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Fate of Former PCs

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  • Fate of Former PCs

    What do you do with the characters of players who are no longer in your gaming group? Do they vanish? Become npc allies? Become villans? I'm really just cleaning what everyone does; our group (which has been around for about 20 years) has lost 6 PC's for various reasons and their experiences characters still remain. 2 are now major villains in the game, 3 faded off (as of now), and 1 is an npc ally.

    Thanks for the input!

  • #2
    The ST can use them according to their concept or as the story needs them. The one thing no one ever knows is that such player might comeback for a particular session (never discard that probability) and such cameo/appearance might be epic. It is obviously exhausting to keep a PC character as an NPC within the coterie the entire chronicle, but pulling out a Poochie (Itchy & Scratchy) kills the mood of what one wrote up for the PCs

    - Saga


    • #3
      As an ST, if I have players leave the game or abandon old characters to play new one, I will ask them if they mind if I take over the characters as NPCs, or if they want them eliminated (characters will die), or if they prefer for them to simply go away and fade into anonymity. Some players are very particular and are bothered if their old characters do something they wouldn't do. So this is to prevent potential OOC problems.

      If they agree that they become NPCs, what I do with them completely depends on how I saw their character developing and how they'd react to the setting and setting changes. While some become rivals and villains, usually they just settle into the background. While they may have fond memories of their past alliance with the PCs, they still determine their own business. It's just that they have some sympathies. I try to keep them from becoming active allies because that is too much like a PC role, but if there are outstanding issues for that character that need to be resolved, I'll generally have them be completed alongside the PCs.
      Last edited by Black Fox; 09-23-2019, 09:23 PM.


      • #4
        As a player, I would prefer my PCs simply fade into the nothingness so that should I ever wish to pick them up again, I can and it be up to me to decide what they were doing in their downtime. Sometimes I might play a character that I ultimately feel wasn't too interesting, but if the ST has an idea for, I'll gladly hand them over and will trust their judgement. I might give a few pointers about characters in any case, like the basic, "They wouldn't ever do X thing, but Y and sometimes Z, sure. They might be turning into a more noble/evil person, so go crazy especially if decades or centuries go by."

        As an ST, I'd probably feel incredibly awkward taking control of someone else's character, but I also trust my abilities enough to do it right and give it the due respect it deserves. I probably wouldn't evolve the character unless a long amount of time goes by and the original player has assured me that they don't care.

        In general, as player and ST, I'd err on the "just put them in the background/on a bus to Nowhere, USA/they went on a vacation" and leave it open for a later return by the original player. I understand that sometimes in a chronicle it can be quite awkward if a player just leaves and the last session was a cliffhanger, "How will the Batman escape?!" type situation. How do you continue from there without taking/giving control of a PC? If the player is at least available to talk to, then try discussing it with them, but maybe it's even better to discuss this before the game starts. "How do you feel about your character being played by me or another player should we need to continue the story in your absence?"

        It's a fair question. I wonder how comic book writers deal with that over the decades . . .


        • #5
          All the games we ever run/play are all linked canonically, so former PC's pop up as fun cameos all the time. On occasion they have changed, become villainous or antagonistic and they have been killed off. I try not to do that though just in case we play with those characters again.

          There is something deeply enjoyable as a ST about confronting a player with their own former PC in some grand reveal.


          • #6
            This happens a lot.

            Ideally, given conservation of detail, there should be no more fleshed-out npcs than needed for narrative purposes. That is, there might be a faceless crowd of fifty npcs attending Elysium, but the only npcs I spend any time developing are those directly involved with the plot. Those should all be necessary to the story, and not serve a role which could be served by another npc. (A small exception could exist for red herrings, but I suppose that's a narrative role, anyway.)

            Not adhering to conservation of detail can confuse the players (in a bad way), prevent any one npc from getting enough screen time to develop any depth as a character, and waste my time as an ST. Without some focus, I could wind up creating dozens of extras, when I could be focused on the pcs and the supporting cast they need to tell their stories.

