Which Characters? Requesting Help!

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Baron
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Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Baron » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:56 am

I've been running an ongoing campaign for over three years; the players are my teenage daughter and her friends. For many of them, this has been their only RPG experience. I started them in Tekumel, bounced them to a pocket dimension based on DCC's Carnival of the Damned, then to a mostly-abandoned and decrepit "Death Star." Most recently I dumped them into Spelljamming space, where they were quickly picked up by a Shou junk.

My goal is to give them exposure to many of the different types of settings that I enjoy, while I still have their malleable brains under my control. Mwahaa. They've been playing everything from the perspective of their Tekumel characters thus far, which has been interesting. I'm going to let them experience Spelljamming for a bit, but then I'm going to get them to Krynn. I want to play out the Classic DL series, something I've never managed to do before. But this time, their travels will come with a twist. I'm planning to have them "mind-melded" into the classic Dragonlance protagonists, at their current levels. The personalities of the Dragonlance icons will mostly dominate their own characters, at least at the beginning. Their hopes of leaving Krynn (if they choose to) will depend on working through the DL campaign.

So, I'm matching them up to the character roster based on personality, gender and class. While I've read the initial two trilogies of DL novels, I've never played or read further than DL2. And here's where I'm asking for input. In your opinions, which of the potential PCs would work best for my players to remain playing through the entire series? I know that some characters come up as playable at certain points, and I know that there is one or more places where the series was written so that the players would use different characters. I can bulldoze my way through that sort of thing, but I'd like to keep the ongoing story arc pretty similar to how it read in the novels.

Here are my thoughts, based on my current party. I've got a Raistlin, and a Goldmoon (because I have two spellcasters, and I think I need these two characters to make a good go of it). I have a thief who would make a good Tas. I need more female characters to match up with my players though, so I was considering Tika, Laurana and Kitiara. That pretty much leaves me with one last Fighter character to match up with a male DL character. Based on the player's personality, I was thinking Caramon.

That would leave me with no one to play Tanis, Sturm, Flint or Riverwind. Which might work out OK. I could NPC Sturm and Flint, killing them off around where they die in the novels. I guess I could NPC Riverwind for an extended period, just to keep Goldmoon sort of complete; he'd still ultimately be expendable. I sort of hesitate to NPC Tanis all the way through, since I think he's an awesome character. OTOH, I don't really have an appropriate player for him, so maybe it's best that I NPC him, and make him take a back seat on the "leading" thing (not entirely out of character).

What do you think of my choices? Do you feel that I would be better off with something else? I welcome your input. Thanks!

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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Falconer » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:39 pm

I dunno, man, I’ll be honest, I would let them keep playing their existing characters as-is. You’ve already taken so much out of their control; effectively taking away their characters is just going to kill the last sense of coherence the campaign has. Don’t underestimate how much people care about their characters.
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by shesheyan » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:44 pm

Baron wrote:But this time, their travels will come with a twist. I'm planning to have them "mind-melded" into the classic Dragonlance protagonists, at their current levels. The personalities of the Dragonlance icons will mostly dominate their own characters, at least at the beginning.
Clearly an abuse of the DM fiat. This is the best way to turn off a player from playing RPGs or from playing with you. You don't need the iconic characters to play DL. Let them play with their current characters and make the story their own.

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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Baron » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:51 pm

Wow. Clearly I'm talking to the wrong crowd, on the Piazza. Never mind, got very enthusiastic responses and suggestions elsewhere.

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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Big Mac » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:54 am

Falconer wrote:I dunno, man, I’ll be honest, I would let them keep playing their existing characters as-is. You’ve already taken so much out of their control; effectively taking away their characters is just going to kill the last sense of coherence the campaign has. Don’t underestimate how much people care about their characters.
You have a good point. Removing agency isn't a brilliant idea, but there still might be a way for Baron to do what he wants to do without removing player agency.
Baron wrote:My goal is to give them exposure to many of the different types of settings that I enjoy, while I still have their malleable brains under my control. Mwahaa. They've been playing everything from the perspective of their Tekumel characters thus far, which has been interesting. I'm going to let them experience Spelljamming for a bit, but then I'm going to get them to Krynn. I want to play out the Classic DL series, something I've never managed to do before. But this time, their travels will come with a twist. I'm planning to have them "mind-melded" into the classic Dragonlance protagonists, at their current levels. The personalities of the Dragonlance icons will mostly dominate their own characters, at least at the beginning. Their hopes of leaving Krynn (if they choose to) will depend on working through the DL campaign.

