they usually abduct his character and return her once they're done giving her information/negotiating contracts/etc. It works really well and fits in fine.

We have a druid who tends to have to leave early, so he usually stays behind in whatever town we're at near his planned departure time. Aaaand gets liquored up in the tavern. Don't ask.

A couple of the other characters usually run errands or get tied up by the authorities, but for the most part they don't miss games.

I usually end up arriving about an hour after this game starts due to work, but since my character is a spirit-folk-Telflammar-Shadowlord-worshipper-of-Mask-pretending-to-be-a-non-combatant-innocent-human-girl-from-Rashemi-who-follows-Selûne (long story, but I'll probably be posting the character in the near future like I did with another one of mine), she usually just tags along behind the party staying out of the way in combats (like I do when I'm playing).

Were I to actually miss a game? Well, the aforementioned assassins seem to have taken a liking to tormenting her (by turning her holy symbols of Selûne into holy symbols of Shar, sneaking into her room at night and harassing her, etc, etc), I'd imagine they'd just kidnap her like they do with the main character, mess with her head a bit, and let her go.

So yeah, I guess as a whole, we try and make it plausible with the story and wing it as we go. Anything to avoid the clichéd "blink out of existence" bit.
12th-Nov-2004 11:36 pm (UTC)
Erm. Before the "Doesn't make sense, [...]" part, I left out the sentences "Sometimes they just aren't there at the end of the session but are inexplicably there when it begins. This happens with the people who tend to arrive really late or play bi-weekly just so they don't have any wasted time as players."

Copy-pasting my reply in from notepad and I forget that. Heh.
13th-Nov-2004 12:36 am (UTC)
If players don't come to a session I just have them walk off-stage. If we happened to be at a convenient breaking point, like at their fort, or something like that, they are assumed to be off doing something else. If necesary, the high level cleric who usually doesn't make it anymore is assumed to gate in, drop off the new characters who are showing up that week, and gate out with the characters whose players aren't coming... :)

Back in the old days when the party didn't have access to powerful transportation magic, the character's whose players didn't show up just walked behind a rock, or a tree or whatnot. :)

Of course I run for 11 players, whenever at least 4 are up for playing so we have fairly constant shifting of what subset shows up and had to just cope with it...
15th-Nov-2004 05:55 pm (UTC)
I've always found different ways of keeping them occupied. In the Robotech game I'm running, several players can't make it every session, so I'll send them off to do patrol or guard duty, and bring them back when they can make it.
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