            When pcs are created, they bring with them a list of their own npcs. These include mortal family, sires, ghouls, mortals involved with the pc's backgrounds, and any enemies/rivals. I find this averages out to about a half-dozen npcs per pc. In V5, add to this their Touchstones. Now, again, ideally roles would be combined for conservation of detail, making the sister also the ghoul, the sire also the rival, or one pc's brother another pc's best friend. That often leaves us with 2-4 supporting-cast npcs each. So, what happens when a pc leaves the game isn't just about one character leaving, it involves their entire supporting cast.

            The problem with keeping a former pc around is they are a character with no right to take up screen-time, and, worse, a bunch of supporting cast who deserve our attention even less.

            I write the leaving pc out of the story as quickly as possible, to ensure they do not steal focus from the remaining pcs.

            The main goals are:
            • Removing the leaving pc from the story as fully as possible, while making it feel organic to the story. This includes an in-story explanation of the absence, and a chance for the remaining pcs to react to the absence without derailing the story.
            • Not outright destroying or radically changing the pc, so the player can come back, if they wish, without feeling like they are being punished for doing so.
            • Making it clear to the leaving player that they are always welcome to return, if only for a cameo, whenever they wish. (Unless you're happy to see them go...)
            • Not disrupting other players' experiences. The remaining pcs get full custody of shared npcs and plot lines to do with as they please. This also means the removal should be as fast as possible, so as to let the story move forward.

            Some plot developments that might be useful:
            During a cliff hanger:
            • An enemy makes an amazingly lucky shot which puts the exiting pc into torpor. Perhaps, a mysterious kind of torpor which does not get better with the usual ways of ending of a torpor. The other pcs become responsible for maintaining the torpid vampire, who might now serve the plot as a macguffin. ("They stole Bob! We have to get him back!")
            • The chaotic events might lead to the pc saying, "I can't deal with this anymore. I'm out." They leave and never look back, unless the player returns.
            • An enemy vampire diablerizes the exiting pc. This may sound final, but if the player returns: "I managed to assert control over my killer. Like my new body?"
            • The pc is sucked into a dimensional hole, a Lasombra abyss, carried off into the umbra, etc.
            During normal play:
            • Choose a major goal of the pc and either have that goal naturally lead them far, far away. ("I know where my daughter is! I'm leaving for Saskatoon tonight. All my friends, family, and ghouls are coming with me. Conveniently not including the people who are also involved in your plots. Don't wait up."). This gets the pc out of the city, while leaving them technically capable of returning if there was a false lead.
            • The leaving pc agrees to serve as a hostage to the chronicle's big bad, who ships the pc off to a distant location for safe-keeping. Don't forget the stake.
            • The leaving pc is forced by a prestation debt to go on some extended errand, in a distant place.
            • Several of the pc's supporting cast are murdered, and the pc goes off after the killer for revenge. Help from the coterie is refused because, "This is something I have to do myself".


            • #7
              Unfortunately, all of our former PCs have either moved away, been kicked out of the group, or passed away in real life, so at most 1 might show up out of the blue, but that's doubtful.


              • #8
                Recently one of my players abandoned his PC, and made a new one, because he was becoming close to unplayable (was on a rapid downward spiral on Humanity) and not being fun for the player anymore. So he decided to have him leave town and try to find himself, or maybe find a teacher or something (Gangrel, am I right?), so together we decided that he would just leave, without saying any goodbyes, just leaving a letter for the coterie. I'm not sure if he's ever coming back, or even still alive.

                In the beginning I had a few players up and leave the game, and their PCs just faded away. They've run into one or two of them in Elysium again, had a few words but nothing huge. Another one they met again after he was arrested by the police... it was a whole thing where they had to find out what happened, where he was and then finally get him out of police custody before daybreak. It made sense for the character