So, I'm matching them up to the character roster based on personality, gender and class. While I've read the initial two trilogies of DL novels, I've never played or read further than DL2. And here's where I'm asking for input. In your opinions, which of the potential PCs would work best for my players to remain playing through the entire series? I know that some characters come up as playable at certain points, and I know that there is one or more places where the series was written so that the players would use different characters. I can bulldoze my way through that sort of thing, but I'd like to keep the ongoing story arc pretty similar to how it read in the novels.

Here are my thoughts, based on my current party. I've got a Raistlin, and a Goldmoon (because I have two spellcasters, and I think I need these two characters to make a good go of it). I have a thief who would make a good Tas. I need more female characters to match up with my players though, so I was considering Tika, Laurana and Kitiara. That pretty much leaves me with one last Fighter character to match up with a male DL character. Based on the player's personality, I was thinking Caramon.

That would leave me with no one to play Tanis, Sturm, Flint or Riverwind. Which might work out OK. I could NPC Sturm and Flint, killing them off around where they die in the novels. I guess I could NPC Riverwind for an extended period, just to keep Goldmoon sort of complete; he'd still ultimately be expendable. I sort of hesitate to NPC Tanis all the way through, since I think he's an awesome character. OTOH, I don't really have an appropriate player for him, so maybe it's best that I NPC him, and make him take a back seat on the "leading" thing (not entirely out of character).

What do you think of my choices? Do you feel that I would be better off with something else? I welcome your input. Thanks!
I think that, if you took what Falconer into account, you could still follow the premise you have here...and not take away player agency.

If you are already using Spelljammer as a framing device to move your PCs from Tekumel to Dragonlance, I think that you might be able to build in a plot-hook that means that the PCs have to do something on Krynn (the DL series stuff) in order to somehow fix something up in Wildspace (and I would suggest Krynnspace specifically).

In the Legends Trilogy there is a theme of time travel. I think you could use that sort of thing to work in your idea.

Perhaps you could have a plot where a Krynnspace group supporting Takhisis works out that they can destroy the Star Knights (a spacefaring organisation founded by a retired Knight of Solamnia) by preventing the Heroes of the Lance from supporting and reviving the Knights of Solamnia and you have an excuse to do something to the Companions.

If you went with something like that, then you could perhaps have specific PCs save specific members of the Companions. But it would still probably be better for them to stay as their own characters.
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Falconer » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:42 am

Riffing off that a bit, in the Legends Trilogy we saw Raistlin, Crysania, and Caramon go back in time and take the places of Fistandantilus, Denubis, and Pheragas in the Dwarfgate War. The timeline progressed unchanged as far as they were concerned, but, other “PCs” took on the roles of the “original” characters. Perhaps PCs entering the timestream from another world might have a similar effect. Some DL characters could still be around but just not end up being as important because the equivalent PCs end up doing what they were “originally” supposed to do. Other DL characters could tag along with the party (perhaps forever as NPCs, but perhaps as options to become additional PCs later due to various circumstances). Fistandantilus could engineer a situation in which Raistlin and the Magic-User PC battle, and the victor (presumably the PC) may use the Bloodstone Pendant to “meld” with Raistlin in some way.

The 3.5e versions of the Dragonlance Classics series suggest that if you only have four PCs they should be Tanis, Goldmoon, Raistlin, and Tasslehoff (it calls them the Leader, the Prophet, the Sage, and the Rogue, or something like that). It gets a bit annoying to read about “the Prophet” etc. throughout the modules, but, I think they had the right idea, there. Laurana could easily be the Leader; Alhana could be the Sage (if we imagine she decided to develop some of the same proclivities as her father); Tika could be the Rogue; Sturm could be the Prophet.
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Big Mac » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:04 pm

Falconer wrote:Riffing off that a bit, in the Legends Trilogy we saw Raistlin, Crysania, and Caramon go back in time and take the places of Fistandantilus, Denubis, and Pheragas in the Dwarfgate War. The timeline progressed unchanged as far as they were concerned, but, other “PCs” took on the roles of the “original” characters. Perhaps PCs entering the timestream from another world might have a similar effect. Some DL characters could still be around but just not end up being as important because the equivalent PCs end up doing what they were “originally” supposed to do. Other DL characters could tag along with the party (perhaps forever as NPCs, but perhaps as options to become additional PCs later due to various circumstances). Fistandantilus could engineer a situation in which Raistlin and the Magic-User PC battle, and the victor (presumably the PC) may use the Bloodstone Pendant to “meld” with Raistlin in some way.
Thanks for that. I was struggling to remember how that stuff in Legends worked. It is pretty much similar to what Baron wants to do. Although having only read it in a novel, I'm not sure exactly how it's supposed to work in a time-travel point of view.

Do you think there would be a similar force acting on people from outside of Krynn that swap with the position of an important NPC?

Wasn't there something where only Tasslehoff could change things? That might not be so fun for Baron's players. Maybe he might want to ignore that.
Falconer wrote:The 3.5e versions of the Dragonlance Classics series suggest that if you only have four PCs they should be Tanis, Goldmoon, Raistlin, and Tasslehoff (it calls them the Leader, the Prophet, the Sage, and the Rogue, or something like that). It gets a bit annoying to read about “the Prophet” etc. throughout the modules, but, I think they had the right idea, there. Laurana could easily be the Leader; Alhana could be the Sage (if we imagine she decided to develop some of the same proclivities as her father); Tika could be the Rogue; Sturm could be the Prophet.
I guess those four do sound about right, although Baron needs three female characters. I'm not sure how borrowing Kitiana's place in time would work out. I guess that might have radical changes.:?
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Dragonhelm » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:05 pm

My advice (and this goes along with what Falconer has said) is to get the Dragonlance 3.5 versions of the classic modules: Dragons of Autumn, Dragons of Winter, and Dragons of Spring.

Rather than melding their characters with iconic DL characters (and I agree, that takes away agency), I would suggest going for the major archetypes. This section gives you a description of the archetypes and say what the classic characters are who fill this archetype, as well as a type of character who could fill this role. This is an improvement over other versions of these adventures, in that you can play your own character.

The archetypes are as follows: prophet, leader, rogue, sage, ranger, mentor, protector, idealist, ingénue, and hawk. Only the first four are necessary.

So in short, my advice is to let them play their characters, but figure out which ones correspond to which archetype and use that as a guide.

Good luck!
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Havard » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:42 pm

Interesting campaign idea.

I think that what some of the previous posters mentioned about agency is worth discussing. Of course, this really depends on your players. Do they care about having motivations and their own goals and having their own decisions really matter? Or are they happy just coming along for the ride. You know your players and if you think something will work in your game based on how you know your players, chances are it will probably work.

On the other hand, even if the players will have fun in a fairly DM controlled game, perhaps offering them some real chances at influencing the story could add to their enjoyment? Do you have an overarching concept for why the PCs need to travel from world to world? Are they simply out to seek fame and fortune? Are the PCs, as well as the players themselves eager to learn about new worlds? Or is there some grander quest at work. Perhaps if they alter the fate of five worlds, then they will gain some favor from the Gods, or perhaps gain Immortality, Mystara-style? Better yet, you could work with the players to figure out what their motives might be.

I think this could be a very challenging campaign to run, but it could also be really smooth sailing. If everyone is having fun, then you definitely aren't doing anything wrong! :)

Maybe some of these overarching concepts could also affect which characters might be ideal for the players when entering Krynn? Or perhaps you could even give them a couple of choices for which ones would match their own characters? If you do end up using Dragonlance characters, do the PCs retain their Tekumel personalities?

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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Thorf » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:42 pm

Playing D&D with your kids - nice. :) I'm planning to start this when my kids get a bit older.

Perhaps I'm not as up to date as the rest of you, but I don't really see a huge problem with assigning the players the iconic roles. On the contrary, I think this could be played up rather well, dropping the PCs in to a setting where NPCs react to their presence in surprising ways - to say that their reputation precedes them would surely be an understatement.

We've all seen TV shows where the leads possess or otherwise take on the roles of other characters. I don't see why this couldn't be pulled off just like that. It doesn't mean the players have any less decisions to make about what they do, rather it means the players are playing characters... Who in turn are playing characters. Neat.

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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by Big Mac » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:12 am

Thorf wrote:We've all seen TV shows where the leads possess or otherwise take on the roles of other characters. I don't see why this couldn't be pulled off just like that. It doesn't mean the players have any less decisions to make about what they do, rather it means the players are playing characters... Who in turn are playing characters. Neat.
You know what, you are right. I was wrong. There is nothing intrinsically bad about this idea. It could go wrong, sure. But anything else could go wrong too. So long as everyone is enjoying the concept it could work.

In fact, I just discovered another live-streamed game set in an out of print D&D campaign setting (Greyhawk rather than Dragonlance*) where they have done this very same thing. The game is called Return to Greyhawk and they have some sort of thing going where the player characters in the group have some sort of link to iconic Greyhawk characters. I'm not too sure how it works yet, as I've not watched all the episodes, but they did a preview episode prior to broadcasting on Twitch, where the PCs jumped into the bodies of the NPCs. Maybe Baron could watch that episode and find out what sort of plot mechanisms they use to jump in and out of the NPCs.
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Re: Which Characters? Requesting Help!

Post by shesheyan » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:47 pm

snip... my reply didn't add anything new to the discussion.

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